12 out of 21 of my closest comrades have been violently assaulted, including myself. Every woman in my peer group that I know can attest to walking home with her keys positioned in her knuckles, just in case
. Possibly every woman reading has been called a whore, slut, promiscuous, and or has been degraded for her sexual choices, appearance and/or behavior at some point in their lives. Many of us have daughters that will grow up and experience "the real world". For these reasons, and many more, we need to take back some played out feminist terms like Slut Shaming and make sure they're used correctly. You've heard the word over and over again but what does it really mean?"What IS slut shaming?"
The term slut shaming caught on fast and was adopted by mass media when slime ball Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke calling her a slut for promoting birth control. Since then the cultural institution has been slinging the feminist term "slut shaming" online and within quasi-intellectual groups. On the surface it seems a good thing, right? The word is now part of the conversation and in the general lexicon, people are understanding it and recognizing it! YAY! WRONG!!
As with most things, it's been absorbed and general public has used this complex concept for trend's sake so much and much of the time in the wrong context, that it's now obnoxious when you come across it in publications. It has been eroded to the point of desensitization. It is grossly underused outside of print, small groups and the blogosphere. Language matters and this is an important term and behavior that has affected every woman we have ever known. So, let' get into it! "What exactly does the term mean and how do I know if I'm slut shaming?"
Any time someone implies that female self-respect, respectability, or their value and worth is determined by a woman's true or extrapolated sexuality or behavior and uses the terms slut, whore, ho, hooker, skank, tramp, etc. to insult, excuse, dismiss, pimp or use sexual violence to monitor, gossip, bully, criticize, intimidate, embarrass, dictate or police a woman, her clothing and/or sexual choices, or invoke the virgin-whore dichotomy, ("Do you want to be 'a good role model'/a lady/the one he wants to marry [virgin] or a 'bad role model'/the one the guy just wants to bang/ white trash [whore]) they are slut-shaming. Examples:
- "oh my god do you see what she's wearing?"
- "She looks like a whore so she must be one."
- "no one will ever marry you if you run around being promiscuous" (gag).
It doesn't matter what the person or companies "intent" is, impact is what matters
. Shaming or objectifying women and imposing righteous or faux-moral puritanical modesty on women for any reason is wrong. It is destructive and dangerous. Not only does shaming women keep things "the way they are" it can be downright deadly. Even innuendo has very real consequences. One glance through google news will give you endless stories of young women committing suicide after being shamed on the net or in public and stories of young women being gang raped on school campuses.
"Ok , so slut shaming is when men call other women a slut or objectify them in any way, right?"
Anytime any person degrades a woman using her behavior or sexuality to shame her it is slut shaming. Woman, especially young women, also slut shame and it's disgusting. Hearing woman use the term "slut shaming" to police OTHER women is hypocritical at the very least and in fact advances the white supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy. Women are NOT to blame for their oppression and there's nothing more grotesque than women attacking other women. Systemic sexism is the issue and infighting only holds us back. You can not blame or shame women about the choices they make within a system they did not create.
Arguments about whether or XXX Pop Star's latest awards show dance or clothing is "appropriate" is irrelevant, non-productive and completely misses the point. The conversation needs to be about a system and culture we live in that turns female sexuality into a capitalist product, a woman's body regarded as something men (and legislators) own and dismantling a culture of rape.
Sexuality is healthy and NORMAL.
Only you own you. The next time you see the term or witness the behavior, call it out on the spot. Dismantle the antiquated double standards (Stud/Slut and so on) and let's do away with repressive and harmful misogyny. Our girls are counting on us!