Studs vs Sluts: Really a Double Standard?

How many times have you heard women in particular complain about the sexual double standard that exists for men and women?  A man who has multiple sexual partners and/or a lot of casual sex is labeled a “player” or a “stud”, because it is seen as a huge accomplishment.  On the other hand, a woman who behaves the same way sexually is labeled a “whore”, “slut” or “easy”. All negative words.

While in one way I can understand the frustration of freely promiscuous women, I can also understand the reasoning behind these labels.

In general, although of course there are many exceptions, men have to try harder to have sex with someone.

Women in general are taught to be more reserved sexually; and they are taught through socialization that they should be pursued rather than pursue themselves.

Also, men in general are not as fussy about who they have sex with. Maybe this is something to do with the fact that women, due to hormones, are in general more sensitive creatures than men. While I am not for one minute labeling men as animals, maybe it’s just the truth that men usually crave lust, while women usually crave love.

I could go on about evolution here but I’d rather not. I don’t wish to speak about a topic I know little to nothing about. However, from my observation and human experience, I choose to believe that this difference between men and women is down to hormonal differences.

A woman in a nightclub could easily have a one night stand with a man in the nightclub if she chooses. What does she have to do to achieve this? She in general doesn’t need to be charming, she doesn’t even need to be well presented or funny or smart. She can select someone who is interested in a casual sexual encounter and go home with him. There is not much accomplishment involved in this.

A man on the other hand, has to try harder to have a one night stand with a woman in a nightclub. He in general has to be charming, funny, likeable and well presented.

Women tend to be fussier about who they have sex with. Maybe this is partly due the fact that we as women are prone to such severe body issues. We feel through a result of the media and socialization, that we need to prepare ourselves for sex. We need to sort out our body hair and be clean before we can engage in sex. Sure, it is in a way quite messed up that we women feel this pressure while men don’t. But this, in my opinion, is a huge part of where the double standard comes from.

A man who behaves promiscuously is normally praised socially, while a woman who behaves in the same way is shamed and possibly ridiculed.

Sure, this is wrong. I’m not denying it isn’t. But it is a direct product of our upbringing and the exaggerated gender division that we experience from childhood.

Take all of this into account, and the “sexual double standard” kind of makes sense.

When you look at it this way, it makes sense that men are labeled “studs” while women are labeled “sluts”.

Now, I want to make it very clear that I don’t agree with the “slut” label. The slut label can in fact ruin a woman’s life. These women are deemed undesirable in potential relationships as a result. Often, they are ridiculed by other females; essentially for challenging social norms.

Anyone who challenges social norms is often prone to judgement, social exclusion and ridicule. The same can be said for boisterous women and flamboyant men. Of course this is wrong. I am a firm believer of person over gender. I think that in this world we exaggerate the differences between men and women to a dangerous extent – so much so that we begin to identify women and men primarily by their gender as oppose to their personalities.

I don’t think it’s right that men get praised for being promiscuous and women get shamed. But when examined, it makes sense why.

Here’s another piece of food for thought: are women born to desire love and commitment over lust, and are men born to desire lust over love and commitment? Or is it in fact a product of nurture rather than nature? I do not have the answer. But my assumption would be that we are how we are partly due to hormonal, biological and evolutionary factors, but mainly, we are how we are due to a direct product of our socialization.

Just imagine how much freer we would be, if we could be our true selves without gender expectation getting in the way? I strive for this world, but I know in my heart that I won’t see it in my lifetime. But it is because of this that I am so determined to spread the word now, and urge others to do the same, so that one day, our world will be different. One day, there will be no studs or sluts, but just promiscuous people.

Sure, there is a double standard. But the double standard makes sense when you take the above into consideration. Personally, I think both label is damaging to both gender. I would like to see each label being used less.

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Why I’m A Feminist

Caution: contains some language as reference/quotes.

Gender Roles.

In society, females are born into a world that will constantly put pressure on them throughout their lifetime. Pressure to be beautiful, pressure to be sexy. Pressure to bear children, pressure to be emotional and maternal. Pressure to keep a good home, pressure to look after the men that surround them.

Equally, males are born with the expectation they will be “men”. Pressure to be dominant, successful, strong, independent, high-earning, emotionally-absent figures of authority.

When we try to challenge these gender roles that been involuntarily assigned to us, the people around us seem to think we’re crazy, weird or just “different”.

I am a feminist because I would prefer to live in a world where every human being, regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation, can become whatever person they damn well want to be. Without being questioned or disliked for it.

Rape Culture

Both men and women are raped in this destructive world. But what is rape? It seems that through the media we are exposed to, the lines have become very blurred as to what rape or sexual assault is.

We are programmed to think that we are not actually being sexually assaulted at all if we’re not actually being raped. In fact, women in today’s world experience casual sexual harassment in their normal lives and don’t even question it, because it has become so normal to us.

All you have to do is watch some modern music videos from big artists to see some casual sexual harassment and objectification. The R’n’B genre particularly features dominant male leads singing about “hoes” and “bitches” and “fucking them”. We’ve become so numb to it that we don’t even question it anymore.

pic 1 why i'm a feminist

But the music video that particularly comes to mind of course is “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. I have never seen such blatant sexual objectification in mainstream music. In a nutshell, the lyrics and music video describe men chasing women to have sex with regardless of whether they have consent or not. “I know you want it” is repeatedly played throughout the pop song; a common opinion held in society, which ultimately contributes to rape culture like nothing else.

Any sexual activity between two parties must be consensual. This does not just refer to vaginal sex. This refers to any sexual contact. Otherwise, it’s sexual assault.

Mainstream media such as this is a big reason as to why I’m a feminist. I would love to see women being represented as equals in the media (men do not have to be dehumanized in the process to make this happen.)

3. Men and women in business

“European Commission statistics show that Irish women earn, on average, 14.4 per cent less than men.”

“In 2009, men in Ireland had an average income of €34,317 while the average for women was €25,103, or 73.1 per cent of men’s income.”

In the United States: “Today, women earn about 81 cents on the dollar compared to men — a gap that results in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages. For African-American women and Latinas, the pay gap is even greater.”

These statistics are worrying. Some will turn around and say that it is “the fault of women”, that “no-one is stopping them from progressing in their field”. But this is simply not the case.

It is a direct product of our upbringing and our society that women do not make the same numbers professionally as men do.

As women, we are taught to only have a certain amount of ambition. We are taught to be modest, silent. Men are taught that they should be as successful as they possibly can be, without feeling guilt or pressure in their personal/family lives. Women, on the other hand, are indirectly taught that their ultimate focus should be their family; that their career should always come second.

I am a feminist because I would like to see both women and men equally reaching the top of their profession in the modern world. Women aren’t making it to the top post in any field. I can’t just step back and accept that as being normal.

A world where both men and women are equally represented would be a better world.

Why am I a feminist? These reasons, and many more. I encounter casual sexism on a daily basis. Often, not towards me personally, but towards other women and indeed men. I see women being catcalled for just walking to and from class. I see men listen intently to other men but not to women. I see women being spoken to differently. I see other women treat other men like they’re messy, untidy etc without even knowing if they are or not.

I am about equality. I’m not a “feminazi” (whatever that term means.) I am a human being in a misogynist world.

I would like to be a feminist without having to put down men in the process. I do not hate men or disrespect them. But on the same token I do not hate or disrespect my fellow women; yet I still somehow see them being represented as inferior. Sexually inferior, professionally inferior, socially inferior.

I would like to live in a world where women could be taken seriously without being judged first and foremost by their appearance.

Would you?

We should all be feminists, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would argue.

feminist

Is Barbie REALLY distorting the body image for young girls?

It seems that we are constantly hearing shudders and disapproving tuts from parents and guardians alike, regarding the Barbie dolls their young girls play with.  I am sure that I am not the only one who has heard statements such as “Barbie makes little girls think that they have to look a certain way”, and “Barbie doesn’t represent a normal woman” being thrown around in the last number of years.  But, are these disapproving remarks actually truthful? Or, is this just an irrational concern?

When I was younger, I played with barbies. I liked to make them prance around the place, often in a somewhat ‘unladylike fashion’, contrary to their flawless, pretty appearance.  In fact, I spent very little time as a young girl concerning myself with what Barbie wore.  I can’t remember ever maintaining the dainty little shoes which came with her – they always became lost in some way or other.  Similarly, I spent little time brushing her hair.  I’d roughly scrape through her plastic dyed hair with a human sized brush, and scrape it back with one of my scrunchies.  My Barbies spent most of their time frolicking around the place like they were drunk out of their minds… no shoes, carelessly dressed, often going around with missing items of clothing, etc.  I gave my Barbies certain personalities.  I remember when I was small, I was not one of these young girls to play into ‘the princess Barbie’; I always found the sporty and sociable Barbie to be far more appealing.  I know that other girls are different, and they spend all of their time sitting in their pristine rooms, brushing Barbie’s hair, dressing her, and of course, maintaining every last one of her colourful dainty shoes.

Some little girls are interested in beauty, the colour pink and fashion – and others are not.  Whichever the case, I fail to see how playing with a Barbie doll can distort their body image.

Barbie was not the only toy we played with when we were young. There were plenty – Baby Born, toy cars, teddies, board games, remote control cars, or even ‘make-it-yourself’ sets (which were referred to as ‘makey-do sets’ in my house).  I cannot speak for the general nation of children, but in our house there was rarely gender distinguishing when it came to toys.  My siblings and I shared our toys.  I didn’t adapt an unrealistic body image from Barbie, just like I didn’t aspire to be a cowboy from playing with a Woody doll.

For the most part, I feel I can speak from experience, and say that toys do not put any pressure on children to become a certain person.  Similar concerns have been expressed regarding video games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’.  My simple response to this concern is that maniacs, murderers and rapists have been around for centuries.  I fail to see how a violent video game is going to encourage children to act violently.  Also, the game is only suitable for over 18 year olds — so maybe your child shouldn’t be playing it anyway if you do not want these concerns to become reality.

I can safely say that for me, a toy was always just a toy when I was young.  I was never under the impression that girls who looked like Barbie existed.  Perhaps ‘blonde bombshells’ did, but nonetheless they were human beings with non-animated faces and hair that wasn’t plastic. I also knew that Woody from Toy Story didn’t exist, and that race cars required a driver to move, not a hand.

Toys are there for children to create, to imagine, to have fun and to even express themselves.  So, my simple answer to the title of this blog is ‘no’, I don’t feel that Barbie distorts the body image of young girls.  Barbie is just a glorified piece of plastic, with round plastic boobs and plastic white-blonde hair.  Barbie was made out of plastic – just like Baby Born was, and just like remote control cars were.  I was never under the illusion that I would someday become a Barbie replica – and I never felt any of my other friends would either.  I was surrounded by real-life women, who were not made out of plastic and did not have permanent makeup tattooed onto their faces.  I always aspired to be like these women – I never aspired to look like Barbie, or act like her (considering her personality was somewhat bland.)

If anything, we need to concern ourselves with real-life women.  I do recall aspiring to be like Rachel Stevens from S Club 7, or Emma Bunton from The Spice Girls.  Rachel Stevens was awarded the title of ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’ during my childhood; and Emma Bunton often wore very little clothes and behaved very promiscuously in music videos (although she was most probably playing the character of ‘Baby Spice’)

Are these really positive role models for young girls?  Both examples were sexualised in the media.  Barbie was also sexualised; but as I have stated, the difference is that Barbie is plastic. Perhaps we need to be concerning ourselves more with the unsuitable role models for young girls?

But for now, I don’t feel Barbie is putting on any pressure. And, if you think she is, just don’t buy her for your children. It seems pretty simple to me!

Thanks for reading 🙂