It is excruciatingly confusing to be a young woman.
We’re taught to be classy, conservative and respectable. We have explained the fragility of our virginity and how to be ideal women. Then, we’ll turn on the television to see advertisements with women in bikinis rolling around on the beach. We see women flaunting their bodies and radiating seductive confidence. But, if you’re too conservative, you’re a prude. And, if you’re too liberal, you’re a slut. Whether we flaunt our bodies, hide our bodies, explore our sexuality or save ourselves, we are never right in the world’s opinion. Young women are trapped in double standards; it’s as we’re set up to be damned either way.
Young women spend years worrying what others are saying, who’s saying it, and why they’re saying it. We stress if we are being the perfect mix of what our families and the media teaches us. There is this insane pressure to be innocent yet appealing. We’re supposed to give our partners what they want, but not too easily. We’re supposed to save our virginity for the love of our life while watching boys high five one another about losing theirs. We are told to cover our bodies so we don’t excite boys too much. We hearing slut-shaming at our lunch conversations and giggles at the idea of an 18-year-old virgin. We worry what our outfits say about our sexual activity. Our bodies have become society’s property as legal and societal regulations are set on them. But guess what? It’s none of your damn business how I use my body. Because it’s mine: not yours, not her’s, not his.
Personally, I believe the two biggest issues we face in combating double standards is slut-shaming and the concept of virginity. Sex is a huge part of life (in case you didn’t know that’s how babies are made, and babies are kinda a big deal for the growth of humankind). So, why has sex become unthinkable for women to discuss or even have? Girls become obsessed with losing their virginity in the most spectacular, perfect, romantic way. If you decide who do it on a whim, then do you even have any self-respect? You must be a “slut” and that is just oh,so shameful. Also, once you are sexually active a number of people you sleep with becomes your number. For girls, it better not be double digits, but for guys, it better be at least double digits. The incongruences between the expectations of men and women are astounding and frankly, disgusting.
It’s not men’s fault, our parents fault, our friend's fault or even women's fault; the fault lies within our indecisiveness as a society of whether we will stick with the traditional image of a woman or the progressive reinvention of a woman. But, the main point is: it is not society’s decision.
We perpetuate the double standards for young women with words, pictures and movies without thought of the direct effect on the growth of young women. Companies have to be creating advertisements without the hyper-sexualization of women’s bodies. Schools have to be requiring sexual education courses that focus equally on the responsibilities of men and women. Consent has to be common sense rather than a learned subject. Women have to not be shushed or questioned when reporting assault or rape. As a whole, we have to be encouraging young women to love their bodies and use it how they want. As an individual, you need to help by simply not judging another woman for her decisions. For example, next time your friend comes to you with the hot gossip on Karen’s sex-life simply reply with “Fuck yeah, dude. Good for her.” Encourage the exploration of sexuality and build confidence. Open dialogues with other young women. The double standards of women have lead to unacceptable decisions, expectations, and ideas of how, when, why and what women’s bodies should be used for. It’s hard for me to understand how this confusing idea became a reality but what’s even harder to understand is: if a young woman's body is such an intriguing topic of discussion, why aren't people listening to the words coming from our mouths?