Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fresh Thoughts on Double Standards

Lately, I’ve taken to reading a few so-called “slut” blogs; written by unapologetically promiscuous women with high sex drives and the willingness to seek out pleasure on their own terms.

The thing I most appreciate about these blogs is that they give me insight that I might not otherwise get. I stopped trying to figure women out a long time ago. I treat girls like a black box. Actually, I treat most people like a black box. I don’t particularly care what they’re thinking; I only focus on their behavior. Things change as I get to know someone, but in the short run I’ve found the following to be true: if you’re trying to get inside a girl’s pants, the worst thing you can do is to try to get inside her head. Once you start guessing at her motives and projecting motivations onto her actions, you’re dead in the water.

I dig where these ladies are coming from. I think it’s a ridiculous idea that your sexual behavior be completely circumscribed based on what you happen to have between your legs. That’s on the one hand. On the other, I’m sort of tired of hearing complaints from women about the “double standard”.

Do women who sleep with lots of men pay a higher price than men who sleep with lots of men? Yes, they probably do, but men who sleep with lots of women are a special case. I don’t know that it is an appropriate comparison at all. Yes, our culture holds certain esteem for the Alpha Male, but our culture also elevates his female counterpart, the Queen Bee. The difference is that a woman does not become Queen Bee by bedding a lot of men. There’s a reason for that: bedding a lot of men is no great accomplishment. The Queen Bee maintains her status, in large part, by holding out the promise of sex to lots of men, but fulfilling that promise only to a select few. Other women fall in line the way most men fall in line behind an Alpha Male.

Almost any woman, if she adjusts her standards and expectations and can develop a little game, can sleep with lots of men. For the most part, we don’t put up much of a fight. The average man, however, cannot go forth into the world with the same sort of sexual impunity that even the plainest Jane possesses. A woman named Norah Vincent wrote a book about the eighteen months she spent living as a man. She sums up part of her experience in the following quote:

If you have never been sexually attracted to women, you will never quite understand the monumental power of female sexuality, except by proxy or in theory, nor will you quite know the immense advantage it gives us over men. Dating women as a man was a lesson in female power, and it made me, of all things, into a momentary misogynist, which I suppose was the best indicator that my experiment had worked. I saw my own sex from the other side, and I disliked women irrationally for a while because of it. I disliked their superiority, their accusatory smiles, their entitlement to choose or dash me with a fingertip, an execution so lazy, so effortless, it made the defeats and even the successes unbearably humiliating. Typical male power feels by comparison like a blunt instrument, its salvos and field strategies laughably remedial next to the damage a woman can do with a single cutting word: no.

There are some men in this world who are so good-looking, or so accomplished that they rarely ever get to know the feeling of rejection, and others that are so oblivious and self-centered that they are almost incapable of knowing or caring about that feeling. For the vast majority of us, however, the fear of being rejected, of being social ostracized is real. We can feel it in our guts every time we approach a girl or make a follow-up call, or lean in for that first kiss. Some buckle under that feeling and give in to the fear; others don’t.

Alpha Males aren’t held in high esteem because they sleep with a lot of women. The women are a side effect of being thought in such high esteem. Women are supposed to have the final decision on sex, but for some men that is not the case. Alpha Males derive their status from their ability to impose their will on the world around them; to take a system that is “supposed” to work one way and make it work the way they want it to work. To put it in language that relates to the above quote, Alpha Males are those of us who don't take no for an answer. They are the ones who win wars, build corporations, and bring new technology to the market. Without people like that, the world that we know would not exist and we’d all still be squatting in caves, so I think that esteem is well-deserved.

I agree that there is something not right about condemning women for their sexual choices, especially now when birth control and medicine have mitigated some of the ill effects of promiscuity. My point is that the other half of that supposed double standard, rewarding male promiscuity, is really unrelated. Our culture punishes men, as well. It just does it to those who are unable to conquer their fears or to overcome their present limitations.

The question that I put out there for consideration is this: Do men who try, and fail, to bed numerous partners suffer any less social consequences than so-called sluts?


Lemmonex said...

Do men who try, and fail, to bed numerous partners suffer any less social consequences than so-called sluts?

well, a man can learn game. he can improve, if that is what you call improving. If labeled a slut, a woman is ALWAYS a slut.

Zipcode said...

lemm says it well......

something I always hear from the guys is that apparently that I can get laid anytime I want - really?
Granted I do not look like a social reject but many many many times I have gone out and interesting enough - no sex for me that night.

Here is a topic you should touch on - Why do men think women can laid anytime they want?

Well written by the way ;-)

kiwigirl said...

1) I think women can get laid whenever they want. But most of us have standards - so don't choose to.

2) Having sex, at least in my mind, is about pleasure. Do I think I will get pleasure from the encounter. Yes? Then I do it. No? Then I don't. And I don't just mean physical pleasure.


Lance said...

lemon: granted, in most cases it's easier for a man who has been excluded from the 'acceptable hook up' pool to clean up his act and get on the inside than it is for a woman labeled a slut to lose that tag. i don't think the margin is as wide as you make it seem. think of how hard it is for a guy to loose a reputation of being 'creepy'.

zip: anytime you want is stretching it, but given the qualifiers i mentioned in the post i'm going to say more often than not. see kiwi's comment.

also, that is a good idea. i'm definitely going to blog it.

kiwi: i think we're in agreement here. i'll go further and say that there is no separating physical feelings from emotional ones; not even for men. anyone who tries is putting himself on painful collision course with reality.

Hillary Muff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hillary Muff said...

A + post! (though I can't address your question di coda because i'm a bit drunk).

kiwigirl said...

I hate the whole "slut" concept as well. I mean what the hell does that even mean?

And why do we still have the expression?

I'm all for people being open about sex. And everybody is different and likes different things.

But to not have sex with someone because you are scared to be labeled a "slut" - is just stupid.


Patrick Bateman said...

I still apply the double standard because most people have not advanced beyond precivilized mentality. Chances are if a woman is a slut, it's because she's low quality. Only low quality girls were sluts before contraception, and those technologies have not been around long enough for us to adapt to them. I have yet to meet a slut who wasn't low quality. Being a slut does not automatically make you low quality, but there's definitely a strong trend there.

Lance said...

the slut concept exists; probably for two reasons:

some men are so full of self-loathing that they can't help but have disdain for any woman who gives into their sexual advances. it's akin to the 'i don't want to be part of any club that would have me as a member.'

the other, and perhaps more powerful, side is that women use it to keep each other in line. women gain a lot of power from withholding sex. labelling someone a slut is a means of punishing women who break with that solidarity.

the real question is: in contemporary western society, does it serve any useful purpose?

Patrick Bateman said...

The double standard is grounded in biology. Culture still reinforces it, but we're starting to move away from that now.

Why is a man who sleeps around considered a player while a women who does is considered a ho? Think about sexual relations in precivilized times.

The Paleolithic Player

If a cave man slept around with many women and ended up impregnating one of them, what did he lose? Very little. He could impregnate another women that same day. There weren't any courts around that were going to force him to pay child support. So if he got some low quality female pregnant, it didn't matter, he had plenty of seed to spread around. The fact that all these women wanted to sleep with him let high quality females know that he was high quality too. Thus, by sleeping around with the hos he was increasing his chances of attracting a good wife.

The Paleolithic Ho

If a cave woman slept around with many men and ended up pregnant, what did she lose? A significant fraction of her child bearing years. It's not just those 9.5 months but also the time required for her body to heal enough to safely have another baby. What if the father was low quality? Well then she wasted her womb on some loser who would have a hard time providing for her even if he made the effort and would give her children low quality genes. What kind of women slept around back then? Low quality women. The type of women who knew they couldn't keep a good husband. Their strategy was to sleep with as many high quality men as possible. She may not be able to keep a good man, but she can at least make sure her children have good genes. For women, sleeping around was a form of negative signaling. It signaled that she was low quality.

Now all of this explains why the double standard existed in the past, but why does it still exist today? Because we're still basically apes! The vast majority of humanity still relies on primitive emotions. These aren't Nietzsche's supermen. It really shouldn't apply in modern society but human biology still lags far behind human technology.