Daniel Kaplan: The Gender Rift

One of the largest impacts that slut shaming has is that it creates a social divide between genders. This impact has many underlying causes including psychological and biological factors, as well as social pressures created by “the double standard.

According to Psychology Today, sexual promiscuity is a result of one of the greatest psychological conflicts known to man: nurture vs nature. This means that, to an extent, the sexual promiscuity in males is a direct result of biological factors (the “nature” side of things) and, in terms of sexual partners, men are wired to think in terms of quantity when women are wired to think in terms of quality. According to one study, males are more likely to engage in masturbation at all ages, but most importantly during childhood and adolescence. Females often experience sexual pleasure/stimulation for the first time with a sexual partner whereas males have already discovered sexual pleasure through self-stimulation. In females, this creates a correlation in the brain between a partner and sexual stimulation. Males, however, do not develop the same correlation and therefore see interpersonal and sexual relationships differently than females. This detachment between emotions and sexual activity is one of the main proponents of perceived double standards and helps explain how natural causes influence sexual activity.

Combining the “nature” aspect of sexual activity (health benefits and biological drives) with the “nurture” aspect (society’s perceptions) results in some interesting conclusions. The whole process of slut shaming is based on criticizing people’s lifestyles based on their sexual activity. The biggest problem with this is not false labelling, but the false perception that having sex is a bad thing. I’m not trying to argue that there aren’t any downsides or risk associated with sex (because there are). What I am arguing is that safe, protected sex is healthy: a fact that has been proven by several studies. Men who average having 4.6 to 7 ejaculations a week are 36 percent less likely to receive a prostate cancer diagnosis before the age of 70. People who report an intermediate or low frequency of sexual intercourse have rates of fatal coronary incidences twice that of those who report high frequency of sexual intercourse. According to Planned Parenthood, modern times are challenging for human sexuality research because America’s current climate of abstinence until-marriage ideology and politics assures that funding for research exploring the potential benefits of sexual expression will be scarce. The general consensus of this political and social climate is that sex is bad and research funding designated to sexual activity is more focused on discovering the downsides of sex as opposed to the benefits.

Understanding the psychological “nature” aspect of sexual activity helps set the stage for exploring the “nurture” aspect and how societal pressures influence sexual promiscuity. These social pressures come from several places, but the most important source is society’s perception of double standards. Some people think that “it is common knowledge that males, if they sleep with lots of girls, are considered to be a stud and considered to have higher standings among other males.” There are many aspects of this quote: some truthful and some not. This statement is not a fact, as it can’t be proven, but more often than not it is correct that society perceives sexually promiscuous men to be superior. This perception is one of many sexist expectations of men in today’s society. In a way, the double standard creates this expectation for men to be sexually active. Incidences of men falsely reporting having more sexual partners than they actually have had occur often. Women also lie about the number of sexual partners they have had, although women report different numbers of sexual partners depending on the conditions under which they were surveyed. This common trend of lying is a direct result of these perceived double standards.

Only one out of every four males surveyed say they’d like to have two or more sexual partners in the next 30 days. This helps disprove the common theory that males “take pride in [their] respective ‘kill count,’” and, by doing so, helps further separate perceived double standards from reality.

The reason I keep using the word “perceived” when talking about society’s views of sexual promiscuity and double standards is that these “perceptions” are often untrue. As Megan said,  double standards are “common knowledge.” However, studies have disproved this theory. Some studies have found that there is minimal discrepancy between males and females in terms of number of sexual partners while other studies have found that there is no discrepancy at all. The results of these studies can be analyzed and the information combined to create a new theory: double standards are a false representation of society’s views of sexual behavior that influence individuals of both genders to change the way they think and act in regards to sexual behavior.

This theory is supported by an interesting study performed at the Ohio State University, which proved that most people lie about their sexual activity and that gender stereotypes influence how people think, but not how they act. In other words, society’s perception of gender and sexual activity caused females to report a less than actual number of sexual partners. This proves that females didn’t sleep with less people, but they lied and said they did. Men don’t sleep with more people, they just lie and say that they do.

The information uncovered in these studies is extremely relevant, especially in disproving the people who blame slut shaming and double standards on men. All of this information is relevant to the question “what are the impacts of slut shaming” because it all outlines the overlying theme that double standards that have no substantial claim to them: proven psychologically, biologically, and sociologically. The only thing double standards do is further divide society by gender: a direct impact of slut shaming.