Class differences and perceptions of female sexuality


Protesters scaled lamp posts, stoplights and buildings to see the march and chant to the crowds. Women, men and children in major cities around the U.S. marched in support of women’s rights on Saturday, January 21, 2017. 

Madison Rexroat

A 2004 study of 53 women in a college dorm revealed that class and income differences can influence academic success for college students. As explored in a more recent 2014 analysis of the study, it also revealed that family income can have an influence on women’s attitudes toward sex.

Out of the 53 women who participated in the study, only five were not observed practicing “slut-shaming” at any point in the study. When women were divided into groups based on family income, researchers found that “slut-shaming” of the other group was rampant and that each group had different interpretations of what defines “sluttiness.”

Richer women tended to think that “hooking up” (including kissing and oral sex) outside of steady relationships was acceptable, but actual sex with different partners made a woman a slut. Poorer women, on the other hand, didn’t differentiate between “hooking up” and intercourse, but instead treated them as under the same roof. Like the richer women, they also believed that sex and hook-ups should occur in an established relationship.

Besides sexual behavior, definitions of “sluttiness” were also different among the observed women. Richer women associated the word with “trashiness” or lower-class behavior, while the poorer women associated it with rudeness and clique-like behavior.

The study also found that while both groups slut-shamed each other in private, only the poor women dealt with slut-shaming publicly. The richer women were also more sexual and participated in more hook-ups than the poorer women who felt that they couldn’t get away with the same behavior.

To read the full article in The Atlantic, click here.