Labels give us a way to reference the world around us. Our human minds need a way to categorize things quickly, it’s just the way we’re wired. Isn’t it much easier to call someone crazy instead of detailing their actions and attributes that make them that way? While labeling things makes it easier for us when communicating, they can also be limiting, placing you in a box that can be almost impossible to climb out of. Once a certain title becomes associated with you, there’s your reputation. When it comes to our society and sexuality, these labels make way for double standards to continue to flourish. We all know what double standards are, but in case you’ve forgotten, a double standard is a rule or idea that is applied differently across different people or groups. The double standards between men and women have stood the test of time for centuries and these standards usually go in favor of men. Traditional gender roles kept women in subservient roles, their main focus in life being baring and caring for children, cooking up a storm and being a great housekeeper. Women who deviated from the norm were met with significant backlash and although now you don’t have to physically wear a Scarlet A to represent your alleged “hoeness”, you are branded with a figurative one instead. Sure, there are double standards that negatively affect men. If men show emotion, they’re soft. Men must always pay. It’s not as serious for a woman to hit a man. Cry me a river. Let’s breakdown a few of the double standards that women live with on a daily basis.
You’re A Hussy
Ah, the timeless hoe argument. We all know how this one goes. Ask anyone about the most common double standard women face and I am almost 100% sure they will say how unfair it is that men can sleep around and be praised while a woman who does the same is branded a slut, a hoe, easy, thot, etc. 2017 looms over us in 3 days and we are still discussing this. I remember being in high school and no matter what you may be perceived as, no one wanted to be labeled “the hoe.” It didn’t take much to be branded the hoe in high school, but once the title stuck, it was almost impossible to delete it. The boys had a secret affinity for the “hoe” in school, and the girls hated her. Negative attention or not, hoes got attention. I always wondered, all these boys talk so bad about her behind her back but during lunch and after school they’re all up in her face. Fast forward 10 years and I get it. Minimal effort produced epic results. The same logic still applies. However, here is the problem: why label her in the first place? From high school to now, things aren’t any different. Why is it an issue if a grown woman safely has as many consenting partners as she wants? Women are autonomous creatures, yet we are still expected to sit quietly in a corner with our legs crossed until a man comes and picks us like a flower. I am not saying that having an unapologetic sex life as a woman means go out and have 50 partners in a weekend (hey, if that’s your cup of tea, sip it), but the world needs to accept that women enjoy sex too. I always found it comical that society assumes women who have a provocative sex life have daddy and self-worth issues. Hey, guess what? Men have daddy issues too. Men struggle with self-esteem. Men have mommy issues. None of that is brought up when a man has 37 partners by the time he is 25. Boys will be boys! Of course there are women who suffer from issues regarding their emotional well-being and use sex and other vices to manage it, and there are also women who just have healthy, normal sex lives. This barefoot and pregnant mentality that the Western world can’t let go of has gotten really old. “Women shouldn’t just let anyone enter their body.” “Don’t give everyone the key to your lock.” “No man wants to ride the bus that gives rides to anyone.” Womp womp womp. Women perpetuate this almost as strongly as men do. It’s done in the hopes of trying to make themselves more appealing than the thotties beneath them, waving a “Pick Me” flag from Moral Mountain. I have an idea: let’s stop policing women’s bodies. We are entitled to our preferences and all have our ways of living our lives. Are you a man who prefers a woman with a more modest view of sex? Cool! Are you a woman who likes to get it poppin every chance you get? Cool! Are you a woman who prefers to lock it up and throw away the key? That’s cool too. Just spare us your judgmental rhetoric.
She’s A B*tch!
There have been studies done that show women don’t speak up as much at work and/or in meetings in fear of being labeled as bitchy. Men who get fired up in the workplace are seen as passionate employees. Women who get fired up are emotional and too assertive (I don’t have enough time to discuss the wage discrimination women face, let’s save that for another day). I have read about major corporations tending to shy away from giving women with families high level positions because kids are a distraction. I didn’t know that men didn’t get distracted by their families. Incredible! This all just floats back to the Leave It To Beaver roles we are supposed to follow. Stuff your opinion up your a** and go bake us
some cookies. Women are the most mentally strong and resilient creatures on this planet, but because we lack the physical strength of a man, we are seen as weak. We have a voice, and we need to start using it. Will you get called a bitch? Probably, but as my mom once said, “bitches get things done!” I doubt Michelle Obama earned her Harvard and Princeton degrees and a flourishing law career by being afraid her colleagues would think she was bitchy. I know for a fact that in a classroom right now some little girl is being steered away from something she genuinely has an interest in because “that’s for boys.” It has been proven that in school boys are called on more by teachers, praised more enthusiastically for good work and are encouraged to pursue math and science. This is where it begins and is a major factor in why women easily get stomped on by men in the workplace. We have to teach our little girls that there is no need to be fearful of stating your opinion and pursuing the things that truly interest them.
Single and Lonely
“…. why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.”
The lonely, bitter Spinster. If you are a grown woman and you don’t have a man, safe to say you’re losing at life. This is in the eyes of both men and women. Women are taught that obtaining a man is a goal that needs to be reached before you get too old. Any time two women don’t get along, you can bet that at least one of them will say in regard to the other “that’s why she’s still single” or “where’s her man at, though?” As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said above, if you go through your adult life as a single woman, you’ve forgotten about what is most important: A Man! Whether you are perpetually single or have a string of failed relationships, you are going to be looked at as the problem. You will be looked at as if you can’t keep a man. Do you nag too much? Bad between the sheets? Not supportive? Unless all of your ex’s are Ike Turner, you can bet that you’re the problem. Now if you’re a single man, you just haven’t found the right one yet. Men love to say how women of today have no morals, they can’t cook, too many kids, too broke, wear too much makeup, you name it! However, instead of rolling their eyes at Lonely Larry, he gets sympathy. A man who is picky is respected because no man should have to settle for less! Whenever a woman decides to explain why she is single, she’s too picky and her standards are too high. Men love to convince women that we should settle for any man who deigns to buy her a coffee, because any man is better than no man, after all. I see it on social media all the time. “You women are gonna be lonely forever because you keep turning down nice guys!” The first problem with this logic is that a single woman is assumed to be lonely. It’s as if they think we are unable to function without a man around. Some women are lonely, some aren’t. There are lonely people in relationships for various reasons, but until you can learn to enjoy your own company, you will experience loneliness regardless of your relationship status. The second problem is that we are expected to give every nice guy a chance. You can be as nice as that dude from The Notebook, that doesn’t mean I feel any chemistry with you. I’m nice too, but that didn’t stop men I liked in the past from not being into me in a romantic way. Why don’t men catch any heat for turning down nice women or being players and cheats? Men cheat like it’s 1997 and windbreakers are going outta style. They just gotta catch ’em all before it’s too late. A man could cheat on his girlfriend every weekend but once she does the same, judgment rains down on her endlessly. I know life isn’t fair, but this is ridiculous.
Will They Ever Go Away?
I believe there is potential for some double standards to be eradicated over time. The tangible ones are easier to fix, like women getting equal pay in the workforce. It will be much more difficult to change the mindsets of people. In the majority of the world, women have been under the thumb of a man since the beginning. The men set the rules and we went by them, usually without much choice. The world has changed and we have the ability to create self-driving cars but we can’t accept equality of any sort. Many of the double standards themed around sexuality and looks continue to perpetuate rape culture and victim blaming which must cease. Men are privileged and the privileged have to be on board with promoting change. As a Black woman, it is exhausting having to bear the weight of intersectionality on a daily basis. I have always believed that racial prejudice will never fully go away because it is human nature to form groups and start conflict and I feel similarly about sexism. If any small changes are to come, for starters, we must teach our kids differently. Teach them to be more accepting of people and lifestyles that differ from their own. Whether or not you agree with a woman being carefree sexually, you don’t have to bash her for it. Remind your daughter that being single is not a disease. Carry your ideals with pride, just don’t be an a**hole. That is all I ask.