That gimmicky Porn for Women book — featuring hunky, well- (and fully) dressed men doing household chores — had it all wrong, apparently. In The New York Times Magazine, Marry Him author Lori Gottlieb went long on the recent study that found that couples in which men perform traditionally female chores have less frequent sex, drawing from prominent sociologists and her own couples’ therapy practice. According to Gottlieb, it’s not just a problem of unsexy yellow gloves or exhausted sex-instigators. The entire project of gender equality is a huge boner-killer for her patients, who seem to be aroused exclusively by female submission. She concludes that when it comes to marriage, equality, and sex, you only get to choose two.
“[Chore study author Julie] Brines believes the quandary many couples find themselves in comes down to this: ‘The less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire.’ In other words, in an attempt to be gender-neutral, we may have become gender-neutered.”
My bold prediction is that humans will continue to get it up for one another even as bread-winning and homemaking become less gender-specific pursuits. Gay couples, Gottlieb points out, manage to “differentiate” within the same gender. In the mean time, this article is adding some new and distinctive textures to “having it all” anxiety. Are you only attracted to your boyfriend because he’s a Neanderthal who will eventually make your life a hellscape of laundry and dishes? Or are you doomed to cheat on your Swedish feminist husband? And were you on the pill when you fell in love with him? Because, if so, that could all change.
Gottlieb reports that inequality is sexier on the genetic level too: Women are more attracted to and less likely to cheat on those with genetically different immune systems. Unless they’re on the pill, in which case they’re attracted to a less different genome. “One study even suggested that when ‘a woman chooses her partner while she is on the pill and then comes off it to have a child, her hormone-driven preferences change, and she may find she is married to the wrong kind of man.’” Arranged marriage or clerical celibacy are still options, too.