Double standard
A double standard is the unjust application of different sets of principles for similar situations. The concept implies that a single set of principles encompassing all situations (a "single standard") is the desirable ideal. The term has been used in print since at least 1895. 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
A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

—when applied by another group.

A double standard, thus, can be described as a sort of biased, morally unfair suspension (toward a certain group) of the principle that all are equal in their freedoms. Such double standards are seen as unjustified because they violate a basic maxim
Legal maxim
A legal maxim is an established principle or proposition. The Latin term, apparently a variant on maxima, is not to be found in Roman law with any meaning exactly analogous to that of a legal maxim in the Medieval or modern sense of the word, but the treatises of many of the Roman jurists on...

 of modern legal jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

: that all parties should stand equal before the law. Double standards also violate the principle of justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 known as impartiality
Impartiality is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objective criteria, rather than on the basis of bias, prejudice, or preferring the benefit to one person over another for improper reasons.-Philosophical concepts of impartiality:According to Bernard Gert, "A is...

, which is based on the assumption that the same standards should be applied to all people, without regard to subjective bias
Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of alternatives. Bias can come in many forms.-In judgement and decision making:...

 or favoritism based on social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

, rank, ethnicity
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

, gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

, religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, sexual orientation
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

, species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 or other distinctions. A double standard violates this principle by holding different people accountable according to different standards. The phrase "life is not fair" may be invoked in order to mollify concerns over double standards.

There is a distinction to be made between double standards and hypocrisy
Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie....

, which implies the stated or presumed acceptance of a single standard a person claims to hold himself or herself accountable to, but which, in practice, may be disregarded. Being hypocritical to the double-standard is then a positive example of hypocrisy as well.

Though the term "double standard" is of relatively recent origins, the concept expressed by it has existed in various cultures from far earlier times. For example, Jewish tradition has interpreted in this light the Biblical injunction in Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

 25, 13-15

Do not have two differing measures in your house—one large, one small. Do not have two differing weights in your bag—one heavy, one light. You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

The modern Hebrew term for "Double standard" is derived from this Biblical verse - "Eifa Ve'Eifa" (איפה ואיפה) (literally, "two differing measures").

See also

  • Discrimination
    Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

  • Morality
    Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

  • Hypocrisy
    Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie....

  • Reciprocity
    Reciprocity may refer to:*Reciprocity , used to describe the concept of free trade with the United States of America** Reciprocal trade agreement, entered into in order to reduce tariffs, quotas and other trade restrictions on items traded between the signatories*Reciprocity , the relationship...

    • Golden rule
      Golden Rule
      Golden Rule may refer to:*The Golden Rule in ethics, morality, history and religion, also known as the ethic of reciprocity*Golden Rule savings rate, in economics, the savings rate which maximizes consumption in the Solow growth model...

      /ethic of reciprocity
      Ethic of reciprocity
      The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code, or moralitythat essentially states either of the following:* : One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself....

External links

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