As the textbook points out, today the average age of first intercourse in the United States is about 17, but about one out of 10 girls and one out of 7 boys make their “sexual debut” by age 15. As developmental systems theory suggests, a variety of forces predict making what researchers call an earlier transition to intercourse. One influence, for both boys and girls, is biological—that is, being on an earlier puberty timetable. Ethnicity and SES are other influences, as well as personality.
Although not embraced by everyone, there is a stereotype surrounding sex called the "sexual double standard." According to this stereotype, men are given greater sexual freedom than women; males are expected to want to have intercourse, and females are expected to remain as virgins until they marry and to be more interested in relationships than in having sex.
Considering what you may know about the sexual double standard, as well as taking into account the information in your textbook, please respond to the following overarching question: Should society (your society) do anything to reduce the sexual double standard, or should it just be left alone? Why? In formulating your answer, also try to think critically about the following pertinent questions, which may help you to gain more insight into the topic, as well as help you find direction for your response:
- Do you believe that a double standard actually exists? And if so, is it only among certain age groups (e.g., adolescents), or is it present regardless of age? In other words, are women in their fifties, sixties, or seventies held to the same double standard that women in their teens and twenties are held to?
- What do you think of women who enjoy sex as much as men do, and who aggressively pursue men?
- There are a number of negative repercussions for women who are sexually active, but are there any negative, public repercussions for males who are sexually active--or are they mainly just viewed as "studs?"
- Does the same double standard apply in the gay and lesbian communities? Or are there different "rules" and expectations among these groups?
- Does social constraint on sexual behavior serve a purpose, other than being discriminatory?