Where did the DOUBLE STANDARD originate?


janet s. chafetz

 Janet Chafetz

 Most American women have been socialized to be prostitutes claimed Dr Chafetz. It seemed as though she was trying to make a point “for effect.” Chafetz claims that young girls and women in general are taught to use their sexuality to attract successful men as mates. “Successful”; meaning financially successful as a tradeoff: beauty for economic security. In the strictest sense of the term, prostitution is sex for money, goods, or services. Thus, some women could be considered prostitutes because they use sex as a means to get successful men to marry them. (Almost all states have laws making it illegal to engage in, promote, or profit from prostitution. The term “prostitution” generally means the commission by a person of any natural or unnatural sexual act, deviate sexual intercourse, or sexual contact for monetary consideration or other thing of value.)



HUNTING AND GATHERING. In early human groups, males and females held a virtually equal status in society. Based on necessity, each gender had its own job to fulfill. Women cooked, gathered berries, and bore children. Men hunted game, built shelters and collected firewood. A necessary cooperation between the sexes helped ensure the best chances for the group’s survival. No one gender thought they were any better or superior than the other.

hunters (GIF)

NO NEED FOR SURPLUS. As mentioned before, early human groups survived because of the necessity of sharing. The kin group was put above all, and loyalties were drawn accordingly. But because these groups were nomadic, people owned very few personal possessions. What you owned, you carried from place to place while searching for food. Hence, individuals tended to own, and carry, only what was absolutely vital for survival. Surplus goods were few.

hunter_gatherers (PNG)

teepee hunters-gatherers (GIF)

FREE AND MULTIPLE SEX PARTNERS. Early human people didn’t really know about the nuances of procreation, such as the “logic” of sperms and eggs. They could draw somewhat of a connection between sexuality and pregnancy. So, the only proof as to how anyone was related to each other was through the female lineage. Because people were not restricted to monogamy, it was often times hard to determine paternity. Hence, lineage was determined through the mother of the children (the only way to be absolutely certain). Matriarchal lineage was the standard.


 log_cabin (GIF)

HORTICULTURE: PLANTING. Humans eventually learned about planting and harvesting. They also learned about building fences to keep things in or out of certain areas. This discovery had a significant impact on the human condition. It was no longer necessary for people to be nomadic.

garden-plot 2

 Simple horticulture (subsistence farming) was practiced. A sedentary lifestyle was now possible.

 FREE AND MULTIPLE SEX PARTNERS. Free and multiple sex partners was still the norm. Now people could acquire more material goods than was necessary for survival. Since one didn’t have to constantly move around, one could collect more than they absolutely needed for basic survival. Some people acquired much, and others acquired little. And again, since it was still the only absolute and certain manner by which one could determine lineage, matriarchal lineage was still used to determine inheritance rights.

multiple sex partners 2

 SOCIAL STATUS BASED ON FUNCTION. Social status was still based on function. Males were respected for their contributions as were females. Both genders were equally respected. In the ruling circles, both the female and male rulers were held in esteem. For example, not only did Kings have power, but Queens had power too.


The Crown represented power


Kings had power

QUEEN (Anne) (GIF)

Queens also had power


The Old West

SMALL TOWNS EMERGE. Once farming was implemented, rural areas were settled. Small towns were established and sprung up across the land. A sedentary lifestyle was the order of the day.

THE IMPETUS FOR GENDER STRATIFICATION. Some inventions would change the status between males and females. Because of tradition, males tended to the outside work or functions (farming, wood, etc.), while the females tended to the inside functions of the household (mainly child-bearing/care and meal preparation). Listed below are some of the things which would change the way males and females interacted within society.

Herding: fences allowed large herds to be tended. The male was the one who was responsible for herding: and once they discovered that it took say, six animals to feed their family, they discovered that they could raise more than the required six and sell the extras (surplus). Once the surplus animals were sold, who was it that got to keep the profits? Males. Think of the huge ranches which were yet to come! $$$$

stonewall fence 3

Metal working: tools and machinery could be made of metal. Metal working was primitive at first. But soon the males learned how to use metals to improve the ease of farming. If for example, it took six acres to produce enough food to feed his family, why shouldn’t a farmer plant more acres than needed and sell the rest? Who got to keep the profits of advanced farming? Males.

blacksmith_tools (GIF)

Think about the huge metal machinery that the industrial revolution would eventually produce; the steel mills and factories. The giant fortunes were reaped by the males.

blacksmith 2


Worlds-First-Skyscraper-1885-Home-Insurance-Building-in-ChicagoAgricultural improvements: better farming techniques. Primitive agriculture was shaky and sparse. However, it was inevitable that men would learn how to plant and harvest with the aid of machinery and net huge profits by farming and feeding the industrial population centers.

rows of crops 5 (color)

amber_waves_of_grain 2THERE YOU HAVE IT! THE FIRST PROFIT-PRODUCING INDUSTRIES WERE IN THE HANDS OF THE MALES. Soon a voting public emerged under the title of “democracy.” The requisite for voting was to be a land owner, and guess who owned the majority of land? Males. Thus, they wrested the control of the world from the women through the congresses and parliaments. The females throughout the world were in trouble when Engels asserted: The overthrow of mother right was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took control in the home. . . ; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude; she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children (1972:87 emphasis in the original).

Engels (color)


Engels book cover

Engel’s Book

Engels asserted even further, based upon his earlier statement, that women were reduced to prostitutes. He notes; . . the woman . . . differs from the ordinary courtesan in that she does not let out her body on piecework as a wage worker, but sells it once and for all into slavery. Since child-care was predominantly a female enterprise, it was the males who went to the urban centers to work in the factories. Males and hence money (support), became the avenue of survival. Women became oppressed through industrialization.

THE MALES OVERTHROW MATRIARCHY. In order for males to control their wealth, they had to overthrow the matriarchal-based social system. The traditional matrilineal order of inheritance had to be abolished if males were to be able to will things to their sons through inheritance; in order to keep the economic power in the hands of males.

The “overthrow” was accomplished by establishing paternity beyond a doubt. Women’s’ sexuality had to be controlled. Monogamy was enforced both legally and morally (controlling ideas: interpretations about female sexuality). The fidelity of a “proper” woman was vital for social acceptance. MONOGAMY was strictly enforced; for the woman. 

Main Points:

* A change in the inheritance system was implemented based in a new patriarchal order. Inheritance was almost completely monopolized by males.

* In order to establish paternity beyond a doubt, women’s’ sexuality had to be controlled. Monogamy was enforced both legally and morally (controlling ideas: interpretations about female sexuality). The fidelity of a “proper” woman was vital for social acceptance.

* Males could still practice group sex through prostitution and adultery. Since male fidelity was not so strongly sanctioned, males could “have their cake and eat it too”. The birth of the double-standard emerged out of this type of male-conceived thinking. It was difficult for any female to challenge such an arrangement without the finances to survive on their own; especially with children. The work-place didn’t fare any better until the late 1970s when an influx of women into the work-place paralleled a rise in the divorce rate.

* This progression of events lead to today’s DOUBLE STANDARD in which males revered for their sexual prowess. MAles with multiple sex partners are labeled as “studs” or “players.” However, if females are perceived to have sexual prowess, they are likely to be labeled as “easy” or as “sluts.” This logic still guides social interaction to this day. 


Janet Saltzman Chafetz, Sex and Advantage: A Comparative Macro-Structural Theory of Sexual Stratification (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Allanheld, 1984).

Frederick Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Written: March-May, 1884;  First Published: October 1884, in Hottingen-Zurich; Source: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume Three.

Frederick Engels, The Origin Of The Family Private Property And The State. Translated By Ernest Untermann. Charles H. Kerr & Company Co-Operative; Chicago 1902




pete padilla 


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