- Category: Commentaries
- Written by Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
In most societies, the more women a man sleeps with, the more promiscuous he is – meaning being sexually active with many different people - the more virile he is considered. The more notches he has under his belt. For a long time, men had the monopoly over this playing field, but things have changed. There are more women who are consciously involved in one-night flings and going on vacations to tropical countries as sexual tourists. Is it for the better? Depends on ones individual point of view.
The New Vision newspaper in its article Why Men Are Promiscuous points out that promiscuity is wired into a man’s brain and is a legacy of his evolutionary past. It goes on to say that practically all pornography, erotic videos, prostitution and X-rated Internet images are directed at men, showing that while most men can live in a monogamous relationship, their brain-wiring demands polygamous mental stimulation.
But are women promiscuous too? Are women with strong senses of sexuality promiscuous? Are women who are sexually uninhibited promiscuous? Not necessarily, but it is clear that women who are openly sexually expressive like Madonna, Paris Hilton, Lil Kim and Samantha in Sex and the City are referred to with pejorative words used to derogatorily refer to them. Nymphomaniac, prostitutes, sluts, hags, bitches, easy, cheap, and ho’s are only some of the numerous names which are used. But one does not have to be as extreme as those women above to be called names as a female.
Why is it that there is one set of standards that apply to men, and another set of standards that apply to women when it comes to sexuality? When it comes to the terms used to describe the sexual habits of men and women, it is clear that there is a sizable disparity. Promiscuous men are considered studs, macho, and manly and they frequently boast about the many partners they have had.
Promiscuous women on the other hand, are called sluts, whores, and prostitutes. In fact women tend to hide the number of partners they have had in the past, for fear of being labelled with any of the non-complementary terms above. A woman who had ‘been around’ is not looked at in the same way as a man in the same position. Also if a man has sex before marriage, the general consensus is that he is gaining plenty of experience and exploring his options. But it’s not the same case with a woman who engages in sex before marriage. In many societies, she is considered soiled and impure; purity being a quality often desired by men. There are societies that will even kill a woman who is not a virgin at her time of marriage, yet the men get pats on their backs. It begs the question, who are these men sleeping with then? Not all of them are sleeping with prostitutes and married women? So where does that leave the women who are sleeping with these ‘virile’ men?
Women’s Sexual Honesty
On the one hand, women are not expected to like or discuss sex, especially if they are supposed to be pure, virginal and virtuous; but on the other hand they are expected to have sexual prowess once they are in bed. They are supposed to be ladies out of bed, but ‘hookers’ in bed. They are not supposed to focus on their sexual pleasure but focus more on catering to the pleasure of their men. But is there more going on with women when men turn their backs? There are lots of things women do that they would never admit because ‘good girls do not do that.’ According to societal definition, women have to be sugar and spice and everything nice.
Do women masturbate, read erotica, and look at pornography magazines? Do women have their own version of locker room talk about men they have slept with? Do women only want sex and nothing else with certain men? Do women have wild sexual fantasies that would shock most men? Do women, just like men, document how many sexual partners they have had? Do women lust after another man, when they are already involved with a particular man? Many do, but would never admit it; after all, they are supposed to be virtuous. Perhaps colleges and universities are the best places to actually hear women being real with each other about their sexual relationships with men. Just like men, women have sexual feelings and they are the only ones who have an organ that was created only and specifically for pleasure – the clitoris.
Women in many societies experience social pressure in assuming their sexual identity and in turn, are repressed. There is ample research which suggests that women enjoy sex as much as men; (Human Sexual Response by Masters & Johnson, Hite report) but for women, it tends to be curtailed by societal morals. Women tend to be more discreet and private about their sexuality than men are and therefore, we barely hear their side of the equation. Women in general are taught from childhood to restrain and control their sexual urges, while men are encouraged to explore theirs, and this is probably why it would seem like women are potentially less sexually active.
Is the Media Promoting Promiscuity?
There is clearly a double standard for men and woman for the same type of behaviour. While this article is in no way supporting promiscuity, because of the obvious dangers of its wages, (AIDS, other STD’s and unwanted pregnancies) it is an exploration of its dichotomy among the sexes. We have to admit that we live in such a highly sexualized world, that even the advertising world is tapping into it. Sexually-themed ads are becoming more and more frequent and promiscuity, female or male is on the rise as well. It’s an image that is being proliferated in the media, music videos and movies. Sex is selling and is spilling into more bedrooms. In fact many young female artists are using their sexuality to sell albums and actresses who do not manipulate their sexuality do not tend to do well. Canadian-born songstress Nelly Furtado’ song, Promiscuous Girl , discusses the female perspective of lusting after a man and telling him like it is. But while all of this is going on, more people are being infected with AIDS. People seem to have forgotten, in all this sex-themed promotion going on, that people are still actually dying of AIDS. Let’s remember to protect ourselves and love carefully.
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