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He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut… but we all want the same thing

Date: September 29, 2013 | Posted By: Allie

If I can recommend one book to you, this is it: He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.

Your new bookfriend.

Drop what you’re doing like it’s hot and start reading. It’s a quick, fun, eye-opening read by feminist superstar Jessica Valenti, and it breaks down some of the most widespread and damaging double standards that negatively impact girls and women in all walks of life.

You will laugh at Valenti’s witticisms. You will go, “Aha!” And you will get angry. You may even want to punch a wall or something.

Speaking of angry, let’s meet our first double standard: “He’s Angry, She’s PMSing.”

Valenti talks about an ex-boyfriend who accused her of being overly emotional when they argued. “It felt immobilizing to be called dramatic,” she writes.

“Even if you know you’re being reasonable, we’ve internalized sexism so much, sometimes we even begin to doubt ourselves.” It’s a useful tactic to keep women silent and let sexist behaviors continue.

How many times do we bite our tongues for fear of seeming “difficult” or — and this is practically a death sentence — needy? How can women speak up and articulate what we really need where we’re slapped with disparaging labels that undermine us at every turn?

Try as we might, we can’t all be the “Cool Girl,” an idea that is perhaps perfectly described in this amazing excerpt from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

(It may be worth mentioning here that I just considered editing the above paragraphs to seem less angry. You stop that right now, self. This is valid anger — no sugarcoating, damn it!)

Let’s journey forth into the realms of romance, and explore a popular concept known as, “He’s a Romeo, She’s a Stalker.”

Author Jessica Valenti

Author Jessica Valenti.

Men are widely thought to be romantic or just “persistent” when they aggressively pursue women. Think of how many movies romanticize this idea, inviting you to sympathize with the “noble,” lovestruck hero and view the woman as the difficult but desirable object of his affection. (Spoiler alert: she may resist at first, but she’ll come around in the end).

On the other hand, if women take the lead and actively pursue men, they’re often viewed as pathetic or desperate — or branded with that universal fallback term, “crazy.”

Not only does this double standard stifle open communication and discourage women from following through on awesome romantic potential, it’s also legitimately dangerous. Romanticizing stalking encourages rape culture and, as Valenti points out in reference to a Department of Justice study, in reality, almost 90% of stalkers are men.

Narrowing these 50 double standards down is kind of like being an Ivy League admissions counselor — they’re all so good! To give you a preview of the waiting list:

  • “He’s Paying Less, She’s Paying More”: In what Valenti calls a “vagina tax,” women actually pay more than men for haircuts, cars, and mortgages (despite being paid significantly less).
  • “He’s Funny, She’s Annoying”: Laugh at guys’ jokes — just don’t join in! Funny is powerful and they might get intimidated. As Leslie Knope says, “Guys love it when you can show them you’re better than they are at something they love.”
  • “He’s a Person, She’s a Commodity”: Advertisements use women — and women’s body parts — so much that we become commercial objects. This contributes to violence against women when women are viewed as objects more than humans.

To sum up, Valenti says it best in the “He’s the Boss, She’s a Bitch” chapter: “Take being called a bitch as a compliment. Because it means you’re doing something right.” The worst thing we can do is let name-calling and double standards silence or shame us from standing up for ourselves and other women and girls.

Which double standards have you encountered? How can women and men fight effectively against these double standards?

Allie Semperger studied English at Kalamazoo College and screenwriting at UCLA. After studying abroad in London and traveling around Europe, she became a travel lover for life, and is always making plans for her next adventure. She recommends Marina and the Diamonds. She created the feminist Tumblr blog, Women’s Issues Are Society’s Issues, and aspires to make the world a better place for women and girls.




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4 Responses to He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut… but we all want the same thing

  1. He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut | Allie Semperger on 10-04-2013

    [...] Read my About-Face post about this awesome book by Jessica Valenti. It’s a funny, interesting, and fast read that breaks down some of the most widespread and damaging double standards that negatively impact girls and women in all walks of life. [...]
  2. Reply
  3. Carol Harrison on 11-06-2013

    I like the line that starts with, "He's Funny,She's Annoying: Laugh at guys' jokes. Guys love it- just don't join in. Funny is POWERFUL and they might get intimidated. Guys love it when you can show them that you're better than they are at something they love." That's something I'd never considered before.
    I remember once, years ago, my spouse's male cousin, he tried to bait me and I ignored him and his face turned very RED!
  4. Reply
  5. Jackie on 11-13-2013

    This reminded me that the site Heartless Bitches International came up with a cute acronym that takes the sting out of being called a bitch That bitch stands for, "Being in total control, honey!" I think it's a clever way of taking back ownership of a word used to insult and hurt women.
  6. Reply
  7. How My Feminist Blog Became a Magnet for Pedophilic Rapist Wannabes | Away Point on 11-18-2013

    [...] who at the time were more enthralled with brash young feminist superstar Jessica Valenti (He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut) than with boys. And it included a 30 question slut [...]
  8. Reply