The more controversial reason that Kaitlyn Bristowe has created talk this season is because she admitted to having slept with one of the contestants relatively early on during the course of the show. This is not a novel occurrence: Producer Mike Fleiss discusses in this Youtube video from 2010 that at that time, Bob Guiney held the record for having sex with the most women during the course of the show. Fleiss states that the average number is around three which is what one would expect given that the bachelor/ette each has three overnight “fantasy suite” dates with other contestants. However, he proudly announces that “my man” Guiney had sex with 5.5. Herein lies the difference between Bristowe having had sex with a man before the fantasy suite dates and a man like Guiney having done it. Bristowe has been vilified in the public opinion for having done this. I’ve seen her called a slut, a whore, and much more in internet articles, blog posts, and comments. Guiney was placed on a pedestal for having his sexual prowess, and Bristowe was condemned for hers.
Why does this double standard still exist in society today? Long ago, it was understandable (though still not acceptable in my opinion) that women were expected to remain celibate until marriage so that men could be assured that they would not be raising other men’s children. However, in today’s technological advances of paternity testing, there’s no reason for me to fear that men might end up raising another man’s child. If they can’t trust their female partners, then they can always run a DNA test.
So what legitimate reason still exists for holding women to different standards of sexuality than men? The bottom line is that there are none. One could argue that sexually transmitted diseases, especially those such as HIV which can be lethal, should limit sexual activity before marriage. However, in that case, both men and women need to be careful with their sexual activity. Men are just as capable of getting and spreading STDs as women. To state that only women need to remain celibate based on an argument of STDs is a weak double standard at best.
However, our society still engages widely in what is labeled as “slut shaming.” I can’t stand that term as I think it further contributes to the disregard for women. A better and more concise explanation is that our society engages in “inequality in sexuality” judgments. Women are held to different standards than men. As women, we still fight the Madonna-whore complex that so many men (and women) carry about us. We are expected to be sexually pure and holy, yet at the same time, we are supposed to enter committed relationships with a full knowledge of sexual behavior in order to please our men.
Our society needs to move forward in this regard. By age 20, 75% of our population has had premarital sex, and by age 44, 95% has engaged in premarital sex. Clearly, people of both sexes are engaging insexual activity before marriage. So if it’s ok to have premarital sex, then we need to embrace the fact that it is ok for both men and women to do so. The judgment that Kaitlyn Bristowe has faced is symptomatic of the prejudice that all women face in their lives as sexual beings. It’s time for this belief system in our society to shift to reflect the true nature of the actions of both men and women.
I doubt Bristowe and I would be friends in real life. We lead very different lifestyles and hold very different beliefs. However, despite the differences about how we live our lives, I can still respect her as a human being who is entitled to make her own choices and her own mistakes. Even if I choose not to engage in casual sex in my life, I have no right to judge others who do. Instead, I choose to support any person’s right to choose to control their own sexual behavior regardless of their sex or gender. I look forward to a day when American society recognizes that we are all sexual beings who live sexual lives, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC