Mama’s Little Girl – Slut Shaming

Angel FaithI grew up in a highly active slut shaming time. It was a known fact that someone who dresses provocatively was a bad person, that a girl that flirts with boys is going to get raped because she deserves it, that a woman who has multiple sexual partners is a dirty, diseased whore who will never be a worthwhile human being. I was raised in this climate and so many of these ideas became ingrained in my psyche to the point where I only managed to shake them off in adulthood.

But some people, no matter their gender, never manage to do such a thing and still walk around with the idea that your worth is defined by the use of your genitals and the shortness of your skirt. The truth of the matter is that slut shaming damages everyone and keeps people from becoming their authentic selves out of fear and humiliation. What we really should be shaming are actions that harm others, not a way that someone choses to live has has no effect on other people.

I’ve written about the problem of slut shaming, being that there’s no litmus test for slutiness. What someone considers perfectly reasonable behavior, someone else views of completely shameful. What someone considers the height of sluthood, someone else considers something fun to do on a night out. There is no objective way to score where someone falls on the slut continuum, so to try to do so anymore is just an effort in futility.

But what people are doing when they judge others’ behavior and declare it inherently slutty or inherently pure, is putting social sanctions on behavior and encouraging people to live their lives, no how they want to, but how someone else sees fit. When it really comes down to it, a girl wearing a short skirt harms no one. A girl that twerks for fun doesn’t do any harm either. A couple who decides to have sex doesn’t affect anyone other than themselves. When it’s your own life and your own body, only you should be making decisions about what happens to either.

But when it comes down to it, if teenagers are looking for an excuse to bully someone, being called a slut is just a convenient word to grab for. When looking to criticize someone, it’s all too easy to point at sexual behavior and try to find a way to humiliate someone because of that. Sex has so long been regarded as shameful and dangerous that reaching for that label can be an all too handy way to demean someone.

If you want to read more articles in this series, click here.