A double standard is when one group of people can get away with something that another group can’t. In modern society we like to think that double standards are so unfair and should be done away with. But what if double standards are actually a good thing? What if they serve some greater purpose to society that actually benefits everyone?
One of the biggest double standards that we all grew up with concerns sexuality. Men, in general, have always been able to sleep around without being socially shamed or called names. Women, on the other hand are generally labeled as “sluts” or “whores” if they do the same thing and are generally not considered marriage material by respectable men looking for long term relationships. A classic double standard against males is that men have only traditionally been required to go to war and register for the draft. If a man refused not only would he be labeled a “pussy,” “wimp,” and “coward” by society but more than likely he would serve some jail time as well. Women are called “whores” while men get away with sleeping around. Women are allowed to hide and be sheltered in times of war but men are jailed. Unfair, right? “Sexist,” right? Dreaded double standards that have no place in an “enlightened” society, right? But just what if these double standards might actually be good things?
In the case of war, it has always been a man’s duty. This is so for several reasons. First, women are the only ones who can bring the future generations into this world. If society is to survive females must be protected and kept safe so that there will be future generations (that’s why we fight wars in the first place, right?). Beyond keeping women safe so that they may care for and bear children, men are much bigger and stronger and must be taught to never use their strength against women unless absolutely necessary to restrain her. Sending women to war defeats the purpose of protecting women, ensuring the well-being of future generations and teaching men not to direct acts of violence against women or be OK with acts of violence against women.
In the case of sexuality, why can men sleep around and not women? Once again, this serves a fundamental purpose to all of society. This double standard does not exist against women in all societies. In many societies women slept around freely. In some societies women even took on multiple husbands and divorced them at will. Who actually fathered her children was of no concern to anyone either. In patriarchal societies men control female sexuality. They have to. There is no other way that they can support families or be fathers in the first place. All children by default are in the custody and care of their mothers. Maternity is certain, it is a fact of life. It is a bond society can depend upon. The mother-child bond is there from conception and is unquestionable. The mother’s role is biological and the same in every society that has ever existed. A man, however, can only be a father to a child if the mother declares him as such, if he is socialized into the child’s life via a third party through marriage or other cultural ties. Paternity can never be truly certain and men can never participate meaningfully in reproduction short of a long term monogamous relationship with the mother. Thus the need for men to control female sexuality and “own the womb.” Thus in every patriarchal society there is an obsession of females being chaste and shunning any female who is not or who bears children out of wedlock.
So this means the double standard only benefits men, right? It’s all about men so they can have things their way? Alas, that is not the whole story. The patriarchal family ultimately benefits women just as much as it does men. Marriage is a permanent commitment. Marriage links a man to specific children via a long-term monogamous relationship with the mother of those children. She agrees to be chaste for him and share her body only with him. In return society and the law imposes upon the man the obligation to carry the burden of financially supporting the children and the mother of those children. She shares her reproductive life and the children she bears with him and in return he protects her and provides for her. Sounds pretty beneficial to both sexes to me.
There are numerous other double standards and in most cases they serve a grand purpose for society. Men and women are not on equal grounds. The same rules do not apply to men and women because women and men are made different by way of nature, no matter what our laws say. It is easy to see what happens when laws are gender-neutralized and double standards are forgotten. How will we survive when our women are maimed and come home in body-bags from war? How are the campaigns attempting to stop violence against women going to be successful when we teach men to treat women, the weaker sex, as just “one of the boys?” We either have to lower standards and change the rules so that women can participate in a man’s world or we have to train men to just run over women and treat them without any special consideration. Both of these options are bad. And what about children? Does anybody care about this apparently forgotten group of humans who are helpless to care for themselves for many years? Wouldn’t it just make more sense to have double standards of what a man’s duties and a woman’s duties are? How else will we keep society running if we fail to discriminate and just send both men and women equally to war? And who will keep things running at home if we ship both young men and women off to war?
How will the family keep running if we fail to discriminate and lay double standards against men and women? If both men and women are held equally to support the family then what happens? Marriage becomes a competition and there is nobody to care for the home. Women don’t need husbands to support them and can walk away from marriage. Men aren’t interested in providing because they don’t have to. Grandma ends up raising the kids and picking them up from school. Divorce happens five years later and mommy and daddy play tug-a-war with the kids so they can get the upper hand against the other and equal financial responsibility between parents ups the ante. Antagonism is created between men and women; husband and wife and meaningful relationships are never formed.
And what happens when there are no double standards against the sexes when it comes to unwed mothers/fathers? An unwed mother automatically has rights for the child, but the unwed father doesn’t. How very sexist of us. We should give the poor guy rights to interfere in the child’s life or make a paternity claim to reck an intact family. And, of course, we should let women slap a paternity suit on a married man and have the full sanction of the law behind her to be a home-wrecker. We are “enlightened” after all and wouldn’t want to be unfair to anyone. Or maybe it would in the best interests of everyone to have a little sex discrimination and double standards. Just a thought.
Above all, double standards are good. They are necessary and no society is going to get very far without them. Men and women should be treated different and held to different standards in every area of life. It’s not all bad and patriarchy actually has a very romantic aspect to it. What could be more romantic that a man providing for and sheltering a woman from harm? It ultimately uplifts the family and protects it and contributes to meaningful and secure male-female relationships that benefit individual families and all of society.