Study: Sluttiness Is a State of Mind

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Photo: P Nutt/Corbis

Mixed news pertaining to your sex life out of the University of Michigan psychology department last week: Unfortunately, you’re still a slut. On the plus side, it’s society’s fault you're seen that way.

According to a new study by U of M’s Terri Conley, reported by Pacific Standard, the sexual double standard is alive and kicking. Women who have casual sex are still perceived to be “more promiscuous, less intelligent, less mentally healthy, less competent and more risky” than men who do the same. The silver lining is that all those sexist judgments comprising the slut stigma are the reason women are less likely to accept offers of casual sex. In other words, sluts aren’t sluts because they’re slutty. They’re only slutty relative to the prudes who act prude because they’re afraid of looking like a slut!

We much prefer this social explanation of the slut stigma to the evolutionary canard about men being hard-wired to spread their seed and women being hard-wired to entrap males to pay child support for the fetus they’re gestating. Conley’s previous research suggested that women turned down offers of casual sex more often than men because they knew how unlikely it was that a new dude would get them off on the first go around — not because they were saving themselves for the father of their future children. “Women’s perception that their heterosexual casual sex partners will be unlikely to give them pleasure is not unwarranted,” Conley wrote.

You see that? Women went from biologically burdened financial parasites to rational, risk-assessing sexual aesthetes overnight. All it took was one woman scientist designing the study.