Double Standard Between Men & Women

The ‘double standard’ essentially refers to the fact there is still a significant inequality between men and women in areas where there shouldn’t be.

It simply means men and women are still on occasion judged by a separate and different sent of standards. One standard for men, and one standard for women.

The usual critique by people who still believe a double standard is necessary includes a reminder that men and women are obviously different and as such cannot be treated equally. No kidding, we’re physically different.

This difference of course makes the world that much more interesting. But when it comes to an analysis of why this double standard is still around in the 21st century, emphasizing physical differences won’t help us much.

We have to talk about the psychological and interpersonal areas of human living to get at the reasons why this inequality hasn’t yet been completely abolished. Equality in this context would mean that there is one standard for what is personally fair for both men and women.

If a woman is capable as a man is capable, there should be one standard. If a man is capable as a woman is capable, you guessed it, one standard. In the area of what it takes to be a person and how a person should be treated, one standard. Whatever they share in common should be understood and judged by a single standard.

Why is this so difficult? For most of human history men have been in control of women. They created the standards. Women have been considered valuable possessions and protected by men. And before that capable men fought over desirable women. The point being, equality challenges the control that men have had for so long.

By implication, equality means equal power. The power to choose and determine one’s destiny. One particular function of this historical inequality between men and women, has been to encourage and promote stereotypes about women and men. Stereotyped thinking is a limited superficial form of thinking. There is no depth in it for one thing.

It doesn’t really consider people on a personal level for another. Stereotyped statements reduce people to categories that are imposed on everyone placed in a particular group regardless of individuality. In this case, the groups are men and women.

All men are such and such. All women are such and such. It’s hard to challenge this kind of thinking. Stereotyped categories are usually rigid with no gray areas.

Another problem is, equality between men and women threatens the rigid male and female identities some people have formed for themselves. I am a man because of such and such. I am a woman because of such and such.

Too often these personal definitions are derived exclusively from superficial differences. The real identity of a man is who he is on the inside. The same goes for a woman. When you push the idea of equality between women and men, these more superficial personal definitions get challenged.

A lot of people don’t like that so they argue against it and resist change. This is a big reason why inequalities and their expression as double standards continue on in the ways men and women are treated. What would happen if this idea of equality between men and women became the new standard?

Men and women would grow stronger because their definition of who they are as men and women would emerge from within themselves instead of being derived from superficial differences. Personal strength and a more stable identity naturally leads to a better love-life, why?

When a man or woman is able to ‘personalize’ (as opposed to stereotype) his or her perception of a potential lover he or she is able to love more deeply. I can see and feel you, not some phony superficial representation of you. When a woman or man is able to be the person he or she really is on the inside, he or she is more open to the reception of love from others. Being myself makes it naturally easier for you to love me.

The defensive stereotypes and other rigid beliefs about ourselves that do not accurately represent who we are interfere with our innate ability to love and be loved. When we are free to be who we really are, love is easier. The personal equality of men and women will make us more loving.

It will encourage men and women to develop their identities as men and women more deeply. That deeper development can and will encourage the experience of love. But we have to get past the initial conflict that can arise when people are threatened with change.

People who are unsure of their own identity will be angry at this change toward gender equality. They will fight against it secretly or publicly. What can we do to make this transition easier?

We can teach people to equalize their differences from one another. Up until very recently, differences meant a value judgment was needed to decide which quality is better than the other. One apparent quality is given a higher value than another, whether it’s gender, color, age, etc.

Human thinking is filled with this sort of reasoning and it is the source of a lot of human suffering. Suppose we learned to equalize differences without applying a value judgment. Meaning, you and I are different but equal. My qualities are not better than yours just different. The absence of judgment in this way is required for equality to become the new unified standard.

Now some people are not better than other people just different. Plus we won’t have to segregate to preserve our valued differences. We can mingle and there is greater intimacy in that. The picture I selected to illustrate this post depicts the fact that men and women are working together to hold up this world. They are also responsible for an equal share of this burden.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. T. Jordan





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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

1 Comment

  1. Psycholog Poznań on July 13, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Now I again realize, why this is one of favorite blogs about the topic. Every post is interesting enough to read every sentence.

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