Slut-shaming is most frequently defined as the act of criticizing a woman for being sexual, whether it is in reference to her wardrobe, sexual escapades or even just her opinions on sex and sexuality. Slut-shaming occurs when someone tries to degrade a woman for behaving outside of outdated societal social norms.
Unfortunately, although women are the most prominent targets, anyone can be the victim of slut-shaming, no matter gender or sexual orientation. Although we may not notice or choose to acknowledge it, slut-shaming happens all around the world every day.
Slut-shaming has been a prominent issue dating back as early as 1999. Recently, a blogger at Abstract Nonsense, Alon Levy, wrote about slut-shaming in which she stated, “The precise meaning of “slut” is not relevant here. Slut-shaming isn’t about the use of the word, but about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior.”
Although slut is defined as “a promiscuous woman”, “a slovenly woman” or a “saucy girl,” it does not matter if the shoe fits the situation. The fact is, calling another person a slut because of his/her personal choices is uncalled for and is the exact essence of slut-shaming.
A person’s style is a person’s freedom of expression. People should be entitled to wear whatever they choose without having to face negative judgments or backlash. A mismatched outfit or “too revealing” a skirt never hurt anybody. Victims of rape are often asked what their wardrobe consisted of when they were raped, which is irrelevant. Wearing something revealing does not constitute being raped or being called derogatory terms like “slut” or “skank.”
Slut-shaming is often referenced in conjunction with an incident in Toronto where, during a SlutWalk protest, a police officer told the protesting students that they could prevent sexual assault by “not dressing like sluts.” The SlutWalk is a protest against “excusing or explaining rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance,” according to the organization. People should be able to dress however they want without having to worry about being sexually assaulted. The main goal of SlutWalk is to eradicate victim-blaming and slut-shaming.
If someone is having consensual sex and is happy with his or herself, who are we to judge him or her? It strikes me as odd that people care so much about the sex lives of others because, again, if it is consensual sex, then it is really nobody’s business but the people involved. It is important to remember that slut-shaming is not exclusive to any one group, and although it originated amongst women, men also fall victim to slut-shaming.
Though, there is still a double standard when it comes to sexual experiences among men and women. There unfortunately remains a stigma around women who have multiple sexual partners, yet with men that stigma is far less apparent, and even, many times, the men are congratulated, as if they have conquered something or someone by engaging in sexual activities.
Slut-shaming is sadly in major media outlets, be it magazines, music, television, movies, websites, etc. A notable incident of slut-shaming occurs in Taylor Swift’s song, “Better Than Revenge” in which she sings, ”She’s not a saint and she’s not what you think/ She’s an actress, whoa/ But she’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress, whoa.”
This song, about a former flame of Swift’s who dumped her for another woman, neglects to put any blame on the man, and instead only attacks the other woman. In fact, the only mention she makes of her ex-boyfriend is where she sings, “She’s gonna find stealing other peoples toys on the playground won’t make you many friends.” Well, Taylor, perhaps referring to a man that supposedly meant something to you as a “toy” is the reason things went awry in the relationship.
Swift does an excellent job of oppressing men and slut-shaming in this short, three minute song. But, Swift is neither the beginning nor the end of slut-shamers in the music industry. Many (but not all) rap artists oppress women by referring to them with words like “hoe,” “skank,” “whore,” etc. A lot of artists go so far as to oppress women by describing their once lovable partners as nothing more than “hoes,” “skanks,” “whores,” “assholes,” “douche bags,” etc.
The consequences of slut-shaming are anything but positive, but it will not end until we stop voicing our opinions on other peoples’ consensual sex lives and personal wardrobe choices!