Friday, September 24, 2010

The Harm In Gender Roles: Cause and Effects of the Sexual Double-standard

In a book entitled Hooking Up, which came out in 2008, the author, Kathleen A. Bogel, interviews 76 college students (51 undergraduates and 25 alumni) at both a state university and a faith-based university. The general consensus of these interviews seemed to be that the sexual behavior of females was more closely scrutinized than was male sexual behavior. Also, there were several rules that both men and women identified which only applied to the behavior of women. This unbalanced view on sexual promiscuity is known as the “sexual double-standard," and it is the main means to which a woman relinquishes her power in a relationship; comes to acquire sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or, possibly, pregnancy; and maintains less sexual and social liberation than men.

Throughout the ages, noted civilizations have always put the emphasis on purity for what is considered a “good” woman through myths and legends and even in actual events ("Journal of Sex Research" 13). There are modern civilizations that still practice female genital mutilation in the hopes to control women’s sexual desire and loyalty (Bruess, Conklin, and Greenburg 109). In 1996 research was conducted through surveys in Japan, Russia and the U.S. regarding double-standards in matters of sex. Though some men and most women were supporters of female sexual liberation in the U.S, in Russia and Japan the sexual double-standard was prevalent in males and females, equally ("Journal of Sex Research" 13).

Until the late 1960‘s, women were discouraged from sexual activity outside of marriage or long-term relationships. The Sexual Revolution encouraged women to be aware of their sexuality and enjoy it. Still, those views from times past continue to threaten the treatment and reputation of young women today (Bogle 96-127). When a woman spends the night at the residence of a one-night-stand, the journey home is called the “walk of shame,” the corresponding phrase for men is “stride of pride.” When a woman enjoys sex with multiple partners in a short period of time, she is a “slut,” “skank,” “ho,” or “whore.” For highly, sexually active men the popular vernacular is “player,” “pimp,” or “stud” (Herrmann, and Rackl 24).

In 1999 an article was published in the Toronto Star called “Good Girls Can Get A Bad Rep,” the research covered several areas in which women were treated differently then men in society, particularly young women. It was disturbing to find that research conducted in high schools in the U.S showed that girls were punished more harshly for sexual misbehavior than boys (the example given was “mooning”). This particular article very logically looked at the impact of these double-standards on girls as they transition into woman-hood.

Rape is considered an effect of the sexual double-standard (Stepp). It is suggested that college-aged women believe that their sexual willingness will become less noticeable, if, before they engage in random sex acts they are both drunk and unprepared via contraception and STI prevention (Herrmann, and Rackl 24). Drinking lowers your inhibitions, making you more social and out-going, but it also has significant effects on keeping physical control of your body and your ability to make safe decisions (Bruess, Conklin, and Greenburg 74-77). Here, the sexually experimental, young female is at her most vulnerable.

Another important factor to consider when lacking preparedness, is STIs and pregnancy. Some argue that the sexual double-standard is a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the accused decide they should engage in the alleged activity if they’re going to be persecuted anyway(Stepp). The above words enclosed in quotations are hurtful and mean awful things to women, and so it is no surprise that those labeled as such would put themselves in situations resulting in any of the effects already given.

On a larger scale, there are mental consequences involved in getting raped, such as post traumatic stress disorder. STIs like herpes and HIV are permanent and unwanted pregnancy is the single-most influential factor in what keeps men and women from equality socially and economically (Bruess, Conklin, and Greenburg ).

Gender roles are the traditional roles that each gender is assigned to, i.e. women being the stay-at-home parent and men being the sole-provider for the family. Awareness of gender roles and the dangers involved may propel someone forward in their life. In an entirely different respect, subscribing to gender roles places limitations on relationships; financial, academic and personal success; and on many people’s lives in general (Stepp). The sexual double-standard is a direct result of generations of men and women subscribing to these gender roles and is responsible for what significant inequality is left between the genders.

Works Cited:

Bogle, Kathleen A. Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships On Campus. New York: New York University Press, 2008. 96-127. Web. 15 Sep 2010

Bruess, Clint E., Sarah C. Conklin, and Jerrold S. Greenburg. the Dimensions of Human
Sexuality. 4th ed. Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones And Bartlett Publishers. , 2010. 74-77. eBook.

"Sexual double standards: a review and methodological critique of two decades of research."
Journal of Sex Research 40. 1 (2003): 13. Web. 20 Sep 2010.

Stepp, Laura S. "Good Girls Can Get a Bad Rep." Toronto Star 4 Sep 1999: n. pag. Web. 20 Sep

Herrmann, Andrew, and Lori Rackl. "Women trekking back to their dorm in the morning after a
hookup take the 'walk of shame.' For guys, it's the 'stride of pride.' College women today
are more sexually liberated, but double standards remain." Chicago-Sun Times 21 March 2005, DATELINE: CARBONDALE: 24. Web.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds a lot like the "Hoe vs. Hero" concept. The fact that sexual inequalities still exist in today's society helps to show that we still have very far to go to get where we need to be. I guess we can only live and learn until the same mistake over and over again forces our own hands to make change....
    -David Hite