Here's The Story Behind Your Favorite Sexual Double Standard. And By 'Favorite,' I Mean The Worst.

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Riddle me this: Why is it that when men have multiple sexual partners, they're "bad boy playas," but when women do it, they're called every dirty name in the book? This double standard needs to G-O. Have sex with whomever you want however many times you want. As long as it's consensual and you use protection, you're a-OK with me. This video takes a look at where this nasty double standard comes from and why it's so important to demolish it.

While this video focuses on the sexual double standard between men and women in a strictly hetero sense, let's all agree that slut shaming is gross, no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation.

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Female Speaker: Recently a YouTube commenter named Danny asked me not once, but twice, to do a video explaining the sexual double standard. Why is it that if a guy sleeps around he's manly, but if a woman does it, she's a slut? Because that's just the way the world works!

Just kidding. I mean, not entirely kidding, but there's more to it than that.

What do we mean when we say the sexual double standard? In cliched terms, we could say that it refers to men being instructed to go sow their wild oats, while women are warned that no one's going to want to buy the cow if they give away the milk samples for free.

Specifically it refers to our permissive attitudes toward pre-marital sex on the basis of gender.

Contemporary evidence of how we might internalize that sexual double standard is that a lot of times in studies of hook-up behavior, women report a lot more guilt after that fact than men do.

The sexual double standard can also manifest in far more extreme and gruesome ways. Such as the instances in Steubenville and Maryville, wherein sexual assault victims were slut shamed for sex acts that they weren't even consenting to.

When we look at where the sexual double standards comes from, it first entered the academic lexicon in the late 1960s, when a guy named Ira Reiss decided to study this.

Even though a sexual revolution was going on, there was still a big gender divide in how those permissive attitudes were applied.

Women who were getting it on during the summer of love were still cast in media reports, and portrayed on film and television, and even just in neighborhood gossip as no good whores who you want to keep your sons away from.

The sexual double standard began a long time before the late 1960s. But you can hop back a couple decades to World War II, where you see public health campaigns regarding venereal diseases being framed as warnings for men to keep their penises away from promiscuous women's dirty vaginas.

But to get to more of the root of the issue, we have to go way, way farther back.

The idea of marrying for love is a very modern phenomenon. Back in the day, women were really considered more of men's property that their own autonomous beings. You want to make sure that that property is chaste and virginal and unsullied, that none of its milk samples have been given out for free.

There's also a broader economic incentive for reinforcing the sexual double standard. Because back in this time, particularly for lower class women, if they were to get pregnant outside of marriage, which was very easy because this was long before the days of accessible birth control, it was up to the church and state to take care of them and their fatherless children.

You know what the church and the state didn't want to do? Have to pay for a bunch of mothers and their fatherless children. You see this rise of sexual stigma focused on women to de-incentivize their desires for premarital sex.

This idea that women should be shamed for having sex outside of the confines of a heterosexual marriage is a long standing one.

What has changed is that fact that we're now living in a time of more sexual permissiveness than ever before, with women having more premarital sex. Yet we are failing them, particularly in the United States, with a sex education system that prepares us only for one thing: don't get pregnant.

But I do think that we can chip away at the sexual double standard by taking action on an individual basis and really paying attention to the messages that we're sending.

Not just to women, but also to little girls, telling them they need to be ladylike and prim and proper. As they get older, hey, you need to watch out what you're wearing because if you're showing too much of something or something, then you're going to give off the wrong impression.

Telling girls who might be of an age when they could be having sex that they don't want to be that kind of girl.

We could go on and on about all the societal changes that need to happen in order to dismantle the sexual double standard, but first, we got to start with ourselves.

And I challenge you and myself to do just that.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

This video comes from Stuff Mom Never Told You, which not only has a funny and smart YouTube channel about the science and sociology of the differences between ladies and gents, but also a funny and smart podcast that examines this stuff too! Thumbnail via Thinkstock.

Jul 08, 2014

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