(Note: posting early since I have a long day at work on Saturday. Will reply to comments when I can.)
Stereotypes are a kind of short-hand, allowing us to assume that we are all, authors and readers, on the same page (pun intended.) All genres stereotype men and women because the understanding is that these are "universals", accepted examples of what a man or woman is like, what position he or she occupies in a society.
Historical novels, including romances, don't have much lee-way unless they involve time-travel, in which a contemporary person deals with the constricted roles of the past. Behavior was prescribed in most time periods, and only the very low classes could ignore the standards all were inculcated with. But authors rarely write about the lowest classes because readers seem to prefer the more important figures in society: the rich and powerful, rather than the trials and tribulations of the cook or the toilet cleaner. So while rich people worried about finding an appropriate spouse, the poor never even bothered to marry, since they had nothing to leave to their children anyway.
Writers of sci-fi, fantasy and paranormals, with and without romance, have total freedom because the author is inventing an entire world/galaxy, and peopling it with characters whose behavior is dictated by standards known only to the author. If an alien, fairy, or shifter culture has female warriors and men who care for children, that will be accepted by the readers as long as the story is well-told.
The genre that's in-between none and total freedom, is contemporary. This includes fiction of all kinds, from mysteries to suspense to pure romance stories. No matter which culture the story is set in, there are cultural norms that must be adhered to. This doesn't mean that specific characters can't defy the standards, but that others must react to that defiance as per the traditions of that society. This can be used as a plot-point, to allow for the characters to show their courage by facing and/or overcoming societal censure.
While many authors support the prevailing standards by using stereotypical protagonists, I eschew them by writing characters more like people I know. I write strong, independent women, alphas if you will, who are pursued by intelligent yet sensitive men, beta males. I know many women who can compete in the workplace, yet still enjoy their family life as well. I also know many men capable of doing the same. And I know a stay-at-home dad who has raised the kids while his wife is an executive, and their marriage is as solid as anyone's. The key is for men to be versed in what I refer to as "women-speak." This involves discussing feelings and personal issues, and not keeping things bottled up inside. The alpha males I've known were capable only of generalized small-talk, and were unaware they even had feelings, let alone able to access and understand them. Not my idea of interesting men at all.
I also have no interest in the popular trope that involves virginal, inexperienced women who are taught about life (and sex), or continually being rescued by the big, strong, aloof, alpha male. These females have been called TSTL(too stupid to live), and though they sell lots of books, they're not women I'd like to read or write about.
Of course, since stereotypes are the accepted cultural norms, stories that utilize them are likely to capture the current zeitgeist and become best-sellers. This limits my readers to those who prefer less traditional roles for their protagonists. But at least this way I can enjoy having my characters "live" in my head, telling their life stories through me.
What do you think? Do you agree with me or not?
To check out what other authors have to say on the subject, start with the next name on the list:
Helena Fairfax http://helenafairfax.com