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All right, my friends. I think we know each other well enough to introduce this topic, and I hope we're mature enough to engage in a dialogue about it. If you question your maturity, please refrain from responding. This is adult material from here on out, and I'm not interested in snide or adolescent comments. The sexual double standard is a subject that comes up frequently among my girlfriends, and at times among the men as well. But it is rarely talked about with any seriousness when both parties are present. What I hope to do here is provide an open environment for a thought-provoking discussion of the double standard. We all know the game. It starts with language. A woman that sleeps with several men is a "slut" or a "whore." A man that gets laid all the time is a "stud" or a "player." The negative connotation is, without fail, draped on the female. When will men get it through their heads that a woman enjoying sex is a good thing?

The Sexual Double Standard

All right, my friends. I think we know each other well enough to introduce this topic, and I hope we’re mature enough to engage in a dialogue about it. If you question your maturity, please refrain from responding. This is adult material from here on out, and I’m not interested in snide or adolescent comments.

The sexual double standard is a subject that comes up frequently among my girlfriends, and at times among the men as well. But it is rarely talked about with any seriousness when both parties are present. What I hope to do here is provide an open environment for a thought-provoking discussion of the double standard.

We all know the game. It starts with language. A woman that sleeps with several men is a “slut” or a “whore.” A man that gets laid all the time is a “stud” or a “player.” The negative connotation is, without fail, draped on the female. When will men get it through their heads that a woman enjoying sex is a good thing?

It progresses to the attitude. A woman who has sex on the first date is always to blame for the lack of a second date, despite the fact that the male possesses the necessary appendage for sex to occur. I can’t tell you how many times this conversation has taken place among my girlfriends:

“He hasn’t called me back. I thought we had a great time.”

“You shouldn’t have slept with him on the first date. He already got what he wanted.”

Why the hell does this make sense? If both parties discover the other enjoys sex, shouldn’t we be adult enough to handle it? Is the man looking for a perpetual virgin? Wake up. Women are real.

Men, here’s a question: why do you lose interest in a woman who wants you from the get-go? Women, why do you allow and encourage your girlfriends to think their sexual freedom is a fault?

I would like to introduce the concept that a sexually free woman is a strong woman, instead of the self-degrading delinquent that seems to be the predominant image. Yes, sometimes promiscuity (on the part of both sexes) is a side-effect of low confidence or self-esteem. But the reality is that most of the women I know are proud of their bodies, their understanding of them, and their confidence in enjoying them.

These are just a few examples of the double standard. Please offer more, and offer some solutions or thoughts. The sexual equality of women and men may be a long way off, but breaking the taboo against discussing it is an important step.

I realize I’m running the risk of assuming the “slut” label myself for caring enough to introduce the subject. Let it fly. Just be ready from some intelligent and logical rebuttals.

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  1. Where the hell are you finding these men? When I was younger, I broke it off with a couple of women I really liked because they wouldn’t have sex. I have never broke it off with a woman I like to be with for having sex, but then I’m not the guy you woman are going home with. I’ve almost given up trying.

  2. I think you’ve introduced two separate topics in this column and I’ll add my most likely way-off two cents. As for your question to the men, I don’t think the woman’s eagerness is causal to the loss of interest. I think it probably has more to do with what the male’s expectations are. Most guys I’ve known that are out for a one-night stand are usually a: jerks, or b: trying the timeless “Get over her by getting onto someone else” method for dealing with a recent break up or something. The next day, the guilt and shame sets in and it usually has little to do with actual interest in the woman.

    As for your question to the women, I think a lot of the onus probably comes from what I surmise (in a most un-PC way) is the unspoken notion that when it comes to making that final decision that “yes, we’re going to do this,” the woman is in the driver’s seat. Speaking as a guy that has probably only recently reached a level of maturity to think about these things with any nuance, most young men go into these situations with their vote cast firmly in the “yes” category. We have to rely on our more sensible counterparts to help us avoid bad decisions. Of course I’m making a gross generalization, but I think that there’s a subconscious process that many of us go through where we fault the women because we’ve already decided that most men are sluts. It’s the difference between being singled-out or being part of a crowd.

    I’m not saying it’s right; it’s just my impression of where the double standard is born.

  3. Californiamontanacan

    Well, men are pigs. Look at the porn and sex slave industry. Men simply have a ‘drive’ that *most* women do not. Women get pregnant and are at greater risk of getting STD’s. I think most men also feel that women have notoriously bad taste in men. If a guy knows that you’ve slept with an ass hole, the game is over, at least in the long term.

    As for the lack of a call back, maybe the guy thought he was with a woman who was comfortable with ‘ their sexual freedom’. Maybe she just wanted a one night deal? Maybe he did. The sex could have been bad… there’s just as many turn offs for a man as turn ons. Did you try calling him back, or is that the guys job?

    I agree with Gary though. This scenario sounds abnormal…. freakishly so. At least you are having sex. Maybe this has more to do with your realtionship issues than with sweeping sexual generalizations. And as for the ‘studs and players’? A minority getting the majority of the action (which gets back to women often having misearble tastes in men).

    So take all of that along with a patriarchal society, small town, and the fact that men are stronger, and in control of sex as far as arousal, and you have reality.


  4. Does anyone of tender years remember the address of Chevy Chase to Jane Curtain?

  5. Nick D. nailed the part about language. The stereotype that “all men are going to say yes to sex” and “that women are the ones given the choice to say yes or no” is the base of the problem. Men have “no” choice in the matter, we’re all sluts so it gets ignored at best or played up as succeeding in doing what we are expected to do at worst. Where as women get to choose. So if they say yes or seek out sex they are labeled as sluts and if they say no or avoid it they are labeled as cold.

    When it comes to the attitude that “A woman who has sex on the first date is always to blame for the lack of a second date” I have to say that it goes back to stereotypes again. Ones such as “women who have sex on the first date only wanted sex and shes just a slut”. Most men will fall back on a stereotype like that in that situation and assume she doesn’t want a second date, especially if she doesn’t call.

    A bit over simplified and general. But you get the point. Solutions? Until the culture that women are the ones with choices and men have to choice ends there isn’t much you can do about being labeled a slut if you enjoy sex and seek it out. Except do your best to ignore it. To fix the “Sex on the first = no second” situation I think its necessary that both parties make it clear on the first that they want a second. And no ladies, having sex on the first date does not make it clear that you want a second date, it just makes it clear you wanted sex at that time. Then its up to both parties to arrange a second date. Leaving it up to the man to call back is just immature, regardless of who initiated the first date.

    Thats my 2 cents. Take it, leave it, or ask for more.

  6. Craig, you old pajama-clad blog-watcher, if you mean, “Jane, you ignorant slut,” you meant to type Dan Akroyd–not Chevy Chase. Perhaps your memory is fading in your golden years.

    Sis, if you shake your dainty plumage and attract an eager young Turk at the bar or party or GFS–whatever your m.o.–and he is a decent guy, you are probably making his year. He’ll remember you for a very long time. But anyone with enough maturity to have this discussion knows that it’s unlikely that he will hold out much hope for a longer term relationship. What reasonably intelligent guy, after all, wants to invest real effort into a relationship with such an eager beaver? Of course men love to get laid as much as women do. But for love to blossom, young Turks also like to pretend they are being allowed to enter a sacred realm–that the attention they are receiving from a woman, sexual or otherwise, is not of the mass-produced variety. Give it up on that first night and they’ll know they’ve visited the carnal equivalent of Starbucks. It’ll do, but it ain’t nothing special.

    How do you make the jump from first-night sex to “the carnal equivalent of Starbucks”? Just because a woman sleeps with a man on the first date doesn’t mean that she sleeps with every man on the first date. It is assumptions and generalizations just like those that are the root of the problem. As well as language like “give it up”, as if women have just one night of “special” sex a year. In my opinion, if the man in question is mature enough, he’ll damn well invest in a longer-term relationship with a woman who trusted him enough to sleep with him.

  8. Gary-
    Keep trying. I’ve got more than enough female friends looking for you.

    Nick D. and Zane-
    Thank you for that honest revelations. I think it’s interesting that you put women in the power position, which makes more sense that the consequences fall on our shoulders. I don’t think it’s right, either.

    This is not an abnormal scenario. Talk to a woman.

  9. We pajama pirates have one eye tied behind our backs. Argh! You’re right, Dan made the statement and Chevy made the mocking faces as Jane attempted seriousness. I find that apropos for this discussion. Why would a woman expect a man to approach a ‘slam-bam-thank you-ma’ma’ moment with the same level of expectation that she might have for further tête-à-tête? The bar scene is what it is. If a person casts their fishing line in a narcissistic cesspool of self-indulgence and gratification they shouldn’t expect to catch anything but turds while practicing catch and release. Any judgement the fisherperson might feel from others for casting the line or their enjoyment from it is irrelevant. If trophy trout are desired, try other waters.

  10. Whoa, Calforniamontanacan! In Missoula I’ve always felt that we can have discussions and voice our opinions without being told to leave town.

  11. Good point, Felicia.
    The “opportunity” to be called a slut? You make it sound like women are jumping at the prospect to be called a hurtful name. It sounds like you think a woman enjoying sex isn’t a good thing, as you said “women can have sex at the drop of a hat”. You paint that in a negative light, failing to mention that men can do the same thing and not be looked down upon for it. Once again, this is the language at the root of the problem that needs to undergo a serious shift.

  12. Californiamontanacan

    Not tellin’ anyone to do anything. Surely leaving insular old Msla has crossed everone’s mind when they are single and not getting call backs. It’s a small pool. You become a known quantity.

    “failing to mention that men can do the same thing and not be looked down upon for it. ”

    Not true on both counts. Single men generally can’t have sex at the drop off a hat. And man whores, male bimbos (mimbos), do get looked down upon for their actions…. depending on the company they keep. I think much of your situation has to actually do with your friends, who you date, and of course yourself.

  13. Hmm. I’m back in town, and intrigued by these discussions.

    Seems we’ve ratcheted up the forum, huh, Little Sis?

    The real question is: if anyone (male or female) “drops a hat” somewhere in Missoula, will anyone hear it? And, if they hear it, does a sexual partner appear magically, perhaps to the tune of a few bars of a James Brown song?

    Everyone drop a hat in five, four, three…


  14. I didn’t take the comment “women can have sex at the drop of a hat” as hurtful or negative. Rather, I think Californiamontanacan was referring to the notion that women can have sex whenever they want, because most men (I’m just going to keep this in the hetero world for ease of discussion) are always able, willing and ready, no matter the woman; whereas those men who do not have the advantage of good looks, money and charming personality go without for much longer periods of time. However, it’s only a notion. Based on my own experiences, and those of my circle of single female friends, it’s not true. There are plenty of single men in Missoula who won’t have sex with the first woman who bats her eyelashes, and there are plenty of single women in this town who sleep alone every night despite being all that and a growler of Moose Drool.

  15. I see Big Sis slipped in while I was composing my comments, which were but a faint echo of hers. Maybe I’m just dropping my hat in all the wrong places.

  16. By the way, men are not pigs. They’re dogs.

  17. Californiamontanacan

    Agreed. And probably a few other things as well. Also agreed that you can control situations. Get called a slut or whore? No call back? Work backwards and see where you made bad choices.

  18. Interesting topic. Historically, in dominant western culture (and others as well) men owned women. (Remember, we’ve only had the right to vote since 1920 when the 19th amendment of the Constitution was ratified.) In the scope of all of history, acceptance in society as a rightful member of the public sphere is new.

    It wasn’t so long ago that marriage was simply a transfer of rights of ownership of a woman from her father to her husband. Her virginity was the mark of value, along with a dowry, and again, owned by the men in her life.

    I realize that men (especially in Missoula) and women for that matter are trying pretty hard to get past this. For perspective, I think marriage is a good idea, love men, and don’t spend my free time debating with my friends who has the most beautiful long leg hair. But I do think the long history of ownership and oppression of women has a lasting legacy, which includes general disdain for women who own themselves.

    I think we’re in an awkward place in history. Women of course, enjoy the right to vote, we work, we participate in government and lead companies. In many senses, we’ve succeeded in a long struggle to enjoy basic civil and human rights like men. In other ways, sexism pervades quietly.

    And, Californiamontanacan, I think your missing the point when you say “work backwards and see where you made bad choices.” Its begging the question that Lil Sis, or any of us, made a bad choice, and if it is a bad choice, why isn’t it for a man? Why is it a “no you didn’t, wink wink, let’s go out tonight and do it again you hero” for men, and a “shame on you, don’t you have any pride” for women?

  19. Californiamontanacan

    It’s a matter of context though right? Someone has to call you a slut , a whore, whatever. That’s my point. Maybe it was a bad choice on the woman’s part, maybe not (or the man). This is more a case of who one chooses to have around them. Who is the gallery? Suppotive? Liberated? Secure? Insecure name callers? So degrees of choices… those that pertain directly to the encounter, and then the broader context… made of ‘choices’, conditions whatever. We all operate in our own individual context, and these all overlap. They all are made of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ choices (in this case of friends, lovers) and degrees in b/t. Since LS wrote this piece and solicited responses, I think it is more than reasonable to look for poor ‘choices’ , or conditions in her reality/context. We all have them, but we didn’t all author the piece. Nor did any of her past lovers…. they are not claiming that they have been branded, or not called back.

    So does LS have a list of actual people who have called names, branded, not called back? Or is this more of a general sweeping atmospheric social affair?

  20. “Bad taste is simply saying the truth before it should be said.” —Mel Brooks

    It simply doesn’t matter that others may not be on the receiving end of such expressions of bad taste. Also, I don’t think the person within any of us is easily arrested from expressing harsh judgments or other forms of bad taste. While brushing one’s teeth or before slumber interdicts the day, assess the conversations with that voice. If there is alignment of the inner and outer person, there is peace and a strength of spirit to resist the bad taste stemming from others.

  21. Californiamontanacan-
    If you think I wrote this piece as a personal rant, you are sorely mistaken. I happen to be in a position of capability to lend a voice to a problem that pervades society in every place I’ve ever lived or visited. I have to admit to my anger that you accuse me of making bad choices based on my writing of a sensitive topic that deserves some serious examination. Roomie was right in her observation that sexism pervades quietly – perhaps it is some people’s refusal to view the problem in a broader context. Perhaps that’s why you’d rather brand me, the voice, with bad personal choices instead of actually speaking to your female friends about an adult subject.

  22. Nicely put, Roomie. Eloquent and insightful. I’m glad we keep you around!


  23. Californiamontanacan

    OK, this is unfortunatley going the route that most internet discussions go. Too bad. Not much supple thinking or understanding happening. And understanding like sexism is two way street.

    Over and out and best of luck.

  24. Yeah there are double standards and folks have explained how it happens. It should be reduced. I say if a man who is an active guy is a “player” then the active gal is a “party girl”. Lets keep “slut” as a match for “dog”. I am not sure it is appropriate to let judgmental and call anybody those terms but if somebody is being really shallow, mindless, callous or deceitful ok then maybe for the extreme cases or if envy gets the better of ya.

    If you feel like a party girl on a particular night in a particular situation, go for it love. Be proud of it, show it, work it. No shame if you arent ashamed or conflicted about it.If you feel like a party girl don’t hide it, don’t act like you’re on a find a date to find a husband right then and stay in that tighter role. If you arent interviewing that night, lets party! There is time for interviews, but that can come later. Whatever your style, try to do it the way that is comfortable or works for you.

  25. “Player” isnt a completely positive reference about a guy among women or men. By 30 ‘lucky guy” with a catch girlfriend or wife starts to trump “player” is terms of status in the eyes of a lot of guys.I assume it happens among women too, but I guess it might vary based on how “hot” he is.

  26. This article and this discussion is a HOOT!!!

    If you were really “… hop(ing) to … provide an open environment for a thought-provoking discussion of the double standard”, Little Sis, then my vote has to go to “roomie” !!! I know I haven’t voted “early” … can I vote OFTEN? If so, consider it done!

    “roomie” is RIGHT ON: ” … sexism pervades quietly.” Yep … there IS that “language” and there IS that “attitude” … and, yep … it DOES get turned inside out sometimes. So just how many of us are going to live long enough to see a change and just what ARE we going to do to make it “all better”??? … a puzzlement, to say the least!

    I just hope you will all understand why the following quote by Carrie Snow zapped through my mind as I read some of the comments. Carrie expressed the revolutionary idea that “A male gynecologist is like an auto mechanic who never owned a car.”

    Wonder why that silly idea might have come to mind??!!! 😉

    But the only advice I’ve got to share at this belated hour is that voiced by Eleanor Roosevelt, who said:

    “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.”

    So hang in there! … and thanks, Little Sis, for an interesting PEOPLE-probe!

  27. This i really dont think is much of an issue at all. Men and Women are EQUAL!! And should be treated so. I love a girl that can handle herself. That is all i ask. My problem has always been finding a partner i can trust. I am sorry but i feel that women view a man being a pimp or stud as a negative. Where as men view women as a slut or a whore as a negative. So my real question is how is this not equal. Riddle me that baby!

  28. The reason that it is not “equal” is because if women sleep around they are looked down upon by others…both male and female. However, if boys sleep around they are getting high fives right and left. Yes, when it comes down to one boy and one girl, both sides look at it as negative. But, think of the different discussions in the locker room after a girl as lost her virginity to a guy. The girl probobly wont tell ANYONE except her close friends, but the guy will be yelling and bragging about it to anyone who wants to hear it. And he’ll gets some, “Good work man” or “Yeah” and some high fives. To me, that’s the difference….

  29. All of these comments highlight the selfishness and dishonesty embodied in the sexual double standard. They were instituted at a time when a man couldn’t always be sure whether he had fathered a child, but DNA tests are available today to resolve that issue. The main purpose of the sexual double standard was control, and it is at odds with the much greater empowerment today.

    But my main objection to it is that while many parents are concerned about the sexuality of their daughters, they are cavalier about that of their sons. At a time of STD’s, some of which are life-threatening, there could not be a worse time for the kind of hypocrisy and self-deception involved in maintaining this sexual standard. Just as women are vulnerable to STD’s and unwanted pregnancies, men are vulnerable to unwanted fatherhood, and circumstances of unwed parenthood that favor mothers as well as STD’s. I don’t know of anyone who has not made an error in judgment about the opposite sex, but that should not be a reason to demonize one sex and shrug it off for the other.

  30. lots of guys who DONT get laid also dont call—we just remember the ones we laid who didnt call—why in the world should we be devastated by a one night stand who didnt call back when there are plenty of fish in the sea—my humble opinion, our tell-all culture is partly to blame—i dont kiss and tell and its nobody’s business how many partners ive had