Three Double Standards That Hurt Guys and Girls
Originally Published: July 18, 2013
Revised: September 12, 2014
Double standard: A rule or principle that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups.
Why is it so wrong for guys to be emotional once in a while and cry, but if a girl cries it’s perfectly normal—expected even? Why is it that guys are often praised for having all the sex they want, but when a girl has sex, she’s called a slut?
These are double standards—when two groups of people, in this case guys and girls, are judged differently for the exact same behavior. Why does this happen? Who even made up these standards in the first place? I never knew what double standards were until I went to high school.
Guys that have multiple sexual partners get praised, while girls get slut-shamed for having sexual feelings, having sex or just because people think they’ve had sex.
Double standards are not fair. They can cause us to lie and feel pressured to be or do something that’s not right for us. They can also be harmful to both guys and girls. I learned this the hard way when a vicious rumor spread about me at school.
My freshman year in high school, I quickly latched onto the upperclassmen. I was friends with all of the juniors and seniors. I thought things were going smoothly, until one day I heard a rumor about me! My friend pulled me aside in the cafeteria and whispered what she had heard about me. As she told me, my jaw dropped, and I started to cry tears of anger! Some random guy made up a story that I “hooked up” with one of his friends. What does that even mean? Everybody who heard this rumor automatically branded me a slut. I was disgusted and hurt because it was a false rumor, but that didn’t stop others from slut-shaming and judging me.
Who knew that being a girl in high school would be so hard? While I was called names, the guy was praised. While I was being pointed at and whispered about, he got high fives and pats on the back. He was treated like he scored the winning basket. I, on the other hand, was treated like I missed the easy shot that would have won the championship. Then, I realized something. Maybe this guy didn’t mean to hurt me. Maybe he was trying to make his friend look better by saying he had “hooked up” with me or maybe his friend made up the rumor to make himself feel better.
I understand how this double standard hurt me, but how does it hurt guys? What if you’re a guy who doesn’t want to have sex yet? These guys may feel pressured to have sex—or at least say they’ve had sex. If a guy doesn’t actually have sex, he could lie and make up a sex life just for his reputation, which is exactly what happened when rumors started to spread about me. I don’t know who started the rumor, but someone lied to make a guy’s reputation better, not taking my feelings into consideration. And there are guys who may not be lying about the sex they have. But why have sex just because you feel pressured to brag and impress your friends?
And what about girls who’ve had sex? Girls who attempt to have a sex life may get slut-shamed and bullied. But again, why treat girls any differently than guys? In some cases, girls may not even be sexually active, and rumors swirl around about them. This can cause them to be slut-shamed also, just like it did to me. This then causes girls to be ashamed of themselves.
Double standards are not fair. They can cause us to lie and feel pressured to be or do something that’s not right for us. They can also be harmful to both guys and girls.
Guys shouldn’t cry or show their true emotions, while girls can cry and express their emotions.
When I asked most of my guy friends if they cry, they responded with a flat out, “No.” They wasted no time thinking about the question that I had just asked. I wanted to dig deeper, but no matter what I asked, they continued to respond with, “No, I don’t cry.” Guys who claim that they don’t get a little emotional are sometimes simply following the rules that society has laid out for them—their gender role. We all know traditional male gender roles that say a guy should be a big man who is the provider, rock of the family and strong both mentally and physically—and of course, he never ever cries.
Guys are human beings and should be able to show some vulnerable emotion, whether it’s from a sad movie, a family member’s death or a joyful moment. We are all human, and we all have emotions and hearts. Even the Grinch had a heart. It is OK for guys to show some emotions other than anger. I imagine it would feel nice for guys not to have to put on a tough-guy front when he’s feeling emotional.
The double standard that says tears are OK for girls but not for guys means guys aren’t supposed to express all of the normal emotions, while girls are too often assumed to be overly emotional. Women and girls do not just sit home and cry 24-hours-a-day. We have a range of feelings, just like guys. Double standards like this one mean that people—especially guys—feel pressure to follow the standard that says guys don’t cry.
Girls are encouraged and pressured to worry about what they look like, but guys can be teased for worrying too much about what they look like.
We live in a visual world where everyone is judged by what they look like, but no one is judged as harshly for what they look like as girls as women. Girls are often judged based on appearance, and some girls are pretty harsh on themselves and go crazy over how they look—what brands they are wearing and what size they are. I’m a girl who spends hours getting ready, but what if I didn’t want to fuss over what I looked like? Some people might give me a hard time for that. In contrast a guy could roll out of bed, get dressed and have “bed head” without anyone thinking any less of him. I know more recently there is some times pressure on guys to look a certain way, but when there is pressure on guys to look a certain way, there’s a lot less on them than girls. A guy who spends a lot of time on his looks runs the risk of being teased for worrying too much about what he looks like.
This double standard means girls are encouraged and rewarded for paying a lot of attention to their looks, while guys might get teased or even bullied for the same behavior. Some guys may like to take time making sure they look good, and that should be OK. And some girls may not want to worry so much about what they look like and prefer to be judged for what they know or can do.
These double standards are based on gender roles, what we’ve decided is acceptable or unacceptable for guys and girls. It’s OK for guys to have sex, but not OK for girls. It’s OK for girls to cry, but not OK for guys to cry. Girls should spend a lot of time on their appearance, but guys shouldn’t. We use these rules to judge guys and girls and to control how people behave. And it’s just not fair that rules are applied differently for guys and girls. Why do we need rules like this in the first place?
We all feel pressure at some point to follow these rules. And we may feel pressured to do things that we wouldn’t normally do to be accepted by our peers. We can all get caught up in judging someone for not following the rules or feel pressured to be what other people think we should be, but wouldn’t it be more interesting to go through high school having fun and being ourselves? Think twice the next time you hear someone being slut-shamed or you laugh at that guy who got emotional or poke fun at that girl for how she dresses. We’re the people who can change these double standards and make our schools and communities places where it’s safe for guys and girls to be exactly who they are.
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