Unraveling toxic double standards

“You’re all like flowers. Each person you have sex with, a petal gets removed.”

He then proceeded to rip off all the petals off the flower he held in his hand, signifying that if you have sex with a certain number of people, you are nothing.

This was just one of the many degrading lessons we learned through sex education at my all-girls Catholic high school. We were socialized into thinking that we were all princesses that yearned to find a strong prince to complete us, and Lord knows princes only bang virgins.

I have a feeling that this message wasn’t taught at the all-boys school. More likely a lesson along the lines of boys will be boys, a disturbing message encouraging men to skirt sexual responsibility.  I’m not sure when the double standard between women and men having sex became a thing, but I do know it was heavily preached within the sex education rhetoric. Men are animals who can’t control their sexual desires, and women are soft delicate creatures who are too emotional. We didn’t learn about consent, or homosexuality. This was all I knew. 

Despite the rising growth of proper sexual education, there are still an alarming number of people who believe that a woman who expresses her sexuality is an immoral slut. Because everyone knows that a woman is supposed to remain pure, and having sex will make her dirty, even if she is practicing safe sex. (Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on us either.) Society is unable to comprehend the idea of a sexualized women, so they demonize us by making us feel inferior and guilty. And this has been happening for centuries.

And it’s not just men who slut shame women either—women are just as responsible for perpetuating the double standard.

“I’m not going to sleep with him too soon, because I don’t want him to think I’m a slut. Will this guy tell everyone I’m a slut if I sleep with him the first night?”

I highly doubt men ever fear these things. The fear of appearing clingy. The fear of appearing emotionless even if the sex just plain sucked. Worry over whether or not a guy who has been inside you will speak to you in public. Wondering whether to fake an orgasm when a guy is jackhammering you, who has no clue what the where the clit is.

Surely men cannot be sluts, just players who just aren’t ready for a real relationship yet. Men don’t have to be in love to have sex. Men can be reckless and have wild sexual nights before they’re ready to settle down.

What is wrong with this picture?

The double standard is dangerous. Just take a look at Brock Turner, that Stanford swimmer who raped an unconscious girl after dragging her lifeless body behind a dumpster. When questioned in court, the girl involved didn’t remember what had happened, but was repeatedly asked why she was drinking so much and what she had been wearing. If a girl was dressed scandalously, she deserved to be raped. If a girl was drunk, she deserved to be raped. If a girl was a known slut, she deserved to be raped. Because we are taught that men are animalistic and can’t control their sexual desires, it’s up to the women to cover up and act in a modest manner, or else.

But this doesn’t end there. “Slut” is how men vilify us if we say yes, and “friendzone” is how men vilify us if we say no. The moral is this: let us do what we want with our vaginas. I will not be judged by society. I am not a goddamn delicate flower. I am a goddamn woman.

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