In this section two view points will be discussed on whether or not there is still a double standard of sexuality for women and girls. We will be looking at the sexual double standard which “refers to the idea that there are different rules for how men and women should conduct their sexual lives” (Pienta 203). We will look closely at why some people believe there is still a double standard and why some people feel as though there is no longer a double standard towards women. It is important for women to think about this because it could affect their self esteem, and they shouldn't feel that they may not be the person they truly are.


The double standard between men and women has been a major focus for research since the 1960's. Discussing the double standard between males and females can be a very controversial topic. Typically the double standard between the two genders stems from boys/men being praised and rewarded for an act of sexual activity while when the tables are turned woman/girls are shamed and made to feel bad. A 2013 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior showed the difference of opinion between male and female when discussing sexual activity among the genders. It revealed that both men and women agree to sex within a committed relationship being acceptable but when asked about sexual relations while being single, it was clear that men believed that was less acceptable coming from a female. This is only one example of the double standard between men and women. The double standard between men and women has changed throughout the years but not significantly. Having this double standard can cause negative influences on health and attitude in women.
When you think about the term “double standard”, you think about the basic stereotypes that are given to men and women alike. For example, men and women are judged differently based on how many sex partners they have had and are view in two different lights. “As the number of sexual partners reported increases, male targets would be evaluated more positively and female targets more negatively” (Marks & Fraley, 2005). Have you ever noticed that when you were in school, and you would hear the gossip from the other kids around you that if it were something about a guy that it wouldn’t be as negatively shamed unlike if the sides were switched and it were about a girl.? “A man who is successful with many women is likely to be seen as just that—successful…[whereas] a woman known to have ‘success’ with many men is…likely to be known as a ‘slut’” (2005). This is the side of the spectrum where the women will always have this negative outlook when it comes to their sexual adventures rather than just be seen as okay like it is set for the male population. Now look at the other side where girls are seen as saving themselves till marriage and there is no way around it, but the males are encouraged to go out and explore your curiosity. Going back some years, males had more freedom than females in some aspects. For example, “I can still see the image”, she said recently, “of him going across Broadway to do whatever the heck he wanted to do while I wasn’t allowed out after nine thirty at night” (Collins, 2009). Or how about a time when women “were allowed to have men in the rooms on Sunday afternoons only, on the condition the door be left fourteen inches ajar” (2009).
What is noteworthy when researching this topic Is the difficultly in studies with admitted challenges to findings. The rigorous nature of constructing studies to accurately portray whether a double standard exists stands out. Throughout the text studies have been conducted on every subject, yet, for this topic, it seems the studies have caveats and interpretations beyond the findings. (Pienta, 2013, p. 206) It makes sense that this topic would need further research, during various periods to account for the fickle ebb and flow of women’s rights, protections, and freedoms that gain and lose popularity with frequency. Even the wording in the studies can skew findings. Asking participants whether someone is promiscuous is different from asking about the number of partners, or what their relationship status is while engaging in sexual activity. (Pienta, 2013, p. 206) The challenge is constructing studies that represent what is experienced by sexually active women and how they are perceived. That includes consideration for who you ask as much as what you ask.


A key concept in this discussion is gender. When discussing the double standard, it dates back to the 1960's. Women have always been held to a higher standard when discussing sexual activity. Now for women to participate in sexual activity it is not as bad as it used to be. At one time it was strongly looked down upon to have sexual relations outside of marriage as a female, whereas if you were male it was not considered such a horrendous act. For women in 2018, it is still a topic of discussion because it is still looked down upon if not in a serious relationship. Men, however, are typically praised and complimented when engaging in sexual activity whether it is in or outside of a relationship.
What is disturbing about this question, and others like it, is that women are still trying to justify their behavior to others, behavior that men can engage in largely without consequence. There’s an entire sexual revolution because women started having sex outside of the “acceptable” social, and even legal constraints- as men have been doing all along. This revolution could only take place when women began to have some choices in their own reproduction. And still, the access to birth control is fought in the courts. (Pienta, 2013, p. 11) Of course, access to birth control is more of a problem for poor women and women of color in communities with less access to cheap or free birth control and education.

Today in the Topic

It is an interesting time to have this conversation. We can look at current events to provide of examples of how the sexual double standard between men and women play out in the public, in the political milieu. First let’s look at the alleged affair between current president Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels. President Trump is overwhelmingly supported by conservatives and evangelical Christians. These groups, which often overlap, have touted traditional values and Judeo-Christian values as worthwhile ideals to be used to govern our nation. It could stand to reason, then, that the expectations for sexual behavior for both men and women would follow the tenets of these groups and that sexual behavior that fall outside of these ideals would be frowned upon.
Of Stormy Daniels Rudy Giuliana commented, "I'm sorry I don't respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance or a woman who … isn't going to sell her body for sexual exploitation." (Khan, 2018) Of Trump, Rush Limbaugh stated, “For example, by virtue of the Access Hollywood video, it’s safe to conclude that Trump voters don’t care. Okay. So he had affairs. Who with? Well, I know this is subjective. But many would say that the women of Trump are really beautiful women, Playboy models, some of them are porn stars, and the Trump voters that like him say, “So what? Good for him. Trump was a playboy in his days back in New York City, and he’s always liked incredibly good-looking and exotic women. He’s married three of them. So what?” says your average Trump voter.”(2018)
For the sake of fairness, let’s look at the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal. To recap, Bill Clinton, then President of the United Stated had a then consensual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky. Since the beginning of the sexual revolution the fight for women’s equality, reproductive rights, and a host of women’s issues have had it’s support from the left of the political spectrum. The rational conclusion, then, would be that Monica Lewinsky would receive support as an adult woman who made a choice to engage in a consensual relationship with a man who was married, that made the same choice. However New York magazine reported that as an adolescent, Lewinsky had spent two summers at fat camp, where she “paid particular attention to the boys.” (Code word: slut.) Maureen Dowd won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of Lewinsky, in which she called her a “ditzy, predatory White House intern” and “the girl who was too tubby to be in the high school ‘in’ crowd,” among other ugly caricatures. (Bennet, 2014) Again, as reported by Author Jessica Bennet, “The national reaction against Monica was reminiscent of the way teen girls will rally around a high-status boy and throw the ‘slutty’ girl under the bus,” says Rachel Simmons, the author of Odd Girl Out and Curse of the Good Girl, who was working for Senator Charles Schumer at the time. “Girls do it to protect their own status and preserve their own relationships with the guys. Bill Clinton was the golden boy.” (2014) Of Clinton, he was portrayed as a victim of a seductress, defended by the leading feminist of our time. (Flanagan, 2017) If the goal is to eliminate the double standard of women who choose their sexual expression outside of the traditionally accepted norms, women have to be willing to do it for all women. Protecting the golden boys is the antithesis of defending women's rights and freedoms. It smacks of the discrimination women face against other women.

Double-standards for women has stayed fairly constant, if not increased, in the past decade. The work place is a good example of double-standards today. For feminism having increased, women are demanding more from work and other aspects but can get stuck in the middle of these double-standards fairly easily. Women are expected to act like a boss and "be a man" when it comes to working for a high position but if they do that they are then labeled as bossy and unapproachable. They also are often accused of "sleeping" their way to the top if they do acquire a top position. This is something that men could potentially be praised for because they are cheered on for sleeping with multiple women.
Women also have a double-standard for appearance. Society put a lot of pressure of women to look good, much more than men. Women are pressured into looking nice all the time but when they do, they are now looked at as high maintenance or blowing their money on cloths and accessories. The look that is pushed to women is a very sexy and sultry look. Women feel inclined to dress this way but then are frowned upon for not covering up more.
Relationships for women are also looked at in a harsher light. Women are judged much harder than men are in most situations regarding their relationships. If a man is sleeping with multiple women they tend to get praise from other men for this. Even cheating in relationships has become so much more common and accepted in today's society. For women, if they cheat or sleep with multiple partners they are perceived as gross or having no respect for themselves. Why is it okay for men to enjoy multiple sex partners and experiences but for women it's not?

Reasons for Controversy

Whether there is still a double standard of sexuality for women is a controversial topic. Many people believe there is a double standardized sexuality towards women. Often times when a man has many women he would be described as successful and often times applauded for it. However, when a woman has many men she is criticized and looked down upon. Often times others would call the woman derogatory names such as slut or whore. However, there are many people who believe there is not a double standard of sexuality towards women or at least if there is it is declining. As time goes on, society and cultural change and adapt. Many people do not view as a big deal when women have a lot of men because social acceptance of it has increased. A way society has changed is cohabiting is now a bigger part of culture and seen as more acceptable.

Common Ground

Is there a place in the middle of each opposing view to begin building a research- or evidence-based common viewpoint? Do we have common ground? Where is it?
There is common ground when discussing the double standard women face regarding sexuality. Much of the debate isn’t whether it exists or not, but to what degree. It is worthy to note that in Researching this topic, whether there is a double standard of sexuality for women and girls, there is very little research that questions the sexual behavior of men. Even in an attempt to discover the differences of behavior and expectations between two sets of people, one set is hardly looked at. I think that both sides can agree that there is a progression in our society where women have become freer in expressing their sexuality without dire consequences socially or legally- that freedom can be threatened. (Pienta, 2013, p. 218.)
Further inquiry to consider in building research is the stability of sexual freedom that women currently have. Perhaps the societal changes that that freedom has brought threatens the power held in a male-dominated society- thus the limits set upon women by a large swath of Americans. Access to birth control is still an issue. Women’s autonomy is still an issue. Marriage equality is still an issue. Women bearing responsibility for sexual harassment and assault is still an issue. The level of respect and freedom that women have to make these decisions for themselves- in order to safely engage in the sexual behavior of their choosing- can be altered with each election cycle. There is no constitutional protection in place to ensure the rights of women to protect them from the ebb and flow of the political will of an overwhelmingly male legislature, and there won’t be until the Equal Rights Amendment is passed. The control of the conversation be a very vocal minority that holds to traditional family values to control the decisions of others will continue to shape the double standard that women are held to. (Mosher, 1989, p. 494)

See Also

As the term progresses, you should be able to link to other topics on other pages and return to previous pages and insert those links retroactively.
In Section 4.3, "Do we need the Equal Rights Amendment?", you can see that women are not only treated unequally (even if only indirectly) in pay and in how they are able to provide for themselves. Women have always had to compete with a standard that has been in place for decades. For the Equal Rights Amendment, discrimination is directly towards women in the workforce, but for the not-so "double standard" of sex, discrimination is still being put on women, even if not on purpose. As stated before, for women, sexual relations outside a relationship or marriage is frowned upon by men. If a woman was to get pregnant, or just live her life without a male partner, she still could not make the same salary as a man could, according to the ERA. I know the double standard of sexuality is not a law we can change, but it needs to be recognized in the minds of the American citizens, for one day the citizens of America could be knowledgeable on the subject, and it could eventually change the ERA, to where women can get the exact same privileges and benefits as men.


Bennett, J. (2014) The Shaming of Monica: Why We Owe Her an Apology. Time.
Flanagan, C. (2017) Bill Clinton: A Reckoning. The
Khan, M. (2018) Giuliani’s Comments About Stormy Daniels “Inappropriate”: GOP Senator. ABC News.

Kreager, D., & Staff, J. (2018). The Sexual Double Standard and Adolescent Peer Acceptance.
Is Our Sexual Double Standard Going Away?. (2018). Retrieved from
Is there a sexual double standard? | Atlas of Science. (2018). Retrieved from
Limbaugh, R. (2018) What the Average Voter Thinks About Stormy Daniels- Based on an Email from a Female Voter.
Mosher, D. (1989). Threat to Sexual Freedom: Moralistic Intolerance Instills a Spiral of Silence. The Journal of Sex Research, (4), 492. Retrieved from
Rachel, P. (2013). Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Women's Studies . The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

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