Bill*, another IUP male student, recites to me the overused joke:
“A girl and a guy were arguing. The girl was saying how it was unfair that if a guy has sexual intercourse with a different girl every week, he was considered a legend, but if a girl sleeps with a different person a year she is considered a slut. In response, the guy told her that if a key opens a lot of locks, then it’s a master key. If a lock is opened by a lot of keys, then it’s a crappy lock. That silenced her.”
When asked what number is the maximum number he would consider okay to have a potential partner have in their sexual history, he says, “I think five to eight is okay with me if I were to really want to date a girl. But, even then, that’s pushing it.” When asked if he knew that most women have more than ten people that they’ve slept with, and what his number was, he states, “If they do have more than that, then they were brought up wrong. I think I’ve slept with about fifteen girls so far, but they were all girls I was in a relationship with.” Nothing against Bill, but he epitomizes the issue women face with this double standard.
Oh, and let’s not forget the lovely retorts women receive when we show that we have an opinion!
When we promptly tell the ridiculer to shove their thoughts where the sun doesn’t shine, we are often met with insinuations that we may be of differing sexuality and/or a female dog. I remember I had a lovely young man ask for my number while walking to class, and when I told him I didn’t want to give him my digits he proceeded to make accusations about how my roommate and I slept in the same bed together on occasion. Not that same-sex romps are bad, but that’s immediately where his thinking went when he got rejected. See how silly that is?
I consider myself to be open about my sexual exploits, although my reasons are more political than apathetic. When my friends drag it out of me (I was raised a particular way so they literally have to dragit out), I tell them my stories about what hell I’ve been through with my sexual partners, and often with animation and gusto. As Sarah points out, even this is slightly unusual.
She says, “With women, we don’t talk about it. Society thinks you’re ruined if you do, yet expects men to behave the way they do.” She finds it surprising that other women can talk about it so openly, finding out that they have slept with so many people and the guilt they hold really fascinates her. In my firm opinion, the way Sarah feels is often the way that most women feel, and it’s dangerous.
The sexual double standard is a dangerous one: it perpetuates slut-shaming, which is when women are made to feel bad about acting or dressing a certain way; and it praises male promiscuity—which is sometimes the number one reason STD’s are passed around. It will take a long while to see if this double standard will die out or go away completely, but I certainly hope it does.
*Names have been changed per interviewee’s request.
Sources: Jane*, personal interview; Sarah*, personal interview; John*, personal interview; Bill*, personal interview
photos courtesy of: