We at the WCU Student Wellness Center were flabbergasted to read the March 17 editorial describing the February Stall Seat Journal (SSJ) as “Victorian.”If the SSJ gave the impression that we think women should “reject sexuality and anything related to it,” then it gave an impression totally at odds with all our other programming. Just this semester, we have sponsored many different events.
So how about this double standard thing? And why the division in the SSJ? It is because, no matter how much society may change, men’s and women’s bodies work differently, which means their sexual health risk factors are different.
For example, if a man and a woman have penile-vaginal sex, the woman’s risk for contracting HIV or a STI is double that of the man. He faces half the risk she does.
No strains of HPV cause cancer in men, as far as science tells us. Four strains cause cancer in women. CANCER. So, for women, cancer can be a sexually-transmitted disease. Not so for men.
So is it that “there should no longer be a division” or is it that we are finally coming to understand the ways in which male and female sexualities are profoundly different?
Yes, there absolutely is a double standard in social construction of men’s and women’s sexualities. But the physiology is a different story. You can’t have a double standard when you’re comparing two very different things, and comparing women’s sexuality to men’s isn’t just comparing apples to oranges – it’s comparing the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat to the Manta Ray. Both are beautiful, admirable and utterly astonishing examples of what natural selection can produce, but you cannot hope to judge them in comparison to each other. They are not merely different species, but different families altogether.
Men and women have differing needs in terms of their sexual health and well-being. As health educators, we want to address those different needs. Men need to put condoms on their penises. Women need to get regular pelvic exams. Everyone needs to understand and respect the sexualities of their partners, regardless of gender.
And anybody interested in free sexual health info, condoms, dams, and other stuff can feel free to walk into the Wellness Center (second floor of Wayne) anytime between 8-4!
Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.
Assistant Coordinator of Wellness Programs
Assistant Director of the Women’s Center