The sexual double standard is the idea that men and women are held to different social standards when it comes to sex. 1
Men are praised for their sexual conquests, while women are criticized for being too easy. Men are studs, while women are sluts.
While some argue that this is changing, research shows that it isn't going away.
So the question for you is: should you accept the sexual double standard as it is, or should you do your part to try and change it and encourage society to be more accepting of women who sleep around?
Because this ultimately comes down to whether you personally are going to accept a girl's promiscuous history, or expect her to have shown some restraint.
Both Genders Have Less Sex Than They Want
One of the key arguments against the double standard is that it results in both men and women getting less sex than they want.
Women may want to have a lot of sex but they withhold it for fear of being labelled a slut.
With less women willing to put out, it creates scarcity. This then puts men in a position in which they are having to compete with each other and work hard in order to get a piece of the limited pie.
The end result is that men too get less sex than they want.
Both genders go home alone and unhappy because of the restrictions that society's double standard places upon them.
But perhaps this is being too idealistic. Perhaps it is better to accept reality as it is. The fact that the double standard exists suggests there may be a deeper reason for it.
The Sexual Double Standard Is The Sexual Marketplace At Work
Dating and sex are a marketplace, where each person tries to maximise their value and attract the highest value mate.
A man who gets a lot of girls is considered high value in the marketplace. Women prefer men that are in demand. Their goal is to date a man who is highly desired and get him to commit solely to her. Women have little interest in men that aren't desired by other women.
So not only does a stud get respect from other men, who want to be like him, but his sleeping around actually enhances his relationship prospects.
On the other hand men do not value women who have had a lot of sexual partners. Unlike the stud, whose exploits impress both genders, the promiscuous women impresses neither gender.
Men perceive a women who sleeps around as easy. He does not specifically desire a woman who is in demand by other men, since most women are in demand by a lot of men. Rather he desires a woman who is going to be sexually exclusive to him.
This is likely due to the fact that subconsciously a man needs to know that any child his woman bears will definately be his. If she is sleeping around then he risks raising another man's child and failing to carry on his line.
A girl who sleeps around a lot is seen as high risk. She may continue to sleep around.
Therefore a man is more impressed by a woman who has a low number of previous partners as it demonstrates that she saves herself only for high value serious partners.
This is why women always understate the number of previous partners, while men are more likely to overstate them.
Women Perpetuate The Double Standard
One reason why the double standard isn't going away anytime soon is because it is in fact women who perpetuate it.
Women are in competition with one another for high value men in the sexual marketplace. They know that men do not naturally hold promiscous women in high esteem and would prefer a woman without a lot of previous sexual partners.
So it is in a woman's interest to eliminate their competition by labelling them as a slut.
This is known as slut shaming.
So Should You Embrace Or Work Against The Sexual Double Standard?
There is a strong voice in our culture that argues that the sexual double standard, among plenty of other things, is anarchronistic and that society is moving forward into more enlightened ways.
Whether you accept the sexual double standard depends on your personal stance on this progressive world view.
Personally I am more inclined to accept the world as it is, rather than how I wish it to be. So if there is a double standard I might as well embrace it.
I can see the merit to the argument that we would all be better off if both genders could have sex freely and without social repercussions.
But the reality isn't like that, so I think you are better off accepting things as they are.
Men are praised for having lots of sex and women are vilified.
This is a really tough situation for women, who have to decide between fulfilling an immediate physical desire and maintaining their long term value in the sexual marketplace.
However there are differences between the genders. Men want chaste women, while women want men who are in demand. Women want high value genes, while men want to know that his woman is carrying his child and not another's.
The sexual double standard isn't a conspiracy of the patriarchy, but a product of social evolution that isn't likely to go away.
It's up to you whether you embrace it or not.
- Kreager, D. A. and J. Staff. "The Sexual Double Standard And Adolescent Peer Acceptance". Social Psychology Quarterly 72.2 (2009): 143-164.
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