Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two Big Blondes In A Buick 
 Women, Sex, and the Double Standard

Two big blondes, one with a pony tail and one with big hair, both wearing jeans and T-shirts, were smoking and joking when I pulled up behind them at the stop light. They were in a big, dark green Buick that was covered with dust and I couldn't tell how new or how fancy a car it was. It was a Buick, and it was big, but I just don't keep up with the new cars now.

I noticed that I was looking to the car to try to determine something about the women, because I couldn't tell much about the women themselves, even dressed like they were. If they'd been in an old junker I might have made certain assumptions about them, but with these two I couldn't make any. They might have been trailer park trash, PTA members, teachers, preachers, or US Senators, just about anything, except possibly an astronaut or jockey, but I just could not tell.

From their mannerisms, gesticulating, laughing, un-self consciously flicking ashes out the window,  I imagined them to be outspoken, confident, assertive. Bodacious, as they say in Texas. Bold and audacious. I see such women all the time on the road, waitresses, truck drivers, ruling over the fuel desk when you go to sign for your fuel purchase. But women of all social statuses can be bodacious.

Maybe it was the blonde hair that made them seem that way. Maybe when a woman has blonde hair she has to become that way. Maybe when you're a blonde, and big and bodacious, everyone is going to make a run at you.

The light turned green and the Buick was gone, passing cars on the left and right until it was far ahead of me and lost in traffic, too small to recognize, but I continued to think about the two big blondes, enjoying each other's company, being themselves, relaxed, not playing the games women play when men are around, and not under the double standard applied to women when men are around.

The Urban Dictionary, where people post their own definitions for words and phrases, and which comes up in many Goggle searchers now, has some interesting definitions for the the term double standard. Many of them have to do with gender but not all. For instance, one definition says a double standard is applied to comedians, in that it's OK for a Black comedian to make fun of White people, but a White comedian who makes fun of Black people is called a racist.

It doesn't mention that much of the reason something like that happens is that historically and continuing until today there is a vast power difference between those two racial groups, and that historically there has been widespread racist stereotyping of Blacks, and that those taken together diminish the effect of the Black comedian's comments and increase the effect of the White comedians' comments. But in the small grain of truth contained in the definition, a double standard does exist.

The definition most commonly given by Urban Dictionary contributers has to do with sexual morality, and the most common example is that it's OK, even desirable, for a man to sleep with many women, but if a woman sleeps with many men she is considered to be a slut.

According to Wikipedia, the term double standard goes back to the Bible, Deuteronomy 25:13-15 

Do not have two differing measures in your house—one large, one small. Do not have two differing weights in your bag—one heavy, one light. You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

So having a "double standard" is wrong, and it's wrong to use a different measure for two different groups of people.

The use of a different measure for women and men is the reason men are allowed into combat and women are not, according to the Urban Dictionary, and it's why women make less than men for doing the same work, and why women who sleep around are sluts while men who do the same thing are not sluts.


 It's also pointed out in the Urban Dictionary that the double standard cuts both ways, and is sometimes to women's advantage.

Women ask that men not treat them as sex objects. That we value them for their character, talents, intelligence, abilities, and so forth. But as the Urban Dictionary points out, the double standard leads to things like a group of men being criticized as being sexist for commenting on a passing woman's breasts or ass, whereas a group of women can comment on man's ass or penis size without being criticized for being sexist.

I recently signed up for a dating web site. In it, you are assigned a web page, called your profile, on which you answer questions about yourself -- do you have kids, do you want kids, do you smoke, drink, etc., etc., etc. Your profile also has places where you can type in things to further describe yourself, or what you are looking for in a mate. You can talk about your pets, your likes and dislikes, your work, your education, and so forth.

I've read many women's profiles now in which chemistry is mentioned, and it's usually mentioned in the context of chemistry being a make or break factor in whether the women will consider you as a potential mate. The chemistry must be there or the woman is simply not interested in you. Women write things in their profiles like "Chemistry is so important." Or, "It's important to meet in person to see if there is chemistry."

Chemistry means sexual attraction. There is a Wikipedia article on interpersonal attraction that claims that chemistry is about more than physical attraction, but then it lists physical attraction as the first cause of chemistry.

It means, in the context it is used on the web site, 'Am I sexually attracted to him?' In other words, 'Do I want to sleep with him?' It means, 'Do you have the physical characteristics it takes to sexually excite me?' It is reducing the man to a sex object. It might be a less offensive way of expressing that than men have been known to use, but it's the same thing.

When chemistry is the make or break factor, especially when nothing else is talked about in make or break terms, it is saying that a man's value is in his sexual appeal, and nothing else. It's saying that, if you're not sexually appealing to me, I'm just not interested. It's an example of women being able to use the double standard to their advantage. It's an example of women turning men into sex objects without being labeled as sexist..

Using chemistry as a make or break factor also diminishes sex itself, and consequently diminishes the relationship between men and women.

Sex, the way humans conceive of and practice sex, is actually several different things layered on top of one another. First, it's the basic sex drive, the reproductive function. Then it's erotica, and on top of that it's a form of domination and submission. And finally, it's a means of expressing love and affection.

Think about how, when you are in various moods, it facilitates different kinds of sex. Sometimes you like it one way, sometimes another. Sometimes it's fast and hard, sometimes slow and gentle, sometimes a little bit kinky.

People may have certain personalities that make them more likely to tune into one or another aspect of sex, but people sometimes consciously tune into one or another aspect, sometimes by using sexual aids. Consider how sometimes people want to tear each other's clothes off, while at other times the disrobing is a long drawn out aprocess. It just depends on what aspect of sex you're tuned into. An example that shows that people can consciously tune into one aspect is that sometimes partners take turns playing the dominant or submissive role.

Basing whether or not you will pursue a relationship on whether there is chemistry effectively reduces sex to its lowest form. A woman who rates a man based on chemistry might see other things about him that she likes, but she requires that the undercurrent of physical sexual attraction be there first. Everything else builds on that.

Taking women's word for what they want, I stopped basing my decision about who to date on chemistry and started basing them on the things women asked me to. I've dated big blondes, big redheads, disabled women, and women who aren't that initially physically attractive to me at all, because I concentrated on seeing them as people, as women asked me to, and as women asked me to, I looked for what was inside of the person first.

The result has been not only some nice relationships but some pretty great, pretty deeply experienced sex. I wrote a web log entry awhile back about one of those experiences, in which I regretted breaking it off with a disabled woman.

When I stopped seeing women first and foremost as sex objects, the sex wasn't always great, the relationship wsn't always great, but it did allow me to get to know people intimately who I never would have known if I'd just gone by chemistry.

Seeing people as sex objects diminishes them in ways beyond just them being reduced to sex objects. It creates and perpetuates a kind of hierarechy based on physical attraction, the standards for which are usually thought to be arbitrary. Arbitrary or not, however, we use the standards consciously, with the result that there is a rating system of winners and losers. People end up on one rung of a social ladder, and are denied opportunities to form relationships with anyone above or below them on the physical attraction hierarchy. It means we all have less chance to live a rich, full life.

People realize through experience that the initial intense chemical reaction to another person eventually wears off. There are books written about how a married couple can get that feeling back, but even realizing all of this, we go with chemistry in deciding whether to a pursue a relationship.

Both sexes make their decisions about mates based on chemistry. In this instance of treating a member of the opposite sex as a sex object, no one is called sexist, because women are playing the same game.

Women, using the double standard, want to be able to walk down the street without being whistled at and without having their breasts come under public scrutiny. They don't want to be treated as sex objects, but they want to be able to treat men as sex objects when choosing a mate.

It's something Feminism has yet to recognize or contend with.



  1. Oh I don't know. I think things have evened out quite a bit since the seventies and sixties, and women like to talk about men's ass(ets) more for the fun of it than anything else. I guarantee that forty years ago the sort of treatment women got absolutely diminished us, emotionally and economically, and was frequently threatening. Now that the power is less concentrated in one sex, we're all a little more at ease.

    That said, rest assured that many women find money a perfectly good substitute for chemistry. THAT'S what makes us sluts.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Murr. "For the fun of it" has been given as the reason for all kinds of things. Lynching, raping, teasing the kid who looks different. Even if that term meant something, the reason women are sexist doesn't matter. The fact that they are, and that a double standard is applied to their behavior, is what I'm pointing out.

    Women did not ask men why they oogled them. They just demanded that it stop, because it was men defining women by their sexuality, i.e., sexism.

    I think the rise of sexual harassment law suits demonstrates that we are not all more at ease. But that is another story, about the tactical part of feminism, much of which has not been about equality but about increasing women's power.