Double standards are still very real. Just ask Reddit, where one member of the popular R/ask community posted a question about society’s different expectations for men versus women.
The user asked others to share things that are socially acceptable for men to do, but frowned upon for women.
Reddit answered. The thread received over 2000 upvotes and 3000 comments.
Here are some of the most interesting responses.
A top comment simply said, “letting body hair grow.” Women with hairy legs and armpits frequently find themselves on the receiving end of scorn and judgmental faces, with society claiming it’s “unhygienic.”
But if the hair is unhygienic, why is it okay for men to keep it?
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Women aren’t allowed to age gracefully. They must go to great lengths to maintain a youthful appearance for as long as possible, which includes hiding any signs of grey hair.
Some women shared how society reacted to their decision to stay grey. “I used to dye my hair obsessively to hide the grays and decided I was tired of doing it in my mid-30s. I did a hard stop immediately, and nearly EVERYONE I knew made a comment about it. Had a coworker ask if everything was okay at home,” she said.
Conversely, men get to be “silver foxes” and “distinguished” as they age.
Eating a Ton of Food
A woman who serves herself up a mountain of food at the party table gets side-eyed at best, while no one bats an eye if a man does the same thing.
“I can put some food down. I always get remarks about how I’m “going to get fat” or “it’s unhealthy to eat so much!” shared one user. “I’m 31 years old; I’ve learned my body pretty damn well. I trust myself over advice of some random,” they added.
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Others mentioned that overweight women receive far more criticism than overweight men.
“I’m a heckin chonker,” said a male Redditor, “but the only time anyone mentions my weight is people I know discussing workouts and diets with me or people being antagonistic to pick fights.”
Women often receive much harsher treatment. Everyone feels the need to comment on women’s bodies when they don’t fit the mold, from doctors to potential dates to random folks on the street. Those who don’t comment tend to ignore overweight women, pretending they don’t even exist. Overweight men still get to be human.
Work Over Family
The cultural expectation of men as “providers” leads to a horrible double standard regarding working hours.
Men are allowed, even expected, to put in long hours at work, sacrificing time with the family to bring home the bacon. Women who work long hours are harshly criticized “why are you letting someone else raise your kids,” society asks, even if the father is a stay-at-home dad.
This double standard hurts both men and women. Women get judged for not being available 24/7 for the kids, while men hear harsh comments about “not providing” or emasculating statements of “not being manly” if they choose to stay home.
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Men can walk around topless whenever they please, while women who do so risk arrest for indecent exposure in certain places.
Although this double standard is mostly understandable, many women fought against indecency laws regarding breastfeeding. “Breastfeeding in public just became legal in all 50 of the States in 2018,” commented one user.
Despite the legality, some women still get judgemental looks if they dare feed their baby in public. Nobody cares if a man has an exposed nipple.
“Babysitting” Your Own Kids
When a mom watches her kids, it’s called parenting. She’s expected to know everything about what they eat, their schedules, how to handle meltdowns, and all the ins & outs of parenting.
When dad watches the kids, he’s “babysitting.” No one cares that he can’t figure out the difference between crackers and cookies, he gets a trophy for just being present, and nobody expects him to know how to handle a crying baby.
Moms could never get away with “babysitting” their kids.
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Being Treated with Respect in Male-Dominated Fields
One user had a specific example that speaks to a broader societal problem women face in male-dominated careers.
The user shared that their mother was a welder, and men would constantly mess with her and assume she doesn’t know what she was doing, despite having gone through the same training and doing the job for a lot longer than most of them.
Another shared they helped a boyfriend overcome deeply held misogynistic beliefs he didn’t even know he had when he shared that he didn’t want to hire the most qualified candidate because “Well, she’s a woman. She won’t be able to do the job.”
Ultimately, he ultimately hired the woman, who turned out to be his best apprentice.
Not Wanting Children
A woman who doesn’t want kids is a pariah. Women are expected to want kids. Marriage and motherhood should be the ultimate goal of any woman’s life, so women who go against the script often find themselves subject to ridicule and scorn.
Though men sometimes face the same questions, the “lifelong bachelor,” and men who dedicate their lives to their passions are granted far more leeway.
Society still believes that a woman’s only achievement is raising a family, while men are allowed to pursue other interests.
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Men would be shocked at how often a woman hears “you should smile more” or some other version.
“My husband was shocked when I told him how often a man tells me to smile when I’m just going about my business,” shared one user.
But no one tells men to smile. Men can frown, be lost in thoughts, or have pensive expressions. Women hear remarks from strangers about how pretty they’d be if they smiled and that they need to smile more as if they exist solely to please random strangers they run into while existing.
Double Standards Hurt Everyone
Many of the double standards on this thread are cultural relics from when women didn’t enjoy equal rights. Most of them hurt men just as much as they hurt women. Men should be held to a higher standard when it comes to caring for their own children and should be allowed to stay home with their children without getting judgemental looks.
On the plus side, things are getting better. As more and more women enter high-paying career fields, more men opt to stay home with the kids. Relationships are becoming more egalitarian based on the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals rather than on gender roles.
That’s a beautiful thing. It allows everyone to live the life they want.
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Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.