Exploring Perceptions of Slut-Shaming on Facebook: Evidence for a Reverse Sexual Double Standard
Although there is a widespread belief that women are judged more harshly for sexual activity than men, research on the existence of the sexual double standard has been mixed. We investigated the sexual double standard and “slut-shaming” by asking participants to provide perceptions of both a target of “slut-shaming” and a “shamer.” Male and female participants viewed a blinded Facebook conversation in which the male or female target, or “slut,” was shamed by either a male or female “shamer.” We found evidence for a reverse sexual double standard; male “sluts” were judged more harshly. Furthermore, the “shamer” was negatively evaluated, especially when shaming a woman. Our participants also indicated a belief in a societal sexual double standard. They perceived the “shamer” to be more judgmental and less congratulatory when the “slut” was female. Furthermore, qualitative data indicated that female “sluts” were believed to be labeled as such for lower levels of sexual behavior (e.g., sexy clothing or dancing), than was the case for male “sluts” (e.g., sex with multiple partners). Our data indicate that individual beliefs are changing more quickly than social perceptions.
KeywordsSexual double standard Slut-shaming Gender differences Social media
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