Sociology Index


Double standard is a cultural practice that accords less freedom and choice to one sex. Common double standard seen every day is where females are treated more leniently than males for the same acts. George Carlin succinctly defines double standard: "It's the old American Double Standard, ya know: Say one thing, do somethin' different. And of course this country is founded on the double standard. That's our history. And this country was founded by slave owners who wanted to be free." The term double standard is usually used to refer to different norms of sexual morality for women than for men. Men's sexual activity is viewed positively as natural, right and normal, whereas women are seen as diminished in social status if they engage in free sexual relationships outside marriage.

“We have a double standard, which is to say, a man can show how much he cares by being violent - see, he's jealous, he cares - a woman shows how much she cares by how much she's willing to be hurt; by how much she will take; how much she will endure;” - Andrea Dworkin.

Double standard is defined by World Book Dictionary as a standard applied more leniently to one group than to another. Double standard is different rules or different principles applied to different people or groups. The most prominent double standard examples always come from gender equality. What's usually okay for men, is atrocious when done by women. Double standards in beach attire and double standards in designer attire worn by lady bosses are classic examples in about what's wrong and what's right.

Double standards are seen when judicial processes are applied more strictly to some people more than others. This double standard of conduct was once severely oppressive to women, but has reduced relevance in western societies today where pre-marital sexual activity is normative for both sexes.

“In relation to a writer, most readers believe in the Double Standard: they may be unfaithful to him as often as they like, but he must never, never be unfaithful to them.” - W. H. Auden.

“We're women; we have double standards to live up to” - Ally McBeal (Fictionnal character of the sitcom "Ally McBeal").

Society's behavioral double standard for women and for men is, in fact, a more effective deterrent than economic discrimination because it is more insidious, less tangible. Economic disadvantages involve ascertainable amounts, but the very nature of societal value judgments makes them harder to define, their effects harder to relate.” - Anne Tucker.

The classic double standard example is in the "studs verses sluts" model, in which a man who has sex with many female partners is considered a "stud" or "player" (often considered compliments), while a woman who has sex with many male partners is considered a "slut" or "skank."