What Is A Double Standard?

A double standard is the application of different sets of principles for similar situations. In our case we are exploring how women a different set of standards applied to them than men (and it wasn’t set by women). But first let us consider how we got here and why. Take this Latin aphorism.

Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi

Translated, though not literally, as “Gods may do what cattle may not” the phrase justifies the existence of a double standard by telling us that “what is permitted to one person or group, is not permitted to everyone.” The balance of power, obligation, and privilege leans on one group over another through the ages.

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Alternatively consider “Noblesse oblige” often read as “nobility obligates” seeming to impose on the privileged a duty to behave nobly, thereby apparently giving a class a moral justification for their privilege. The argument being”as nobles, we have rights, but we have duties also; so such duties validate our rights” a tautology of embued virtue and privilege.

So when you think of double standards, think of a long history of coinages that remind us that someone is always playing at getting their due over another and it is never fair. Today in the battle of the sexes we see exactly where the double standard lies. Women can play the game, but the rules are different for us and we didn’t write them. We might not be cattle but we are only a few generations off from being “chattel”  to our menfolk.

Most Americans treated married women according to the concept of coverture, a concept inherited from English common law. Under the doctrine of coverture, a woman was legally considered the chattel of her husband, his possession.

And they haven’t quite forgotten it. And we haven’t found a way around it yet.