Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's a girl to do? The issue of the sexual double standard


Over this past winter break, I read He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti and it got me thinking about the advances the women’s rights movement has made over the past century and how far it still has to go. As the book’s title suggests, the sexual double standard is one of the most pervasive issues faced by women in today’s society. And if there's one place we’d look first to find it, we’d look at none other than the college campus.

We all know how it goes – a guy sleeps with a girl and everyone thinks he’s the man. The girl he sleeps with, on the other hand, is a slut, a whore, a tramp, a floozy, a loose woman…you get the picture. (Notice how there’s a variety of derogatory terms for women who have sex and virtually none for men.) That’s the basic premise of the sexual double standard – men can sleep with whomever (or however many whomevers) they want, when they want, but women can’t do so as freely without getting some/a lot of flack for it.

How did the double standard arise and what’s kept it going for so long? The notion of men as sexual beings and women as asexual, I mean virginal, beings stems back to the early 19th century when middle-aged white men with wigs and wooden teeth were running the show. As for why the double standard is still so prevalent today, despite all of the strides society has since made to reverse the disparity, my guess is as good as yours. All I can say is that it exists and I need look no farther than my own backyard to observe it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was hanging out with a group of friends on the porch, playing beer pong when a group of 6 or 7 girls walked by wearing dresses and heels, obviously headed to a bar or house party. My pong partner (who was a guy) glanced at them and shook his head, saying, “sluts,” as he proceeded to shoot for the middle cup. Boobs weren’t spilling over the tops of their dresses, asses weren’t hanging out of the bottom of their skirts. These girls were called sluts simply for walking down the street wearing dresses and high-heeled shoes! I was appalled. And insulted. Because apparently just dressing nicely (and not revealingly) will get you called a slut.

I didn’t say anything to my friend about his comment at the time, but I definitely should have. That’s the kind of behavior that further perpetuates the sexual double standard, and we (both guys and girls) need to do/say something when we see it being endorsed because by keeping quiet, we send the message that’s OK to hold such beliefs. Of course, I realize that not all guys think/act the way my friend did, but the more attention we pay and respond in kind to the comments of our friends and family (both male and female, because I even have girl friends who call their fellow girls sluts and whores), the better off we’ll all be.  

5 comments:

Jere and Cara said...

WOW girl this is so true. Thanks for posting it! I want to find that book. Maybe my local library will have it?

I'm your newest follower. I found you through 20sb. Love your blog! :)

Brooke said...

Thanks! I posted the posted the Amazon link in case you wanted to find it online. It's a really quick read. I'm following you too! Nice layout. :)

Lee Lee Juliao said...

this is so SAD but true.. I hate this social thing that even girls are mean to other girls calling them sluts all the time.
awesome post.
to spread awareness of this issue! i am always mad when things like this happen!
xo

lissawrites said...

This is a really great post. The double standard really annoys me, too. Men like to claim that women are now equal to them, but it's so not true. I wish we had more terms to apply to man-whores.

Jennifer M. said...

Whoa that's crazy! I can't believe he would say something like that! It's such a derogatory word.

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