Be… But Don’t Be… Pretty, Girly, Sexy

The sexual double-bind: damned if you do, damned if you don't.

The sexual double-bind: damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

By Caitie Adler

In my kindergarten mind girls were beautiful and boys were tough. And since girls were beautiful, I was beautiful.

By middle school things looked a lot more complicated.

I’d learned that girls should be pretty. And I tried to be. But there was a downside. 

Like one of my classmate’s moms called me and my friends “the lipstick girls.” I was conflicted. It was good to be pretty and girly, right? But the label didn’t feel so good.

Or, a friend of mine told me I wouldn’t grow up and get a job because I wasn’t serious. For some reason kids at my school seemed to think I was stupid because I was “girly.”

But while I wore Abercrombie and cared about fashion, so did half of the other girls at school.

I think I got so much criticism because I had C cups by 6th grade — which got me the attention of boys and scrutiny from girls. And even from women: One of my mom’s “friends” said I would end up a slut, with my “big boobs.”

At age 13 I didn’t understand why all of this was happening.

But then I met girls who had low self-esteem because they weren’t girly enough. Apparently, they were too tomboyish. And they thought boys didn’t like them because they weren’t “developed” enough. So that was confusing for me since I’d been put down so much for traits they wanted. So I saw how hard it was for them, too.

We were all caught in a double-bind: a no-win situation where we shouldn’t be girly or tomboyish.

By high school I ran smack into the sexual double-bind.

The sexual double standard: okay for him but not for her

The sexual double standard: okay for him but not for her

My friends were more sexually experienced than I was and I didn’t want to seem prude — and I wanted approval. So when I went to Israel for five months after high school I experimented sexually. But I was called a slut for doing it.

So I got punished for something I thought I was supposed to do. And I didn’t even enjoy it. It didn’t bring me any satisfaction or happiness.

But I never got mad about being called a slut — even while guys were praised for doing the same thing —because I hadn’t really thought through the double standard. Instead, I just accepted that that’s how things were.

As I think over my experience I’m realizing why I never enjoyed sex. I actually became less interested when it became real. And that’s because of the punishment I’d begun to associate with it.

I used to think that if I was sexual it was my fault. And if I wasn’t sexual enough, it was my fault. I’m finally seeing that our society has impossible standards that leave women in a no-win situation. And I’m seeing that the guilt I’ve felt is due to society and is not natural or necessary.

I’m finally taking the blame off of myself and seeing the bigger picture.

This was written by one of my students who asked that I use a pen name.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 24, 2014, in body image, feminism, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 85 Comments.

  1. This article touched on something that is a huge issue (or should I say major pet-peeve) of mine. I am sick to death of women being criticized for exploring and enjoying their sexuality, casually, with non committed partners. Men are allowed and even encouraged to have ALL the sex they want but when women do it – even if a woman is grown and in her 40s – she is somehow “disrespecting herself.” We are told we should make a guy “wait” for three months before sleeping with him so he will “respect” us.

    But where is it written that women aren’t allowed to respect themselves until some man gives her permission to do so??? Sadly many women subscribe to this sexist notion without realizing they are setting themselves back AND actually disrespecting themselves by buying into this crap.

    I can’t stand this and frankly I’m surprised, in 2014, how common this still is. I am divorced. I am in my 40s. I am in better physical shape than I have EVER been, I look at least ten years younger than my age, and as a result I have attracted many young men who want to please me in bed. Am I going to turn that down??? That would just be stupid now wouldn’t it??

    I enjoy sex, God knows I didn’t have any excitement being married to a dud for 13 years and I rather enjoy making up for lost time with some young man who’s willing 🙂 But then there’s that thing…that stupid sexist prejudice looming over my head that I (as a confident and secure woman) must not respect myself because I’m not withholding sex like some 18 year old virgin who’s waiting for a marriage proposal. Men and women need to get over this nonsense and realize that women, younger or older, not only enjoy sex but have just as much right to have it as often as men do without the criticism attached.

    • Yes, it’s so odd that women “aren’t respecting themselves” for doing something that men get kudos for.

      Thanks so much for sharing about your experience.

    • “We are told we should make a guy “wait” for three months before sleeping with him so he will “respect” us.”

      And buried in that language is the idea that a woman doesn’t want sex on her own; she’s just “making the guy wait.” Which is ridiculous.

      Unfortunately as a woman, regardless of what you do, you have to be prepared to give the world the finger.

    • @Kristin,

      “. I am sick to death of women being criticized for exploring and enjoying their sexuality, casually, with non committed partners.”

      In your life, who does this to you?

      “Men are allowed and even encouraged to have ALL the sex they want…”

      I am? Not all men are as bold and without shame as the ones who approach you. I’ve internalized the notion that talking to or approaching women for sex is inherently disrespectful and dirty to the point where even thinking of doing it causes extremely acute stress. When I think “my sexuality” I link it to images of female discomfort, fear, insecurity, and violence that I see in various secular media and then images of filth and disgust I was exposed to in religious contexts. I’m literally as wound up and inwardly shackled as one could possibly be, and I know I’m not alone.

      • “I’ve internalized the notion that talking to or approaching women for sex is inherently disrespectful and dirty to the point where even thinking of doing it causes extremely acute stress.”

        “I’m literally as wound up and inwardly shackled as one could possibly be, and I know I’m not alone.”

        I happen to agree with you William. I really cannot separate the notion of pursuing a woman just for sex and sexual objectification of the woman. Obviously, this is how I wish to live. I cannot speak for others. Simply my morality.

  2. These double-standards always make me want to cry.

  3. Wow – it makes me angry to see how much people suffer because of these double standards.

  4. Such hypocrites and double minded people who always blame girls for everything. I mean, if we do we are wrong and if we dont we still are wrong and if same is done by a guy he is always right. I hate such people who comment such things.

  5. Interesting to read this piece right after the last one you shared: the young(?) man’s perspective on how ‘sex is better if she wants it.’ Learning how to please oneself is hard enough even without the social penalties of being seen as wanting “too much” or as having the “wrong” kind of wanting. Breaks my heart to see that pattern repeating yet again, for yet another generation.

  6. Caitie did a great job of articulating the conundrum that women and girls are placed in where it can feel like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario.Kind of like with body image- hardly ever will a woman be just right- too big, too small, fat or skinny to imply not falling in the “Just right” in between. I can definitely relate to the “double bind” with how she should be sexual but not too sexual.

  7. The writer’s experience remind me of my classmate story. She was quite fashioned girl when she was in the middle school. One day, she properly made up, and went to the school. The teacher blamed her and said she was the ugliest girl among the students because she made up. In my home country, faculty don’t like female students to make up or became attractive since they think pretty girls will distract boys from learning. On the other hand, some girls who don’t look cute or are unsocial are more likely to be ridiculed by boys. The standard of judgment from other people is various so in my opinion, the only solution is to educate girls, and let them become more confident so as to let them don’t care other’s ridiculous opinion.

  8. Interesting, something I saw on yahoo. This stuff isn’t new as we all know of hooters and like restaurants. Though I believe Hooters has lost quite a bit of business. There was a hooters at the mall, a big mall in a city nearby and it went out of business years ago and plenty of other ones. But now another “breastaraunt” chain is coming along called Twin Peaks, geared on the same thing though different outfits. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/racy-breastaurant-fastest-growing-food-143448488.html

    There’s the link. Though the interesting thing is that the company was constructed by a company run by a woman and the CEO’s wife, is the one who decided the skimpy uniforms for the waitressses. Wonder what you though. I don’t know how to take it. I feel it’s sad that still women are used for their bodies in the forefront or exploited that way. Though nobody is forcing these women to work there. Except I wouldn’t want my sister or female family members working there. On the same token, waitresses and female bartenders can make good tips at certain restuarants and bars, more so at some places than others. A girl my I know, when she was 20, maybe 21, while in college used to work at Hooters and she made a lot of $ from tips there. Those resturants though degrading, women often make more money with tips than regular restaurants except for restaurants located in rich towns or cities.

    It’s one of those things. I think it is degrading, but ironically some of the degrading jobs, can pay a lot of men to women “strippers, this, porn star” more so than for guys. While it;s degrading, on the same token, I think more guy’s would put aside their masculine, male jobs and use their sexuality if there were work venues for guys like for women and to make the same amount of money. It sounds funny, as its embarrassing for guys to show their bodies., But if there were restaurants in the reverse and men tipped and paid well from women there, I wouldn’t be surprised if more men would. The way I see it, with capitalism we are all “slaves to money” pretty much. People working two jobs, 60 hours, even careers they went to college to have, but the fact of life is most people don’t really enjoy their job, but work to put food in the table and because we have to. Sometimes it’s the place that offers the most $ for people.

  9. The thing is, I think men would “degrade” themselves too, if they got paid for their sex and sexuality like women or the market was for that too. And I don’t know if men would feel it’s sexist too. Some guys might like the easier job, compared to the dirty, filthy, very rigourous, tiring, laborous work of some male jobs that are almost all done by men.

    • I’m sure they would. But given the historical difference between how men and women have been viewed, it would come across very differently.

      Men don’t live in a world in which they aren’t taken seriously, are paid less than women, are less likely to be hired for important and well-paid jobs — sexy is stupid, after all — leaving them working tiring laborious jobs as hotel maids and such, and then working a second shift at home after working all day in a paid job. And objectified women are often treated very poorly (used and abused, sexually abused, and sex trafficked more often, for example), because they’re seen as being all about sex. Or, they are seen as being much less attractive than the sex objects out there, and feel devalued by their partners.

  10. It is helpful and inspiring to see so many people have the same issue as a double standard as a women. Since growing up, especially in Asia, male are more valuable than female, and they are not afraid or ashame of to let us know, I mean it’s something that’s consider common in Asia. Now that I have the opportunity to exam this in a broader perspective, I’ll gladly put that (low self-esteem as women) down

    • Too many guys here in the US still aren’t ashamed to tell women that they’re less valuable, either.

      Luckily, that’s changing a lot, and many, many men are supportive of women these days.

  11. “leaving them working tiring laborious jobs as hotel maids and such, and then working a second shift at home after working all day in a paid job.”

    That’s true, though it goes both ways. The economy and system requires things done and produces and all types of things running and done therefore, all types of jobs needed to be done. Luckily for women, women can avoid some of these jobs as they are not asked upon or women have alternate choices. It’s not that I want women too, I think men should be doing such jobs as I feel like guys aren’t being too helpful letting women doing the rigourus dirty jobs instead. But most of the dirty, hard labor jobs are done by men. Hotel maid that sucks. And while it probably can pay decent, they can’t be fun. Like roofer for example. How many women do roofing? That’s primarily a male job and women get the chance to not resort to that work and many clerical, secretary, etc jobs availabe. Not that they guys aren;t having other jobs, but society needs dirty jobs done and dangerous jobs done, so people are to fill such jobs and as usual there are always people that need work. Such people asked upon naturally and expected and who do the jobs, being men. Women get to avoid such nasty jobs ha, I’m a guy and I don’t want to do that stuff, If I was a woman I would use that to the advantage and obviously not choose such work.

    But anyway like I was saying hotel maid. Roofers, say in the summer which many states will have summers of 90 degrees or so, well being up there plus the tar, the heat is ridiculous, it feels like 110 degrees. There’s a show called “Dirty jobs” a guy goes all around america working and showing all the jobs we take for granted that are dangerous or dirty but needed to be done. And guess who the vast majority if not all doing those jobs are? Yep, men. There was one with Chicken farm which they sell the eggs and manure too, I guess for fertilizer, I don’t know. But one of the jobs was cleaning out the men as the chicken’s shit so much, and they had masks on but shit would still fly around. And then have this bull dozer like machine done below and pushing all the shit out, to get it cleaned out and collected or something. While the guy was on the machine, there was chicken shit falling from above on his tractor ha, as chickens were on the level above. There were women that worked there, but that was the upper level of the farm, factory, which they sorted the good from bad eggs, and not doing the shit clean up like the guys in the other dept. Crazy dangerous jobs guys do everyday too. I mean think about sewage work, that’s gross, I guarentee 99% are men doing such jobs. Various types of gritty, dangerous, dirty work, primarily done and asked of to be done from men.

    • If the work that women more typically do is some much better, all these guys should quit their jobs immediately & sign on to be hotel maids, or whatever. Nothing’s stopping them.

      But this reminds me of a comment you once made when I talked about women being blinded to possibilities, and you assumed I was saying that women were weak-minded. Yet right here it hadn’t occurred to you that instead of complaining about the horrible jobs men have, that men could simply take jobs that women ordinarily take. Does that make you weak-minded because it hadn’t occurred to you that men could simply do something that they don’t ordinarily do? No. It does show your socialization that blinded you to other possibilities.

      And, in one of the examples I gave on the post you commented on, I mentioned that with one couple I know, neither the mom or dad could imagine the man staying home with kids and the woman being the breadwinner — even though they would each prefer to switch roles. So he was as “weak minded” and she was — in your mind. But really it’s not about that. It’s about socialization making it difficult or impossible to see possibilities that exist outside your culture or subculture.

  12. What I think is a good topic now and relevant as well as what I think you should have your next post about is women flocking to what doesn’t make sense. We talked about it already asking why women or some women support men who abuse women. But there’s another spin. I’m sure you read the news quite a bit. Everybody knows of the scumbags known as ISIS, Well the crazy thing, is now women from other countries are joining such extreme islamic state, which doesn’t believe in freedom and reported today to have tortured and executed a female civil rights woman, because she posted something on social media that is against their sharia law or some bullshit. These are countries of freedom and while not perfect, a hell of a lot better than ISIS or middle east places that are savages and treat women and people like slaves. Some women from America, France, democratic nations with freedoms and liberties joining terrorists? These women not captured or forced to but choosing to, because they think they have security. How delusional is that? Why are women of all people doing this, when one of the most dangerous and violent groups toward women such as ISIS and women deciding to join them? It’s a death wish. A woman from Turkey joined and has her son with her, a toddler to join ISIS. I don;t get it. These savages don’t give a damn about her and her son.

    The minute she messes up an assignment or does something even small they don;t like or they just don’t want or need her anymore. They’ll kill her and her son without blinking an eye. Or kill her and keep the son so they can groom and train him to be ignorant and violent and be the next generation terrorist for them. I’d understand if these women were in dire situations and in terrible places. But FRance and America, are one of the most liberty related countries. People can make choices and have so much more freedom compared to most countries. Some of the women working for ISIS capture and bring the “traitor” Islam women and have them enslaved for the terrorists. It’s bad enough to see women supporting ray rice, it;s another thing for women joining or helping pure Evil such as ISIS

  13. Another thing is if we are complimented on being pretty, smart or good at something, women often feel the need to deny it. We have to try our best to be pretty but we can’t admit that we are. We have to do our best to get our accomplishments noticed but we can’t celebrate them. I think that is one thing that affects our confidence. From a very young age we’re socialized to be less confident in our own ability and also almost apologetic for the things we’re good at. It’s a real problem!

  14. “If the work that women more typically do is some much better, all these guys should quit their jobs immediately & sign on to be hotel maids, or whatever. Nothing’s stopping them.”

    Well, men will be needed for such jobs since most women won’t be doing them, plus it would be cowardly of men to ask women to do such nasty, dangerous jobs when men, being the providers and protectectors should do it. Can’t have that much positive view of men having women doing all heavy lifting working, when nature gave men the bigger, stronger bodies to use such strength and brute force for such heavy labor jobs. Not that women, can’t of course, but men realize this is better suited for men. Men aren’t quitting their jobs to be hotel maids, because its something they feel they’d be ridiculed about. But then are butlers, hotel cleaning men and servants as well as men doing clerical and secretarial work. PLus many or much more male nurses or actually plenty,

    If women’s jobs are so bad, how come women aren’t quitting their jobs and applying at chicken farms to clean up chicken shit? Or roofing? Or lumberjack work? Some tough tomboy girls I know, have cut some good and done so for their dad or made money in thier dad’s business. But how many women do this work? Or actually are trying for these jobs and want to? My guess not much and a million more are men apply for such jobs, otherwise you’d see some women in these male oriented jobs. I think it’s because women are smart enough to realize that some of these male dominated jobs suck are gross and highly dangerous and there are plenty of jobs availabe to women like secretary, etc that are neither, plus such jobs are not asked of from women. So women don’t have to worry about getting called up for such jobs. If there ever was a crisis and more people needed for such labor. You better your ass MEn would be recruited for work these jobs to keep things running in society, whereas, would most likely be exempt from it.

    • None of this makes any sense.

      If guys think that they have it so bad doing so-called “guy jobs” there is absolutely nothing to stop them from taking jobs that are associated with women.

  15. This is so true! When I was a child, I had very low self esteem and didn’t think I was very pretty. I figured I’d never find love because I wasn’t pretty. Now here I am, 5.5 years into a relationship with someone who thinks I’m beautiful. Honestly, though, those thoughts still haunt me sometimes. What will he think when I’m pregnant? What if I can’t lose weight fast enough after? What happen when I start to get older and things start sagging? What happens if I’m in a horrible accident tomorrow that disfigures me for life? Will he still be there?

    Logically, I know he will be. He loves me and wants to be with me. He’s not the type of guy to abandon someone for any of those things. All the same, I still wonder…. will he love me as much?

  16. “If guys think that they have it so bad doing so-called “guy jobs” there is absolutely nothing to stop them from taking jobs that are associated with women.”

    Nothing is stopping women from taking male jobs either.

  17. The only ones doing the slut shaming is other women and girls right? We high five each other and you shame each other. Yet you’ll blame men for all your problems.

  18. This double standard always make me confused. I just want to be myself. My parents always told me “Just be yourself.” But sometimes it is often too difficult for girls to follow this maxim.

  19. The double binds that a lot of girls have to go through is unfair. The one that im mainly thinking of is the whole slut or prude topic. Being prude isnt a bad thing. Respecting your body until you find someone that respects you is the smartest thing you can do no matter what someone says. Guys who call girls prude are just upset that they cant get none. But in my eyes the girls who are “prude” I respect a lot more.

  20. As us girls grow up we are always told to look nice, clean, and pretty, while, the men can be all dirty and not care. This is applied all through elementry and middle school, tell we get to high school it all changes not in the part were we have to be nice, clean, and now sexy. Sexy meaning wearing sexual and provocative clothing to grab the boys attention.Which, then comes the thing were we are supposably seen as sex objects because of the way we dress, This applies more in high school because that’s when most all girls are fully develop and have “big boobs” or “big ass”. The thing is that, like i said in the beginning, we grow up thinking that wearing short shorts and skirts is sexy because MOM will put them on for us when we were younger and that was cute. Yet again if we were to dress more conservative we are grandmas, nuns, or prudes and not only that but we are not accepted by others. It’s just another double bind!!

  21. @jordan,

    Being a “prude” isn’t a bad thing, but does that make being a “whore” something to look down upon? The selected terminology for each description may throw you off a little given that they are usually seen in a negative light.

    Being a “prude” does not necessarily apply only to girls who are “respecting their body until you find someone that respects them”, although kudos to them. If girls are told that they must wait for someone to come to them and “respect” them, we are not giving them 100% of the option to choose what to do with their lives. What kind of respected, strong women lets other people make decisions for them? There are confident, self-empowered girls out there who do respect their body but choose to go out and experiment their sexual world, which is a gift we are all given; but does that make her a whore? I doubt men are ever given judgment or scorn when they go about the same activities. When it comes to respecting oneself and others, I don’t think the matters of “prude vs whore” can really compare.

    We are all made to respect everyone, no matter their race, gender or sexuality; and whether someone is worthy of your respect should not be based on their sex lives or habits.

    • @lulamae,

      “We are all made to respect everyone, no matter their race, gender or sexuality; and whether someone is worthy of your respect should not be based on their sex lives or habits.”

      I would agree as far as respecting them as a person, However, saying that person is worthy of being your wife, husband….is a different matter. I must respectfully disagree. I would not want to date or marry a woman I knew had slept with 10, 15, 20, 30 men. This is no different than a woman not wanting to date or marry a short, bald, or fat guy.

      Also, there is a growing body of research (based in neuroscience) that show the more sex partners a person has (man or woman), the greater the inability of these people to form lasting relationships. Obviously, this is not so in ALL cases.

      Marriages between virgins and low sex partner couples have a greater duration than the reverse. Read, “Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children” by Joe. McIlhaney, Jr. and Freda Bush.

  22. Its true that women are expected to act a certain way by society and when they act like that we are disrespected most of the time. Its not fair that women get disrespected because they either want to look girly or tomboyish. Women don’t disrespect men like that so why should they treat us like that. Many women today are trying to dress a certain way and act a certain way just to fit in. We are given a barbie when we are young and we are taught that we have to technically be like her. Having the perfect body. Women should be able to grow up without any expectations of who to look like.

    • Jazmin,

      ” Women should be able to grow up without any expectations of who to look like.”

      You can !!!!!!!!!!!!

      No one is stopping you or any other person, man or woman, from being the person you want to to be.

      In terms of the disrespect thingy: As a man, we are more judgmental of women for SOME things. Yet, women too are quite harsh on men too for SOME things.

      As far as sex goes and the double standard, what is stopping women from being “disrespectful” of men who are cads, players, playboys? We men can high five one another day in and day out over sexual conquests…..We can even be critical of this behavior. But, women can also start holding men responsible for being cads or playboys. If women so choose.

      But, the reality is that women have chosen not too! In fact, there are many women who gravitate to these men. How many male groupies do you know of chasing after professional female athletes? How many womanizing and cheating men STILL are able to find female partners? LOTS!!! Even when the women know of their past.

      I really do not understand why women do not start adopting the same standards as men on this issue?

      • It’s a stereotype that women prefer bad boys. I think then just notice it more when that happens, and don’t notice when it doesn’t.

        See these posts:

        Bad Boy Allure
        https://broadblogs.com/2013/04/08/bad-boy-allure/
        The Allure of Bad Boys
        https://broadblogs.com/2012/01/11/the-allure-of-bad-boys/

        And then there is this: some guys start out really charming, make a woman fall in love, and then become bad boys once she has fallen so hard that it’s difficult for her to leave. Or too afraid to leave.

      • “It’s a stereotype that women prefer bad boys. I think then just notice it more when that happens, and don’t notice when it doesn’t.”

        I never said anything about bad boys. I am talking about respectable men such as George Clooney or or other womanizing famous men or professional athletes where women clearly know their history. But, choose to ignore it.

        But, many of these same women when they marry other men give them the cold shoulder when it comes to sex. What does that have to do with sexual repression?

      • Due to repression it takes a lot more for women to be sexually interested. One thing that helps is really like a guy is really into her. If she’s been with the same guy — particularly if she’s been married to him — she can feel like he’s having sex with her just because he’s kind of trapped into doing it. He hasn’t CHOSEN her.

  23. I strongly believe that women in our society are placed “Double-Bind.” it is also more common for women to place in these situations because of the culture standards of beauty. For example the story of Caitie Adler, is a perfect example of a double- bind, mainly since she grew up supposedly beautiful and less experience sexually experience like her friends. This can place a lot of social pressure upon a person growing up. than once she started experimenting in Israel she was consider a whore. Placing her in another position scrutiny. Although i am a man, I too can understand the whole double-bind. when i was in high school i was pretty straight forward not sober, while my best friends were all Stoners. I was always pressured to join them but at the same time i was frowned upon by other friends. even when it came to losing my virginity. many of my close friends lost their near the end of senior year, i simply kept quiet until after i lost it during freshmen year college. because of fear of being judge. however as a guy i assume i didn’t get scrutinize for losing my virginity mainly because my friends all encouraged it. that is were i believe society places a very unfair standard towards women, in particular when it comes down to sex.

    • What you are missing is this: the opportunity for a typical man to be a “whore” is far far less than for a woman. Why? Women have far greater access and opportunities for sex than men. If this were not the case, then we would not have prostitutes, porn, and a booming sex trade.

      If men had the same opportunities to get sex as women, this “double-bind” matter would largely disappear.

      It seems to me that women tend to feel that we men DO all have the same opportunities. Why? Because they fail to see this enormous disparity. Just look at your typical dating site. Men vastly outnumber women. Women can pick and choose….

      According to internal research by OK Cupid, a lot of women are choosing the same guys. LOTS!! So, you have a lucky and privileged minority of men getting a vastly disproportionate dates and sex. I think women just naturally assume ALL men have the same opportunities. They seem oblivious…

      It is just a fallacy and thoroughly false. How can it even be remotely true if most women find most men UNattractive? It cannot. Because, it is the same things as saying most women find only a FEW men attractive. The internal research by OK Cupid confirms this.

      Lastly,..Yes there is a “double bind.” But, there is also female privilege when it comes to dating and sex. That sucks for men just as this “double bind” thing does for women.

      Note: I used quotation marks not to minimize the significance of the matter. Rather, because you used them.

      • According to OkCupid men are much more likely to choose all the same girls and women are to choose all the same guys. I’ll be posting on this at some point.

        It’s not that women don’t know that guys have fewer opportunities. But the main reason that’s true is that women are punished for being sexual, Which represses their sexuality and leads them less interested — or more punished even if they manage to be less repressed.

        If women were sleeping around with tons of men the double bind with not go away. The women would just be shamed as a bunch of sluts.

      • “According to OkCupid men are much more likely to choose all the same girls and women are to choose all the same guys. I’ll be posting on this at some point.”

        Yes, the difference is while the men are choosing a lot of the same women, most men are NOT getting dates with these women. The reverse is true for the women. Whomever they are choosing (and they are far more selective) they ARE getting the dates and sex from these men.

        If you are a conventionally attractive man, you would have to be stupid to engage in traditional courting and dating. Why, you can go and sign up on a dating site and then have a harem!!!!

        “But the main reason that’s true is that women are punished for being sexual, Which represses their sexuality and leads them less interested — or more punished even if they manage to be less repressed.”

        OK. So, these women instead agree to part of harems for a few men on various dating sites? Clearly, they ARE being sexual. Just with a few of the same men. I don’t see what difference it makes whether she is sexual with a few privilege men on OK Cupid or other men.

        I have observed a similar behavior offline where various girlfriends are literally sharing or passing around some guy or guys. They don;t mind all having sex with him because he is good in the sack or has a “nice cock.”….So, just where is the sexual repression and less interest in sex you speak of? I am not seeing it. Female sexually is not as repressed as people think these days. Maybe 50 years ago. But, not today!!

      • “If you are a conventionally attractive man, you would have to be stupid to engage in traditional courting and dating. Why, you can go and sign up on a dating site and then have a harem!!!!”

        That depends on what the guy wants. Most guys actually want relationships, Despite our stereotypes about guys. (about a quarter of men fit the Casanova image)

        “OK. So, these women instead agree to part of harems for a few men on various dating sites? ”

        1) it’s still a minority of women. I don’t know whether anyone studied it but it could be that if one quarter of men are Casanovas, That one quarter of women are coming too
        2) people have sex for a variety of reasons, Such as to increase their self-esteem. So their sexuality could be repressed, And they may not even enjoy it, but it boosts their self-esteem to be with a hot guy. Or, repressed sexuality means that women need a bigger boost to get them interested. The super-hot guy might manage that. If women’s sexuality wasn’t so repressed, they wouldn’t be so picky.

        Where is the social repression reflected?
        . Women being pickier than men — they are going to bother having sex unless they think it’s going to be really good. Either sexually, or for their ego
        . Young men orgasm nearly every time they have sex. Women manage to orgasm only about half the time
        . Even among women who orgasm, only about 30% manage to do it with their partners, And without machinery
        . One third of women feel restless or depressed after sex
        . Nearly half of women report experiencing sexual dysfunction: experiencing difficulty or inability to orgasm, painful sex, Little or no interest in sex, for instance.
        . There are probably A number of other things that don’t come to mind at the moment
        . and this (my response to this question):

        “I have observed a similar behavior offline where various girlfriends are literally sharing or passing around some guy or guys. They don;t mind all having sex with him because he is good in the sack or has a “nice cock.”….So, just where is the sexual repression and less interest in sex you speak of?”

        I have no idea where you’re seeing this. Porn? Having a nice cock isn’t very important to most women. Only around 1/3 of women manage to have orgasms with their partners sans mechanical equipment (Like a vibrator).

      • Thanks for your reply.

        God I still struggle to truly understand how women truly think and behave.

        Lastly, I don’t watch or consume porn of any kind.

      • “Women being pickier than men — they are going to bother having sex unless they think it’s going to be really good. Either sexually, or for their ego.” I think you meant to say NOT going…..

        But, of course they (women) have no problem marrying a man who they know is NOT ‘really good.’ Does that not strike you as kind of weird? -> not good enough for sex but good enough for marriage.

        “…it’s still a minority of women. I don’t know whether anyone studied it but it could be that if one quarter of men are Casanovas, That one quarter of women are coming too.”

        I don’t think players date other players. Just as men who are cads do not seek out women who are wh*&%s. Nor do cads marry women who they view as overly sexualized (putting it nicely). Just as women who are w*****ish don’t marry men who are cads and players. There are always innocent victims to be exploited by these two groups.

        “If women’s sexuality wasn’t so repressed, they wouldn’t be so picky.”

        Hmmm. But are they really being picky? Or are they simply having sex with the most desirable men? When I see an upper middle class White woman having sex with some tattooed up thug, I fail to see how this is being picky. Yes, that is an extreme.

        In general, when we men see some of the men women are having sex with, it can hardly be described as picky. Only if such women feel these men are good and hung in the sack.

        Even though you are a woman, I think you are overly simplistic here. I think female sexuality is far more complicated than you assert. I would argue it has less to do with repression and patriarchy than simple personal preference. Which is their business.

        What I have learned is there is no real “rhyme or reason” why women have sex with the men they do, Other than they want to….for whatever the reason is at that moment.

        Is there hope for the average bloak? Maybe the PUA guys are right when they say most men are AFCs (average frustrated chumps).

      • Not good enough in bed, but good enough for marriage:

        There are many points to this question.

        . For women whose sexuality is repressed, And who don’t enjoy sex no matter who they’re with, it would be impossible to find a man whose “Good enough” In bed. In her case (and that is a lot of women) she will never find anyone who is good enough in bed. That doesn’t mean that she isn’t in love with the man and doesn’t want to be with him.
        . If you’re thinking in terms of marrying someone for security, that is decreasing a lot. Almost all young women these days want to marry a soulmate — now that they can make their own money.

        If we have a society in which we were more honest and open sexually, then Casanovas of both genders could be with each other, And leave the monogamous types to be with each other. That would work out a whole lot better.

        “are they really being picky? Or are they simply having sex with most desirable men?”
        What’s the difference?
        Maybe I don’t know what you’re talking about.

        If you don’t understand how repression affects the women’s sexuality, I think you are being overly simplistic. Or maybe it’s just really difficult for you to understand since you are not subject to this sort of thing. Probably all American women are repressed compared to women in other cultures, given how common sexual dysfunction is. And what we don’t think of as dysfunctional here would be considered dysfunctional in sex-positive societies, Where women are easily orgasmic, And easily multiply orgasmic. Few women in the Western world are that way.

        Maybe you don’t want to accept the role patriarchy has played because you don’t want to dismantle patriarchy.

        Even though patriarchy has been a huge source of the problems men face when it comes to things you complained about to another commentor:

        It is even worse for men as we are isolated. Society, in general, cares very little about how men feel. Few care about our hurts, emotional pain, etc. As men we are taught to endure, suck it up,….

        No, most men are not good lovers. Why? A lack of practice I would say. The best lovers are the ones who get in a lot practice. Those few men (20%-30%) who are deemed by most women as the most attractive and desirable get in the most practice.

        We also know women get in a lot more practice than men do, in general.

        Btw, I think most men view most women as “good enough” when it comes to sex.

      • Yes, I too desire this horrible system of patriarchy to die. I believe people are happier, more genuine, more honest when they are free to be themselves. While, my views on many things are conservative, i am no right wing nut. Most of what Republicans advocate is hypocritical and utter nonsense.
        My challenge is really trying to understand women. God said, ‘it is not good that man is alone’. So, i believe we men and women are made to be together. Women, like Black people, Jews, etc have gotten a raw deal.
        The problem i see today is too many men want to live in the past. We men simply do not understand how hard it is on a daily basis to be a woman. I do. It is crushing to the human spirit when any person is oppressed and unable to live free with dignity and respect. Women still are looked down upon by many even highly educated men. Their bodies and appearance is valued more than their brains, individuality,. I cannot understand men who have daughters who say some of the things about women..
        My only gripe has been over sex, especially sex and marriage. That is because of my very personal, negative, and emotionally hurtful sexless marriage.
        The consequences of my failed marriage is what led me on this journey to understand women. There is much i have discovered. I only wish more men would be more empathetic. But, because of patriarchy, too many men get angry and then seek to even.
        I too have some anger, but i do not seek revenge or to get even. For now, i have opted to become celibate until….
        So, broadly speaking I tend to agree with you on much. But, there are some things i am skeptical.

      • Consider how this could work:

        Women’s sexuality is repressed in a number of ways. They are called sluts, sexual imagery often is violent (Women get screwed, Banged, f’d), too many are raped which — which often makes sex seem horrible, women’s bodies are sexualized and men’s are not, And sexy women are plastered all over billboards, and men are not. Women’s clothing is created to show off their curves. Men’s clothing covers them up — this leaves man being exposed to provocative images on a regular basis, but not women. Women feel like their body has to look a particular way to be sexy, and when they don’t feel that they look sexy (and about 80% of young women have poor body image) they can spend their time worrying about how they look, Instead of enjoying how they feel. Or, they might think they are sexy. But they have been taught that they’re supposed to look sexy but not be sexual. (And in fact, A large majority of women feel that their self worth largely lies on how attractive they look.) So in bed all they think about is how they look: “I look good this way… And that way…” But they are completely distracted from how they feel.

        For all these reasons women are less likely to orgasm than men.

        When you are less rewarded — when sex isn’t that enjoyable — you’re less likely to do it. Or you do it for reasons other than sexual pleasure: To feed your ego.

        If it’s the latter, A woman might constantly seek out new men to assure her that she is sexy, And therefore, Valuable.

        Otherwise, she might be capable of sexual enjoyment, but it’s going to take a lot to get her there. It’s got to be a super hot guy. Or it’s got to be a new guy who’s interested her, whose showing her that she is really hot and sexy, which gets her sexual interest up, And makes it easier for her to orgasm.

        There’s some stuff on sexual alienation that I haven’t written about yet that applies here.

        Since women are the sex objects in our culture, and men aren’t thought of as sexy so much, when a man and woman are in bed he’s going to be focused on how sexy the girl is. But she’s not focusing on how sexy he is. She’s focusing on how sexy SHE is. She gets aroused by seeing the attraction he has for her. She kind of vicariously makes love to herself. So she is going to need a guy who sees her as REALLY SEXY. She needs to feel chosen. When she is in a relationship for a long time, the guy’s interest will fade a bit, And she may feel like he is trapped into having sex with only her, Instead of feeling chosen. So she loses interest in a longterm relationship, And looks for other guys to give her that sexual charge.

        If women weren’t repressed and were fully in tune with their sexual desires, it wouldn’t take so much to get them interested in sex.

      • Thanks for the advice and insights. I very much appreciate you taking the time.

      • You’re welcome!

        I might add that I also know this from personal experience. I was more interested in sexuality (though I didn’t really understand sex) at age 10 then at age 20. By then, it took more to get me aroused or sexually interested. It’s something I’ve had to work on quite a bit. And other women, like Caitie, have had similar experiences.

  24. “Generally speaking, you’re right. So long as discrimination doesn’t come into play.”

    Yeah. Well I;m not talking about engineering or other such jobs where there could be discrimination. But the dirty, dangerous, blue collar male jobs. Like I said with sewage and chicken shit, etc. I don’t see any women doing those jobs and I also don’t think any women are applying for those jobs either though ha. I’m sure some of those farms could use extra help and would take girls or women pushing shit around. But then like I said, I can’t blame women for not going for such jobs either and letting man handle such dirty, male grunt work. It’s not that women can’t of course and women know they can do the job, but they don’t want to, which I can’t blame them. I’m not sure guys actually want to do the work either. But somebody has to, and well, it’s going to be men of course doing the dangerous, dirty jobs of course.

    It can go both ways though regarding work for men and women depending on the position, career or company. For example, a retail store I used to work at. Well, there’s a fitting room and they use and prefer girls doing it. I have and guys can cover and work in there, but a shift is usually scheduled for a girl to be in fitting room, not guys. Girls who are just hired start out in fitting room, whereas, guys just hired aren’t scheduled in fitting room and get to be trained for cashier or stocking. Having a full shift in fitting room sucks let me tell you as you are just standing all day and it’s so slow and boring. But girls have to deal with that job and guys get more favorable work or shift. Now a wholesale club I used to work at as well. It’s in reverse. Guy’s who apply for cashier and just that. Well they get cashier year, but as a result of them having a dick, guys get scheduled just as much to push carts in the hot scorching sun or frigid snow all day even though there is position specifically for carts. Girls applying for cashier, they do the job they applied for and just cashier. Well girls like guys can do other jobs when promoted to front line supervisor. But girls aren’t scheduled to push carts, because, well they are girls, so they get to skip and not have to do the sucky ass carts job. Basically put, if you’re a guy, no matter what you applied for. You are going to push carts or asked to do them along with your applied position.

    • If women think those jobs are better than the ones they are taking, they’re free to take those jobs.

      If men think that the source of jobs women typically do are better than the ones they are doing, they’re free to take those jobs.

  25. I agree with a lot that Caitie wrote as being nothing but truth throughout the whole post. Having a lot females as friends (yes I’ve been friendzoned) I’ve really gotten to know that women do not express much of their desires publicly because of the double bind problem along with the double standard. I see it’s a sense of pride for a man to express the number of women he had sex with but for women it is the exact opposite and the friends or society would degrade a woman for having sex with many men. I see that men and women are exactly alike, we all have sexual desires and we all seek for ways to satisify them. I know society sees women that have sex a lot especially the younger women as sluts but I mean she’s just trying to satisfy herself and men do it all the time but society just kinds of brush it off as nothing. If a woman were to become pregnant society would probably label her as a bad person who had ruined her own life. Women before doing anything know the risks of it all and that condoms aren’t always 100%. But for people to assume that her life is going down is terribly wrong as stereotypes aren’t in every single young woman with children. I’ve known people who’ve had children at a young age and gone on to do much better things in their life than the people criticizing them. It’s just really sad to see society came to thinking like that, coming from a small close knit community, many folks saw things the way I’ve explained it.

    • “…. and men do it all the time but society just kinds of brush it off as nothing.”

      Which men?! Some men I would say. Most men are not so “lucky” as to be able to “do it all the time.” You are simply assuming as much.

  26. I had an all too similar experience in high school which left me feeling ashamed and dirty. After reading this article I find it sad how girls are forced to either play the slut or the prude in society when men catch no flack for being promiscuous. It is ridiculous that we cannot simply go out and enjoy a sexual experience if we feel like it without guilt and judgement the next day. For a lot of women sex is a very negative thing because there is almost never a good outcome.

  27. I can relate to this article very well. Even starting middle school, girls are expected to fulfill the “pretty” image. This continued throughout my high school years and beyond. And Caitie is right, “…that the guilt I’ve felt is due to society and is not natural or necessary.” It is society who is projecting these feelings to us. Society wants us to fill in the shoes of perfection and become sexual goddesses. Women TRY to become with society wants but no matter what, we aren’t able to to satisfy both sides. We don’t want to be labeled “sluts”, but at the same time, we want pleasure. (Hence, double bind: no win either way) We fail to accomplish this image of perfection by society and this is why girls especially, have low self esteem and always think their worth is less than it really is.

  28. Hi Georgia… I have just came across this post and wanted mainly to thank you for putting down in words what I also feel…
    “I used to think that if I was sexual it was my fault. And if I wasn’t sexual enough, it was my fault”…. This is the dichotomy that leads to “repression” maybe?… Sex is supposed to a good experience and by that i mean at least enjoyable, but in my view, it is not always that way. I tend to believe that guilt pull us back but the main reason is that sadly not everybody is a good lover… Sometimes sex can become an awkward experience.
    I agree with you when you say that society has impossible standards that leave women in a no-win situation. The unreachable standard is probably set up by porn actresses and actors. That’s why the porn industry makes so much money! 😉
    All the very best to you!, Aquileana 😀

    • Yeah, everything you mentioned contribute to sexual repression for women. Plus there can be more things like sexual violence, For instance. We have a fairly sick culture when it comes to sexuality — especially when it comes to women’s sexuality.

    • “I agree with you when you say that society has impossible standards that leave women in a no-win situation.”

      The same thing goes for men too! It is even worse for men as we are isolated. Society, in general, cares very little about how men feel. Few care about our hurts, emotional pain, etc. As men we are taught to endure, suck it up,….

      No, most men are not good lovers. Why? A lack of practice I would say. The best lovers are the ones who get in a lot practice. Those few men (20%-30%) who are deemed by most women as the most attractive and desirable get in the most practice.

      We also know women get in a lot more practice than men do, in general.

      Btw, I think most men view most women as “good enough” when it comes to sex.

  29. I went through a similar situation when I was younger. When I was in middle school I already had a C+ cup (you know not a D but a little bigger than C) because I was chubby. I got some attention from boys and girls both positive and negative. Some of them thought I had work done on my boobs… really guys I was like 14? It wasn’t all pleasant with the adults either. They assumed I would get pregnant by my 16th birthday because I had flawless white skin and curves and big boobs. There I was thinking beauty was a good thing. So then I tried to hide my boobs and curves by wearing loose clothes. Those who thought I had work done was satisfied, they thought I had implants malfunction when my boobs “shrunk”. But still the adults are super hard to please because with loose clothing I’m suddenly a lesbian. I don’t know what they wanted from me. Its frustrating just thinking about it. Then I realize, It’s not possible to please everybody, I can’t make every single people around me happy, all I can do is make myself happy by doing what I think is right and beautiful. It took me about 5 years to accept myself as beautiful and continually remind myself that everyone has their own perception of beauty. Its wise to listen to older people’s advice but just because they’re older doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right. The double-bind I experienced was between two generations with a huge generation gap. We went from Music Television to 16 and Pregnant in less than 20 years. Maybe in 10 years they’ll have 13 and Pregnant and I would be judging little girls about their outfits! I learned to just be decent, even though my decent isn’t decent enough for other culture but at least I’m comfortable. I can’t say the same about those people that are going through double-bind right now. More people should be educated about this issue to keep girls and boys from hating themselves.

  30. Yolanda Cuevas

    To me—and I’m sure many others— it’s pretty crazy how society works. Being sexy can be a good thing for guys, yet it can back fire on you and make you look like a slut. I feel extremely sorry for those that have to expierence rough times at a young age just because of how they were born. Whether it be a good, sexy way or an undeveloped, tomboyish way. Men being double standard is one thing that aggravates me. A lot of men are hypocrites when it comes to this topic. It’s okay for them to sleep with plenty of women but once a female sleeps with one man she’s a slut. I feel women should do what they feel is right, when they feel it’s right and should not put the blame on themselves for our double standard society.

  31. Jasmine Lopez Torres

    Although I have always heard about women double-standards, I had never had the chance to read about a person’s experience with having to deal with a double standard.For me, reading this, was definitely very informative but really frustrating to read a the same time. It is unbearable how some women can be treated just by acting like some men. Even though this young women slept with someone while on vacation, there are men who do worse things and can get away with it. If there was a man doing this, they would not be called “whores” or “sluts” but I believe that his friends would kind of admire his act and some people wouldn’t even find it all too rare that he slept with someone in a foreign country or something. After reading this, I remembered that it’s important to not judge others based on their actions because there is always another side to their story.

  32. I believe that in society women and girls are set to standards that are not achievable. I agree with this blog because In middle school my best friend constantly struggled with having bigger boobs than most girls because she was set the standard as a slut when she hadn’t even kissed a boy yet. She couldn’t wear tank tops without teachers yelling at her or getting in trouble at school when she was simply hot in 90 degree weather. Because of this she tried to be someone she wasn’t ( more tomboyish), she learned later on her self esteem was suffering from adults. It is important to look at not just the younger generation but also the older ones too because they are part of the problem. I believe it is important to be open to new views as the years go by when society changes.

  33. I agree with this post as one of my friend in middle school struggles with having bigger boobs than most girls in our class. She was constantly teased by our fellow classmates that she’s a slut or she got a boob job done and she felt ashamed for having bigger boobs so she tried to hide it by wearing a loose shirts. My classmate starts to tease her more that her boobs were not real so it’s a double bind: a no win- situation. Society constantly tries to project the image that women should have flawless skin, and have curvy figure. Women try to achieve this perfect image that the society has projects that it’s hard to satisfy both sides. It’s best to just be yourself and not compete with the media as it will only lower your self-esteem. It’s impossible to win in this situation as society would always introduce new standards that women should be and it goes on and on.

  34. Striking the balance of femininity is unfortunately the struggle that every, if not most girls go through when growing up. While boys on the other hand just have to worry about out competing their peers and proving themselves as young men the way they have been showed by society. The negative labeling of women for engaging in sexual activities in my experience is sometimes given by a guy who wants to engage with a particular women but she’s not interested. At other times some guys just trash talk girl because they engage and satisfy their sexual needs and they on the other hand wish they could engage in as much as the women is engaging in. In any situation trash talking about either sex based on their personal decisions and their sexual lifestyle is wrong. At the end of the day we’re all humans and some need more human interaction than others, while others are more comfortable with expressing a connection than others are.

  35. Most women don’t even know the real reason for slut shaming and why men do it…it turns alot of men on in a secret way to know a woman is sexual or promiscous. Men look at porn every day and night slut shaming pornstars, but still ejaculate to them and go back for more, it’s because it turns them on. Think about it for a second, why would men enjoy watching “slutty women” if its something that’s shameful because it’s a male fantasy to want to be with a woman that is open tI sex, if women didn’t have sex at all alot of men would call them other names like being a Bitch etc and seek a sexually open woman. Slut should be a acronym for sexually loving… I can’t figure out the rest, point is it’s a male fantasy to be with one and to shame them for. It lets men dominate and if it’s taken away from them then there goes the ego, plus men don’t want to compete with a woman sexually, and women get entered if men did like gay men theyd be called worse like a fag, fag is slut now that I think about it a sexual open man who is considered worthless, weird it’s not usually a male fantasy

    I thought I had it all together then boom I dont.

    • Thanks for your efforts to theorise on what’s going on. Problem is that the word “slut” can keep women from having sex, And even from having sexual feelings. It can make their desires go away. Now, if there were a positive word that describes women who really enjoyed sex, That would be different. And there are cultures that approve of sexually interested women. And it seems to be good for everyone. I’ll write about that more later.

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