Slut Shaming

Slut shaming is a subject I’ve touched on a few times, especially in my post about girl on girl hate, but it’s such a broad issue that I thought I needed some space to elaborate on it a bit more. First of all, what is slut-shaming?

Slut-shaming: A phrase used to describe the act of making a person, especially a woman, feel guilty or inferior for certain sexual behaviors, circumstances or desires that are different to gender expectations, or considered to be unnatural or against religious laws.

Second of all, what actually is a slut? Is it a girl who speaks to a lot of boys? Is it a girl who retaliates when feeling sexually harassed? Is it a girl who chooses to have an abortion, or chooses to use/not use contraceptive measures? Or is it a woman who has a lot of casual sexual relationships, or ‘sleeps around?’

And thirdly, why is slut shaming a bad thing?

Well!  Slut-shaming shows us that there are even more boundaries for women not to cross. We are told that we must be sexual to avoid being found unattractive, but yet we are not allowed to be too sexual, because that too would put off men. Slut-shaming promotes girl on girl hate, because when one girl is openly sexual, other girls criticize her choices and way of life. By calling another girl a slut, you’re essentially telling her that her sexual decisions should not be respected and that you don’t value her right to choose what she wants to do with her life. It also contributes to rape culture, which perpetuates the idea that it is a woman’s fault if she gets raped because she was asking for it by dressing or acting like a ‘slut.’

Slut-shaming also promotes the idea that there is one set of rules for boys, and one set for girls. If a man is sexually promiscuous, more often than not he is congratulated by his friends for being able to have a lot of sex with different women. He might also be idolized by others around him; others will aspire to be like him because we teach young boys and girls that being able to be desired highly for sexual encounters is the ultimate achievement within a relationship with someone else. However, if a woman is sexually promiscuous, she is considered to be not a whole person, just an object with which sexually promiscuous men can engage in sexual acts and not feel the consequences because that girl is not a human being, but a vessel for sexual desire.

The most detrimental part of slut-shaming is the fact that women are not just victims, but perpetrators as well. There have been times when I have slut-shamed and been slut-shamed, and it is guaranteed that every girl reading this has at least one time in her life been either shamed or done the shaming. An interesting point about this is that fighting (such as girl on girl hate) within an oppressed group (in this case, women) is necessary for that group to remain oppressed. This is why women are encouraged to not trust each other and compete for male approval. This is why women slut-shame, to make themselves appear as if they are above other women because they do not engage in sexual practices that society doesn’t approve of. Slut-shaming is also considered by a number of articles to be a form of gaining power. If you’re insecure about your sexuality, you can call another girl a ‘slut’ and be approved as you’re condemning another woman for her sexual practices.

Overall, slut-shaming is considered by many to be harmless. Sure, if someone calls me a slut throughout the day I’ll hardly ever be seriously affected, because I know that others calling me a slut doesn’t mean anything and for the most part, I’m as far away from having many casual sexual encounters as I could ever get. But the problem is not with the specific acts of saying slut to someone else, it’s with the principles you instill in yourself and others as you do it.

Stop demonizing women for making radical decisions regarding their sexuality. Stop demonizing men for not having had sex with over 20 women in their lifetime. The amount of sexual partners that you have does not determine the basis of your self-respect, self-worth or personality, nor will it ever do.

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