DOES A SEXUAL DOUBLE STANDARD REALLY EXIST?
Simply put, YES.
You don’t have to step foot onto a college campus to be able to see double standards or slut shaming in action. All you need to do is open up a tabloid and read the latest article on how Taylor Swift has ruined yet another relationship and is on her way to writing another song about it. Meanwhile, John Mayer has dated numerous women and written songs about those women without the same scrutiny as Taylor Swift. In fact, many stars, such as Leonardo Dicaprio, are praised for dating a large number of women because they’re models, while female celebrities are hung out to dry in the media.
Double standards, however, aren’t just a problem in mainstream culture. Hook-up culture and slut shaming are experienced on college campuses, which can turn something that should be one of the best and most worthwhile experiences of one’s life into something that is riddled with bullying and self esteem issues that can be a consequence of hookup culture.
Unfortunately, women are often victims of the hookup culture on college campuses. Men are almost encouraged to sleep with a number of people, whether that be from their peers, their fraternity, or the media. Almost every movie that is on a college campus has some scene where the boy hooks up with someone and gets a round of high fives from their friends, while in another scene, a girl is shamed for having hooked up with a boy and she “should have known better” than to think a hook up meant they were exclusive. This opens up another can of worms - women on campuses are perceived as wanting to find the person they will spend the rest of their life with. This isn’t to say that women are not looking for this on a college campus, but it’s unfair for the media and for college co-eds to run with this assumption. Western culture has told women their purpose is to find “the one” and raise a family, not to hook up and enjoy sexual freedom.
Because of the ideals pushed on women (marriage, raising a family, etc.), women who do have multiple sexual partners on campus aren’t treated with a lot of respect. Instead, they are called loose or called a slut for expressing their sexuality and taking pride in that, while men are praised. Slut shaming can extend to men as well, but it is far less common, as American culture and the media praise male sexuality.
So how do we combat this? How do we, as a society, look at this behavior and attempt to turn it around in order to put everyone on equal footing?
We can start unlearning the behaviors we have been taught just by living our lives. Instead of believing women are supposed to be prudes and have one sexual partner, we can remind ourselves that sexuality can be an integral part of a person's life, depending on the individual, and that gender doesn’t define sexuality.
More importantly, we can stop making a person’s sexual life any of our business. If no one is being hurt, emotionally or physically, the amount of sexual partners someone has really isn’t that important. Having one or more sexual partners doesn’t affect who a person is, and making judgments based on sex is not a good reflection of who a person really is.