ITHACA, NY, June 5, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – Researchers at Cornell University have conducted a study of 751 young adults and concluded that promiscuity is bad for a woman’s social life – at least outside the bedroom.
The study, titled “Birds of a feather? Not when it comes to sexual permissiveness,” was published this month in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. The findings showed that despite casual sex with multiple partners becoming commonplace and even societally accepted, in everyday practice, women don’t want to be around other women who get around.
Lead author Zhana Vrangalova told Science Omega that the study was inspired by previous research showing that while many men enjoy recreational sex, they tend to take a negative view of the women with whom they participate. The researchers were curious whether those negative impressions carried over from the romantic sphere to the platonic.
They asked hundreds of college-aged men and women about their “negative judgments” in the context of friendships with other young adults who were promiscuous. They found that women were actually harsher in their judgments of other women who engaged in casual sex, regardless of their own personal promiscuous tendencies.
The study’s participants were first asked to disclose their own views on recreational sex and the details of their sexual history. Then they were presented with comparable hypothetical situations featuring a female or a male character. The only difference between the situations was the number of sexual partners each character had in their lifetime – either two or twenty. Subjects then rated the friendship-related qualities of each character, including overall likeability, competence, morality and emotional stability.
Women consistently rated promiscuous women more negatively in nine out of ten categories. By contrast, men only rated promiscuous men more negatively in two out of ten categories.
“Study after study has found that sexually permissive women are discriminated against by potential romantic partners, and now also by potential same-sex friends,” Vrangalova told Science Omega.
“[A]lthough attitudes toward sex have become more permissive over time, we're still not at the point of universally accepting sex outside of long-term, romantic relationships,” Vrangalova added. “Things like casual sex, group sex and sex with multiple partners still remain stigmatised by most.”
Vrangalova lamented society’s slowness in embracing promiscuity and said she hoped that as times change, more people will see such behavior as healthy and desirable.
“I think there will always be a segment of the population (e.g. the religious right) where promiscuity (for one or both sexes) will remain stigmatized,” Vrangalova said.
She commended initiatives like “the Unslut Project” and “slut walks” as positive steps toward making acceptance of casual sex more widespread.
“Projects like the Unslut Project, slut walks, positive media attention, conversations we have with our friends and family every day, sex-positive sex education programs, and progressive reproductive rights laws; all of those things can change people's minds,” said Vrangalova. “Even laws like equal pay for women or paid maternity leave can help the process, by making women more independent and self-sufficient and thus better equipped to resist patriarchal attitudes.”
Previous studies have shown that a promiscuous lifestyle leads to increased rates of sexually transmitted diseases and substance abuse, particularly among young people. Other studies have linked casual sex to infertility, disability and even death.