• Wed, Dec 5 2012

Women Avoid Casual Sex For Fear Of Being Judged, Not Because Of Our Innate Nature, Says Study

Have you ever been in an argument on the Internet in which the term “slut shaming” comes up, and some asshole is like, “that’s not a real thing, stop using that stupid phrase!” And you’re like, “I’ll stop using it when people stop doing it!”? And then you get so annoyed you have to walk around the block to get a coffee, even though you don’t really like coffee? I cannot be the only one.

Or how about that old evo-psych chestnut that claims men are hardwired to inseminate as many women as possible, while women are hardwired to seek a single male partner to help her have and raise babies? The one that’s been used to justify so many sexist attitudes while remaining largely un-proven? Doesn’t that just grind your sexy gears?

According to a newly published study led by lady scientist Terri Conley, women’s tendency to be less inclined towards casual sex than men is due in large part not to some gender essentialist drive to settle down, but the persistent fear of being socially stigmatized. Go figure.

For the first part of the study, researchers evaluated college students’ reactions to scenarios in which either a male or female protagonist accepted an offer of casual sex. They then filled out questionnaires on how they viewed said imaginary libertines. The results were depressing, but not super surprising, even for members of a supposedly sexually liberal community:

“Women who accepted a casual sex offer were viewed as more promiscuous, less intelligent, less mentally healthy, less competent, and more risky than men who accepted the same offer.”

Take that, people who don’t think slut shaming is real.

For the next part, they asked participants to place themselves in a scenario whereby an attractive stranger propositioned them for sex. They were asked two questions: whether they’d be likely to accept, and why or why not. Many more women than men said no, and a reason many gave was that they “perceive they will be evaluated more negatively for accepting the offer than men.”

Lastly, they asked the students to recall offers of casual sex in their own lives, and the results closely mirrored those of the previous portion of the experiment. The conclusion: ”Consistent with the sexual double standard, these findings suggest that men are granted more sexual freedom to engage in sexual activity than women.” And this is at least in part because women “are more strongly influenced by fear of stigma” where sex is concerned.

It seems ridiculous that in the year 2012, a time when women are holding more impressive jobs than ever before, we have yet to progress past a 1950s mindset when it comes to sexual double standards. But if you want to fix a problem, it’s important to first recognize it exists, so maybe studies like this one will help us re-evaluate our conscious and unconscious attitudes towards promiscuous women. Progress!

(Via The Cut)
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