I saw this meme1 posted on Facebook by a 19-year-old woman with the comment: “This goes out to every young girl who should be PLAYING WITH BARBIES INSTEAD OF PENISES.”
Would you EVER hear someone say “young boys2 should be playing with matchbox cars instead of vaginas3“? Of course not. Once again, the old double standard: young women are called out for their sexual choices and slut shamed for them, whereas young men never are. I won’t even qualify that with an “almost never are” because I have literally never heard of a man being slut shamed in the way that women are.
Of course people recognize that men as well as women can be promiscuous, but they do not shame the man for it because they do not see his behavior as problematic. The ones who do not view promiscuity in either sex as wrong would not shame any person—man or woman—for being so. Most of those who do see promiscuity in the sexes as wrong exclusively view it as wrong only when it applies to women. Even those who claim to think promiscuity is equally wrong for both sexes will shame a woman for that behavior but not a man.
You never hear: “Look what he’s wearing. He’s just asking for it4.”
You never hear: “OMG! He’s had sex with _____5 girls. He’s such a slut!”
You never hear: “Finish school without getting a girl pregnant.”
I know that the woman who posted the comment is very young, and I’m certainly not trying to beat up on her. But this kind of sexism is everywhere, and it makes me sad to see it—especially from someone who would have the most to gain from a world that treats all6 sexes equally.
1. I have no idea why this meme includes Zach Galifianakis’s face. I can’t find anything on the Internet where he or a character he’s played is quoted as saying this except for in the meme. The only attribution I can find is to someone named Avinash Wandre, whose Twitter profile lists him as “an amateur philosopher,gulzar finatic, movie buff, musical soul,” but I have no idea if this attribution is correct.
2. Another sexist nugget that I’m often guilty of myself: The use of girls/women versus boys/men. Girl is used to refer to basically any human female, and young girl to any human female under the age of eighteen. Boy is used to refer to any human male under the age of about twelve. Any older, and he is almost exclusively referred to as “young man” (maybe under the age of eighteen) and then “man.” (The only time I ever hear an adult human male referred to as a “boy” is by women talking about prospective, current, or past romantic partners. This would never be done in a formal setting though, whereas you hear women of all ages referred to as “girls” pretty much ubiquitously.)
3. WordPress spell checked “vaginas,” and I was like “What?! I know the plural of the word vagina! What’s going on?” Well apparently I did not know the plural of the word vagina. Did you know that although vaginas is an accepted plural of vagina, vaginae is the preferred plural form? The Latin scholar in me is delighted! I wish it was in favor popularly so I could use that plural without sounding like a pretentious asshole. Maybe someday… ::sigh::
4. “It” being to be raped, naturally.
5. This number will of course vary depending on age group and other factors. One question you answer on the dating website OKCupid to determine your compatibility with a prospective partner asks “Is a woman who’s had sex with 100 people a bad person?” Another question asks “Is a man who’s had sex with 100 people a bad person?” I don’t have any data on this (let me know if you know where I could find some), but in my own experience with the site, the vast majority of people who answer “yes” to the first question answer “no” to the second.
6. Gender, of course, is extremely fluid (one could identify as being male, female, both, neither, etc.), but sex is not always binary either. There are hermaphroditic people who have both male and female sex organs and intersex people whose sex organs are ambiguous.