Home » Uncategorized » Why “slut-shaming” needs to die

Why “slut-shaming” needs to die

This is not what you think it is. I do not subscribe to the term “slut-shaming,” because I do not believe any woman is a slut or that being a “slut” is an authentic expression of female sexuality. The rationale for using it is long and convoluted (and hence, not worth it) because the immediate implication is shaming women for being “sluts”; if you can’t easily summarize something in one or two sentences, it’s not going to be understood. And I want to stop the shaming that results in calling women “sluts” to begin with. It’s a double standard where gendered slurs apply to women but not to men, especially in regards to sex.

Why is “slut-shaming” even a thing? Women are shamed for being female; they are called “sluts” by men because the term is meant to shame by default, and implies that a woman is a sex object and less than human, hence the reputation of gendered slurs as both negative stereotypes and hate speech. It’s a contradiction in terms and does nothing to help women by reclaiming it, nor acting as a stand-in word for “woman.” Say body-shaming, say sex-shaming, or anything else, but no woman – or girl for that matter – is a slut, and they are not asking to be called sluts, either.

And it goes without saying that nobody gets to reclaim a term on behalf of a whole class of people, without their permission, as in SlutWalk, where it was mostly a bunch of white women who never had to face the hypersexualization of black and Latina women, or the exotification of Asian women. Do we say “faggot-shaming” or “faggot phobia” in regards to gays and homophobia? Do we say “spic-shaming,” “beaner-shaming” or “wetback-shaming” instead of “xenophobia” or “racism” towards Latinos? No, and there is yet another implication in this: stereotyping all the people in a class as the same, without regard to personality or humanity.

Don’t try this with men; they are perfectly happy to generalize themselves and other people when defending their own actions, but not when those same actions are being condemned. Nobody would stop to listen to a white guy’s tired lecture on “reclaiming” the swastika for his spirituality or kinkster lifestyle on the street and how he doesn’t mean to disrespect victims of the Holocaust (even though that’s exactly what he’s doing) before punching him in the face, either. Why then do we get to shit all over women? Why are we making slurs mainstream when nobody wants to encounter them in the news? You have a dictionary; there’s no excuse.

 “Woman is not born: she is made. In the making, her humanity is destroyed. She becomes symbol of this, symbol of that: mother of the earth, slut of the universe; but she never becomes herself because it is forbidden for her to do so.”
– Andrea Dworkin

“It turns out that ‘slut’ isn’t just an adjective. It’s a character. A fictional character, beloved of patriarchal culture, who encrapulates eons of virgin/whore-fueled misogyny, and was invented to absolve violent dudes of rape behavior. Sluts are women deemed by the angry dude-mob to have so ineptly handled the duties of femininity that they must be shamed, mocked, and of course, fucked in perpetuity.” http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2011/03/31/toronto-activists-take-back-the-slut/

As postmodern liberals would have it, there must be no such thing as Truth and we can redefine words however we like, even reclaiming slurs as empowering. Exhaustive essays are written using doublethink to achieve this end. Add the media’s participation as Authority and no average Joe would ever suspect that the term “slut-shaming” involves a lot of circular thinking and people can still talk about virginity myths and rape culture without having to use it. On the one hand slut means a dirty lowly serving woman (like slattern), and on the other a woman who is enjoyed for sex (by men). But “slut” can be used to shame women who have had sex any arbitrary number of times depending on how the man sees it, and not necessarily promiscuous; it is perceived, and men do not ask for proof of promiscuity before slandering, since that would defeat the purpose. Urban Dictionary defines slut as: “a woman with the morals of a man.” Neither of those definitions are empowering and the term is inherently connected with the male gaze.

I suspect it’s also meant to be more welcoming and inviting to men who may otherwise not be interested in women’s rights, would accuse feminists of being lesbians (which is lesbophobic) and lesbians of being man-haters (as if not wanting to fuck someone is bigotry). Sure, the intent is good, but you can have the sincerest intention of goodness while giving a cup of poison. So the term “slut” is also heterosexual in nature but at the same time is applied to all women, even lesbian and asexual women. This, too, fails. One of the first things men like to shout at women is how they are all “sluts” and I’ll be damned if it isn’t the last – screaming slurs at them while they are also beating, raping or killing them (i.e. “if she wasn’t such a filthy slut…”). If you notice that the slurs are also used in porn, you’re right: it’s sexualized violence. Excuse me for not being interested in bigots and women-haters getting involved in feminism.

“Slut-shaming” is inherently victim-blaming: people say,”If she didn’t act/dress like a slut then she wouldn’t have gotten raped.” What does this mean? Men believe that women can show sexual availability and promiscuity by how they dress and act. In other words, they must be “asking for it.” It looks like it’s another case of seeing women as sexual gatekeepers, and pretending they are in fact the ones in power who can abuse and give sex or not – to emasculate horny men or not – to be called a “pricktease” or “prude” or not (because behind her back, after sex, she’ll be called a “slut” and her number passed around to friends). Men will continue to call women “sluts” as long as they believe they have the “right” to use them sexually or to rape them.

Except there’s little to no connection between dress/behavior and sexual availability, or sex and rape (rape is getting off on violating women and male dominance), and it would be just plain stupid to assume anyway. Consent can’t be given prospectively. It’s like these men have never heard of talking and building an attraction ; it says much more about men’s views on women than it actually does about women. It has little to do with womanhood or femaleness, insofar as part of being female is being oppressed as a sex class (sexual harassment, the wage gap, etc.) and the fact that oppression does not make us better people or that oppression needs to be an inherent part of womahood. More like the Othering of Woman; if “being a man” is about masculinity then it must also be about not being a woman, and being able to dictate her concepts of beauty (femininity), sex and behavior with constrictive clothing, makeup, double standards, gender roles, diet, emotional labor – exploiting all the resources and taking all the control of what she would control and possess for her own self. These “morals of a man” (or “morals of masculinity”) aren’t so great after all.

The media could say “body-shaming” (re: photoshopping yearbook photos to look more modest) and mean the same thing, if not more accurately and it would be easy, but they’ve got an agenda: a neoliberal one. The fact that it is so popular shows that those who use it are willing to think about how hurtful it is to women who have been through rape and sexual harassment, to the point that yes, the media uses it…even to say a teenage rape victim was ‘slut-shamed’!! Needless to say it’s not “shaming a slut” it’s “shaming a woman,” “victim-blaming” or “shaming a rape victim,” then why use it?

a guide to terminology as used by western males of the species

prude – a woman who won’t fuck you

dyke – a woman who won’t fuck you because you have a penis

slut – a woman who fucks other people and not you

tease – a woman who won’t fuck you even though she smiled at you

feminist – a woman who won’t fuck you because she has, like, thoughts and stuff

“‎’Slut’ is attacking women for their right to say yes. ‘Friend Zone’ is attacking women for their right to say no.” And “bitch” is attacking women for their right to call you on it.  (viamadgay)

I’ll continue to contend it’s a term that needs to die along with the Puritan misogyny that created the term in the first place. Don’t buy into the media’s propaganda. Language matters.

“I think by “re-appropriating” the word, what they mean is: instead of men getting to call us sluts, we are going to call ourselves sluts. Seen like this, it’s kind of obvious how it defeats the purpose.

It is men who get to say which woman is a “slut”, and in most places of the world nothing imprints the word on a woman more strongly than having been raped by a man. In the west it may mean a woman has done something (dress some way, slept with a man); outside of the west, a woman doesn’t need to do anything other than be a woman at the wrong time in the wrong place.

In short, the idea is problematic all round. It would have been more effective to go downtown with signs reading “I dare you to call anyone slut” and holding a couple of mock machine guns for extra effect.” – Mary Tracy9

“The phrase “word reclamation” is misguided in its claims – the appropriation of oppressive terminology by oppressed groups. For to reclaim something means to take something that was once yours; that once belonged to you. Oppressive slurs and epithets were not INVENTED by the groups they were used against. They were coined by misogynistic men, racist colonial whites, homophobic heterosexuals and have always been tools used to dismiss, ignore and reject the objections of the non-privileged groups that get further marginalized with both verbal and physical violence every time they rise up to counteract the capitalist, white supremacist, heterosexist, patriarchal structuring of the society they were taught to passively tolerate or worse, accept, as the normative, default setting for their world.” – angrywomanistcritic

Other, far more accurate terms:

body-shaming

victim-blaming

sex-shaming

misogyny

P.S. – Reminder to everyone that the FCC still requires the censoring of “shit” but not “bitch.” Women are “bitches” and less than shit.

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