Slut shaming – noun – An act of making any person feel guilty or inferior for certain sexual behaviours or desires that deviate from traditional or orthodox gender expectations.
Slut shaming, along with its cousins body shaming, victim blaming and sexual bullying, are pervasive in today’s society. Social media has not only brought more attention to the problems of slut shaming, it has also made it worse. Hordes of people now hide behind their digital masks and verbally attack people on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Comments such as:
“Oh my God, she’s such a slut”
“She’s too fat to be wearing those clothes”
“Her skirt is so short, she looks like such a whore”
You would assume these are things that only men say about women, but more often than not, these are actually said by women, about other women. While there ought to be changes in how men treat women, women also ought to reconsider how they treat each other.
Girls engaging in body shaming and slut shaming is an issue that I think is often overlooked in feminism. This is why the word ‘feminism’ has generated such a name for itself. Feminism, or should I say feminists, are often seen by many as man-hating, bra-burning, raging lesbians. But this is not the case. The problem is with society as a whole and how it can indoctrinate people’s perception of salient issues, it has nothing to do with men.
Throughout history, society has ingrained high-levels of misogyny in both men and women. Girls are taught to see other girls as competition, whether it’s for the attention of a boy, or for social popularity. Additionally, girls often compare themselves to other girls constantly, resulting in a heavy criticism of themselves or of other girls.
Slut shaming condemns and attacks women (predominately) for their real or presumed sexual activity, behaviour and expression. Women are frequently demeaned for having a lot of sex, for having no sex, or even for just being open about their sexual activity. What a female chooses to do with her body is no one’s business but her own.
To shame someone for how they elect to present their own body is reprehensible. You don’t have to like or admire the person, or want to pose nude yourself, to recognise that what a woman does with her body is precisely her choice to make. That doesn’t have to mean we agree with the process that uploading nude selfies onto Facebook is “empowering” other women, but it doesn’t mean it opens the flood-gates for everyone to give their two pennies worth.
The only type of sexual shaming I can tolerate these days is the shaming of the many cultures around the globe who can legally jail, stone, maim or kill a woman for promiscuous behaviour, premarital sex or even flirting.
BUT, we (fortunately) live in a country that supports sexual freedoms. A country that supports the rights of women. A country that has a separation of church and state. So why aren’t we walking on the sex positive side of these freedoms, instead of habitually falling into sexual condemnation?
If we focused our attention on our personal inner conflicts, demons, sexual repressions and self-loathing, then perhaps we’d be less likely to offer our criticisms of someone else’s sexual expression and behaviour.
With slut shaming we walk a very slippery slope for a supposedly ‘free to be you and me’ nation. If we continue to head down this road, we start to travel even deeper into rape culture with victim blaming and body shaming. There are far too many instances of telling a girl, “she deserved it” when referring to sexual assault because of the way she dressed, flirted or how inebriated she was. But that’s a matter for an entirely different blog post!
However, we should harness the freedoms we do have as women in this country and stop the sexual shaming, elevating ourselves in the process. I do not want to be part of a false sisterhood that insists that success has to come at the cost of our sexual freedom. I don’t want to laud women’s brains at the expense of our bodies. I want women of all body shapes and sizes to feel comfortable in their own skin, whether they’re naked only in their bedroom or all over the internet.
Because let’s face it! If every person who has ever had a sexual encounter or sexual thought is to be deemed a slut, then we’re all sluts!