Society is changing in various dimensions, from the immediatesocial environment to the advanced technology space. In the 21stcentury, sexual behavior is still governed by religion and culture. The traditional double standards of sexual behaviors were based on stereotypes that undermined women. While men were acceptable to be sexually active and more dominant, women were supposed to be submissive and reactive. The diverse effects of the stereotypes were seen when a woman was labeled a slut for sleeping with multiple men, while a man was labeled a stud for the same sexual behavior. Today, a new standard is slowly taking over, the single standard. It is characterized bycasual sex (hookups), especially among college students. This analysis will delve deep into the single standard of sexual behavior, highlighting its associated benefits and liabilities.
Various societal factors have molded the constructs of sexual behavior. Religion and culture significantly affect sexual behavior, establishing the norm or acceptable behavior regarding human sexuality. In most cultures and sexual activities wereaccepted by married people and a taboo for others. This societallimitation formed the standards of sexual behavior in society. The traditional standards favored men more than womenwhat was considered normal for men was high-level immorality for women. This is the double standard of sexual behavior. Today many aspects of society are changing rapidly. In sexual activities, the standards are shifting from the traditional double standards to the single standard of sexual behavior where society members engage in casual sexual behavior without thoughts of binding relationships. Moreover, it is associated with benefits and liabilities. The latter include mental challenges like anxiety, physical issues like sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unwanted pregnancy, and sexual assault. On the other hand, benefits include sexual satisfaction, happiness, preparation for adulthood, and social development. The benefits and liabilities may vary depending on religion and cultural factors around the individual. A cost-benefit analysis is crucial before engaging in hookups.
From Double to Single Standard of Sexual Behavior
Before exploring where we are and the impacts, it is crucial to understand where we are coming from and the triggers of the shift. The traditional double standard was linked to the stereotypical discrimination of women. It identified men more positively than women for exhibiting identical sexual behavior (Hensums et al., 2020). For instance, men were expected to be sexually active and show dominance, while women were sexually reactive and dormant. A man sleeping with multiple women was referred to as a Stud, while a lady sleeping with various men was labeled sluts, whores, or trash (Endendijk et al., 2019). Such stereotypes and unequal standards led to men being applauded for sexual behavior while women were being disparaged.
The single standard of sexual activities in modern society is more prevalent among the youths. While the traditional standard emphasizes sex after marriage, the new standard has children in no strings attached sexual activities. About 86% of college students actively engage in casual sex, hookups, or one-night stand, as they call it (Jorgensen, 2022). The percentage of male college students is higher at 91%, whereas that of women is82%. Only 8% of college students graduate as virgins. The hookup culture is now rooted in the society founded and facilitated by social media, online pornographic materials, dating apps, and abuse of drugs and alcohol in education institutions (Kaestle & Evans, 2018). The definition of fun in modern society varies from the traditional definition, fostering asingle standard of sexual behavior. The new changes in behaviors are associated with various impacts on society. Critics refer to the single standard sex promoting casual sex in the community as an epidemic (Jorgensen, 2022). It undermines both religious and cultural norms.
Benefits of Single Standards
One of the significant issues with the traditional double standard was stereotypical discrimination against women. The gender-based violence was extended to other vital areas like workplaces and leadership perceiving women as inferior women. Men used sexual intercourse for pleasure, while womens sexual activities were restricted to recreation (Hensums et al., 2020). Women that violated the expected norm were slut-shammed by community members. Theoretically, the new single standards of sexual behavior address the issue of discrimination linked to double standards.
While many studies focus on the adverse effects of the hookup culture, some explain the benefits. Shepardson et al.(2016) examined the advantages of the new culture among female college students in the United States. One of the benefits was a sexual pleasure which was also the fundamental reason for hooking up. An orgasm was reported by 34% of the women in their hookup experiences. In addition, the women (21%) cited emotional benefits from the hookups characterized by enjoyment, fun, and happiness. Some (11%) stated that the hookups offered external validation boosting their self-worth founded on the feeling of being wanted and attractive to others (Shepardson et al., 2016). The need to avoid relationship commitment was also mentioned as a benefit arguing that serious relationships would interfere with learning concentration.
Hookups prepare women for adult commitments like marriage. Through the hookups get a chance to explore their preference for partners, relationship, and sexual behaviorthey get to know what can work best for them (Reling et al., 2018). This exposure may help them identify incompatibility issues in marriages that often lead to divorce. They also experiment withintimate relationships in the quest for their sexual development. While hookups lack long-term commitment, they provide an opportunity to make new friends, enhancing social and interpersonal connections.
Liabilities Associated with Single-Standards
The increase in casual sex in society poses considerablephysical risks. Especially among the youth, where drugs and substances often trigger sexual behavior, there is a high risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (Vanbuskirk & Snyder, 2021). The suffering associated with STI, from regrets, pain, fear of seeking treatment, and financial losses, may interfere with an individuals everyday routine. Additionally, women face risks of unwanted pregnancies, adversely affecting their lives (Vanbuskirk & Snyder, 2021). Abortion which most young people choose, may also lead to complications or fatality. A new challenge emerged when U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, revoking the right to abortion. States will soon impose strict measures on abortion. The close relationship between casual sex and drugs and substance abuse is a rising concern insexual assault cases.
Single standards are also linked to mental health challenges. Women are more vulnerable to mental issues since they tend to get attached or develop emotions even though the initial agreement was a hookup (Vanbuskirk & Snyder, 2021). In this case, mental issues will manifest in depression, hurt feelings, remorse, embarrassment, and the feeling of being used. Moreover, the just for fun sexual relationship may exist in a lopsided power dynamic where one or both participants are left longing for more (whether some commitment or frequent recurrent meetings). If the feeling is not mutual, those wishing for more may suffer an emotional breakdown, self-esteem issues, and anxiety.
While casual sex is becoming more common and acceptable in modern society, the behavior is linked to societal stigma. Despite the significant shifts from double standards,some traditional standards remain dominant in some communities where slut-shaming is still prevalent. The shame oflabels like slut and whore may take a toll on some women. Some religion remains strict on casual sex, strongly condemning sexual interactions between unmarried people. Before engaging in casual sex, one must consider the underlying risk of shame and the general social stigma, which may vary with culture and religion.
Society is dynamic in various dimensions, characterized by significant shifts in standards of sexual behavior. Some sexual behavior considered taboo are now acceptable in modern society. A substantial change regarding sexual behavior is marked by the transition from the traditional double standard to the single standard characterized by equal treatment for both genders on sexual matters. The new standard is shared among young people and especially college students. Youths are now engaging in casual sex through online hookups. Unlike the traditional standard that emphasizes sex for married people, the single standard allows casual sex, just for fun. The number rule of the game is no feelings attached, meaning no commitments should be established. Its benefits include happiness, sexual satisfaction, social development, and early preparation for adult life. Nevertheless, casual sex promoted by single standards is associated with liabilities like STI, assault, shame, mental issues,and social stigma. The effects may vary with culture and religion. It is, therefore, crucial to consider the cost-benefit analysis of single standards of sexual behavior before engagement.
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