How would you feel if you were called a slut? No one would be happy if they were called a slut, especially if a man is the one who delivers the insult to a woman. No girl wants a bad reputation. In an article based on her book, Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation,” Leora Tanenbaum talks about a double standard women face every day. The article points out that before the age of 18 over half of all girls in the United States have had sex, while according to a New York Times poll, 53% of girls said sex before marriage is “always wrong.” Nearly three quarters of boys engage in sex at least once before the age of 18, but only 41% of guys think sex before marriage is “always wrong.” In high school most girls engage in sex to fit in, but once they have sex their peers bash them. A lot of girls are judged harshly based on their promiscuity.
When I was in high school I only knew of a few girls who had sex. Most of my classmates wanted to wait until marriage. The few girls who did have sex were called rollers and sluts. Many guys saw these girls as easy, but this is of course a double standard. In high school boys often face pressure when it comes to having sex as well. In contrast to the experiences of many women, if a guy is a virgin when he is 18, people may think he is gay or inept. Guys often boast about having many sex partners so they can be seen as cool. But if guys can sleep around, why can’t girls?
In her article, Tanenbaum recounts how one high school dealt with a huge controversy regarding sex among its teen students. At this particular school, many girls were found giving boys oral sex in parties and public parks. Reports about this in the media depicted the girls as promiscuous. The school responded immediately by calling the girls’ parents. Many girls were “reeducated” about teen sex because of this scandal, but what about the boys? The boys at this school did not receive any media attention, they did not receive any punishment by the school, their parents were not called, and they were not “reeducated.” Why did the girls face trouble while the boys received pats on the head? Adults called the girls sluts, and the boys were told that they were just acting like boys.
If you think about it, things have been this way for a long time in the United States. I recently saw the documentary, Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. In it, women were walking around in bikinis, but as they walked they were faced with men grabbing them as if they were merely objects.
In a lot of hip hop music videos, along with cars, jewelry and money, women are seen as material objects that men simply acquire in order to feel successful. One day when society becomes less male dominated, maybe women will receive the respect they deserve.
The Class Blog Project, or CBP, is a blog featuring undergraduate students forming a critical dialogue with each other around ideas related to the sociology of gender.