Men often receive the blame because we bear a particular responsibility for the wounds inflicted on women. Like it or not, there is no way around this. The world has a double standard. A guy is considered a “player” when he is sexually active, but a woman who lives the same lifestyle is called less pleasant names.
Nevertheless, you’re right: the pressure goes both ways. There is no doubt that there are many young women who are more sexually aggressive than their dates. But take a look at the reasons why. When a guy is sexually aggressive, it is usually because he wants to satisfy his sexual desires. With young women there is often a different motive. Look into the heart of a young girl who is forward and physical. Odds are that she has been used before, and now she shuts off her emotions from her physical actions. In the words of Complete Woman magazine, one of the positive aspects of first date sex is that it “makes you briefly forget your huge self-esteem problems.” What they failed to mention was that first-date sex causes huge self-esteem problems.
Many men have no qualms about having a one-night stand because they are more able to perform the sexual act as if it were merely a physical event. Women’s hearts and bodies tend to be more integrated. One girl said:
“Most of all, at the gut level, there was a desire for intimacy, a desire for marriage, a desire for commitment, a desire for fulfillment and a desire to hear the words ‘I accept you.’ . . . As an attempt to find fulfillment and acceptance, ‘rolling in and out of bed’ became a common pattern for me, a balm to cover my fears. Fulfillment took the scope of a few hours instead of what I had imagined—a lifetime. The fears produced the truth: I had become bored and boring; I didn’t find any lasting acceptance of me; I didn’t find my ideal mate.”
When you find a woman who is having one-night stands, you will notice that it is often a kind of protection for her heart. She has been hurt before. She may have no boundaries when it comes to her body, but there is a mile-high wall around her heart. She stoops to the level of a temporary physical relationship to prove that she can be as carefree about sex as some men are. It keeps her from having to be vulnerable, and it gives her a false sense of being in control of her life. She is losing the ability to bond, but it is all an effort to numb the interior wounds and find something that feels like love in order to smother the emptiness.
This is known to some people as “liberation.” One man noted, “Most young women strike me as sad, lonely, and confused; hoping for something more, they are not enjoying their hard-won sexual liberation as much as liberation theory says they should.” When a young woman encounters the inevitable hurt that accompanies the misuse of sex, she may shut men out of her life or immerse herself in physical relationships in order to forget the wounds of her heart. Imagine that a woman spilled ink on a white carpet. The stain runs deep, so instead of taking the time and effort to scrub it out, she dyes the whole carpet the same color as the ink. This makes the original stain much less noticeable.
That is what is going on in many hearts. A woman who has been broken from sexual encounters tends to minimize the hurt. One way to do this is to jump into numerous affairs as if they were no big deal. By doing this she hopes to convince herself that there is no need for healing. One high school girl told me why she had done all sorts of things with guys: “I was only doing it because I had this total and complete lack of love in my life.” Some young women may lower their standards so that they will feel desirable and worth something.
Women know that guys like sex. So sex becomes bait to win the attention of a man. Other young women may have been reserved about sexual matters, but because of a mistake or a wound from the past, they figure they no longer deserve a good guy. A girl like this may even assume that a man does not like her unless he makes sexual advances toward her.
As you see in all these cases, the physical tends to be an avenue for the fulfillment, burial, or protection of the emotional. I go into all of this psychology because the solution to the double standard you mentioned is not to place more blame on women. Rather, if a man understands the source of a woman’s sexual aggressiveness, he’ll be more concerned with reminding her of her dignity than with exposing her shame.
. “Dating Game,” Complete Woman, (February–March 2001), 84.
. Josh McDowell, Why Wait? (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson Book Publishers, 1987), 172.
. Leon Kass, “The End of Courtship,” Public Interest 126 (Winter 1997), 39–63.