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Gender Roles And Sexual Roles

In one of my posts in the informed consent series I wrote, I explained the idea behind the Zimbardo prison experiment: that in a normal population of college students, roles were randomly assigned so that some students became prison guards, and others became prisoners. The guards quickly began acting abusive, as though the roles became their identities. I was discussing this experiment with a friend in the BDSM scene, and she pointed out that maybe the same thing is happening with American gender roles and sexuality. That is, because so many men are conditioned to become aggressive and forceful, this could be one reason why there is both anecdotal evidence and statistical evidence for there being many more men than women who prefer the dominant role in sexual encounters. If mainstream society is molding men to express their sexuality (indeed, their overall identities) in terms of acquisition, conquest, and violence, then perhaps that also accounts for the sexual roles that many men prefer. Continue Reading →