Myths of Sexual Economics Theory: Implications for Gender Equality

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The authors of sexual economics theory (Baumeister & Twenge, 2002; Baumeister & Vohs, 2004) argue that sex is a female commodity that women exchange for men’s resources; therefore, women (not men) are responsible for the cultural suppression of sexuality, ostensibly to preserve the value of sex. In this article, I describe the central tenets of sexual economics theory and summarize a growing body of research contradicting them. I also explain the negative implications of the claims of sexual economics theory for gender equality and heterosexual relationships. Researchers, clinicians, and educators engaged in understanding human sexuality may use the arguments provided in this article to counteract gender myths. This article also serves as a case study of how feminist scholars can employ empirical evidence to weaken a popularized, patriarchal theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-313
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


  • close relationships
  • gender equality
  • human sexuality
  • sexual economics theory

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