If you’ve been in the dating world for a while, you’ve probably encountered the double standard that seems to exist regarding one-night stands or casual sex in general. Men tend to go about one-night stands without any issue to their reputation while women navigate a much more difficult path.
This has historically been a problem. However, over the years with much progress made regarding equality and fighting sexism, one would think that something as simple as casual sex would no longer elicit great differences between gender. Yet here we are. So why do women still get judged for one-night stands? Let’s take a look.
Whether you are religious or not, there is no doubt that religion has exerted a significant influence on the way that we interact in society. It certainly appears to have an effect on this issue. Most religions – particularly Western religions – designate deep gender roles. Men are often painted as “visual creatures” who are easily enticed while women are considered to be much less sexual by nature.
In fact, many people have suggested that casual sex in women is a symptom of some greater issue lurking beyond the surface such as low self-esteem. Because surely a woman can’t actually enjoy sex just like a man. Researchers at Hanover University tackled this misconception in a study and found no link between casual sex and low self-esteem in women.
This view, while untrue and oversimplifying something as complex as sexual attraction, has largely pervaded a lot of American society. In fact, the strong influence of religion in our society may be a good reason why casual sex for women is still somewhat taboo in America whereas it is much more accepted in European nations with less of a religious culture.
The reality is that there are many different things that affect the way that we view cultural norms in society. Media is another major one. The saying that art imitates life is certainly true and we see these sexist double standards regarding casual sex often parroted in movies and television.
To see the effect of this, simply consider virtually any romantic comedy you’ve ever watched. You’ll typically have a woman pining away for a long-term relationship while the guy plays the field. Eventually, the two fall in love and the guy has to woo the woman of his dreams. In fact, some people have suggested that women don’t actually enjoy casual sex; rather, they view sex as a way to get a significant other. Once again, this is a far oversimplified view of both women and sex.
While there are instances in movies and television of women engaging in casual sex, these portrayals are much rarer than those of men engaging in casual sex. Thus, it is not surprising that the double standard is believed by many people in society.
Another potential explanation for the difference in views about casual sex by gender potentially lies in evolutionary biology. After all, many things from our past are hard-wired into our brains through prior experiences.
The argument can be made that from an evolutionary standpoint, women have less to gain from casual sex. After all, women hold most of the risk in the situation as they can become pregnant whereas men bear very little risk by comparison.
However, the reality is that modern life is quite different from our evolutionary past. Inventions such as birth control and contraceptives have largely leveled the playing field in terms of risk. Thus, it may simply be a situation where our brains have not adjusted for the new reality.
Obviously, the reality is that women enjoy sex as much as men. This might be surprising for many people; however, it has been confirmed time and time again by research. When measured on a scale, women were found to be just as sexually arousable as men. Other research found that women have similar levels of desire to men.
The reality is that men and women are both very sexual beings and both genders can enjoy one-night stands. Fortunately, social norms are beginning to change, and more people are beginning to recognize that women enjoy casual sex as well. However, there are still significant views that judge women harshly and slut shame while accepting casual sex by men as normal.
Ultimately, while progress has been made, the judgement towards women fulfilling their sexual needs is still problematic. It is important to push back against the stereotypes and recognize that, regardless of gender, people are complex beings that have a variety of sexual needs and have the agency to satisfy them in whatever way they deem best.