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It’s the classic double standard: If a woman is sexually promiscuous, she’s a slut; if a man is sexually promiscuous, he’s . . . a man. The origin of this fun gender construct can be attributed to the biological way-back-machine. Men, the theory goes, were created to spread their seed to as many wombs as possible; women were created to bear the children of one man only, so she knows which dude to sue for child support.
Whenever a man deviates from this reproductive gender role, he’s labeled as kind of a pussy. When a woman deviates from the role, she doesn’t get off so easy—-she’s a bad, immoral, evil slut. It’s funny: even those who believe that men and women were “created” this way though the process of evolution—-and not via some God who wove his moral authority into our very genitals—-will still argue that deviating from gender norms results in great moral depravity.
Except for gay guys! When gay men are sexually promiscuous—-you know, like men are evolutionarily wired to be—-they are bad, immoral, evil sluts, too. Welcome to the club, guys (there are no free towels). It’s funny: even those who believe that there’s nothing wrong with being gay still argue that gay sex results in the great moral depravity usually reserved only for female sluts. Why? Because there are no women around to virtuously refuse to have sex with them.
Yesterday,The New Gay editor Zack made the gay man’s double-standard clear. Zack has been seeing his boyfriend for two years. And one time, Zack peed on someone’s face in a kiddie pool (consensually). Sure, it’s not the most effective way of spreading one’s seed, but whatever—-he’s a dude, and it’s only natural for him to want to do some freaky stuff with his penis, right? Wrong. Zack peed on a man’s face, which is a no good very bad slutty thing to do. And it’s not because men loving men is bad—-it’s because men fucking men is bad. And it all comes back to us ladies. Zack writes:
Though gay men’s lives are not purely defined by sex — I don’t need to tell you that the richness of the modern queer experience goes beyond an eternal search for dick in ass — I think we do ourselves a disservice by forgetting that we have been designated like we are because of sex. Not love, not companionship, not dating, but sex. Gay marriage is verboten because it leads to gay sex. Parent freak out about gay teachers because they think we’ll teach their children about abhorrent sex. Gay adoption, gay blood donors, all “controversial” aspects of us as a people can be traced back to a popular disdain for how we get off.
However, the way to address this is not to cut sex out of our lives entirely. Some people seem to think that we can whitewash ourselves to equality. Show no affection, no desire, no indication that you have anything between your legs but a smooth strip of plastic and we’ll be able to do what everyone else does. This is true in a sense, but if we win our acceptance as a sexless people we’ll be forever robbed of sex. It’s common sense. Not everyone wants to be joined in holy matrimony or to fight in the military, but everyone wants to have sex. And if the way we have sex is fundamentally accepted, then all of our other rights would fall into line. I’m sure of this.
The parallels between gay rights and women’s rights here are obvious. There’s a reason that feminism is so centered around reproductive rights (it’s the sex). Birth control allows women to have sex the way we want, for the reasons we want to, and without the responsibility of bearing all the moral consequences that come with having sex (chiefly, babies). And yet, even when sex is very explicitly undertaken for pleasure instead of reproduction, women are still called upon to bring some morality to the situation. A woman who takes her birth control pill every day is still a slut. A woman who uses a condom is still a slut. A man who pees on another man’s face, where insemination is impossible—-as is transmission of HIV, which often acts as a moral-responsibility stand-in for pregnancy—-is still a slut.
In response to Zack’s coming out as a slut, commenter B.B. wrote:
I am so exhausted from hearing excuse after excuse about why having sex with anyone and everyone anywhere and everywhere is “okay.” No, it is not okay. Let’s also not fool ourselves into believing that straight men are just as slutty as gay men. Women are still socialized to rebuff men’s attempts to have sex with them. I do not doubt that many straight men would have sex as often as possible if they could, but there is still a certain degree of dignity in the straight dating arena.
Ah, dignity. Where does this dignity come from? Why, it comes from us, the women, who must be forever chaste in order to save all of mankind from sluttiness. But once you take women out of the equation, sexual relationships become a lot less dignified—-in fact, they become something approaching equal!
Behind the slut-shaming of gay men and the slut-shaming of straight women is the same irrational fear: the fear of equality in sexual relationships. And it sucks for everybody. In accordance with gender roles, men are considered morally inferior to women. Women are considered morally responsible for men. Men who have sex with men will never have their immoral natures redeemed by women. Women who have sex with women are wasting their feminine virtue.
I’m with Zack on this one—-it all comes down to equality in the bedroom. When women are allowed to want sex like men, we will all be made responsible for our own personal relationships—-and not the collective morality of our entire society. And when everything is equal between men and women, gay men and women will no longer be considered morally inferior to all heterosexuals. And consensual kiddie pool face-pissing will be available for all, if that’s what they’re into.