She’s a slut — or is he? When it comes to controlling one’s passionate pursuits, the sexual double standard has been around for a long time.
A study in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality indicates that we’re putting more sexual limitations on men. On the other hand, the double standards regarding women’s sexual behaviors are being slightly alleviated.
So where do we stand with the sexual double standard? We have a long way to go in paving a level playing field, as seen with the following ...
He’s always interested in sex. She’s not.
Findings from the Canadian study support the belief that it’s abnormal for a male not to be interested in sex. At the same time, while men are expected to be interested in sexual matters, their sexual interest is also expected to be "socially appropriate." Society has specific expectations in how he should express himself sexually.
Lesbian sex is hot. Sex between men is not.
The University of Saskatchewan study found that society is not so permission-giving when it comes to males having sexual fantasies involving other men. Such is an example of the pressure society puts on men to stick to a specific gender role around sex. At the same time, women are being given more encouragement to embrace their sexual nature.
She’s to be sexually submissive. He’s not.
The Canadian study reported that men are given less “sexual latitude” than women when it comes to engaging in submissive sexual acts. It’s considered more permissible for a woman to be either dominant or submissive in the bedroom. But it’s deemed “non-normative” for him to experiment with subordinate sexual roles.
He’s to be on the prowl. She’s not.
While it’s considered normal, and even desirable, for women to push the limits with sexual experimentation, the Canadian study found that females find a male’s sexual prowess more acceptable than their own. They support the view that females should be less promiscuous than males.
She should experiment. He shouldn’t.
The Canadian study, involving 104 undergraduates, reported that men are more limited by bedroom taboos. They’re expected to be highly sexual, yet less experimental. The opposite is expected of females.
She’s a "dirty girl." Men are "experienced."
When females have sex, they’re deemed dirtier than males. Suddenly, she’s not “whole” anymore. She’s used goods. This “she’s now soiled” view is seen in news headlines on the rates of sexually transmitted infections that typically focus on her being infected, and the need to protect her.
Nowhere in these articles is mention made that she acquired the infection from a male -- that her male partner must have had the bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection too. It’s as though her decision to be sexually active – and not the interaction with a partner – brought on her infection.
She is a "slut." He is a "Casanova."
When it comes to being sexually active, females who aren’t married are offered the virgin-whore dichotomy. Forget that, in today’s society, neither label is considered sexy. He, on the other hand, gets high-fives for his sexual antics, rewarded with labels like “Casanova” or “stud.”
She’s willing to settle. He will always get the hottie.
Thanks to Hollywood, men have been brainwashed to think that every one of them can get the trophy female. Movies like “Knocked Up” have them thinking that any semi-decent male slacker can get the successful beauty. Yet where’s the storyline with the roles reversed? It’s practically non-existent.
She’s a psycho. He's a Romeo.
Jessica Valenti has a field day in her book “He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know” with this one. She rages that if a male shows up at a woman’s work, calls her up in the middle of the night, or basically stalks her, he’s romantic. A gal, on the other hand, is labeled a psycho in doing the same.
Forget that the majority of stalkers are male and that the majority of victims are females. Forget that, according to the Department of Justice, 1in 12 women versus 1in 45 males are stalked in their lifetime. She’s the one who’s seen as pathetic.
He’s sex savvy. She isn’t.
Supposedly, males are sex encyclopedias at birth. Females, on the other hand, are supposed to be sexually naïve and ignorant. This is exemplified in the plethora of “dumb blonde” sex jokes that we have running rampant in our society.
She was asking for it. He can’t get raped.
According to an Amnesty International study, 26 percent of people think that if a woman wears sexy clothes then she is partly to blame if she’s raped. Equally insulting, tragic, and wrong is the idea that a man cannot be sexually assaulted – and if he is, then he must be wimpy or gay.
She’s supposed to be virginal. He isn't.
She’s taught that she should be pure until her wedding day. As Valenti writes in The Purity Myth: “Our moral compass lies somewhere between our legs.”
He, on the other hand, is expected to come into a union with some sexual experience. Hence, his mission: to make her impure.
It’s her child, he wants a paternity test.
For a female, the unplanned pregnancy is a life sentence. Caring for and raising the child is largely seen as her responsibility, while he, on the other hand, can walk. Absent fathers aren’t brought to justice enough. A major reason justifying his lack of accountability is that the gal is to blame for getting pregnant. She let the sex happen, but he was just being a guy.
At the end of the day, neither gender is the winner with any of these double standards. Both males and females are burdened by the shackles that control their sexual interactions. Both have to worry about being judged when it comes to fulfilling their sexual needs strictly because of their gender.
Overall, men worry about keeping up a macho image when it comes to expressing themselves sexually. Women are expected to be virginal till they get in the bedroom, and then it’s anything goes. At some point, all of us need to quit propagating and enforcing these problematic notions around our sexuality.