Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Double Standards On Sex

Politically speaking, I'm a left-leaning independent populist and a progressive secularist who is socially liberal, especially on matters of sex. I'm a "feminist" in the sense that I believe in full gender equality, but I generally prefer to call myself a "humanist."

I've found that for many people, especially men, raised with traditional, old fashioned attitudes towards gender norms, one of the hardest things for them to accept—if they want to be a liberal progressive like myself—is the idea that women should be able to have as much casual sex as they want without slut shaming.

If it is perfectly morally acceptable for a man to be able to have casual sex, monogamously or non-monogamously, then it should be perfectly morally acceptable for a woman to be able to do the same. There should be no sexual double standard. This is logically entailed if you want to support sexual and gender equality, as most left-leaning progressive secularists claim they do. But, there are still those among us who call ourselves "liberals," or "feminists," or who openly claim to support an end to the "patriarchy," and who pay lip service to "gender equality," who still think it's proper that women should guard their sexuality in ways men shouldn't.

Why? I think for some men there are inherent fears that a true liberation of female sexuality will unleash the sexual beasts within them, and these women who engage in casual sex will spark inner fears of jealousy. Many of us, perhaps most of us, are prone to sexual jealousy. We're fearful of those we love or desire having sex with others. Similarly, some women who are more on the monogamous side of the spectrum are afraid that the sexual liberation of women will make it more likely that their male partners will cheat on them due to the abundance of having so many easy sexual prospects (and as Chris Rock said, men are only as faithful as their options). It of course goes without saying that many religions cause many of these attitudes and so traditional religions obviously have to go.

So what do we do about these fears that tend to make us hold onto traditional gender norms? Well, it's complicated. First, allowing women to have sex as much as they want without fear of slut shaming doesn't mean that all women will have to have casual sex. It means they should be able to if they want to. There shouldn't be any rigid gender norms imposed on men or women. Men and women should be allowed to have casual sex if they want to. Or not—if they want to. While I do think that the potential for female sexuality in the arena of casual sex or polyamory is greater than it is, I don't think it will be everyone. Second, we need to, as a society, learn to get over our sexual jealousy. I've known many men who in the same breath will complain about women not being easy enough to have sex with, and then complain that a certain woman is a slut or a whore for having too much sex. It's totally illogical and hypocritical. You can't slut shame women for having casual sex, while complaining that you're not getting enough casual sex from women. Third, we still need to respect monogamy for those who are monogamous and for relationships where there is an expectation of monogamy. I'm certainly not trying to advocate in this post that we all just cheat on everyone. Not at all. We should all be open and honest to our partners about who we're having sex with and whether we're monogamous or not. If you promise a partner you will be monogamous with them, then you should be monogamous with them. Period.

No doubt there will be lots of new complexities that arise from fully liberated sexuality and gender equality, but we'll deal with them, much like we dealt with the complications that arose from racial equality. Although, I'd prefer we take a much more rational approach.

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