‘Guys We Fucked’ – touted as an anti-slut shaming podcast created in the hopes of liberating women’s sexuality from the shackles of antiquated patriarchal conventions – but more accurately, additional noise for the cacophonous symphony that is the ‘slut/stud double standard’.
The problem? Bang a lot of dudes, you’re labelled a slut, bang a lot of girls, you’re a stud, or a player – the female equivalent evidently a pejorative, whilst the male epithet inferring aspirational qualities. Innumerable sources across the web including the likes of Elite Daily are urging women to take their sexual identities by the horns and wear their scarlet letters with pride.
Let’s unfurl why this “double standard” exists, shall we.
Semantically, the words ‘Double Standard’, insinuate that both sexes face equal challenges in their pursuit of a common goal. Now, I would argue the worldview that both men and women perceive sex in the same way is inherently flawed, so any discussion that rests on this assertion is equally misleading. A well-known inquiry into human behaviour was conducted in the 1970s and 80s, (which has since been watered-down on YouTube here) – the abstract reads:
In these studies male and female confederates of average attractiveness approached potential partners with one of three requests: “Would you go out tonight?” “Will you come over to my apartment?” or “Would you go to bed with me?” The great majority of men were willing to have a sexual liason with the women who approached them. Women were not. Not one woman agreed to a sexual liason. Many possible reasons for this marked gender difference were discussed.
Whether social conditioning or biological determinism, males pursue and females allow themselves to be pursued; media perpetuate it, research validates it and nature demonstrates it. So, from a normative perspective, men and women’s conceptions of sexual priorities are seemingly incongruent.
Enter a novel wave of pop-feminism and anti-slut rhetoric that encourages women to start thinking more like men and stop being such prudes – perhaps it’s some misguided sense of FOMO or an ill-thought out step towards ‘equality’. Regardless, there’s a reason the ‘natural order’ of things doesn’t have women praising each other for sleeping around, and once again, it’s because men and women experience life in very different ways.
To quote Paul Elam:
First, let’s take a look what it takes for men to have a rush hour of sexual traffic, assuming they are not paying for it directly.
To have a high volume of sexual encounters with women, men must:
A. Have great sexual magnetism based on physical appearance, or
B. Have visible economic success, or
C. Significant social status among other men, or
D. An operational understanding of women and their desires and the ability to manipulate those things, or
E. The ability to project high self confidence in social settings, or
F. A combination of two or more of the above.
Now, to have a high volume of sexual encounters with men, women must:
A. Have a vagina
Whilst the above might come across quite tongue in cheek, you’d be hard-pressed to argue anything to the contrary. In fact, it’s this very understanding that contributes to the negative connotations associated with promiscuous women. Everyone is more than well aware that should she so desire, even the most vapid and penniless woman can get enough ‘Vitamin-D’ to render the sun redundant. It would seem ludicrous to deify a woman for achieving something that she has to make an active effort to avoid – like giving praise to an alcoholic for managing to get through a beer.
Conversely, when a man sleeps with a woman it demonstrates an ability to circumnavigate the very obstacles that prevented the hundred or so men included in that study from succeeding – an achievement that earns favour among both men and women alike. If you analyse social dynamics (i.e. live a life with functional eyes) it quickly becomes apparent that the more success you have with women, the more success you’re bound to have, a glaring indication that it’s not men that perpetuate the controversial ‘double standard’, but women. By choosing to sleep with men who are players, women are preserving a discourse that treats promiscuous men as viable mates and successful humans; each notch on his belt is a vote of confidence by the female community (the value of each vote is directly proportional to the attractiveness of the caster). Succinctly put, guys earn admiration for sleeping with lots of women for the same reason that they would be congratulated for overcoming any particularly onerous challenge.
Now I certainly don’t condone the use of any degrading terminology or slurs, and I’m quick to concede that from a moral standpoint, there’s not two cents worth of difference between a promiscuous man and a promiscuous woman. However it’s certainly not difficult to understand why the one would be considered more impressive than the other – and this discordancy certainly adds fuel to the fiery double standard debate. Men have to work infinitely harder than women in the pursuit of a casual sexual encounter, and everyone knows it. This doesn’t exactly answer why women are denigrated for doing so; it just explains why they’re not admired for their dalliances. To understand why there’s such animosity directed at women for being promiscuous we’re compelled to look deeper.
I believe that the true source of this double standard debacle stems from the notion of power, or how it’s perceived by society at least. Men who appear to be able to ‘have’ any woman they want are perceived as powerful, conversely, women who are able to refuse the advances of powerful men, or alternatively, keep them sexually exclusive, are themselves considered powerful (this is almost always synonymous with being extremely physically attractive). To explain why this is the case we’d have to unravel an intertwined mess of contemporary gender theory and evolutionary psychology; however I think it’s safe to say that the above is a commonly accepted norm.
In the same way that some might eat the heart of a lion in the hopes of consuming its power, both men and women strive to be more powerful than their cohorts by assimilating the status of powerful partners – albeit in different ways, as highlighted above.
Now it’s no secret that the most commonly identified perpetrators of slut-shaming happen to be women themselves; anyone who knows a girl/woman who has been cheated on will attest to the stream of expletives the ‘other woman’ has been called, probably the most vehement of which would be the likes of “whore” and “slut” (See Jerry Springer/Cheaters for reference).
I put it to you (#BarryRouxShoutOut) that slut-shaming is not born from men’s disdain of promiscuous women, but rather as a result of women’s innate fear of being outplayed within the sexual arena, but more specifically – having their man, or more symbolically their power, stolen. Promiscuous women are a threat to other women’s capacity to keep a man sexually exclusive – and slut-shaming is a ritual designed to dissuade any woman from pursuing a lifestyle that jeopardises the integrity of another woman’s sexual dominion. If we are to accept this as a feasible explanation of the mechanism driving slut-shaming, then it seems logical that any activity designed to promote promiscuity amongst women would only exacerbate the prevalence of slut-related vitriol circulating within the public sphere. The likely solution to eliminating the associations made between promiscuous women and derogatory slurs would be complex, and would probably require a complete overhaul of the cultural (and perhaps biological) parameters we use to identify how power is asserted and assimilated.
So take heed of these words ladies, beware of any article/podcast/blog that pushes a pro-promiscuity agenda under the guise of female sexual liberation, they’re probably just other women waiting to ruin your reputation and take you out of the game – much like crocs do for men.