Feminism | Posted by Alice P on 11/1/2010

Teenagers and Double Standards

random teenagers: shouldnt they ALL be held to the same standards?

random teenagers: shouldn't they ALL be held to the same standards?

I know it’s been said before but, as a teenage girl with friends of both genders, double standards are a massive issue for me. It’s come to a head recently, because of two entirely unrelated events.

Exhibit A – Female Friend, post feminist with spells of Female Chauvinist Pig.

Female Friend recently broke up with Older Boyfriend after a long term relationship (for a 16 year old). She was recently reintroduced to a long lost childhood friend, and she’s In Love. It’s great, she’s happy and the feeling seems to be mutual.

So what’s the problem?

Well, there’s been uproar among the other girls in my year. It’s too soon after her last breakup, she broke Older Boyfriend’s heart – she didn’t, it ended amicably and they’d been on/off for a while – she’s “too sexual” for a teenager. Basically, she gives in to her hormones in a way that (apparently) only boys can do. She is most definitely not a slut; she’s a monogamist, waiting for the One, and fairly outspoken about her love for her celibacy.

Exhibit B – Male Friend, also has spells of Chauvinism.

Male friend has an alarming tendency to meet the Love Of His Life every few weeks. Then, he flirts incessantly with everything with long hair and a push up bra. Then, he ditches the Love Of His Life and finds a new one. Most recently, his Soul Mate began to bore him after four days. A week later and the Real One For Him appeared, and for now it’s going steady.

A few nights ago, Male Friend used Facebook Chat (home of deep, meaningful, soul searching conversation :P ) to share with me his worries about Current Girlfriend. Apparently, he’s scared that because he can’t see her every day she’ll ditch him for someone more attractive/taller/older.

Wait a minute, I thought, casting my mind back to a little gathering at the home of Another Male Friend that took place a few weeks ago. Didn’t Male Friend meet Random Girl and FLIRT? Surely not? But he did.

I’ve known Male Friend for five years now. He’s a couple of years older than me, and I’ve watched him go through puberty. Basically, we’re close. But, based on the reaction to Female Friend’s behaviour, if he was a girl he would be a slut. So why do I seem to be the only one who’s worried?

He gets away with it but she suffers at the hands of her friends for something that she didn’t do? Surely that’s not right. He’s “just being friendly.” He “was drunk.” Whatever the excuse, it’s not his fault. It’s ridiculous. I feel like I should try and do something, but I don’t know what. How come it’s socially acceptable for a boy to do this, but not a girl? It’s been on my mind for a while now, and maybe it’s none of my business. What’s it going to take to finally sort out such ridiculous ideas of what is and isn’t morally acceptable based on one’s gender?

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  • A @ at 4:23 pm, November 1st, 2010

    I enjoy your capitalization of certain words, and you have a great writing style. I also agree that double standards are pervasive and harmful to society.

  • Rachell @ at 5:52 pm, November 1st, 2010

    I agree, you have a great writing style! Being a teenage girl myself, I know exactly how you feel about these infuriating double standards.
    As for yr final question…people just need to call out the double standards, even though it can be frustrating. It’s like on the one hand I feel that as a feminist, I’m obligated call these double standards out but on the other hand, what if no one understands? I think it’s completely worth it even if some people don’t get it. But then again, at this point I just wish I knew an answer to yr final question. Hopefully an answer will come soon enough.

  • Rachell @ at 5:54 pm, November 1st, 2010

    Wow, only I could screw up that answer. I definitely thought I deleted those last 2 sentences.

  • A.Y. Siu @ at 6:15 pm, November 1st, 2010

    Unfortunately, this double standard doesn’t change as you get older (it isn’t unique to the teenage experience).

  • Lia @ at 6:17 pm, November 1st, 2010

    I understand your point but flirting? come on thats still ok if he didn’t even do anything? It can also be the other way around too you know…

  • the one and only @ at 6:36 pm, November 1st, 2010

    This article is really very pre-mature, you really should have thought about this better. Many reasons push this “double standard” complex, but in effect, it is in place because men and women have diffrent expectations… why? well they set it on themselves, testosterone fuelled males want the next prize and women want something long lasting… IN GENERAl. Obviously when someone steps out of line-like youre femal example, she is considered a slut, simply because it is not expected of her. In the animal world, one male gets all the females in a group, its how it goes, its part of being a man and a woman. There is no sexism involved and it is unlikely to change anytime soon, a girl who sleeps with many guys is always a slut and a guy who sleeps with many girls is always a player-its natural

  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 9:18 pm, November 1st, 2010

    Recently I read something about destructive sexual behavior, and I wondered what destructive sexual behavior would be considered for boys vs. girls…

  • Vanesa @ at 2:34 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    Interesting however…I am sure many articles could be written ini the same style as your, for both men and women as the victims. I can recall many instances where a boy spent a whole year thinking a girl actually liked him and was dedicated to her, she toyed with him, used him and dumped him on his sorry ass before getting another boyfriend, and she broke up with him 2 weeks later? These are complex problems and no one would say that this was a blatant example of ‘mens rights being violated’, but as soon as it happens to a girl ‘oh no shes been abused’. In both cases the perpetrators are in the wrong, but the victim being a girl or a boy makes no difference.

  • female @ at 6:59 am, November 3rd, 2010

    The girl didn’t step out of line, she never had sex with any of them, or toyed with their emotions. You can’t say she stepped out of line and so is a slut, the guy isn’t a slut either but a player, even though he has the same ‘fault’.

  • Alice P @ at 5:36 pm, November 3rd, 2010

    Hello everybody.
    Firstly, I completely understand that double standards DO work both ways, and I know that this article does look extremely narrow minded. I chose these two friends to compare because to me they seemed like ideal samples to contrast. Of course, I know that they are not gender defining examples but for the purpose of this piece they fitted.
    Secondly, the reason I was so angered by Male Friend’s behaviour was that he was doing exactly what he didn’t want Current (now Ex) Girlfriend to do.
    Reading this again, of course there are things I would change. Vanesa, you are completely right and there are so many other conflicting standards that need to be discussed. The point of this piece wasn’t “girls are victimized and boys are evil”, it was “look at these two people being treated completely differently”, and (as far as I know) the dreaded Slut label seems to do far more damage to girls than Player does to boys.
    Double standards of every kind really need fixing.
    Thank you to everyone who read this!
    Alice P

  • blakerivers @ at 2:30 am, November 4th, 2010

    I agree with Vanessa. But fools will be fools. Perhaps there’s not much need to meddle in other’s affairs.

    What should we try and do to stop this double standard? Like Rachell said, calling it out is helpful. But even that is sometimes beyond the call of duty in my opinion. Just don’t perpetuate the standards yourself. Honestly, what can you do to change the standards of society? They will only change with time and of their own accord.

  • Tyra @ at 4:43 pm, November 6th, 2010

    While I agree with some of the points you raise, I think the examples you’ve used are a little skewed.

    For example, you deride Boy Exhibit B for flirting, on account of hypocrisy. This is true, but it isn’t unfair of him to be worried that a his girlfriend will actually dump him for somebody else. There’s a distinction between flirting and serious relationships that needs to be understood before judgements can be made. He may have been flirting, but not necessarily with an intention to take it any further than that.

    There’s also a tendency to label any kind of chitchat between the sexes as ‘flirting’. Sometimes it’s just two people talking, regardless of gender.

  • Hope @ at 11:31 am, July 13th, 2011

    @the one and only
    No, it’s not natural. Actually, me and basically every girl I know has an issue with guys who sleep around. Why is there even a stereotype of “player”? I haven’t met a single female that finds a male who can’t commit to a relationship desirable.

    A lot of guys wanna be players, but they degrade “sluts”.
    It’s basically: I want to sleep around, but girls shouldn’t sleep around but I need a girl to sleep with but it’s socially unacceptable for her to sleep with me casually but a guy should sleep around. I don’t know…I don’t get it…It’s a circle of nonsense.

  • A-M @ at 10:34 am, August 3rd, 2011

    Regardless of whatever beliefs you hold about how a man and a woman ‘should’ behave, the notion that one can be a ‘player’ while the other should be ‘pure’ is nonsensical. By that logic, the man requires that which he rejects. Your examples may be narrow, but the second one certainly illustrates the point. It doesn’t get better with age, I’m afraid to tell you. Fear not though, there are some good guys out there.

  • Some Dude Lost on the Internet @ at 6:46 pm, March 3rd, 2012

    Here’s how I’ve always explained why promiscuous men are players and why promiscuous women are sluts:

    1. Most guys will sleep with anything that moves.
    2. For many reasons, most women are more picky when choosing partners.
    3. Because of the imbalance between (1) and (2), it’s harder for men to get laid than it is for women — women are in a buyer’s market. Promiscuous men are viewed as consistently obtaining something that is hard to get, while promiscuous women are viewed as readily giving away something of value.

    A double standard is applying two different principles to two different groups in similar situations. While at first glance all promiscuous people seem to be in similar situations — they’re having a lot of sex — closer examination reveals that the situations are quite different because the level of effort required to have a lot of sex varies greatly between men and women. In this light, viewing promiscuous men and promiscuous women differently isn’t really a double standard.

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