The New York Times has an article on what we can learn about gender roles from same sex relationships. Researchers looked at how heterosexual couples share roles in their relationship and how they resolve conflict as compared to homosexual couples.
Notably, same-sex relationships, whether between men or women, were far more egalitarian than heterosexual ones. In heterosexual couples, women did far more of the housework; men were more likely to have the financial responsibility; and men were more likely to initiate sex, while women were more likely to refuse it or to start a conversation about problems in the relationship. With same-sex couples, of course, none of these dichotomies were possible, and the partners tended to share the burdens far more equally.
The conclusion was that many of the behaviors we take to be gender-related in a relationship are in fact not, and that heterosexual couples can learn a lot from homosexual couples who were found to have greater equality and satisfaction in their relationships.
[ Link: New York Times ]