This promiscuity double-standard no longer exists in the minds of many college students, according to new research.
Almost half of college students judge men and women with similar sexual histories by the same standard and hold equally negative attitudes towards both their male and female peers who they believe hook up "too much," according to the study from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Sociology.
"Men and women are increasingly judging each other on the same level playing field," said Rachel Allison, co-author of the study and a doctoral candidate.
"But, gender equality and sexual liberation are not synonymous. While we''ve come a long way in terms of gender equality, it seems that a large portion of both college men and women lose respect for individuals who they believe participate in too frequent casual sexual activity."
The study relied on a subsample of more than 19,000 students from the 2011 Online College Social Life Survey (OCSLS), which includes data from 22 different colleges.
Survey participants were asked to respond to the statement: "If (wo)men hook up or have sex with lots of people, I respect them less." Based on their answers to this statement and other follow-up questions, the researchers placed the respondents into one of four categories: egalitarian conservative, egalitarian libertarian, traditional double standard, and reverse double standard.
According to the study, approximately 48 percent of the college students in the survey were egalitarian conservatives—meaning they judge men and women with similar sexual histories by the same standard and lose equal respect for members of both genders who they believe hook up too much.
In addition, roughly 27 percent of the students surveyed were egalitarian libertarians (i.e., they lose respect for neither men nor women regardless of how much they hook up); nearly 12 percent held a traditional double standard (i.e., they lose respect for women, but not men, for hooking up too much); and approximately 13 percent held a reverse double standard (i.e., they lose respect for men, but not women, for hooking up too much).
More specifically, women were more likely than men to have egalitarian conservative attitudes, with approximately 54 percent of college females and over 35 percent of college males in the sample falling into the egalitarian conservative category.
Women were also less likely than men to hold a traditional double standard. Only six percent of women reported holding a traditional double standard, compared to nearly 25 percent of men.
Interestingly, Greek affiliated women who lived in Greek housing were more likely than other female undergraduates to hold a reverse double standard.
The study will be presented at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.
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