The Slut-Shaming Cycle Ends at Home
Mar 2011 22

The Slut-Shaming Cycle Ends at Home

Posted In Blog,Favorites,Love,Relationships,Sex,Society

by Keith Daniels

“Slut-shaming” is exemplified by the double-standard that says that if a man has many sexual partners, he’s a hot stud, while if a woman does the same, she’s a filthy skank. It’s a heavily entrenched idea in our society, and it’s constantly and often subtly reinforced by both men and women. Even the word I just used, “stud,” demonstrates the problem. How many words can you think of that positively refer to a promiscuous man? How many, without qualifiers, can you think of for a woman? Few can say we’ve never been guilty of propagating this bias, oftentimes born out of jealousy, insecurity, and shame about our own desires.


So how do we rid ourselves of this antiquated thought process? As with many intuitive but revolutionary ideas, shaping the next generation’s minds probably offers better hope than teaching old dogs new tricks, but talking to your children about sex at all is notoriously awkward and difficult – much less raising them to be sex positive and unencumbered by gender bias. Luckily, we’ve got amazing mothers like Good Vibrations Magazine’s Airial Clark to show us how it can be done.

“Mom, I’m a nerd.” He said to me as he climbed in the backseat of our car. He sounded resolute. Like, some deal had been sealed and all there was left to do was accept the consequences. But, really, being a nerd has never bothered him before. His version of nerd has a lil swagger to it. But today there was none of that, “girls don’t like me. I’m too nerdy. I’m not cool enough. Not dangerous. Not s…” and that is when the gush of words stopped abruptly.

“Were you about to say sexy? You’re worried about not being sexy? Really, E, are you supposed to be sexy in the 5th grade?”

“Some people are!”

“Ya? Like who?”

After making me promise I wouldn’t call the school and make a deal about it, he confided in me that some of his classmates were kissing after school. He then told me about a girl in his class, Z, and how she had kissed 3 boys this year, “3, Mom! Can you imagine? And everybody knows. She just kisses whoever she wants and her sister is so embarrassed. I don’t blame her, I would be ashamed to have my sister act like that! Sheesh.”

Wait? What? This is where it gets interesting for me as a sex positive parent. My son just went from wishing he was sexy to shaming a girl for being just that? I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to do some unpacking.

Slut-shaming has serious consequences. Barely a month ago, a Canadian judge gave a convicted rapist zero jail-time because he thought the victim had given a “perceived invitation” because her revealing clothing indicated “sex was in the air,” and dismissed the rape as “inconsiderate.” This is sadly far from the only example of this sort of injustice. Slut-shaming is often done, it’s believed, out of a misguided attempt to encourage healthy behavior in so-called “good girls,” but as Leora Tanenbaum says in her book Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, the use of a “bad reputation” as a form of sexual control can cause lasting damage:

A reputation acquired in adolescence can damage a young woman’s self-perception for years. She may become a target for other forms of harassment and even rape, since her peers see her as “easy” and therefore not entitled to say “no.” She may become sexually active with a large number of partners (even if she had not been sexually active before her reputation). Or she may shut down her sexual side completely, wearing baggy clothes and being unable to allow a boyfriend to even kiss her.

Let’s just hope that, with moms like Airial on the job, fewer women will have to face this problem in the next generation.

Images borrowed from Lesandrist and FuriousFanBoys.com/.

8 comments
Hannah
Hannah

What really annoys me is the fact that a lot of men are fully aware of the double standard and use it to their advantage. I'm 16, and I've lost count of the amount of inappropriate advances I've had off men. I don't class myself as particularly attractive, I don't flirt with anyone but my boyfriend, and I don't wear anything more revealing than shorts, tights and a t-shirt. But men seem to think that the fact that I'm a woman means I'll be flattered at any advance they make. They tell me I'm "sexy" - what am I supposed to say to that? I didn't ask whether they think I'm sexy or not and I don't really want to know. If I ask them to leave, which I always do, I often hear them go back to their friends claiming "she's a skank - her room's full tonight". (My favourite example for you there.) The point is, I've never turned down a guy to hear him say "She's too busy tonight - must be a player..." or even, "She doesn't feel like fucking a stranger. Fair enough." I long for the day where I can approach a man, only for him to stop me and say "I don't even know you! What would everybody think?"

mb
mb

The number one thing  you are missing here is that its hard for guys to get laid and easy for girls.  Guys have to work for it, so when a guy gets laid a lot, it means he posesses some kind of quality or skill that allows him to do that.  Good job, Johnny! But if you're a relatively decent looking girl that means 80% of guys have been assaulting you with sexual energy in some form or another since your first day wearing a bra so nobody thinks its that impressive if you have sex with a bunch of dudes. Furthermore slutism not really a desireable trait in a partner, and that paired with the fact that any girl can get laid anytime from the moment she walks out the door to the time she goes to bed at night without lifting a finger gives it the negative connotation.

mb
mb

Our society is so over sexualized these days that I see nothing wrong with shaming sluts.  its totally fair game to make fun of someone based on their choices as opposed to things they can't control.  I'm not saying we should give props to promiscuous guys and deny them to girls.  I'm saying that sluts just a word and its not like everyone loves promiscuous guys and hates promiscuous girls.  They're just two equal and opposing factions of our society. Either way shouldn't we work on removing bad connotations surrounding the word instead of trying to remove the word itself? And I just want to point out in the past few years the term "man-whore" has become commonplace.  If thats not evidence of the continuously shrinking prensence of the double standard then I don't know what is.     Our culture, which is largely defined by mtv and hollywood, glamorizes promiscuity among BOTH sexes.  Think of every shitty mtv reality/unreality show you've ever seen. Just think of celebrity sex tapes.  You think little girls weren't still idolizing paris hilton when she was sucking dick in nightvision?     If girls don't want to be called sluts its their responsibility to be more secretive about it, not yours to force it on people and put it in people's face it and expect them to buy your definition of the modern liberated woman.

mb
mb

I know talk about a double standard...

Edu
Edu

Your problem, it seems to be a national problen - even when the french speak perfect english, they are uneducated enough to expect others outside france, to speak french... Poor people..

Fiddy
Fiddy

Je parle français, je ne comprends pas l'anglais, je vous remerci 8-)

Edu
Edu

And suizide girls must bring the topic up again... Ofcourse somebody who calls herself happily a "Suizide Girl" and shows off her naked body full of tatoos on the internet for money is obviously to be seen the most normal thing on earth... Or is it the next best thing to prostitution? Equal treatment? Just ask most decent devorced father about the rights his exwife has over their children and the rights he has over them - except ofcourse paying for them - to her! If the kids stay with him he gets zero from the exwife!!! Just shut up and read the news on the pages you try to avoid because it doesnt fit your needs of campaigning

Edu
Edu

Well, just look around in most corporate climates: men are expected to wear suit and tie and sweat to death in summer, while the female counterpart can turn up in lofty tops and short trousers and slippers and its ok... Wtf

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