A double standard is the application of different sets of principles for similar situations. A double standard may take the form of an instance in which certain concepts (often, for example, a word, phrase, social norm, or rule) are perceived as acceptable to be applied by one group of people, but are considered unacceptable—taboo—when applied by another group.
The concept of a double standard has long been applied (as early as 1872) to the fact that different moral structures are often applied to men and women in society. An example being that a man going out to bars and picking up a different woman to have sex with every night for two weeks, will probably be considered "macho", a "stud", or a "ladies' man". All positive terms, but a woman who went home with 14 different men in a two-week period in the same way as the male example, typically would be labeled a "slut" or a "whore", both being pejorative. Conversely, if a man cries, he is commonly seen as "weak" or "pathetic", denoting a negative connotation; but if a woman cries, she is commonly seen as "innocent" and "sensitive", denoting a compassionate connotation.
A double standard can therefore be described as a biased or morally unfair application of the principle that all are equal in their freedoms. Such double standards are seen as unjustified because they violate a basic maxim of modern legal jurisprudence: that all parties should stand equal before the law. Double standards also violate the principle of justice known as impartiality, which is based on the assumption that the same standards should be applied to all people, without regard to subjective bias or favoritism based on social class, rank, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, or other distinctions. A double standard violates this principle by holding different people accountable according to different standards.
- "Double standard" Dictionary.com
- "Unjust Judgments on Subjects of Morality". The Ecclesiastical Observer (London: Arthur Hall and Co.) XXV: 167–170. April 1, 1872.
- Josephine E. Butler (Nov 27, 1886). "The Double Standard of Morality". Friends' Intelligencer and Journal (Philadelphia: Friends' Intelligencer Association). XLIII (48): 757–758.