While a male chauvinist is defined as someone who believes that men are superior to women, what would be a word for a man who believe that men and women have defined roles, without implying the superiority of one or the other?

  • Gender roles? Though not a single word.
    – 7caifyi
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 16:47
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    You could call him a traditionalist, but that's a pretty generic term; you'd probably have to spell out that he is a gender-role traditionalist.
    – Hellion
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 16:55
  • A gender-separationist? Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 16:55
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    As long as it's a man and it's his opinion about what the roles are -- and not a woman and her opinion -- it's sexist; i.e, still male chauvinism. Personal beliefs are personal, and don't affect other people's behavior, unless they are made into rules and used to oppress other people. And women's beliefs about women's behavior are much more important than men's beliefs. Unless men let women tell men what their role is, and allow women to enforce their views on them. In that case it would be equivalent; but better in the long run to apply your opinions to yourself alone.[ Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 17:02
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    Why isn't sexist the obvious answer? Or do you think that also implies superiority, rather than "different by equal"?
    – Barmar
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 19:31

5 Answers 5


How about:

  1. a male traditionalist.

  2. a fuddy-duddy; old-fashioned person, an outdated conservative.

  • I think a traditionalist is the most appropriate till something better comes along. Thank you Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 18:10

Until a more gender-based neologism comes along, the best single word remains "sexist."


  • Reference added
    – Rache
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 22:14
  • I believe this is (almost) the opposite of what OP is asking for. But I asked OP to include more context also.
    – ermanen
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 22:28
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    I have to agree (and was about to suggest it). It's a great example of a word with such strong negative connotations that they override technical accuracy. To be sexist is simply to hold that people's roles in society, including opportunities and expectations, are determined by their gender. Of course, this is incompatible with sexual equality, and somehow (coincidence I'm sure) virtually all sexists endorse a division of roles which leaves men firmly in charge. Although I've known a few extreme feminists who weren't very egalitarian, either. Read Valerie Solanis' SCUM Manifesto. Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 22:39
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    @WhatRoughBeast: TFD definition of sexism: "The belief that one gender is superior to the other, especially that men are superior to women." Opposite of what OP is asking. On the other hand, I would suggest "nonsexist" but the question is unclear at this point and it is an invitation to primarily opinion based answers as well. [The other definition of the word strongly suggests discrimination also.]
    – ermanen
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 22:45
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    @ermanen - That's the conventional pejorative version. The Google definition: "prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex." Note that stereotyping on the basis of sex, but not against women, fulfills the definition. Of course, making strictly sex-based stereotypes which do not disadvantage one sex or the other would seem to be a very difficult business, and it's made worse by the fact that the metrics for making a judgement on such stereotypes are historically very difficult to achieve to everyone's satisfaction. Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 22:57

I haven't found this boiled down into a word or expression anywhere else, so we may be in the realm of invention. How about calling such a person a role-divisionist, or gender-role divisionist, and his/her ideology gender-role divisionism? It's a useful question, because in some contexts, there may be an important distinction between role-divisionism and generic sexism or chauvinism. (I suggest this without in any way disagreeing with other responders who seem instinctively to sense that any attempt to generalize about what is appropriate for men vs women is bound to fall afoul of reality, to say nothing of justice).


In a religious context this view is called complementarianism:

Complementarianism is a theological view held by some in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere.


An adherent of this view is called a complementarian.


The belief that there is an innate and characterizeable (sp?) difference between Males and Females is called "Essentialism". People who adhere to such ideology are called "Essentialists"; basically they believe that there are certain "innately male" and "innately female" characteristics which are different between Men and Women, and which exist independent of cultural and social conditioning- usually on a biological and / or psychological level.

There is much debate over whether or not this ideology is Sexist and reinforces Gender Stereotyping. The ideology on its own at face value, though, does not suggest that there is any superiority of the sexes based on these traits- only acknowledges that the differences exist. The level to which they exist, and the additional ideologies held by the idividual with this view, is what would make it sexist or not. So I don't believe that there is anything inherently wrong or sexist with believing in biological and psychological differences between the two binary sexes on its own.

The belief that Men and Women have assigned roles is called Gender Traditionalism. When someone actively and willingly attempts to embrace and participate in the role of their biological Gender they are often called Gender Traditionalists.

Like with Essentialism, there is a lot of debate as to whether or not this is Sexist, but there are several forms of it with differing ideologies: Chritian Traditionalism (Gender Traditionalism rooted in Biblical scripture and Christian belief), Modern Gender Traditionalism (an intersection of Gender Traditionalism with Gender Theory and Feminist Ideology), standard Gender Traditionalism (which believes these roles are the most optimal for the sexes to fulfill and that they are necessary for a well working society), and so on. Like with Essentialism, too, none of these are inherently Sexist and it depends on the other ideologies the person has.

Edit: Please note that Essentialism does not inherently have anything to do with Gender Roles.

Gender Traditionalism (or the belief in and adherence to the traditionally "masculine" and / or traditionally "feminine" roles, behaviors, and other expectations which are socially assigned to your biological Gender) is not the same as Essentialism (believing that there are innate differences between men and women on a biological and / or psychological (or other) level). They are two different ideologies; you may believe in Essentialism without also believing in TGR, and vice versa.

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