12 Things Society Still Lets Men Get Away With But Judges Women For

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It’s 2024, but somehow, archaic gender double standards are still alive and well. Society continues to give men free passes for behaviors that women are harshly judged and shamed for. It’s a frustrating reality that highlights just how much work we still have to do to achieve true gender equality.

In this article, we’ll explore 12 infuriating things that men can do without consequences, but that women get endlessly criticized for. From casual dating to being ambitious at work to simply aging, the gender-based judgment is real. Let’s dive in.

1. Casual Dating and Sex

When a man has lots of casual sex and dating partners, he’s often praised as a stud, a ladies’ man, a legend. But when a woman does the same, she’s slut-shamed, labeled as “easy,” and seen as less desirable for a serious relationship. Because apparently sexual liberation is a male-only privilege.

The Orgasm Gap

This double standard also shows up in how we talk about the “orgasm gap” between straight men and women. Women are expected to prioritize their male partner’s pleasure during sex, even if they don’t climax themselves. But when was the last time you heard someone ask a man how often he makes sure his female partner orgasms? The sexual double standards run deep.

2. Bodily Functions

Men can burp, fart, scratch themselves, and spit in public with minimal judgment. But if a woman does any of those things? She’s seen as gross, unladylike, and crass. Because apparently women are supposed to be dainty, odorless flowers at all times.

Periods and Pain

This double standard is especially apparent when it comes to menstruation. Women are expected to hide any sign that they bleed monthly, lest they make men uncomfortable. Period pain is frequently dismissed. Meanwhile, if a man stubs his toe, he’s allowed to milk the injury for days.

3. Aging

Aging men are seen as distinguished silver foxes. But aging women? They’re constantly pressured to look younger, to hide any wrinkles or gray hairs. The anti-aging industry preys on this double standard, encouraging women to spend exorbitant amounts of money to chase an impossible standard of ageless beauty.

Here’s a hot take: What if we just let women age in peace like we let men do? Wild concept, I know.

4. Ambition and Assertiveness

Ambitious, assertive men in the workplace are seen as go-getters, natural leaders. But ambitious, assertive women? They’re bossy, aggressive, difficult to work with. It’s an infuriating catch-22. Women are either seen as too timid and emotional to lead, or too cold and power-hungry when they assert themselves.

The Likeability Trap

This creates an impossible balancing act for working women, something researchers have dubbed the “likeability trap.” To get ahead professionally, you need to advocate for yourself. But when women are assertive, their likeability plummets. For men, speaking up has no impact on likeability. The double standard is a career killer.

5. Parenting

When a man parents his own children, he’s praised as an amazing, hands-on dad. When a mom parents her own children, it’s seen as the default expectation. Moms are judged harshly for every little parenting choice, while dads are applauded simply for showing up.

Mom Judgment

And heaven forbid a mom has an identity outside of her children. Working moms are judged for not spending enough time with their kids. Stay-at-home moms are looked down upon for not having careers. Moms are judged for breastfeeding in public, for not breastfeeding at all, for every aspect of their postpartum bodies and mental health. The judgment is endless.

Meanwhile, have you ever heard someone shame a dad for not losing the baby weight fast enough? I didn’t think so.

6. Expressions of Anger and Frustration

Angry men are seen as powerful, authoritative, and serious. But angry women? They’re unhinged, hysterical, shrill. Once again, men are allowed a full spectrum of human emotion while women are tone policed.

Even when female anger is completely justified, women still aren’t allowed to express it without penalty. Angry men are passionate leaders, angry women are crazy bitches. The dichotomy would be laughable if it wasn’t so harmful.

7. Not Wanting Children

When a man says he doesn’t want children, it’s generally accepted and seen as a valid life choice. But when a woman says she doesn’t want children, she’s often told she’ll change her mind, that her life will be unfulfilling, that she’s selfish.

News flash: It’s not selfish to make choices about your own body and life path. Motherhood isn’t the only way for women to lead meaningful lives. Die mad about it.

8. Body Hair

Body hair on men is seen as masculine, rugged, and natural. But body hair on women is seen as gross, unfeminine, and unclean. The expectation is for women to be perfectly hairless everywhere besides their head, which requires exorbitant amounts of time, money, and discomfort in the form of shaving, waxing, and laser treatments.

Can we all just agree that body hair is natural and women shouldn’t be shamed for having it? The pink tax on hair removal is too damn high.

9. Sexual Fluidity

When men show any level of sexual fluidity, their whole identity is called into question. But when women show sexual fluidity, it’s often dismissed and not taken seriously. Bisexual and pansexual women are frequently told their attraction to multiple genders is “just a phase” or that they’re “experimenting.”

Newsflash: Someone’s sexual orientation is real and valid no matter their gender. It’s time we let people of all genders explore and express their sexual identity without judgment.

10. Expressing Emotions

Society celebrates men for being stoic and not showing emotion. But when men do express vulnerability, it’s seen as brave and applaudable. Meanwhile, women are stereotyped as overly emotional and “crazy” for expressing feelings. We’re judged for both having emotions and not having emotions. We can’t win.

Here’s an idea: What if we just let humans of all genders express the full spectrum of emotion without shame? Radical, I know.

11. Fashion and Style Choices

Men can wear the same plain outfit every day and no one bats an eye. But women are expected to have fresh, stylish, varied outfits for every occasion, lest we be judged as frumpy or lazy. The mental load and cost of this expectation is immense.

And if a woman wears something deemed too revealing or suggestive? She’s asking for harassment or assault, according to rape culture. Meanwhile, men can walk around shirtless with zero consequence. Make it make sense.

12. Political Ambition

When a man is politically ambitious, he’s seen as powerful, charismatic potential leader. But when a woman shows political ambition, she’s often painted as cold, calculating, and power-hungry – qualities that would be praised in a male politician.

Female politicians face endless scrutiny of their likability, tone of voice, and appearance in a way that male politicians simply don’t. The political arena is still rife with sexist double standards that make it harder for women to succeed.

In Conclusion: Enough With the Double Standards

From dating to parenting to simply existing in a female body, the list of things women are unfairly judged for goes on and on. But it doesn’t have to be this way. By continuing to point out and challenge these double standards, we can chip away at the sexist social norms that hold women back.

True gender equality doesn’t mean holding men to the same harsh, unfair standards that women face. It means allowing women the same grace, leeway, and benefit of the doubt that men already enjoy. So let’s commit to calling out double standards when we see them and creating a world where women are treated with the same baseline respect as men. It’s long overdue.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What can I do to help challenge these double standards?

Examine your own unconscious biases, call out double standards when you see them, and be an ally to the women in your life. If you’re a parent or educator, teach the next generation that girls deserve the same respect and unquestioned autonomy as boys. Seemingly small everyday actions can help shift the tide.

2. Haven’t we made a lot of progress on gender equality? Why are these double standards still so prevalent?

We absolutely have made important strides! But the hard truth is that we still live in a patriarchal society with deep-rooted sexist attitudes. Undoing centuries of injustice takes time. These double standards won’t disappear overnight, but by continuing to challenge them, we can slowly but surely create change.

3. A lot of these double standards seem to benefit men. What role do men play in dismantling them?

Men play a huge role! Calling out sexism and double standards wherever you see them, especially in male-dominated spaces, is incredibly powerful. Don’t laugh along with sexist jokes. Be an example of what respectful masculinity looks like. Use your privilege to uplift women’s voices and advocate for change. We’re all in this together.

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