“Twinkle twinkle little slut, name one guy you haven’t fucked.”: Slut Shaming Is More Than Just Sticks and Stones

I apologize if the title is too brash or crude. I don’t like it either. Thanks for the “joke,” Kickass Humor!

With the recent controversy surrounding Kim Kardashian’s latest nude selfie, conversation about slut shaming has once again bubbled to the surface on social media.

Things He Says:

I don’t go around sending nude pics and having lots of sex like you.

Thing She Says:

For being a city, my Florida home is a somewhat small place—“someplace special.” It’s hot, cramped, and overpopulated, yet most people know each other or their relatives as we all trickled through the same public school system.

There was a girl in middle school who everyone talked about as being notoriously loose. At my best friend’s twelfth birthday party, I heard that she lost her virginity when she was eleven with a high schooler or college aged dude. As an eleven-year-old myself, I didn’t know anything about sex except that it was an adult thing, a dirty little secret. That experience shaped my perception of this girl from then on, although I did community service with her as a freshman and my opinion of her didn’t change. I thought she was a slut—because that’s what others thought of her—in high school. She wore short skirts to class (probably as short as the too-small, cheeky swim shorts I still wear around the house) and navigated the popular social circles as easily as she opened her legs. How could a bimbo who slept with everyone get into a good college? I’d wonder. I didn’t like her because she was annoying and gross.

This was all speculation, all rumor. I didn’t actually know who she was as a person or if any of this was happening.

But does it even matter? I didn’t like her because I was naïve and alien to the mysterious world of teenage sexuality. We’re conditioned to believe that a female (no matter her age) who has and enjoys sex is somehow flawed—she’s a whore, a slut, a harlot. Like the word “bitch,” these terms are all gendered. While a woman with several sexual partners is condemned, a man under the same circumstances is hailed as a stud or a pimp. The closest equivalent I can think of to an outrageously sexually active/constant Tinder user is “manwhore.” But even then, semantics adds the male to what’s become an inherently female characterization. When females are the ones criticized for their behavior while males are praised, shaming a woman for her sexual activity is sexist and creates a double standard.

It’s the twenty-first century! We’re not in the Victorian era, when women were valued for their chastity and virtue. Yet still men slut shame women. Women slut shame other women (read last week’s post about Kim Kardashian shutting her haters down). But why?

Slut shaming is a form of body policing, or controlling what a person should do with their body and harassing them if they disobey. Jessica Valenti’s book He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut discusses how policing manifests in slut shaming:

“But it makes sense when you think about what the purpose of the word ‘slut’ is: controlling women through shame and humiliation. Women’s bodies are always the ones that are being vied over for control—whether it’s rape, reproductive rights, or violence against women, it’s our bodies that are the battleground, not men’s.”

Her book was published in 2008. Slut shaming existed long before this, and it still exists today. Criticizing another for what they choose to do with their body has more harmful repercussions than just sticks and stones.

Why We Need to Stop Slut Shaming

No, slut shaming isn’t a “feminist-coined term used as an excuse to screw anything that moves.” Slut shaming is bullying that can and often does:

  • Ruin someone’s reputation. Victims of slut shaming are stigmatized for their perceived sexual behavior, whether or not it’s true.
  • Result in physical and psychological harm. Even being called a slut inflicts emotional damage on the victim, not to mention that her peers may even physically bully her.
  • Trivialize rape or sexual assault. “Slut shaming gives the false impression that the person was asking for any sexual encounter that came along her way.”

Just in the US, so many bright, young girls have taken their lives because they were relentlessly slut shamed: Alyssa Funke, nineteen years old and a straight-A student, was bullied after making an amateur porn film; fifteen-year-old Felicia Garcia was shamed for having sex with the football team; Jesse Logan was eighteen when her ex-boyfriend shared their sexts to girls who harassed her; and there are so many others.

In response to this kind of bullying, a group of women dressed in “slutty” clothes, marched to their local police station, and the SlutWalk was formed. What started as a protest of slut shaming and victim blaming (blaming the victim for being sexually assaulted based on how they’re dressed) in Toronto in 2001, the SlutWalk has become an international movement to end misogyny and rape culture, where the word “slut” is reclaimed and transformed into empowerment.

***

I was slut shamed recently by a not-so-nice guy (the same guy I talk about here). I refused to meet up with him after he stood me up and wasted my time—because that’s just not how anyone should treat another human being. He didn’t outright call me a slut, but he pretty said as much.

manuel

I’m all for doing what you want with your body, whether that’s covering up or sending nudes. I love my body! I’m stuck with it, so I might as well build a healthy relationship with it. I don’t really like wearing clothes (as I mentioned in my last post, that’s definitely true for shoes), and I’d like to join or visit a nudist colony at some point in my life. That being said, I’m not ashamed of being naked around people, and that extends to pictures. Like it or not, it’s the twenty-first century (like I said), and people share nudes of themselves. I’m guilty of that. Who isn’t? But only what’s comfortable to me and if I’m not being pressured by the other person. (People are also really dumb and think that a picture of the crease your folded arm makes is cleavage, or the curve of your knees is your bosom.)

I sent this guy Manuel a very unsexy picture of me reading a book before he turned out to be jerk. When I told him I wasn’t interested any more, he insulted me. Although he wasn’t getting laid, he was hypocritically condemning me for what he believed I did with others. He’s shaming me for something he knows nothing about. The picture wasn’t anything that could’ve been used against me, but I guess it could’ve been worse—he didn’t relentlessly bully me. I stopped talking to him before he initiated the above conversation, but I definitely didn’t talk to him afterward. I know I didn’t do anything wrong, but he made me feel awful about myself. I quickly got over it, but so many women experience this kind of harassment all the time.

***

As this title says, “If You Want A World That Respects Women, Stop Slut-Shaming Them.” It should be a thought crime to think about calling someone a thot (or “That Ho Over There”). To the girl I judged for her perceived promiscuity in middle and high school—I’m sorry. I didn’t give her the chance to see her as a human being, and instead wrote her off as a slut.

It’s your body and you do what you want, as long as you’re not chastising others. There isn’t anything wrong with not having sex or having sex. Consensual sex is awesome! Why can’t we just enjoy it and stop harassing others for and about it?

Further food for thought:
Slut-shamed to death for saying yes to sex, murdered for saying no
Slut-Shaming Is Bad But the Overreaction Against It Also Hurts Women
Gender: Is slut shaming necessarily bad?
When did slut shaming become a bad thing?
Stop slut-shaming Kim Kardashian: It’s a false sisterhood that insists success has to come at the cost of our sexual freedom
‘Slut shaming’ has more to do with social standing than sex, study says
Slut-Shaming Hurts Every Woman—Including Mean Girls

Some writers who lament how difficult it is to get their dicks wet/who think slut shaming is justified:
Skill Vs. Serendipity: Why Men Are Studs And Women Are Sluts
On studs and sluts
Why do people think slut-shaming is a bad thing?
Is slut-shaming a good thing?

Have you had any experiences with shut shaming? How do you feel about slut shaming?

“You be you and let me be me.”: Kim K and Slut Shaming

 

In light of recent events on the web, I wanted to talk about slut shaming.

What is it?

Slut shaming is harassment. It’s judgment. It’s condemning a woman for her perceived promiscuity, for having multiple partners (whether or not she actually does), for dressing in revealing clothing, for flirting, for choosing to have an abortion, for taking/sending nude pictures, for for for…

I’m going to talk about my experiences next week, but first let’s look at what’s in the news.

A (Kar)Dash(ian) of Antagonism

Last week Kim Kardashian shared a nude selfie (once again) on Instagram, eliciting both positive and negative comments. The image, captioned with “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL,” caused the Internet (once again) to break and erupt in both disapproval and praise. Singer Bette Midler and actor Chloë Grace Moretz were the first on the offense, with Chloë sending a well-meaning yet critical Tweet: “I truly hope you realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than — our bodies” (it looks like this Tweet was deleted). Kim immediately made a rather immature jab at Chloë in response, making it all into a popularity game.

I don’t like Kim K as much as the next person likes her—she’s annoying af and so self-absorbed, not to mention that I’d rather eat my toenails than listen to her voice, and idgaf about her life—but the response to her pictures is necessary to examine.

She literally has tons of clothes to wear. And the world has already seen her shiny, naked cheeks. (Remember her ridiculous photoshoot with Paper magazine? I can’t ever pop a bottle of champagne without thinking of her trying to balance the glass on her bountiful behind.) I’m not sure what the intention of this picture is, considering it barely passes Instagram’s nudity policies, but the bigger picture—and not just her ass(ets)—is more important.

Chloë is an admirable young woman in her own right, playing badass female characters (Hit Girl in the Kick-Ass films, for example) and fighting for feminism from a young age. As she inspires girls to do what boys do, it’s understandable where she’s coming from. No, women aren’t just their bodies, and we’re not sex objects.

But to say that Kim is only her body because she displays it so often discounts her other merits. However unintentional, Chloë condemned more than Kim’s body; she condemned what she does with her body, implicitly rehashing Kim’s past exploits with a sex tape. The tape helped launch her name and career, and netted millions! The tape was made in 2003 (she was my age!) when Kim was dating Ray J, who was going to leak it after their breakup. Instead, Kim turned this threat of exploitation into an opportunity.

In this context, Chloë’s statement is tinged with slut shaming, as she’s bashing her for showing her body in the public eye—whether that’s on Instagram or in pornography. To defend her statement, Chloë tweets: “There’s a huge difference in respecting the platform that you’re given as a celebrity and “slut shaming” something I never have done and — would never do.” Other celebrities similarly criticize Kim. Most notably, the singer Pink, whose response can be read here, called out Kim and women for “using your body, your sex, your tits and asses” for attention and money. Now if that’s not slut shaming then I don’t know what is.

I don’t believe that Chloë would ever intentionally slut shame another, but positioning herself against a woman’s choice to publicly display her nude body makes it seem like doing so is wrong. If you don’t think she’s a good role model, then be a better one. Don’t drag her down for doing something that you don’t see as being positive and inspiring. There’s nothing wrong with showing off your body if you want to—whether or not you’re a man or a woman. Some women (like Kim) find empowerment in nudity, whereas others find empowerment in the opposite. Just because someone prefers wearing clothes doesn’t make them better than the person who doesn’t like wearing them on camera, or vice versa.

It’s like shaming someone for wearing shoes or exposing their toes. Some are offended by feet, others not so much. I was talking to a guy friend who doesn’t like his feet. In 90 degree weather he said he wears socks and shoes. Me—I hate wearing shoes. Shoes and socks are like shackles. I’d much prefer flip flops 24/7 (I’m from Florida) to boots. Feet are part of our bodies. Cover them up or leave them bare, whatever you like! But it’s not your place to say whether this is right or wrong.

#Liberated Ladies

Model and actress Amber Rose pointed out Pink’s hypocrisy and urged her to “let another grown woman live as she wishes.” She also noted a double standard in the way women are slut shamed while men are praised: “If any sexy guy posted a nude picture with a little black strip over his private areas, everybody would be like, ‘Damn, he’s hot, he’s sexy… Look at that body!’” (to be discussed next post). Numerous women have come out in support of Kim, sparking a nude selfie movement in solidarity. Sharon Osbourne and Emily Ratajkowski are among the #liberated celebrities, and a group of moms also stripped to reveal what their post-pregnancy bodies look like.

Kim has responded to the controversy herself:

“I never understand why people get so bothered by what other people choose to do with their lives.

It always seems to come back around to my sex tape. Yes, a sex tape that was made 13 years ago. 13 YEARS AGO. Literally that lonnng ago. And people still want to talk about it?!?!

Let’s move on, already. I have.

I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.

It’s 2016. The body-shaming and slut-shaming — it’s like, enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me.

I am a mother. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, an entrepreneur and I am allowed to be sexy.

#happyinternationalwomensday”

You go, Mrs. West, making money and establishing yourself as a businesswoman in the face of public humiliation and all. The photo wasn’t a sext, and there isn’t anything pornographic in the image. It’s just her naked body with censored bars.

But it’s not about you, Kim. With another tweet saying “Sorry I’m late to the party guys I was busy cashing my 80 million video game check & transferring 53 million into our joint account,” you retain my dislike. However, there’s something we can learn from her confidence and resilience: She doesn’t allow judgment to affect her. She can’t be exploited because we’ve seen it all (because she wants to show it off), and she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She shuts down slut shaming because she’s not ashamed of herself, her body, her sexuality. Let’s support these women for their choices instead of tearing them down. That’s what feminism is all about.

Here I continue a tirade against slut shaming, but let me know what you think in the comments! Are you for or against Kim’s shameless selfies?

Stay #liberated, my friends.

For further reading:

Why feminists should argue over Kim Kardashian’s selfie

THIS Is Why Amber Rose Defended Kim Kardashian’s Naked Selfie!

Kim Kardashian Shares Totally Nude Photo Because Why Not