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Women have always been more harshly judged in terms of promiscuity than their male counterparts.
Taking multiple lovers is seen as a victory for a man, but a blemish against a woman.
However, research suggests even other women strongly indulge in that double standard themselves.
Newly published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the study found women preferred not having promiscuous friends, even if those women qualified for the label themselves.
Men also favored less sexually promiscuous friends if they viewed those friends as a possible threat.
“Men view promiscuous friends as competition,
while women see it as a trust issue.”
Conducted by Cornell University, the study involved 751 college students who were surveyed about their sexual history and how they view casual sex.
For the purposes of the research, “promiscuous” was defined as someone having more than 20 sexual partners by their early 20s.
In the study, students were asked to rate a potential friend based on several attributes. Each of the attributes was identical in every test except in terms of sexual history.
Asked about their position, most men viewed having a promiscuous friend as competition, while women saw it as more of a trust and reputation issue.
“What surprised us in this study is how unaccepting promiscuous women were of other promiscuous women,” said lead author Zhana Vrangalova, a graduate student at the college of human ecology. “When it came to friendships – these are the very people one would think they could turn to for support.”
“Sexually permissive women are ostracized for being easy, whereas men with a high number of sexual partners are viewed with a sense of accomplishment,” she said.