Why millennials are so judgmental about promiscuity.
The prevailing cultural assumption has been that women are judged more harshly for overly sexual behavior than men are—women who sleep around are "sluts," while men who get around are "studs." But this perception has been shifting for at least a decade among women. According to a 1999 study of Canadian female grad students published in the Journal of Sex Research, "Contrary to the double standard, the vast majority of women listed only negative words to describe either a man or woman who has had many partners." They often labeled experienced men as "manipulative" and "exploitative," and said they would warn their girlfriends not to date a man who had slept with 10 or more partners. This was years before Web sites like dontdatehimgirl.com made this kind of warning viral.
A new study confirms these findings. Sociologists Rachel Allison and Barbara Risman of the University of Illinois at Chicago surveyed over 17,000 college students through the Online College Social Life Survey and found that both men and women lost respect for members of the opposite sex who hooked up with a lot of people, according to a new report from the Council on Contemporary Families.* "In fact, slightly, but significantly more students [of both genders] say they would lose respect for a man who had hooked up and had sex with a lot than would lose respect for a similarly-engaged woman," Allison and Risman observed. This wrinkle—that men are also now judging fellow men for promiscuity—is a new twist.
One reason for the shift, they hypothesize, is the increasing power of young women to determine the sexual mores. They're definitely rejecting the double standard against women. But rather than embrace a more relaxed standard for all, as the Church Mailer generation did, they are using this new "leverage to overwhelmingly disapprove of college men who hook up with a lot of partners." And some men are echoing that disapproval. If things continue to change in this direction, say Allison and Risman, "this change will move society toward a more restrictive standard for all, rather than toward increasing freedom to sexual pleasure wherever one may find and desire it."
Do tell. Young women are using their power to say yes to say no? They're rejecting their parents' looey-goosey "standards"?
I'm not sure how much we should rejoice at this, though. The Don't Date Him Girl site isn't a rejection of premarital sex, it's a rejection of slimy guys.