One of the most important takeaways from this article is the use of people centered language. I find it really interesting that the people don’t see the differences in language that demonize women for their sexuality. Woman a forced into a condition of either being a virgin or a prude or they are considered slutty for having sex. Meanwhile, men have a really opposite experience. Men who don’t have sex are seen as inadequate or undesired but when they do they are praised for their cunning, charm and more. The double standard is more favorable towards men because men at least have an option for positive regard while woman are, metaphorically speaking, in between “a rock and a hard place”. Because of these ideas, it creates a situation for women where they feel they need to rationalize every sexual act they participate in or they internalize the double standard and begin to identify themselves as sluts. It’s very sad to see how the double standard affects the women’s own perception of their sexuality.
Another problem that I gauged from the double standard is that women are generally thought as to be a docile, submissive, “prey”. I this belief emerges from the Bible and other similar religions. In Christianity, the bible says that men are the head of the household and that women should follow the orders of their husbands. Although many of these ideas may seem outdates, remnants of these ideas exist in the way we behave. Our attitudes in society have a narrative that girls are need to be led astray by a man to let go of her values and have sex when in actuality a girl is acting on her sexual impulses just as much as a man would. This also eliminates the narrative that women can prey on men or be dominant of their sexual acts.
The double standard is very dangerous because it also eliminates the narrative of male rape. If men are always preying on women, the idea that men can be raped by women is impossible. However, we know that male rape is something that happens in our society. This is very dangerous because rape has been a crime that has been thought as only being a crime against women. In recent years, this idea has changed but it’s very alarming to think that it’s only been in recent years that this mentality that women were incapable of rape still existed. Having a double standard that paints a group as weaker than the other can really limit the protections afforded to the dominant group.
An interesting point that the article made was about woman’s bodies being constantly under a state of “conquest”. This statement was pretty profound, however, it resonated with me because it’s true. Woman are constantly at odds with different groups in society who are trying to colonize their bodies for their individual interests. All of these acts by these different interest groups are groups trying to exert their power against women as if women are not able to control what happens with their own bodies. I find it very insulting that these double standards exist because it implies that women in my life like my mother and sisters do not know what to do with their bodies and I know that they do.
I also thought the commentary the author made about heterosexual sex was the only kind of real sex that existed is a sentiment that is really pervasive today. There is a very specific definition of “sex” in our society that is very heteronormative. If I could ask the author of this article a question it would be, “How can we define sex in a way that in gender neutral?” Defining sex as something that is gender neutral would be very beneficial because I think it may help with language around dominance and submission. For example, if sex was defined as an exchange between two people rather than a man preying on a woman, then it would really remove the assumption of a gender power dynamic.
The purpose of this article was made clear in the final paragraph. Valenti wrote this article as a call to action. As a man, reading this article was very impactful. I was unaware of the impact my double standards could have on women and how they experience the world. There are a lot of changes I can make to ensure that I do not reinforce double standards with my language and actions.
I think it is very important for people to read articles like this because they can really enlighten people and change their perspectives. We are all human beings and deserve to be afforded the same rights regardless of people’s varying beliefs. Although this idea seems like common sense, there is going to have to be a lot of explicit education and changes in the representation of women in media. Woman need to be represented in media as positive, powerful icons rather than images that reinforce these sexist ideals.
If I had to ask some questions from this article, I would ask:
How can we remove the notion of “purity” around women since it is so deeply rooted in religion?
How does this affect women who want to uphold traditions of virginity until marriage?
What are ways that larger populations of people can be made aware of how these double standards affect women?