The Stud & Slut Double Standard

by Dan on August 6, 2009

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“Why is a guy a stud if he sleeps with a lot of women, but a girl called a slut if she sleeps with a lot of men?”

I believe a lot of men intuitively know the answer to this but are challenged to explain it.

Let’s get this out of the way: There are no sluts.  The word “Slut” is a value judgment on a woman’s character, created largely by religious leaders and jealous men.  So let’s just kick that no-no word out of the door and revise the question into two related, yet distinct inquiries.

“Why does a man get credit for being promiscuous, while a woman does not?”

And

“Why is a woman stigmatized being promiscuous, yet a man is immune to this criticism?”

I separated this into two questions because the social science behind a promiscuous man’s glory and a promiscuous woman’s stigma come from different issues.

Let me begin with an analogy.

Consider sexual activity to be like fresh produce; fruits and vegetables.   Your local Farmer’s Market is where women go to pick up their natural groceries for the day.  Some women end up lucking out with the best of the banana bunch, while other women end up with bruised goods.  However, as long as a woman is presentable enough to enter the market, she will go home with an assortment of produce.

Now what about the men’s market?

Wait… we get a market?

The men don’t have a market.  They each have their own farm.  If a man is lucky enough, something will grow on its own, but most of the time if he doesn’t plant the seeds, water the plants, and put up with a ton of annoying b.s. to take care of his crops, he’s going to be hungry that week, that month, or even that year.

There are men who seem to have a farm perpetually growing with abundance, but these men are rare.

Basically, a woman’s sexual abundance for the night depends on what she’s willing to accept from the market.

A man’s sexual abundance depends on what he’s able to grow and create himself.

If you are a woman reading this and think I have it wrong, suspend your judgment for a moment.

Ask yourself how many men you know that would have sex with you upon request with no strings attached.  Ask yourself how long it would take for you to find a temporary partner if you put a promotional sign over your shirt saying “It’s been 2 long years! Need sex now!”

Now imagine a man with the same sign, and ask yourself what kind of results he would get.

If men and women are opposing sides of the sex market, then the sexual economics are always in the women’s favor.  This doesn’t mean that every woman can get every man, of course.  It simply means that if a woman wants sex that weekend and is willing to settle, she will have no issue.  The same cannot be said for men.  I came from humble social beginnings, and some of my friends from ten years ago are still virgins at age 28.  This is not because they’re ugly or horrendously awkward, but simply because they didn’t go through the discomfort of ongoing rejection.  Without their needed effort, the opportunity was never presented to them.

For a woman to stay a virgin into her late 20’s, she has to be literally dodging flying penises.  Aside from cases of extremely rare medical conditions or injuries, it’s always a woman’s choice whether she is sexually active.

This is why men get credited and women don’t.  This is why a man who gets laid within an hour of meeting a woman automatically gets a pat on the back without even being asked what she looked like.  It’s clear to every man, and to lot of women, that for a man to have an abundance of sexual partners, he must have other areas of his life very straightened out.

However, this is NOT the reason why women are stigmatized for being promiscuous.  After all, rock stars have an extremely easy time procuring sex yet aren’t looked at as “slutty.”

The only reason that the term “slut” exists is for men to dominate women socially and economically.  There was never a justifiable reason behind it, even in ancient times.  This doesn’t mean there was no rationale at all.  If a man is dating a promiscuous woman and she gets pregnant, his life becomes a lot more complicated if he’s not sure he’s the father.  While a woman might not know who the baby came from, she will at least always have the certainty of knowing it’s hers.

To prevent this problem from happening, a girl’s virginity became sacred.  In biblical times, if a woman pretended she was a virgin to get married, she would be stoned to death on her wedding night if the truth came out.

When Christianity came along, a few vague biblical verses were twisted into the belief that premarital sex was evil, and for some reason, women carried this guilt a lot more than men did.

How does the “slut factor” fit into today’s social life?

If a man has a crush on a woman, his ego takes a huge hit when he sees her hooking up with multiple men.  This is because he cannot pretend anymore that she’s just not looking for action.  He knows he’s just not the action she was looking for.  Easiest way to resolve this imbalance?  Devalue her by calling her a slut.  The irony is that this makes her an “easy girl” he was unable to get, but he pretends that wasn’t the case.

There’s also the contributing influence from well meaning parents and teachers. They make sex into something it isn’t, just so teenage girls will resist their urges to hook up until they can responsibly take birth control and STD precautions.

The problem is that the social conditioning from a girl’s pre-teen years stays with her for decades later, as it does with most of the population.

Now is there any truth that a woman’s personality is correlated with her sexual activities?

Let me clear this up.

I’ve met highly sexual women with high self esteem

I’ve met highly sexual women with low self esteem.

The women I’ve met with multiple regular sex partners are sometimes obese, and sometimes with model level figures.

I’ve met women who hook up often because they love it, and women who hook up in a lonely struggle to find a long term relationship.

Basically, you’re going to find any correlation with promiscuity you’re looking for.

As for the women who abstain from sex except with long term boyfriends or marriage?

They’re all over the place as well.  They could be confident or completely disempowered; compassionate or malicious.  There’s no rule about it.

All you can tell by a woman’s sexual activity is her sexual activity.

However, if a woman (or man) is having a lot of sex without contraception, that is a sign that there is something harmful at work.  There is a huge difference between having lots of sex and having lots of unprotected sex.  One is a fulfillment of a desire, and the other is an active assault on one’s own health.

Both men and women are tempted to look down at someone for their sexual life.  This is a temptation best let go, and as we embrace sexual diversity, everyone will get along a lot better.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alexandra October 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Great article, Dan.

2 Jason November 2, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Really enjoyed the article, great analogies too. Only thing I’m not sure about is the part about unprotected sex. It’s obvious that having lots of unprotected sex with different people raises the risk for STD’s, but something didn’t feel right with the blatant “NO” to unprotected sex. Didn’t think it all the way through, but thought I’d mention it.

3 Dan November 2, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Thanks for the comment, Jason. You may be right. I had written this a couple years ago, so I probably wouldn’t have referred to serial unprotected sex as a “direct assault on the body” if I’d written it today. That being said, I still think there’s a qualitative difference between someone who has a lot of partners with protection and someone who has a lot of partners without protection.

4 Akshat July 14, 2012 at 2:50 am

Brilliant article. THE most sensible article I have read about this topic. Way to go! :)

5 lollipop August 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

What an amazing perspective. Thanks for straightening out what I already knew, then doubted. I couldn’t have articulated that any better. Again, many thanks.

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