There is an underlying puritanical social paradigm that women shouldn’t indulge in casual or frequent sexual behavior, and those who do are typically frowned upon. These women are often slut-shamed and socially ostracized – made to feel guilty or inferior – but why?
Running along the double-edged sword, men in contrast are often revered, and are seemingly expected to behave in an audacious, sexually shameless manner. But men are not socially cut by that same sword. Evidently, if you are a woman it is still a sin, a faux pas, to pursue a satisfying and pleasurable sex life – even by today’s liberal standards.
Recent research has found, in accordance to the aforementioned pattern, that when establishing friendships, women are less likely to befriend female peers who are considered sexually permissive – defined as bedding 20 or more sexual partners by their early 20s.
The study, led by Zhana Vrangalova – a Cornell graduate student in the field of human development – requested 751 college students provide information regarding their sexual experience and views on casual sex. Each read a near-identical article about a male or female peer, the only difference being the character’s number of lifetime sexual partners – two or 20.
Participants were then asked to rate the person on a range of same-sex friendship factors. These included warmth, competence, morality, emotional stability, and overall likability.
All female respondents viewed sexually permissive women more negatively on nine of 10 friendship attributes, judging them more favorably only on their outgoingness.
Those finding themselves “more chaste” felt promiscuous women were unsuitable for friendship, preferring instead to associate with less sexually active individuals, according the Cornell University study. Interestingly, even those who reported having rather liberal attitudes about casual sex still preferred to socialize with non-permissive women.
Not surprisingly, men failed to show a particular preference when they rated a potential friend on 10 attributes – only notably rejecting a sexually experienced male if they felt he would be a potential threat or competition (mate-guarding), favoring someone slightly less experienced in comparison.
“Birds of a Feather? Not When it Comes to Sexual Permissiveness,” published in the online edition of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, suggests that cultural and societal attitudes about casual sex still leave women bound to the age-old double standard of being branded as easy and shamed, while sexuality among men is celebrated.
The authors posit that the disapproval stems from evolutionary concerns – seeking to guard their mates from a threat to their relationship. In the case of promiscuous women rejecting other women with a high number of sexual partners, Vrangalova suggested that they may be seeking to distance themselves from any stigma that is attached to being friends with such women.
Do you think it is fair or right to hold each gender to a different standard when it comes to sex?
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