Tag Archives: Victim blaming

Welcome to Slut Shamer Rehab

25 Jul


Confessions of a Reformed Slut-Shamer

We’ve all done it: Shook our heads at the girl who decided to dress in a way that was too provocative for our own good taste, while in the back of our minds thought, “Where are the rest of her clothes?” Then we’d mentally label her a slut or skank, and if we were mean enough, we would give her a stank face and utter a few words under our breath. We’d stand high and mighty in our not-so-skanky stilettos and turn our noses up at the “slut” who dared leave the house and enter our wholesome presence showing all her goodies.

Sometimes I am that “slut.” I’ve worn ultra mini-skirts with my high heels to show off my legs and curves.  I used to think that because I was smart, sophisticated, and in fact, not a slut—I could dress however the hell I wanted and if people judged me, the joke was on them.

I know better now. I know that criticizing a woman for dressing proactively, for having an overtly sexual presence, or for having an active sex life is called slut-shaming. Basically, slut-shaming teaches that a woman’s (but not a man’s) body and a woman’s sexual desires are immoral, and must be restricted. It’s a specific type of bullying that targets women. Men are rarely victims. We all know the double standards: men are applauded for sex while women are shamed. There are such things “man-whores,” as people call them, but within our society, they do not bare the same burden as women who are known to have sex. The fact that you have to put the word “man” in front of whore displays just how gendered the term is.

When girls commit suicide because of this type of criticism, the need to end slut-shaming becomes even more serious. A few months ago, 15-year-old Audrie Pott killed herself after finding out that explicit photos of her being sexually assaulted were circulated via texts and emails from her peers.  A year before that, 15-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons endured a similar fate of photos going around, and in addition, was tormented by her classmates. In response, she hung herself.

Unless we take slut-shaming and victim-blaming seriously, more young women will die.

In an article I recently read, which discusses these suicides, the writer argues that everyone, including you and me, is responsible for these deaths. When we perpetuate certain ideas that blame the victim and shame young women, we spread hate and violence.

I am guilty.

I have never shamed anyone after they’ve been raped; however, I have shamed women for having active sex lives and wearing revealing clothing. If you are like me, then you have a problem.

 Welcome to Slut-Shamer Rehab

Step 1: Be woman-enough (or man-enough) to own up to your mistakes.

Step 2: Know that it is only partially your fault. We grow up in a society that likes to blame the victim. Our mother and grandmothers have sometimes taught us that only “loose girls” dress provocatively. Generations and generations of women have been raised to believe that women who have sex lose their purity and become forever tarnished. But those outdated ideas don’t have to be your ideas.  Cut the crap! Repent and don’t do it again.

Step 3: Whenever you see someone you want to call a slut, skank, whore, (or any other variation), stop yourself! Take a moment and ask yourself: “If I think this way about this woman, what oppressive ideas am I progressing?”

Step 4: Educate Yourself. Google “slut-shaming” or visit this awesome blog I found recently called She Must Challenge, a blog to promote strong women and positive trends toward gender equality. Read up on the implications of slut-shaming. You might also want to learn more about rape culture while you’re at it.

Step 5: Know that we all are prone to relapse. Just last month I was in Vegas. At the Hard Rock Hotel, where I stayed, a lot of women walk around in their bathing suits. The slut-shamer in me thought, “What the hell? Put some damn clothes on, we’re in public!” Then I caught myself doing it and had to repeat Steps 1 and 2.

Step 6: Take a healthy dose of humility. Do you deserve to cast the first stone?

Try Hard: The fate of women’s empowerment and freedom lies in the ideas we spread.

Related Posts: I Wear Short Shorts BECAUSE I’m a Feminist

%d bloggers like this: