I never took the time to realize how restricted romantic relationships were until I read He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti. In this book, Valenti describes 50 harmful double standards posed on men and women in today’s society.
As I sat in the Women’s Center library reading this book, I could not help but to think about all of our dating processes. You go from single to casually dating to seriously dating to engaged to married and then to married with children—if you are “lucky.” This journey and all its steps are crafted by norms and standards. Standards most likely created by an old guy with an IQ of a pigeon who carried a cattle bone club and used a rock for a pillow (if I had to guess). Valenti describes a few double standards impacting the world of relationships in her book:
He’s a bachelor, she’s a spinster (7).
He’s a Romeo, she’s a stalker (12).
He’s dating a younger woman, she’s a cougar (28).
He’s dating, she’s taken (48).
He’s pussy whipped, she’s a ‘good girlfriend’ (43).
He’s childless, she’s selfish (46).
Single dad are heroes, single moms are irresponsible (46).
The worst part about reading these standards is the realization that they are not only upheld in our society, but that women, despite often ending up with the short end of the stick, are equally as guilty of perpetuating them—often without realizing it themselves. Just imagine what would you think if you saw a stay-at-home mom? Thoughts like “She is so dedicated to her family,” “She is living the American dream,” or “Her husband is lucky” might come to mind. Now what would you think if you saw a stay-at-home dad? Would your reaction be the same?
We, women and men, need to take a look at how we might be hurting ourselves and our relationships by succumbing to these social codes. If we don’t like what we see, we must challenge ourselves and each other as we decide what role we will and will not play in the dating and relationship scene.
I commit to challenging myself starting today. Do you?
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