Study: College-Aged Women Don’t Want To Be Friends With Sluts

Oh good, another depressing study about women and sex! Bring it on.

College-aged women would prefer not to be friends with promiscuous women (defined as having 20 or more sexual partners by their early 20s), even when they themselves have had numerous sexual partners or claim to have liberal views about sex. This according to a study of 751 college students by Cornell University. Can you say “hypocrisy”?

All women who participated in the study ranked promiscuous women negatively on nine of 10 “friendship attributes.” In other words, they don’t want to be friends with other women they think are too slutty.  “The effect is that [promiscuous] women are really isolated,” said lead author Zhana Vrangolova, a graduate student who worked on the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships study. Vrangolova added that it is possible less promiscuous women may be trying to distance themselves from the stigma of being friends with someone who is perceived to be a slut. “What surprised us in this study is how unaccepting promiscuous women were of other promiscuous women when it came to friendships — these are the very people one would think they could turn to for support,” she wrote.

The study reaffirmed what any sexually permissive woman (raises hand) could already tell you about the double standard: while no one seems to mind too much about how many sexual partners men have, people become judgmental and possessive when a woman has a lot of sexual experience and/or sexual partners. Interestingly, the Cornell study found that men were less judgmental about their friends except for in one area: self-identified promiscuous men were uneasy with other promiscuous men in regards to cheating (mate guarding). Game recognize game, I guess. In general, dudes were  less opinionated about what someone else’s sex life means for a friendship.

However, I’m not convinced the study just proves we are concerned about “bed hopping” from an “evolutionary” standpoint, as the authors posit, according to Science Daily. Although it’s a small study, it illustrates one of the problems about sexuality in America today: the desire and pursuit of sex is pathologized as “dangerous” or “bad,” especially for younger women. It also equates a high number of sexual partners (whatever that means) with an affinity for cheating, although there is no such link between the desire and pursuit of sex and immoral behavior.  There isn’t any actual evidence that having numerous consensual sexual partners is “dangerous” or “bad” in any way, although it does put you at a higher risk for STIs/STDs and pregnancy if you don’t take the proper precautions. But fear of someone else’s STIs/STDs or pregnancy should have no bearing on friendship at all.

Am I surprised at these findings? No. But I am bummed out by them. We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got longer to go yet.

[Study: Journal Of Social And Personal Relationships via Science Daily]

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