Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows the ongoing debate in our society, the highly contested issue of double standards for men and women when it comes to sexuality. Women are criticized for the number of sexual partners they have, whereas men are congratulated for it. At least in my high school, girls were labelled as either “sluts” or “prudes,” with very little gray area in between. The way the guys at my school saw it, if you were a girl and you didn’t flaunt your willingness to put out, you were probably too uptight to talk anyways.
Why does this happen? It’s because even though guys judge girls, what makes the issue so much worse is the fact that girls judge other girls as well. Females who are reading this post, think about times when you have been in this situation. You see a girl who’s wearing a tight and revealing dress and you say to your friend “look at that girl, she’s dressed like such a slut.” I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad for anything they might have said in the past because let’s face it, we’ve all said something like that before. Who knows, maybe we’ve been one of the girls on the other side of the spectrum, who’s being called a slut behind her back. As I mentioned in a previous post, on a trip to India a few summers ago, I was forced to cover up whenever I went into public for my own safety. There was one day, however, that I was too frustrated trying to find something to wear that I went out in shorts anyways. It was the middle of the day and I was at my grandparent’s house in Pune, a city relatively safer than Delhi, Agra, or Jaipur, so I figured wearing short shorts into public just once wouldn’t be too big of a deal. I was sadly mistaken. My brother, mom and I were walking down the street, past a group of ladies sitting on the sidewalk (my guess was that they were all cleaning ladies, passing time before reporting to the next house) when one of them calls out to me in Marathi, yelling “what are you wearing?” Now, the lady who was yelling out to me probably didn’t anticipate me understanding what she said (for those of you who’ve seen me before, I don’t look like the traditional Indian and the fact that I was wearing shorts just emphasized my foreign appearance). When I heard the lady’s yelling, I turned around and gave her the most evil stare I could muster (which by the way, was no match for the looks she and her cronies were giving me. Seriously, Indian women have mastered the art of the stink eye) and fought back the urge to yell English vulgarities at her that she probably wouldn’t understand. I was just so caught off guard by the fact that a woman was giving me crap for what I was wearing. How did the length of my shorts have any impact on how her day was going? Was the five inches of exposed skin between my knees and my shorts so distracting that she just had to say something about it?
Now, the example I have just given is a very exaggerated one. India, like I’ve mentioned before, is very behind the times when it comes to female rights, so the chances of something like that happening in America is very rare. But still, the very fact that this strange lady felt like it was her duty to criticize me on my fashion choices is representative of the female tendency to judge members of their gender. It’s very rare to see a guy gossiping about another guy for something he did or didn’t do, but I see girls doing it all the time.
The moral of the story is this: next time you see a girl doing something you don’t necessarily approve of, don’t be so quick to say something about it. Would you be judging the person in that particular scenario even if it was a guy? The only way this double standard is really going to be resolved is if we, as a society, hold both males and females responsible for their actions. Both genders should be judged equally on topics as sensitive as sex and morality, and we shouldn’t be inclined to sort every girl we see into the categories of a “slut” or a “prude.”