An interesting recent study has shown that three-quarters of college students judge men and women’s sex lives with complete equality. The breakdown is as follows:
- 48% egalitarian conservatives who lose equal respect for men and women they believe are “sleeping around.”
- 27% egalitarian libertarians who don’t lose respect for people for sleeping around.
- 12% traditional double standard holders who lose respect for women but not men who sleep around.
- 13% reverse double standard holders who lose respect for men but not women who sleep around.
Do you notice that last bit? More college students (not a whole lot more, but more) believe in the reverse double standard than the double standard. The hell?
Of course, this is just of college students, with the usual caveats that apply. People who are older or not able to attend college may be more likely to believe in the double standard (of course, they may also be more likely to believe in the reverse double standard, not slut-shaming people, slut-shaming everyone equally, etc.). But nevertheless this suggests that as my generation takes over, one kind of misogyny that has lasted too fucking long may finally get the stake in its nasty sexist heart. Victory against the patriarchy! Fuck you, assholes, we’re winning.
Err, kind of.
Even though it is not sexist to judge everyone equally based on their sex lives, it is still sex-negative to criticize people for being ‘sluts.’ (Or for being virgins. Other people’s sex lives are none of your business, is my point.) I think that sex-positivity may be, and perhaps already is, evolving from criticizing the double standard where men can be studs but women are sluts into criticizing the idea that you should slut-shame people at all, regardless of their gender. (While, of course, keeping a firm commitment to intersectionality, to fighting rape culture, and to the idea that whether celibate or promiscuous anyone’s sex life is a good sex life, as long as it’s consensual, honest, and emotionally and physically healthy.) Because, seriously, the new consensus that it’s bad to have too many sexual partners? That shit sucks, and has the potential to suck almost as hard as the traditional double standard.
It is okay to have lots of sexual partners. It is okay not to have any sexual partners. How many sexual partners you have has no bearing on your worth as a person. Until that’s accepted, sex-positivity still has work to do… even if the new shitty consensus is a less sexist one.