Men Dislike Double Standard More Than Women?

slut-shaming-candy-manPlenty of women hate the double standard that rewards men for having sex, but punishes women.

But on average, men dislike it more.

Why is that?

You might think that men enjoy feeling superior and privileged because they can have sex, unpunished, in most circumstances while women often cannot — at least not without risking punishment.

On the other hand, without the double standard men would get more sex.

Sex wins.

Why are women more likely to support the double standard?

Even though a lot of women dislike a rule that says it’s more okay for men to have sex women are more likely to support it. Why?

I don’t know for sure. But I suspect it’s due to a vicious cycle that’s created partly by the double standard, itself.

When you live in a world where women are punished if they don’t suppress their sexuality much of the time, after a while desire diminishes or goes away. I have talked about how this process happens here, here and here. As a result, in the United States nearly half of women experience sexual dysfunction — painful sex, difficulty with orgasm, or little to no desire. That’s not natural. That’s a symptom of sexual repression.

Now why would you be all excited to make it easier to get something that you don’t have a lot of interest in, and which may seem dull at best and painful at worst?

For these women, getting rid of the double standard might only bring pressure to have something you don’t especially want.

The double standard can be used as a weapon

Some women also use slut-shaming as a weapon.

Some suggest that it is used by women who don’t want to be pressured into having random sex. Or by women who fear that casual sex will keep men from marrying — “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

But I suspect that that isn’t the real, or at least primary, reason. In fact, slut-shaming is less tied to sexual behavior than by a woman’s looks.

The more attractive a woman is, the more likely she is to be slut-shamed. Sex often — maybe usually — has nothing to do with it.

And that may be partly due to how finding a partner works. Typically, women don’t pursue men. They wait to be pursued. So how do you attract attention to yourself? You look as attractive as possible. And get really annoyed at women who draw more attention. Better put them in their place!

Maybe more important is the fact that in our culture a woman’s worth is based primarily on how attractive she is. So if a really beautiful, sexy woman walks into a room, other women can feel like they have been somehow down-sized. Some women will shame sexy-lady to put her “in her place” — somewhere beneath themselves.

You hurt yourself by hurting other women

And then the cycle continues. The name-calling paints sexuality with fear and punishment, which ends up hurting young women in middle school, high school, and beyond. And later, their own daughters.

The cycle needs to stop.

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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 October 17, 2016, in psychology, sex and sexuality and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. I do agree with this article that some woman shame other woman, and it all has come down to because the woman doing the shaming are insecure and they feel like they’re not better than the other girl, but in the end, there’s no point in doing that, because there’s no winner or looser, the only thing coming out of that, it’s just you’re emotionally hurting the other person or perhaps yourself and that’s not a fair thing to do. Every woman have to accept the fact that life is not fair, so that the cycle can finally stop.

  2. Do you have sources that men dislike it more?

    Regardless, I don’t think women should be bullied for being sexual, but I do generally discourage casual sex, unless:

    1) the woman is getting just as much, if not more, pleasure than the man.
    2) the woman is otherwise benefiting from it somehow.

    In the current state of affairs, men are benefiting more from sex than women, and I find that unfair. I think that women should benefit more from sex than men, since women feel all the pain in reproduction; they should get the reward, too, to balance it out.

    I think that all women should stop having sex with mediocre men who won’t please them in bed, & start having sex only with men who will really please them

    • I first learned about this in one of the textbooks I use in the women’s psychology class I teach. Looking at the references, more than one study has found this.

      Kennedy and Gorzalka. Asian and non-Asian attitudes toward rape, sexual harassment, and sexuality. Sex Roles, 46, 227-238. 2002

      And Mary Oliver and Janet Hyde did a review of the literature and found women much more negative than men about casual sex. “Gender differences in sexuality: meta-analysis” Psychological Bulletin. 114, 29-51. 1993.

      The studies are from a few years ago but the reasoning behind why women would be less open to casual sex and the double standard still exist today. Women’s sexuality is still much more punished than men’s is. If we don’t get that then nothing will change.

      When it comes to punishing female sexuality, all of my students have witnessed girls being slut-shamed, women are still called sluts and hoes in casual conversation and in the music they listen to. Again, I survey my students and parents still get more negative messages to girls than to boys. So does religion, Which often tells girls that they are like a beautiful white rose (virginity) until he gets run over by cars (sex with men– Plural). Or a nice piece of gum isn’t so nice after it’s been chewed and pass around. Young women still get these messages.

      The problem is probably stronger in some parts of United States than others, Like the more conservative Bible Belt that you find in the South and Midwest.

      All of this represses desire and makes it more difficult to enjoy sex.

      And interestingly women do seem to have more physical capacity to enjoy it given their capacity for multiple orgasm.

      I agree with you that women should only have sex if they are enjoying it.

  3. Elizabeth Maher

    One of the difficulties in women slut shaming another is in the generation of their ego. Not only are they convinced as children that their virginity is sacred, but in valuing virginity in such a way, the more a woman’s sexual partner count increases, the more we devalue her as a person. Despite many women consciously knowing that a woman’s sexual partner count should not have an inverse relationship with her value as a person, it is easy to slut shame a person to subconsciously validate our own ego. We consciously push down the progress of all women, and at the same time place ourselves above the person we are judging to protect our own ego. This protection of our ego comes from our inherited desire to value ourselves based on our purity and simultaneous sexual desirability.

    While men do dislike the double standard, it affects them a bit more subtly. While they might be happy marrying or courting a woman who has had numerous sexual partners, judgment from the outside (in the form of family, friends, and colleagues) could prevent them from wanting to have such social exposure. Women are valued for their purity, and men are valued in their ability to procure a pure woman. The judgment toward a man for committing to an ‘experienced’ woman may come from female or male influences, adding another layer to this cycle of judgment and sexual repression.

  4. Having grown in a very religious home and conservative church, I have both seen and been subject to the slut-shaming that so many women do. In the instances I’ve seen and experienced, both appearance and sexual experiences where the stated cause of the abuse. I will argue to my last breath that it is, in fact, abuse. As young woman, I was often told to “cover up” or, “put those away” and have both seen and heard other young women told the same. Many people of my faith, thought not all, still believe that a woman who has sex outside of marriage is devalued in some way and there are those that will treat you as such. I have some very misguided acquaintances that have spoken in a demeaning manner about women who fit this description in front of me and had absolutely nothing to say when I both defended the woman and made it clear that I was exactly the same. When we as women subscribe to this mentality, we only make it easier for society to continue to perpetuate the absolutely untrue ideal that a woman’s best and most important quality is her appearance.

  5. Thank you for shedding some light on the issue of double standards particularly as it relates to women using slut-shaming as a weapon. From the time a young girl reaches middle-school she is being taught that her sexuality is a distraction to boys. In middle and high schools across the country – a girl can be sent home for having a visible bra strap or shorts that are too short as to not distract the boys in her classroom. Basically we are telling the young women of this country that assuring boys have a distraction free learning environment is more important than her own education. What we need to be doing is teaching boys that women are not sex objects. Given this early conditioning it is no wonder women buy into this rhetoric and begin turning on one another. I stand in solidarity with your stance that “you hurt yourself by hurting other women”. I think what the Amber Rose Foundation is doing with her annual “SlutWalk” is so important in empowering women and raising awareness about the double standards women face in our society as it relates to their sexuality, gender inequality, and shedding light on the rape culture that permeates the reality women face every day. Rather than putting a sexy-lady “in her place” like you discuss in your blog we should all focus on bringing one another up and ending sexual violence, victim blaming, derogatory labels, and gender inequality. Thank you so much for this thought provoking blog.

  6. I do question the title of this article though.. If it were true then why don’t men stop perpetuating this double standard. If men didn’t care to judge women by their sexuality and how women choose to express it, then the women playing into it wouldn’t matter.

    • Thanks for your thought on this. A couple things:

      1) While many men do support the double standard, on average men still do dislike it more than women, so the title is accurate.

      2) an unexpected title gets people to read it — and getting people to read and think about the issues is what I am aiming for


  7. I think women perpetuate the double standard because they’re rewarded by it. Meeting the standard society sets for women(not sexually active) gives her a more respectable status. So while perpetuating the double standard is harmful to women in general, an individual woman gets a direct and immediate reward by being placed in a position above the “sluts,” therefore more respected and admired. The cycle is about maintaining relative power and respect in society.

  8. The part of this analysis that struck me as most interesting and eye opening was the discussion of a woman’s external appearance. The concept of a woman trying to make herself look as externally pleasing as possible to attract men is not one that is foreign to me, however, it is one that I have never participated in before. Most often my own external appearance is a direct reflection of how I am feeling internally. If I lack confidence that will be shown in what I wear or what my hair looks like. I am more likely to try to cover my body and put my hair up if I am experiencing low self esteem. Conversely, if I am feeling uplifted and worthy, then I may wear nicer clothes, wear make-up, and try to present more conventionally “pretty.” This is most likely something that I developed while growing up because my mom presents herself in a very similar way. She also, like me, never externally presented herself in a way that was to attract men. The way we look is more about ourselves than about others.

    My biases in mind, I believe that sometimes people are judged for their external appearance.This can be seen in a lot of different ways. If a women is dressed provocatively (I believe that this word often has judgments that come with it as well), then it may be assumed that she is seeking attention, or if a woman has a short haircut and is wearing a flannel that she may be gay. Furthermore, I believe that women spend time maintaining this sexual double standard that occurs between men and women, without even knowing that they are doing so. One example I have observed of this is when a woman in fact wants to have sex and feels like she cannot express this because it is not socially acceptable for a woman to do so. Then this woman settles for not having sex or having poor sex because she does not express or seek out her true desires for fear of judgment. It is merely a reflection of the social fear of breaking the status quo and the perpetuation of false stereotypes.

    • I surveyed my women students on why they dressed sexy. Among those who did about one third of them did it to attract men, about one third of them did it to create a sense of higher status compared with other women, and about one third of them did it because fitting societal notions of beauty made them feel better about themselves.

  9. What sparked my interest in this post was the title ” Men Dislike Double Standard More Than Women”. I though that it was a little out there because how could men have a bigger problem with the double standard then women. I mean I know men can have a problem with it and not believe in it but it doesn’t directly effect them the way it dose women. So I was very interested in this post. I’ve always disagreed with the double standard and believed that women should be able to express their sexuality and shouldn’t suppress it. I believed most women felt this way but after reading this I realize that some time we perpetuate it even if its not what we mean to do. And this is when we take part in “slut shaming” because we are insecure of the way we look. Women should support one another and despite their insecurities stop the cycle of “slut shaming” by not calling or trying to make other feel insecure just because they do.

    • I had a feeling that the title would attract attention since it is the opposite of what one would expect. Yet research finds it to be true, so I was curious to think through why it could be true. I agree that we need to stop doing this!

  10. I found this to be a very intriguing idea. After reading this, I felt more aware of this type of problem in my everyday life. From a guy’s perspective, I think that a woman should never feel so reserved to the point where they feel judged for the same things guys do. It also does not help that other girls use this judgement on other girls as a way of demeaning someone. If this gender role was reversed I would hate knowing that guys like me would judge me even if the double standard was against all of us. I feel as though there is a lack of comradery that needs to be addressed.

  11. If something is drilled in you as a child it is surely follow through mothers to generations, today the world is either patriarchal or have women who can to show their psuedo side of defining what is right. It is a pity where in western world men still talk of women equality but many places just no hope.

  12. In the past, China have many punishment for those women who have sex with other man or who have sex before the marriage. For guaranting they are virgins before the marriage, people would put a kind of medicine on women’s body. This kind of medicine have a features that it would never remove untill they have sex with a men. Today, there is no law will punish a woman because of sex; but the mind still there, and hard to removed, Chinese man still favor in the virgin, and the parents always teach their daughter keeping their body pure before they married. But form this article, I found the different side. Men are willing to abandon double-standard because of sex; however, women don’t want to reedem themselves from the standard which has been root in their mind, and they use it as a weapon to punish other women. This vicious circle need to stop by women.

  13. As a women I agree that by shaming one women I am shaming myself. We hurt our self-esteem and others when we, as same gender, categorize others for how they look. I feel that Hispanics or Latinos categorize more. I am a Mexican women and I’ve grown around men who don’t believe in equality for both men and women. But overall is the same women defining and categorizing other women. It’s a shame how we hurt our selves and how we permit society to damage our SEX lives.

    In my own experience I have lived oppression towards my sexual life. When younger I was told that if I lost my virginity before marriage my husband wouldn’t respect me or take me seriously. But now that my brother is growing up my parents think that it’s okay for him to have several girlfriends. Why? Because he is a boy and he is not losing anything. I just really dislike this way of thinking and it’s time for a change.

  14. I never really understood why girls put other girls down. I mean the female gender has been oppressed for so long that you would think females wouldn’t oppress each other. But I guess that if operation is all you know you tend to not know how to not be oppressed. So it makes sense that men would want gender equality more than females.

  15. We humans try to fix situations but it doesn’t mean that the new way of handling things is a better way. It used to be that women who were caught having sex before marriage were sometimes killed for being “impure”. Today we just found a way of shaming woman with psychological methods. Today we just expose people to the world then we take care of labeling people into categories. Some women do fear being labeled a “slut” which is one of the reasons she might hold back on having casual sex and restrain her self from wearing what they like. we need to stop placing people in certain categories and shaming them for their own personal actions.

  16. Totally sad state of our world / civilization. It just shows how far we are from being really civilized. We are Century’s away from that I would guess. Best we can do is uphold equality on an individual basis. Women with empowered sexuality are simply amazing to be around. Have experienced it briefly in some levels of society in Latin countries; where women being sexy or more accurately from my point of view, “alluring” in public is more common and accepted. You can plainly see they enjoy their statement and feel safe in it. Lovely women dressing as they please, some quite sexily but not being judged as immoral but are being judged as being smart (which they were, e.g. lawyers, professionals, etc.) for using their charms to gain male attention. All good fun.

    In about 400 yrs. maybe we have a renaissance again.

    • Thanks for sharing about different cultures. Unfortunately most of the world is still patriarchal, And patriarchy’s tend to control women’s sexuality and shame them for being sexual, Even when it’s okay –or even expected — to be sexy.

      It’s interesting to see how some cultures are more or less shaming of women, So thank you for adding to that conversation. And as you say social change starts with individual choices — and conversations about our individual choices.

      • The women dress sexy in latin cultures, but I thought a lot of latin/hispanic cultures were quite patriarchal though? Even in such cultures being said, there probably still pretty defined gender roles there and where men are to be “macho” and what I’ve seen machismo” more important in latin cultures even more than in america so in some ways more accepting of women, but other ways maybe more sexist in different ways on women and men?

      • On the one hand it’s more OK to dress sexy in Latino cultures – you are less likely to get slut-shamed for how you dress. On the other hand, you can still get slut shamed for having sex outside of marriage. On that one, quite likely more so than among non-Hispanic Americans.

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