Slut Shaming vs. Prude Shaming: The Double Standard

Freshman year is a time to let go of your past, meet new people, and start a new life in a new place. Time to let go of high school, right? Well what happens when you finally get to college? What is the expectation of the social scene and interaction with the opposite sex? First off, there is certainly an expectation of “hooking up” in college that is almost unspoken. In a new environment without parental supervision and the ability to do what you want when you want, a lot can happen. Despite a new place and new times, there are certainly still double standards that present themselves.

Unfortunately, in today’s world we feel the need to have to label everything that comes through us. From “straight” to “gay”, or “slut” to “prude”, or “ugly” to “hot”, it seems as if we always need to categorize people. But what satisfaction do we get from this, besides making ourselves feel better or worse… A common theme I see in young people today is the need to “slut-shame” versus the need to call someone a “prude”. Slut and prude are two words that both share a negative context. To females today, no one would ever want to be labeled as a slut. However, on the contrary, no one wants to be labeled as a prude either. It’s a lose/lose situation. Yet, why is it that when women have multiple partners and are considered “slutty”, it is the worst thing in the world? While no one’s number should matter, the sexual standard between men and women is alive and well. Men who sleep around are considered players and studs and are admired by their friends for their “game”. While women, on the other hand, who sleep around are deemed sluts by both men and women and are then looked down upon. Now how is this fair? For some reason, however, in modern day men simply aren’t judged like women are when it comes to sexuality.

It’s interesting how recently, since taking this class, I’m more prone to noticing sexist ridiculousness of slut shaming displayed in movies. Some movies are beginning to address the double standard and expectations between men and women’s sexuality. Women shouldn’t be attacked for their right to say yes to sexual activity, and women shouldn’t be attacked for their right to say no; however, it is something that we will continually be scrutinized for no matter which way we choose. One movie that I specifically noticed calling out this double standard is The Breakfast Club. There is a scene in this movie that pretty much sums up slut shaming and the Madonna/Whore Complex all in one go. The Madonna/Whore Complex is one that either classifies women as virgin-like, similar to the virgin Mary, or whore-like. These are the women considered “sluts”. In The Breakfast Club, after everyone is berating Clare (Molly Ringwald’s character) about her sex status Allison expresses something that is so true in the world today. She says, “Well, if you say you haven’t had sex, you’re a prude. If you say you have you’re a slut. It’s a trap. You want to but you can’t, and when you do you wish you didn’t, right?” In Kathleen Bogle’s, “Hooking Up”, she addresses the double standard of men and women that exists today. Bogle discusses how women face judgment when they are promiscuous, while men have the freedom to be as sexual as they want. It is this type of negative reinforcement that creates the double standard between men and women.

Another interesting quote by Bogle is when she states that, “Rule #1 for women: do not act like men in the sexual arena… For women who are active participants, the hook up system is fraught with pitfalls that can lead to being labeled as a ‘slut’” (103). This double standard creates the idea that women are the prey for men’s predatory sexuality.  A man is supposed to try to sleep with a woman, where as a woman is supposed to resist the man or else be labeled a slut.  It is an idea that should be offensive to both men and women alike. So what kind of measures can we take to end slut shaming and prude shaming? I think we simply have to learn to relax and move at our own pace. No one can give into anyone else’s expectations and no one can enforce anything on other people.  A man or woman who wants to wait for marriage should not be shamed for their decision, and neither should a man or woman who is more open in the way they approach sex.  Sex shouldn’t be something anyone feels pressured into, rather it should be something agreed on by mutually two consenting people. All in all, I think once acceptance of each person’s sexuality and choices is made, slut-shaming and prude-shaming can be ended and avoided, and double standards can cease to exist.

Do you think this double standard between men and women will ever end? Or do you think women will always be categorized as a “slut” for being sexually active? Why do you think this is in the first place?

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One thought on “Slut Shaming vs. Prude Shaming: The Double Standard

  1. Current double standards stem from traditional morals. Women have always been confined, and men are in the dominant position to do as they please. This is discussed in the article “Sex and Power” by Kristen Barber. It discusses how hetero-sex, which is the majority of our society, is driven by the men dominating the women in almost all aspects of life including sex. As long as the male figure is in a dominant position instead being seen as equivalent to women sexually and mentally, then I believe the double standard is going nowhere; however, it may shift throughout generations.

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