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  • Caitlin Hart

The Sexual Double Standard of One Night Stands

© Illustration by INJECTION - Alicia Lupieri

Why do women experience sexual shame more often than men?

Being single is a great time for exploration. It allows you to put yourself first and discover more about yourself. For some, being single is the time to be free and try new things. This can be anything, from new hobbies to more time with friends, to learning more about your sexuality and what you want from future partners.

However, there’s no denying that a certain amount of shame can come from society towards women who opt for the latter. Clubbing, hook-ups and Tinder dates are all normal aspects of being single for a lot of women, yet so many are made to feel embarrassed or ashamed for taking part in the single culture, in a way that men don’t seem to experience.

The statistics back this up. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology published a study in 2021 where they found that 35% of women regret a one night stand, compared to 20% of men. Female respondents reported feeling guilt or ‘sexual disgust’. The question is, why does this feeling surrounding casual sex disproportionately affect women, and will we ever see an end to it?

The patriarchy has caused society to shame women for their sexuality for as long as anyone can remember. Whilst society has come a long way, and it is now more acceptable for women to own their own sexuality, slut-shaming still presents itself in a whole number of ways. From commenting on what women wear, to how many sexual partners they’ve had, women are still shamed for making their own choices.

Yet men seem to experience this significantly less. No man has ever been told “you look like a slut” or “you’re asking for it” because of the way they dressed. If men sleep with lots of people, they aren’t referred to as a slut or a whore, they’re rather admired. There are countless examples of the sexual double standard that we experience in society.

Seeing this makes it clear as to why women feel so much more shame surrounding one night stands than men. Women are taught from an early age, whether consciously or not, that taking control of their own bodies and sexuality will only bring negative perceptions of them.

These feelings of shame and regret after a one night stand are often there because women worry about how they have been perceived or how they will be spoken about. With society’s perception of women and sexuality, it is understandable that we may feel this way.

But will it ever end? Sexual inequality is an aspect of society that seems to be progressing more slowly than other women’s issues. It’s harder to change sexist attitudes and perceptions than it is to change laws, and society’s views towards women and sex have been ingrained for so many years.

With recent setbacks in women’s equality, like the overturning of Roe v Wade, it seems that attitudes towards women are only moving backward and it may be some time before we can fully rid ourselves of society’s sexual shame.


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