What’s Sex Got to do With… Easy A?

Most of us have probably experienced the social double standards associated with sex.  Guys who sleep with a lot of women are seen as charismatic players and girls who sleep around are seen as sluts.  This sexual double standard implies that a man and a woman can both sleep with five people over the span of a month, and the man will likely be hailed as a ladies man while the woman will be considered a whore.  This sexual phenomenon seems to permeate men and women of all ages.  The comedy film “Easy A” perfectly depicts this double standard in a modern high school setting.

In the book “Hooking Up”, Kathleen A. Bogle interviews college students to gain insight on the differing social consequences of sex among men and women.  Bogle sums it up quite nicely: “Rule number one for women is: Do not act like men in the sexual arena” (Bogle 103).  Men suffer no social repercussions for sleeping with too many girls, and in fact it seems that “stigmatization occurs only for men who cannot ‘get any’” (Bogle 104).  This double standard is also evident in the way males and females dress.  Men who dress to impress are considered sophisticated and successful whereas women who dress too glamorously outside of major social events are seen as high maintenance, needy, and perhaps slutty.

In “Easy A” Emma Stone plays Olive, a high school girl who ultimately ends up “pretending” to hook up with many guys to increase their social status as sexual men.  The men end up compensating for the fake hook ups with random gifts and money.  Olive first pretends to hook up with her gay friend who couldn’t handle being bullied for being gay:

Eventually, Olive begins to develop a reputation as a slut who will sleep with anyone:

It almost seems as if this film was made just to address this sexual double standard.  Olive and the guys she is “sleeping” with both are perceived as sexually active, but the female is stigmatized for it while the guys get praised.  I noticed that this double standard in very evident at Vanderbilt.  Why do you think this particular double standard exists?  Does it exist for good reason or should something be done about it?  Do you feel that it threatens equality between men and women in any way?  How have you seen this double standard come into play in your life?

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8 thoughts on “What’s Sex Got to do With… Easy A?

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post, and I wrote my op-ed piece on the sexual double standard at Vanderbilt, so I believe this is very evident throughout our campus. I found through my op-ed studies that the sexual double standard is evident at Vanderbilt and that women on campus agree that if you are in a relationship, getting labeled from hooking up with someone is nonexistent because you are dating the person. Because of this, more women on campus tend to be looking for a relationship, while men are content with the hookup scene. This agrees with Bogle’s findings as well. Do you think, personally, women tend to look for relationships more than men do to avoid being labeled a slut, for example?

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  2. I have definitely noticed the sexual double standard at Vanderbilt University. Girls face criticism while men are praised for sexual promiscuity. This leads to inequality because women and men are treated differently in society for participating in the same sexual behavior. I think one of the reasons why this sexual double standard exists is because women tend to be more relationship driven than men. This could be the case because there is a societal pressure for women to get married at a younger age than their male counterparts.

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  3. Unfortunately, this double standard has been present in society for centuries and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, anytime soon. Think back to the 18th and 19th centuries, for example, when women were expected to be chaste while men could satisfy their sexual needs all they want through prostitutes in addition to their own wives. I’m not sure there is an explanation behind this double standard, except that it has been ingrained in our culture for too long to change, at this point. It reminds me of one of the documentaries we watched that asked people on the street what they would think if a woman carried condoms in her wallet and most people said that she would be seen as promiscuous. For some inexplicable reason a woman is not supposed to be open about her sex life, whereas men proudly exploit, brag about, and publicize theirs. I’m afraid this illogical double standard is a stubborn part of our society that can hopefully disintegrate with the increase in sexual freedom for all types of bodies.

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  4. I think this double standard exists because men have played a superior role in society for many years. There should absolutely be something done about it. Women should be able to do and dress the ways that they want to without being judged. However, I do believe that women are the primary judges when it comes to this. They determine whether a girl is a slut or not the majority of the time. It reminds men that they have been and will continue to be superior to women no matter what actions they are involved in.

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  5. The sexual double standard exists, and I think it is so evident on college campuses because of the campus hook up culture. What’s surprising is that as females we experience this double standard in our lives, yet we continue to play into it. We talk about other girls behind their backs, focusing on their sexual escapades and calling them names like “slut” or “whore” if they’ve slept with multiple men. At the same time, we put guys under far less scrutiny on the matter. We’ve been taught that it is normal and almost expected for guys to have multiple sexual partners. I think this double standard exists because women are sexualized in a way that teaches them that they are there to be the object of mens’ sexuality.

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  6. I definitely think it affects the equality between men and women because of the double standard that exists. It is not fair that women can do the exact same actions that a man will do, but she is negatively viewed, whereas a man will be praised. I was even wondering, if it’s possible to change this double standard, what would we do to make a difference in this thinking? It seems like it would be incredibly difficult to change this view for so many people, though it would be so beneficial.

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  7. This double standard exists because it always has. men have always had the upper hand on women in all realms of life- and in the sexual one in particular. Throughout history, women have been slut shamed. This double standard seen today does’t necessarily threaten the equality between men and women- it is just extremely unfair and illogical.

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  8. The idea of a double standard is very much alive and real. Everyone knows it exists and is unfair. Just like this post explains—if a guy hooks up with a bunch of girls he’s a legend, but if a girl hooks up with a bunch of guys, she’s a slut. The movie “Easy A” outlines this exact double standard. The movie is a realistic portrayal of how teenagers act in current day society and how teenagers form and uphold this double standard.

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