And so while casual sex is now standard , having any feelings or concerns about such sex is seen as weird

And so while casual sex is now standard , having any feelings or concerns about such sex is seen as weird

This explains the idea that sex is something women give men, as well as the widespread assumption that women are eager for committed relationships whereas men are only interested in sex.

“People often end up being bigger assholes than they have to because there’s always this assumption that a woman wants more,” Weigel says. “People treat people they’ve had sex with much worse than they treat people they’ve had a coffee with. It makes no sense that you have to be so rude, but I think it does come out of these expectations, where it’s like ‘Oh, if you spoke to a woman after having sex, she would expect you to father her child.’”

Lisa Wade, a sociology professor at Occidental College with a forthcoming book on college hook-up culture, says that this mentality also drives women to become prematurely detached in their sexual relations. “They know that men will latch on to any sign that they’re being friendly as proof they’re pathetic and want to be in a relationship,” she adds.

As a culture, we’ve elected to celebrate the supposedly male perspective of detachment, says Wade, and to enhance it to an emotionally cold extreme. “People are very embarrassed by emotion and by caring,” says Weigel.

Meanwhile, women who complain about how they’ve been treated or ask a sexual partner about their relationship are dismissed as “crazy.” Despite the term’s established connections to sexist stigma, Bogle says this idea still strongly resonates among young people.

It’s bad for men too

As is often the case with sexism, contemporary attitudes toward sex aren’t great for men either. Contrary to the stereotype, deep down, plenty of men don’t actually want a lot of meaningless sexual encounters.

There’s tremendous pressure on men to have sex when it’s available-“just as women get slut-shamed, men get shamed in that direction,” Bogle says-and to be unemotional in these relations. But in reality, men and women don’t have such wildly different desires. Wade says she remembers one young man talking about how easy it was to get blowjobs. “On the surface they’re very pleasurable,” he told her. “But it didn’t feel good.”

We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface in terms of how these stereotypes hurt men. For example, researchers recently found that erectile dysfunction in men under 40 is far more common than previously thought. Matt Hunter, who co-founded the Cambyo Project to honestly talk about and improve sex lives, wrote about how this attitude towards sex contributed to his own erectile dysfunction issues. “It didn’t have much to do with enjoying the sex, creating pleasure, or loving another person. It was more about the conquest, the story for my ‘bros,’ and a notch on the ol’ bedpost,” he wrote.

Weigel also points out that Neil Strauss, the author of The Game (“this perfect death dance of heterosexual stereotypes”) had to go to therapy for sex addiction. “Yeah, being a sociopath and pretending you have no feelings isn’t good for long-term happiness,” she adds.

Changing the dating conversation

Ultimately, I think what’s most surprising about sexism in dating is how reluctant we are to talk about it. The dating world is the last openly sexist area of society we’re all expected to ignore. We e” and “jerks,” but we rarely acknowledge the misogynistic attitudes behind such behavior. And even liberal, self-proclaimed feminist men can treat the women they sleep with coldly and not notice any incongruity.

Not sure if you’re part of the problem? Here’s an easy rule of thumb: Treat your sexual partners in such a way that, were you for whatever reason to end up working together, you wouldn’t feel awkward or embarrassed. In other words, just be nice. And if you do suddenly change your opinion about someone, act like a grown up and be honest about it. (I recently told a guy I’d been on two dates with that I was getting more of a friendship vibe. It felt unusually frank for the New York dating-app scene, but he hitta appreciated the honesty, and I was glad I had resisted the urge to ghost on him.)

Leave a comment