Study Shows Women More Likely To Feel Bad About Appearance After Losing V-Card

A new study in Pennsylvania State University’s Journal of Adolescence finds that when men get freaky for the first time, they tend to feel better about their appearances, whereas when women turn in the V-card, they experience a decrease in satisfaction with their appearance. The study involved students who entered college as virgins. The abstract reads:

Male students were more satisfied with their appearance after first intercourse, whereas female students became slightly less satisfied with their appearance. These findings demonstrate that first intercourse can lead to changes in well-being, even if the transition takes places in late adolescence. In addition, they suggest that gendered cultural expectations regarding sexual behavior are associated with differing psychological outcomes for male and female adolescents.

The “gendered cultural expectations” are, of course, the double-standard we’re all familiar with: on the one hand, when men are promiscuous, they can brag about it to their bros, all the while seeming cool and bad-ass. Women who are promiscuous, on the other hand, are seen as having committed shameful indiscretions and being “slutty” – or any other number of derogatory terms. While decades of feminism and gender studies have gone a long way in dismantling these attitudes and exposing them as artificial ideas that perpetuate gender inequality, Penn State’s study shows it’s clear that they’re still ingrained in our collective consciousness.

As Tracy Clark-Flory aptly points out in Salon, these findings clearly relate to what the legendary sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnston call sexual “spectatoring.” This term refers to the way people imagine what they look like boning while they’re in the act of boning – in other words, they’re not thinking about the actual act, but how they look committing that act. Because our culture promotes a far more greater (and more problematic) awareness of the female body, it is only natural that female first-timers are more likely to be self-conscious about how they look when they’re going at it.

As Flory also points out, the study suggests another side to the double-standard, because it’s a standard that puts pressure on men to have sex, and this can be damaging for the self-image of men who remain virgins until later in their lives. As a male college graduate, I can attest to the fact that a man’s virghinhood in the college setting is a source of endless frustration, and the longer it is sustained, the worse it gets. I can also say that the moment when a man finally loses it is not necessarily ego-boosting or otherwise satisfying, because ten or more beers can have the tendency to render these considerations moot. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Tomáš Petru / Via

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