As the widespread coverage of Tiger Woods’ affairs has demonstrated, we have a double standard when it comes to extramarital affairs between married men and young, single women.
It’s hard to avoid news about it. Even Rush Limbaugh has talked about Tiger Woods’ “conquests.” Some black media commentators have criticized Woods for excluding black women.
Woods’ mistresses and flings, ranging from cocktail waitresses to porn stars, are being made into minor celebrities. They share attention with the prostitute, Ashley Dupre, who brought down Governor Eliot Spitzer.
But rarely are these women the objects of opprobrium. When one TV commentator called these women “bimbos,” he was shot down by the host for his lack of respect. A magazine called Jezebel proudly takes the name of the queen of the Old Testament who leads the Israelites into paganism and sexual immorality as a badge of honor. CNBC repeatedly airs the series Porn: The Business of Pleasure and The Business of High-End Prostitution, presenting such “entrepreneurs” as the girl next door. And ever since the sixties we’ve had magazines like Cosmopolitan, founded by Helen Gurley Brown, who gave suggestions for working your way up the corporate ladder with sexual favors. This magazine and others like it offer “sex tips” for your “guy” of the moment. The television show and movie Sex and the City celebrated female promiscuity, nymphomania, and even a phenomenon called cougarism.
Today the woman gets a pass.
That’s because feminists have worked hard to reverse the traditional double standard, i.e., the one that had presumably given the man a wink-wink for “conquests,” while sending the woman to the hall of shame. Now sexual freedom — and even predation — on the part of females is seen as empowerment. My college students have had this idea drummed into their heads in women’s studies classes and insist on equality even in this arena.