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Gay Double Standard
A study on the different sets of rules for lesbians and gay men in western society
Last updated October 15, 2002

We believe lesbians are generally viewed differently from gay men in our society. What do you think? What are your feelings towards homosexual men and women? Are they different? Be honest and share your thoughts. We'll feature your response here if it is meaningful and interesting enough. Send responses to webmaster@sex-project.com.


  Anonymous writes:

Among primates the dominant male will mount lower ranking males and have sexual intercourse with them. These lower males will not mate with the females, for it is the dominant male that mates with the females of the group.

I feel that homophobia is a natural instinct of the human male. If the human male submits to homo sex he forfeits his right to mate with females. The hostility that most men in our society feel toward homosexuality could be a survival instinct. He is protecting his dominance, so he can pass on his genes.

Homosexuality among women is not considered a threat. In ancient times in the harems it was permissible for women to have homosexual relationships. The Bible forbids homosexuality among men, but it doesn't say anything about homosexuality among women. It does make a suggestion that women have the right to sexual pleasure, and it is her husband's job to provide it. If a woman has a homosexual relationship this frees her husband of his responsibilities, and she can achieve sexual pleasure. Homosexuality among women is not a threat to society, because your wife or daughter is not getting pregnant from a male lover.

  Chris W. writes:

In corroboration with Anonymous' comments on the website, I thought I'd offer the following information:

1) The Greeks were a very open-minded sort. By their laws, if your father was a Greek citizen, you became a Greek citizen (assuming of course, you were male; women, as I recall, were practically non-existent legally). This meant that sexual relations between people only became important nine months later when a baby came along, and the father was a Greek citizen. Since homosexual relations carried approximately a 0% chance of creating a baby, no one really cared if you indulged in them. However, in the same vein, if you WERE a Greek citizen (or the son or daughter or wife of one), it was considered a duty to the state for you to have children. Exclusive homosexuality was looked down upon BECAUSE of its infertility. As a form of recreation, however, it was permitted for the very same reason.

2) Let's think for a minute. Most societies that I'm acquainted with are of the "live and let live" philosophy: you keep your stuff to yourself, I'll keep my stuff to myself, and the law will only step in when I forget that my rights end where yours start. It would be far too difficult to get people to conform to eccentric, intrusive rules. Homosexuality falls under that "protective" clause. In just about any society, a ban on homosexuality would probably be publicly acknowledged and privately disregarded.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, however, anti-homosexual rules were accepted. I'd mark this down for the following reasons: For one, the Torah and the laws passed down by Yahweh (please forgive my indiscretion if you're Jewish) are not just part of the Jewish identity, they practically ARE the Jewish identity,or at least they WERE, around the time those laws were handed down. This meant that Jews were more likely to follow eccentric, intrusive rules, since doing so meant abandoning their identity (again, with all due respect if you're Jewish). The Christian faith spun off of Judaism, but all of the first generation, and possibly the second, of Christians were, in fact, devoted Jews. Reverence and obedience to the Torah, and later the Bible, was par for the course.

For two, we have that tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. Whether the Sodomites actually WERE engaged in Sodomy is not verifiable at this time, but realistically there had to have been at least ONE Sodomite who was buggered up the ass at some point. The point is, though, that the Jews needed something to identify themselves with, and hopefully something more tangible than a god who brought them out of Egypt or told David what to do. They probably latched onto homosexuality as something to define them,"They do it, we don't, and that's part of why (or how) we're Jewish."

And of course we're most of us ingrained in the Judeo-Christian tradition. I seriously wonder how many of us are moved to think homosexuality is wrong, and how far we are moved, simply because the Bible says it is.

  Marc writes:

First let me say that I am a gay man, actually more precisely I am a bisexual man. I do feel that lesbians are viewed differently than gay men for sure. Personally, I love lesbians and I think they're so cool, and without a doubt, if I were a female I would most definitely be a lesbian or at least bi like I am now. Lesbians are very beautiful, and I think they do have much more freedom than gay males in our society to express themselves sexually. Take a look at porn for example. Most guys surfing the web would prolly dig a couple of lesbians really getting it on, as opposed to women looking for two gay men. I suppose it's one of those ridiculous hypocritical social situations. So my question is why is looking at some porn of two men getting it on any different than looking at porn with two women? Let's be realistic- Homosexuality is homosexuality.

  Monica B. writes:

There is most definately a double standard in the gay world. Men and homosexuality is considered disgusting while two women together is every straight man's fantasy.

  Joanna writes:

It's funny that you ask this question: I was just watching "Chasing Amy" and the character Hooper x is talking about how difficult it is for him to be gay, let alone black. But here's the thing: He mentions how society views lesbians as cute, and "in." It's perfectly okay for women to be with other women, but for men it is unacceptable. There is an extreme double standard when it comes to male and female homosexuality. One of my close male friends is gay, and there are so many people who don't accept him, while the lesbians in my school are accepted.

  "Darwinian Guy" writes:

I believe male homosexuality is frowned upon because of the nature of the carnal acts involved. Intercourse is risky because of the all the venereal diseases, but when lesbians have sex there is no copulation involved at all (unless artificial aids are used) hence it is cleaner and safer even compared to heterosexual intercourse. With gays on the other hand, the only way intercourse is possible is by the copulation of the penis and anus. Sex is risky as it is: Anal sex is most unsafe. I believe this is one of the big reasons why female homosexuality is more accepted than male homosexuality.

Webmaster comments on this response:

This certainly may be a contributing factor to the homosexuality double standard we seem to be observing here, but there are a few comments I'd like to make. Gay men have oral sex as an available sexual option besides anal intercourse. Also between two men sex is considered dirty as you mentioned. Between a man and a woman there is is at least a risk of pregnancy, maybe STDs as well. But with two women, there is no risk of pregnancy and nothing "dirty" about the way lesbians make love. It IS very beautiful.

  Enigmatic writes:

In the last few decades, it's been true that lesbians have been viewed differently from gay men, although this differential has only been for a "subset" of lesbians. I believe lesbians have been grouped into 2 different categories (unfairly and ignorantly so... but unfortunately true). I believe the reason for this split is a result of popular pornography and typical male fantasy.

The first sub-set are the stereotyped "butch" or male-like lesbian, who is seen as being unattractive, often overweight and very masculine. I think this sub-set is treated in the same way as gay men; the "common person" (in their limited capacity) views both as being disgusting and considers any open display of affection or interaction between them and their partner as distasteful.

The second sub-set are the stereotyped "bisexual" or promiscuous lesbians (who are often deemed as being responsive to males or willing to perform for males). These are viewed like the "holy grail."

So in reality, the only "difference" between men and women when it comes to homosexuality has more to do with what we have been conditioned to believe is "acceptable" sexual behaviour. Popular pornography exploits this perception. The fact that the majority of lesbian porn only features beautiful slender women, and that most of the actresses are either straight or bi (and usually have little interest in women other than the fact it earns them money) would help to prove this.

  Mike writes:

Most straight men see lesbians as having similar "interests." We are both attracted to women. Straight men can also understand how a woman might become a lesbian after being hurt by men. We are fully aware of how some men treat women. Not to mention the fact that almost all men are turned-on by the thought of seeing two women together.

It is, however, hard for heterosexual men to imagine how a man might be attracted to another man. It is especially difficult to imagine how a man would prefer another man over women. Bi-sexuality is another issue. Most men see lesbians as bi-sexual. They don't think of them as exluding men altogether. And perhaps male bi-sexuality could be more readily accepted by society.

There has been a change, however, in our society regarding homosexuality. Fewer and fewer people are speaking out against it. Some newspapers are starting to print gay reunions near the wedding announcement page. Some have protested, but most straights think it's a good idea. Most heterosexuals (myself included) know at least one gay man or lesbian and accept them as friends. Remember, this society as a whole used to discriminate against people of different races, as well as, women of every color. Change is inevitable. Change is good.

Kalyandra responds:

Homosexuality has only recently become a negative thing. Centuries back when the Roman empire was still strong, men were encouraged to have homosexual relationships. The idea behind it was that while every man would have a wife to bear him children, only another man could understand him well enough to be his love match. A typical Roman man generally did not think of his relationship with his wife to be one of love, but rather one of convenience and responsibility. For a partner, however, he would turn to his male counterpart, his best friend who is also his lover, the only person who was seen to be the proper love match.

Even today, many cultures encourage homosexuality. Several tribes in Africa choose adult male lovers for their sons from a very young age so that when they reach adulthood they will fully understand sex and all that comes with it, especially how to please their wife in bed. They believe that sexual gratification equals healthy children, so parents want to start their sons off down the right path when they finally have a wife.

As for women, in the past and still today there seem to be no qualms about the subject. Not many people seem to mind lesbians at all, viewing them as positive, while turning negative against male partners. Is that fair? I really don't think so. I definitely believe that it is a double standard.

Webmaster responds:

I think a lot of the problems with gender in our society, including homosexuality, stem from the fact that opposing groups try to analyze others from a standpoint of being opposites. This is a huge fallicy in the fabric of society. Other human beings are not opposites of one another, they are merely distinguished from one another by their conscious intellectual decisions. This is what makes us different from the rest of the animals. We have choice. Men and women alike are not opposites, either. They are different, powerless apart, and infinitely stronger in body and mind when they use their differences to their advantage and work together to achieve a common goal- happiness.

This study is being developed and more responses will be included in the full report.

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