How To Overcome Slut Shaming

‘Slut-shaming’ is a nasty word for a nasty practise. It’s what happens when a woman is degraded, embarrassed or generally publicly insulted for her sexual behaviour, partners, choices or even simply her dress.

Think you’ve never heard of it? You have. What will you do if it happens to you?

lut-shaming

What is slut-shaming?

Remember the Duke University student Karen Owens? You’ll remember her slideshow – the so called F-List, of all her sexual partners, rated (amusingly) for their abilities, looks, prowess and humour. (She also gave bonus points for being Australian.)

It went viral, and with all the positive comments (Owens is hilarious) came a lot of very violent negativity. Owens was labelled as promiscuous, slutty, a shame to Duke, a shame to her parents, a shame to virtually anything going. Most of the perpetrators? Women.

Now, had Owens broken the law? No. Had she done anything morally wrong? Unless you count having sex before marriage, no – all the partners were consenting, and none appeared to be romantically involved elsewhere.

Did she deserve to be called a slut? No. Neither did Kim Kardashian. The film Easy A with Emma Stone made fun of slut-shaming, but in reality it’s not fun at all.

Why do women get slut-shamed?

Generally, because they’ve been publicly sexual in a way that threatens. The medieval notion of being ‘fallen’ – of being a woman who’s dared to ‘dishonour’ herself with too much sex – still hangs around in how we look at our gender. Samantha on Sex & The City got it all the time, and so did Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter.

And when people defend themselves, the problem gets worse. Check these out:

“I’m not a slut because the pictures were only meant for my monogamous partner, not the internet!”

“I’m not a slut because I’ve only slept with 4 people!”

“I’m not a slut because I don’t wear tight clothing!”

Notice the problem? These excuses just reinforce slut-shaming on other people who DO do those things.

Here’s RESCU’s top tips on how to fight slut-shaming.

If it’s you, hold your head up high.

Have you broken anybody’s trust, ruined a relationship, or deliberately used your sexuality to get ahead at the workplace? No? Then congratulations, you don’t deserve judgement – and even if you have done those things, it’s between you and the Workplace Tribunal.
You’re not a slut because your choices are your choices and you have the right to stand by them.

If you’re shaming somebody else, stop.

It might be hard to admit, but if you’re calling somebody names or judging them for their sexual promiscuity or ‘inappropriate’ dress, you’re the one with the problem, not them.

Realistically, if somebody wants to wear a tight dress, sleep with an entire campus, send naked pictures to a website, pose for Playboy, earn money from their sexual talents, that’s their right. If they’re not hurting anybody, it’s nobody’s business but theirs.

If you see or hear somebody else slut-shaming, ask them to stop.

It’s important that everybody understands it’s not OK to shame women just for being sexual.

Make sure you know the full details – if the woman in question has deliberately given somebody an STD, for example – but otherwise stand up for her, even if you don’t know her. Make sure it stops. After all, that could be you one day…

Lady Friday xx
Taking the pillow talk out of the bedroom, every Friday…

 

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