Feminism | Posted by LW on 03/8/2011

Guy Friends and Double Standards

the guy friend

the guy friend

As a girl with several, older male friends I am constantly around sexism. I spend nearly all my free time with them as I don’t see them at school. Their favourite name for me is ‘woman’ and the number of times I am asked why I’m not in the kitchen, making them sandwiches, is getting ridiculous. And while I know it’s just a bit of banter, I know that by not saying anything I am being a bad feminist. But to be honest with you, I don’t really mind. I’m usually the only girl and they allow me to be who I need to be without judgement. They are the people who make me feel truly at home, which is ironic as my mother hates them and thinks they are a bad influence.

I think she is wrong.

They are the ones who have calmed me down after months of craziness, and while the only reason I became friends with them in the first place was due to an unfortunate, drunken encounter, which I’d rather not go in to but which did cause me to lose all my old friends, they do not treat me with any real disrespect.
It is hard to know whether or not they view me as an attractive, sexual being, although considering the circumstances under which we met it would be hard not to. Yet time has passed and things have changed, for the better I hope.

Six months ago I was a mess. I was the girl getting completely drunk and hooking up with random guys, and I couldn’t stop myself. It’s strange that although the incident which started everything ruined my reputation, it’s also the reason I now have such great friends. It’s hard for me now, though, because even with good friends you can screw everything up in a moment and I did just that, and yeah, now we’re all friends again and it’s so much better than it was before but it means that now I’m terrified to act on my womanly impulses, or to stand up against their sexism, because things are just going so well compared to the way they were before.

I’m pretty sure none of this makes sense to anyone, least of all myself. In fact, this is really just me letting it all out, but I feel like I need some female feedback after so long with male company. The only real female interaction I have these days is with so called ‘girlfriends’ at school, who are so judgemental it is impossible to talk to them about anything.

Anyway, the whole point of this was for me to explore the idea of double standards, because I’m seeing them more and more these days, and all I know is that if I were a boy, everything I’d done, all the so-called ‘mistakes’ I’ve made, would have been viewed very differently by my peers. Instead of being shunned I would probably be even more popular, so why is it that a man can explore his sexuality freely, yet a woman is deemed a ‘slut’ the second she experiments?

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  • Allie @ at 12:19 pm, March 8th, 2011

    i hate double standards, and if they were really your friends they would totally understand why you do not like that kind of talk, but then again, guys joke and make fun of each other and put each other down, so they probably do not know what they are doing is sexist and hurting your feelings. i’m primarily friends with guys for the same reason, girls can be catty, i hate to say it. and though i do have a good amount of female friends, there are girls out there who are judgmental while guys really do not seem to care. thats how it was for me in high school, i was one of the guys because i not only was raised by a single father, i was into horror movies sci-fi and other stuff a good southern belle girly girl was not suppose to be into. girls really hated this and would call me names, like Dyke, slut etc. i would like to say that when i got older, i’m 24, got a job it went away but alas it didn’t, there was so much gossip about women in the office among other women it made me sick. i think we as women, not just feminist, need to build each other up instead of down. stop putting each other down and judging because of who we are sexually or where we stand on the whole sexuality exploration, girls who want to wait compared to girls who want to explore sexually. and also, please do not compare a girl who loves sex and sleeps around to a hooker, or a women who gets paid for sex, they are not the same thing!

  • Manuela @ at 12:24 pm, March 8th, 2011

    A brave piece, LW – it has brought back to me vividly the tensions I always felt between the deep need to belong and to have friends, and the equally (if not more) deep need to be treated with respect. And before I continue, let me say that it is only now as I get older (late 30s) that I am able to stand more with the latter need rather than the former – and I still get mad at the sad fact that more often than not those two needs are mutually exclusive, and it is you and I and other women who have to decide what to give up. Imagine a world where we wouldn’t have to!!

    So, with that in mind, I want to say that sexist jokes are not “just jokes” and that “lighten up, I was just kidding!” can only come from a position of privilege. Sexist jokes hurt! And they demean, like the drop of water that keeps falling (because we hear these jokes all around), in little ways that add up to big loud voices that end up affecting our self esteem and belief in ourselves.

    Marie Shear has a great piece on the daily myriad instances of sexist language and their toll – http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/2010summer/2010summer_Shear.php.

    In the end, it is only you who knows how you feel and what need is more vital to you now, and what it the best way to meet your needs. There is no right or wrong answer. I guess all I wanted to say is that what you’re saying does make sense to me, that you are not alone, and that I honour you (especially today! happy IWD!) for listening to your needs and feelings.

  • Wiley @ at 12:25 pm, March 8th, 2011

    I have a few things to say:

    1. I am so sorry you lost a bunch of friends/had your circle disrupted like that. That is f-ed up and no one should ever abandon you for making one (or even ten!) mistake.

    2. It’s really great that you have these guy friends who make you feel like a real person and support you. That is so important, and I’m glad you have that.

    3. I understand what it’s like to have sexist loved ones. My step-dad, for instance, is not exactly a bastion of gender equality, but he loves me and respects me and has been there for me, so I walk the line.

    That said, language is important. I believe that the words we use shape our thoughts and our worldviews and therefore our actions. For example: I don’t allow rape jokes to be told in my presence, because while I am pretty sure even people who make rape jokes don’t actually advocate rape, joking about it makes everyone jaded, and that can cause all sorts of problems. I feel the same about “woman” jokes. Yes, someone who makes a woman joke to you does not necessarily want to degrade you or deprive you of your rights. But the fact remains that women are still fighting for basic control over our bodies and lives, and perpetuating sexist jokes does not help create a culture of respect.

    I wish you all the best negotiating your relationships and hope you can come to a personally satisfying balance between having fun and being supported by your friends, and helping create a world in which girls and women are taken seriously.

  • NWOslave @ at 12:37 pm, March 8th, 2011

    The reason why a woman who has sex with multiple men is called, “easy” is precisely because it is easy. Any average woman of no wealth can sleep with a mulitude of men. This ficticiuos average woman can walk into a bar with 50 single men and say, “I’m willing to have sex with any man.” She will of course get her wish.

    This of course has nothing to do with love or commitment, it is simply for sex. She may even get “lucky” as it were, and sleep with a particularly handsome man or a fairly wealthy man and spend a night in a posh resort.

    The average man with no wealth has far less option’s. If he walk’s into a bar with 50 single women and announces his willingness to have sex with any woman, he’ll be sleeping alone. As far as this ficticious average man getting “lucky” and sleeping with the particularly beautiful woman or a fairly wealthy woman, winning the powerball lottery is more likely.

    As a general rule for a man to have multiple women he need’s to be either very handsome, very wealthy or powerful in some aspect like sport’s or politic’s.

    So while the average woman of no wealth is able to have sex with many men by default. In order for the average man of no wealth to have sex with many women he may have to help, dance, spend wealth or in some way impress his way into having sex with women.

    There really is no double standard. What a woman get’s by default, (easy) a man will have to work for, (stud).

  • Carrie @ at 1:27 pm, March 8th, 2011

    I did the same thing that you did in High School. Guy friends were easier to be around, but I felt that they were ready to drop me at any point. After graduation, I only kept in touch with two (girl) friends. The friends I still have never called me “easy” or made sexist comments.

  • Allie @ at 1:36 pm, March 8th, 2011

    @NWOslave
    uh i can’t do that babe, sorry, i’m a fat girl who can not sleep with any guy she wants to, hell i know other girls who can’t either, the reason their called “easy” is because women are repressed sexually, seriously, from a young age girls are taught that you are not suppose to spread their legs, so yeah there is a double standard. calling a girl a slut while a man gets a free pass is one stadard for a women and another for a man, so sorry to burst you little bubble about that, but there is one. women are just as sexual as men, i know i am. Ugly girls don’t get no play baby, just saying from experience! only the hot chicks can sleep with who ever they really want, and same with hot guys. and maybe a women doesn’t need wealth is because majority of men out there are intimidated by a women who makes money. another double standard. you need to reshape your way of thinking, sir or ma’m!

  • Allie @ at 1:40 pm, March 8th, 2011

    also i’ve done that and no i got shut down sooo fast, and also women don’t sleep with average men because we are scared to be called sluts, if we get rid of it, maybe just maybe, we sleep with men more regularly if their wasn’t such a stigma to it. the only reason why i don’t sleep around is because i’m afraid of getting some sort of STD, like herpes which is skin to skin contact even if they have no signs.

  • Emily @ at 1:58 pm, March 8th, 2011

    @NWOslave

    If an “average woman” can sleep with multiple men and an “average man” can’t sleep with multiple women, well, who ARE those average women sleeping with then? Even if your answer was “the wealthy/attractive men”, then who’d the wealthy or attractive women be sleeping with? It takes two to tango, so to speak, so unless the majority of sex that’s happening is threesomes with two women and a man, there’s got to be as many average men having sex to even that out.

    Of course, the numbers could be different between genders if you added LGBT relationships, but you’re clearly not talking about those. If you assume one-man-one-woman sexual encounters, then yeah, basic math proves you’re off.

  • Allie @ at 2:11 pm, March 8th, 2011

    already!

  • NWOslave @ at 2:49 pm, March 8th, 2011

    @Allie…None of my previous post is meant to shame anyone. I tried to make that as clear as possible.

    This article is about hooking up, basically sex with no string’s, love, commitment, no passion, nothing but flat out sex. My post was just an explaination of why women are called “easy” for sleeping around and men are called “stud’s.” What I have stated is correct.

    If an average woman with no wealth want’s no string’s sex she only has to say I’m offering sex. She will then have offer’s to accomodate her, it may not be anywhere near her top choice of who she want’s, but there will be offer’s.

    If an average man with no wealth want’s no string’s sex and say’s he’s offering sex, no woman will accomodate him. A man must offer something more, like wealth, assistance, charm.

    The article is about double standard’s. If virtually any woman say’s I’m willing to have sex no string’s attached, some man, (not Brad Pitt or George Cloony) but some man will say yes. The reverse is not the case.

    This is why I say a woman obtain’s no string’s sex by default, it won’t be anything close to a man of her choosing, it’ll just be sex.

    And that is why there is a double standard. If a woman wants sex and doesn’t care about who or what the man is like she can get sex for no investment.(easy) If a man want’s sex and doesn’t care who or what the woman is like he still must invest effort/resources to obtain it.(stud) Or he can go to a prostitute in which case he spends resources.

  • Allie @ at 4:53 pm, March 8th, 2011

    thats not true for me, i am not good looking enough for men to want to have sex, and yeah it is a double standard because women not men get called sluts what i was trying to say is men get a free pass they really do because they are told that boys will be boys, women don’t want to “accommodate” because we are afraid of what others might think, its the truth. when you get rid of these double standards maybe your regular guys will get laid, also thanks for the generalization of women, super great.

  • kanadra @ at 5:51 pm, March 8th, 2011

    I thought the Troll promised he’d never post again?
    (Sorry OP, I don’t have anything useful to add at this point)

  • A @ at 6:10 pm, March 8th, 2011

    @LW-
    I’d casually confront your friends about their sexist language. Mild sexism doesn’t make one a bad person (although it does immensely suck),, and if they’re the people in your life who are awesome enough to not enforce a double standard on your sexuality, being un-sexist could only make them better friends.

  • Natalia @ at 11:55 pm, March 8th, 2011

    It’s really weird with guys cause my boyfriend is definitely a feminist. He was raised by his mom to do all the housework and respect women. However, he’ll stick make stupid homophobic or sexist jokes when he is around his friends. Which really makes me mad but I’ve realized it’s their sense of humor. Although I think it’s still pretty immature to be influenced that much by your friends.

  • Embodying Freedom @ at 12:03 pm, March 9th, 2011

    I’m sorry you lost a bunch of friends over something, but it’s cool that you gained some new ones who you seem to like!

    First off, don’t let anyone judge your sex life. Only you can say what’s right for you–no one has the right or the moral high ground to say you’re a slut. You’re right, there is a total double standard for women who have sex. Honestly, it barely matters how many people a woman sleeps with for that label to be thrown on her–I got called a slut even when it was with someone I ended up dating for 4 years. Just make sure you’re being safe & respected by partners, though!

    Secondly, maybe the next time a guy friend makes a joke, just say you don’t appreciate that/the joke is getting old. If they’re good friends, they’ll eventually let up. Sometimes old (sexist) habits die hard.

  • NWOslave @ at 12:54 pm, March 9th, 2011

    @Allie…you say, “when you get rid of these double standards maybe your regular guys will get laid, also thanks for the generalization of women, super great.”

    So if a man “can’t get laid” as you say, denotes a negative, isn’t this a sexist statement? If a man due to his average or below averageness, lack of charm, carisma, wealth, resources, ect. is deemed less of a man because he “can’t get laid,” isn’t this sexism commited by women with impugnity?

    If a man goes to a prostitute, will women as a whole say he’s a “loser, can’t get laid, has to pay for it?” Since all these thing’s most definitely are the case, women as a whole must deem themselves a resource that elevate’s a man’s status, and if he “can’t get that resource” he is less of a man.

    @Natalia…you say, “He was raised by his mom to do all the housework and respect women.” Don’t you, with your vaulted equality rush in screaming no, no, no boyfriend a woman should do half the housework, you should protest against the horrible oppression?

    You also say, “However, he’ll stick make stupid homophobic or sexist jokes when he is around his friends.” LGBT is simply sex preference, not a lifestyle. Homesteading, raising alpaca’s is a lifestyle.

    The state endorses and uses my tax dollars to promote LGBT in education, I as do ten’s of million’s of men and women find two men or women having sex offensive and if we say anything we’re homophobic, bigot’s, close minded, fool’s, neaderthal’s. The list of insult’s is endless. Why is this mockery and shaming acceptable? Where is your almighty Tolerance when my opinion in being ridiculed?

    How can I not call out this massive Hypocracy?

  • jULIET @ at 11:02 pm, March 9th, 2011

    DON’T FEED THE TROLL.

  • Allie @ at 12:18 pm, March 10th, 2011

    I AGREE!

  • Kristen A @ at 11:32 pm, March 10th, 2011

    Cool story bro, tell it again.

  • Nano Muse @ at 12:49 am, March 11th, 2011

    As has been said, everyone, concerning NWOslave: DON’T FEED THE TROLL.

    @LW:

    I totally get that attitude – as someone who often gets along better with guys than girls, it can be hard to make choices about where to draw the line and how much you will place your feminist principles on the scales against having your friends. I was going to respond here, but it got long winded so I made a whole post on it here:

    http://nano-muse.livejournal.com/5787.html

    One point I’ll add to that, specific to you and your situation, that’s not in the post.

    You’re right, there is a double-standard to boys, girls, and sexuality. In your situation, I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to acknowledge it, starting with your guy friends first. If they call you a slut, ask them why it’s okay for them to screw around and not you. Don’t be afraid to open up some serious talking about this (though a recommendation is, based on how deep your friendship with them is, keep a lighthearted tone or attitude as well when you do talk). There’s this attitude among a lot of girls that guys can never understand female pain, and certainly there are some guys that never will – but it’s because they won’t, not because they can’t, and with a lot MORE guys, all it takes is just fully explaining both your side of the story and the female side of the story (and how it relates to their story and the male side) to open up their minds. :)

  • Rosemary @ at 6:45 am, March 11th, 2011

    Having guy friends is totally great. I naturally have almost exclusively male friends. However, the fact that I usually have zero girl friends strikes me as problematic.

    I now attend a women’s college and have lots of girl friends and no guy friends; when I go home, it is the opposite. I miss my guy friends when I’m at school but long run it is SO VITAL to have female companions. Balance is key.

    I think the most important thing is to be honest with yourself about your dude relationships and whether there is attraction that is the real reason you hang out. When I really closely examine my “platonic” guy relationships, 9 times out of 10 I know, at least on some level, that one of us would totally sleep with the other if given the opportunity.

    Does this mean you have to acknowledge these feelings? I don’t think so. Act on them? Certainly not. I think it’s just comforting to my ego to know that I don’t really have to think about the way I act because [guy friend] mainly likes me for my looks. But it is important to think about the long-term implications of this, of thinking of your worth primarily in terms of your sexual desirability. It’s 4am so I don’t know if that made ANY sense, but yeah. Hopefully helpful to someone somewhere.

  • Rosemary @ at 6:51 am, March 11th, 2011

    Most sexism is the result of ignorance! People think their intentions matter. Perhaps their intent by making these jokes was actually to make you feel included (like a nickname). They probably just don’t understand that sexist jokes aren’t “just jokes;” they validate other, more powerful sexist comments and do actually contribute to making the world a hostile place for women, though it can be difficult to explain why (occurs in subtle, insidious ways that are not easy to quantify & articulate).

  • Simim @ at 6:53 pm, March 22nd, 2011

    After seeing NWOslaves’s bit, I have to state this right now, from past experience. It’s probably going to come off as sexist to someone, somehow, but I don’t personally see it that way.

    In this world of people, we have unattractive men and women alike.

    We also have very, very attractive men and women alike.

    What strikes you as “attractive” or your sexual preference is irrelevant. There’s someone out there who embodies any and every single trait you can list.

    My point being is that many people, male or female also being irrelevant, will attempt to “court” or “make the moves” on someone who, to put it nicely, is out of their league.

    It’s shallow, and there are always exceptions, but I’ve seen it happen so many times to my friends, male and female alike. They hit on someone fitting the ideal of what they find attractive, oblivious that they’re still wearing the shirt they were wearing two nights ago with pizza stains on it.

    First impressions and all that. Sure, if you’re a 300 pound guy who loves WoW and LARP’ng, you might not find the girl of your dreams begging to be with you at a trendy club.
    And if you’re a 300 pound lady who loves WoW and LARP’ing you’re also probably not going to find the guy of your dreams at a trendy club.

    But little did you know that you’re overlooking all the fluffy(to quote Gabriel Inglesias) nerds at your local card shop. ^_~

  • Matt SS @ at 1:26 am, June 18th, 2011

    I hate to agree with someone referred to as a troll but, he is right. There may be exceptions to this rule, but if we are using a superficial number system, which men do btw, if any girl over 5 asks to have sex with anyone, NSA, she will find plenty of men up for that. Whereas, if a man who is a 5 does the same thing, he gets hit pretty hard by women. Even if this wasnt true, it is still how men view things, if you were ever a teenage male, you would understand that he is not trolling. That is the belief.
    Allie says, its not true, im not good looking enough to do that, well there you go, you answered your own objection. But if you really dont think that NWO’s feelings on the issue are in line with prevalent 13-25 year old males, you dont understand them as well as you think. Whether or not this belief among boys is true is entirely irrelevant. This also is in fact why some girls are called easy.

  • Matt SS @ at 1:37 am, June 18th, 2011

    As for the OPs post, the reason those guy friends do this was explained quite accurately by you in your post. The way that, in my experience and the experience of all my male friends and relatives, and yes we discuss our own social interaction, guys behave towards each other is with self-deprecation, and also insulting their friends. They make racist jokes to black kids, and white kids also get racist comments from their friends, and its the same for any person who has stereotypes about their “kind.”
    Nerds call each other 4-eyes, and make jokes about them being nerds, jocks tell jokes about jocks to their jock friends. My parents constantly get upset by the interaction between my twin brother and i, and also by the way we interact with our friends. These jokes may hurt your feelings, and we hurt each others feelings, although in general you(not the poster, this is a general you) are expected to laugh it off. and depending on how good of friends you are, the jokes get more offensive. Further we exploit stereotypes to mess with others. I tell sexist jokes to my friends who are girls, and when my black friends white church friends come to The Delmar Loop and we see them, i always refer to him as nigger, and then they get uncomfortable and leave because they think black people will get mad and beat them up(and im the racist? :) ), and we laugh at them. Either one of us may initiate this ritual.

    Because this is such a large part of male interaction, if a black person, or a white person, or a jewish kid or as is more relevant here, a girl asks not to be treated to that stuff, they may not hang out with you as much. Its the same thing where i didnt drink or smoke, and so i was left out of lots of activities with my friends, not because they were mad at me, or intended to pressure me, but because they liked to do it and i didnt and since the basement is full of pot smoke, and not being drunk for avalanche or beer pong is cheating, i was not invited. And the same thing for Fantasy sports. They had drafts without me and did stuff after drafts and i didnt get to do it cause i didnt like fantasy sports or sports in general that much.
    I hate to write so much, but i just wanted a list of examples to support my conclusion.
    You arent going to get discriminated against or called a stick in the mud anymore than i was because of my differences of opinion with my friends. But they will have less to say to you and having you there when they tell sexist or racist jokes isnt viable when you dont want to be around that, so they will start to do more things without you. But its not because they hate feminists. Its not anybodies fault. Its not intentional exclusion and they still like you.

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