When it comes to our sex lives, a double standard still exists between men and women. It‘s an ancient hypocrisy; the only distinctions that seperate us from our great grandparents are language and degree. Hypersexual has replaced fornication, while whore and jezebel are terms of endearment and magazine titles. One night stands are the modern equivalent of sneaking under the bleachers.
There are mountains of articles attempting to diagnose this problem. But the farthest they’ve reached is wagging a collective finger at a parochial and patriarchal society intimidated by any woman who chooses to ‘own’ her sexuality (I’m still unclear on exactly who or what gets ‘owned’). These women, it’s argued, are shamed and ridiculed for living no differently than many of the men around them.
Notwithstanding this sometimes humorous and always mundane moral philsophizing, it shows that in spite of all feminism has accomplished in leveling the sexual playing field it hasn’t been able to effectively boycott, insult, or march its way around the slut/stud dichotomy.
So the question remains. Why in a culture more pornographic than any in history does this contradiction persist? Why, when marriage is increasingly viewed as a moral inconvenience, intolerance and judgment are the new ‘N-word’, and female empowerment is mainlined in elementary school, are we so quick to criticize and condemn the tempestuously sexual woman?
I believe the answer is found in the eternal words of Uncle Ben,
‘With great power comes great responsibility.’
From the moment she’s born, and heaven help if she is first born, a girl is raised to be royalty. She is a princess and is immediately wrapped in a blanket of majesty along with tiaras, castles, and sequin dresses. The picture book of her life is sketched out in Disney fairytales whose final chapter includes prince, sunset, and a white picket fence. And while this is a common and some would say necessary way of raising a girl, have we ever stopped to ask where this assumption of nobility comes from?
One of the most powerful forces in nature is a woman’s sexuality. Empires have fallen and dynasties destroyed under its seductive influence. In the Old Testament, King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, defied holy God, destroyed a legacy, and lost a kingdom, on account of the control women held over him.
King Solomon however loved many foreign women… They were from nations, which the Lord had said; “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods’. Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love… The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel.
1 Kings 11:1-7 (NIV)
Girls today master their sexuality at an early age. Instragram and SnapChat are proof of how many girls, some as young as twelve, use their newly discovered superpower to rule the masses; while film and music reinforce what mom and dad have always told her – she is part of a ruling class, the likes of Medici’s or Romanov’s. Her sexuality, as powerful as any royal bloodline, has guaranteed her a queenship with all the pomp, circumstance, and expectation of a monarchy; and sex stands at the center of her new dominion.
Since the Garden of Eden, woman has ruled the Kingdom of Sex; except by force, no one crosses into that sacred territory without a decree from the Queen herself. She is the standard bearer holding complete control over who may and may not enter in the city walls. She reigns supreme and her authority is unquestioned. There can be no sex unless the woman says so.
And if we accept this as a basic fact, Uncle Ben’s wisdom takes on new meaning.
Power demands responsibility. Simply look to history, and particularly recent history, at how far those with great power and influence have fallen once discovered they had abused and undervalued the authority given to them. Can the influence and power in a woman’s sexuality be considered differently? So when a woman debases her sovereignty by carelessly relinquishing it for a cheap superficial thrill. Well, the Queen Mother just turned Buckingham Palace into The Bunny Ranch.
It’s because of this control and power over sex that women are naturally, though unwittingly, held to a higher sexual standard. Similar to anyone in positions of authority and control, the masses demand more and better of those who rule over them. But failing to meet those lofty expectations, condemnation is swift and harsh. When a queen drags the crown jewels through mud and muck, she corrupts her power and erodes her dignity and the commoners will instinctively revolt.
As further proof of this, is it any wonder why the sex lives of men are often referred as a form of battle or conquest? The conqueror is rewarded for breaching the walls and taking the castle while the defeated monarch is sentenced shamefully to the dungeon.
And while infuriating as all of this certainly is, I’m not sure it is the double standard women should be so eager to take up arms against. This hypocrisy, I think, is less to do with sexual inequality and more a reflection of disappointment that naturally appears when a queen casts aside her crown.