Stop ‘slut-shaming’ on campus!

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By Marie Frankson

Campus News

You all have seen her — the beautiful girl who has no problem showing off her curves by wearing a short skirt and v-neck top, her exaggerated walking and swaying her hips more than the average woman does, the girl who always seems to have the guys’ attention whether warranted or not…the girl who gets called a slut for being comfortable in her own skin and being confident in herself.

I am in a women’s equality club on my campus, and I have witnessed slut-shaming first hand…by the president of the club against a girl she didn’t even know! The group was walking around campus one day placing post-it notes that had inspirational sayings on them where people would see them and smile. While we were doing that, the president of the group saw this girl wearing what she thought was slutty clothes…tight jeans, v-neck shirt, thigh-high boots. After the girl passed us and was out of ear-shot, the president said that it’s a shame the girl was dressed like that because society told her that if she dressed in tight clothes and was a little “slutty” that she’d get a lot of guys, attention, attention from a lot of guys, or whatever.

That struck a major chord with me and rubbed me the wrong way, especially since we were planning an event for Love Your Body Month, taking place this month, and were planning on organizing a popular nationally trending event known as the Slut Walk with other area colleges and our city.

All of the girls who come to the meetings are frumpy, geeky girls who look like Amy Farrah Fowler from “The Big Bang Theory,” and I’m the only one who has ever even had a relationship with a guy and knows what it’s like to have attention from males, so maybe it’s my calling to be like, “You guys are wrong,” and “You can’t think like that. What happened to equality and unity?” Maybe it also struck a bad chord with me because I like to wear tight jeans, v-neck shirts, and boots in the fall (accompanied by a cute beret and sometimes a scarf as well).

When asked about her thoughts on the matter, Chloe Williams, a community college student in Upstate New York, said, “I honestly don’t care what people wear, I mean obviously some clothes don’t look good on some people, but my preferences don’t mean anything when it comes to the clothing choices of other people, and it shouldn’t. Some days I like to wear cute clothes, other days I pile on my baggiest, frumpiest, least flattering T-shirts and hoodies. That should be my choice.”

To me, a Third Wave Feminist who was raised by a Second Wave Feminist, feminism is about choice.

What being in this women’s equality group has shown me was how prevalent woman-on-woman misogyny (the hatred or dislike of women and girls; according to feminist theory, misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women) is.

Michael Flood, an Australian pro-feminist sociologist at the University of Wollongong, stated in his book “The International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities”: “Though most common in men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by women against other women or even themselves. Misogyny functions as an ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male-dominated, societies for thousands of years and continues to place women in subordinate positions with limited access to power and decision making. Aristotle contended that women exist as natural deformities or imperfect males. Ever since, women in Western cultures have internalized their role as societal scapegoats, influenced in the twenty-first century by multimedia objectification of women with its culturally sanctioned self-loathing and fixations on plastic surgery, anorexia and bulimia.”

So, what is slut-shaming and what does this have to do with it?

Slut-shaming is the act of making someone, usually a woman, feel guilty or inferior for having strong sexual desires, having “too many” sex partners, or acting or dressing in a way that is deemed excessively sexual, often by calling them a “slut” or other derogatory terms, sometimes just by implying that a person’s sexual “standards” are “too low.”

Slut-shaming is based on the idea that there is something wrong with being sexually promiscuous. Slut-shaming can occur privately or publicly, between people in all types of relationships. The term “slut” is often applied to women who have sex with multiple partners, are sexually active at an early age, or deviate in any way from the sexual norm.

As I witnessed first-hand, women are subject to a type of slut-shaming known as body policing. Body policing is the idea that a person’s choice of clothing can be dictated or judged by anyone other than the person wearing the “slutty” clothes.

Examples of body policing include dictating whether someone should or should not shave, wear makeup, wear a certain color or style of clothing, wear a certain type of shoe, or style their hair in a certain way. What many people don’t realize is that body policing is a form of control. For an extreme example, when you think of body policing, think about the Taliban’s restrictions placed on women.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m innocent and I have never participated in slut-shaming in some way, because it’s not true. Just by seeing a girl or woman and thinking or saying, “Ew, I can’t believe she would wear that! She is such an attention-seeking slut!” you have taken place in the act of slut-shaming.

Why is slut-shaming not okay? Slut-shaming can contribute to harassment, sexual harassment, rape culture, and a culture of rape victim blaming by asserting that the victim was “asking for it.”

Unfortunately, we live in a world where women are not allowed to express themselves sexually without being scrutinized by men and other women. This is a big deal. This is sending the message to young girls and women that sex is bad, sex can never be good, and having sex more than one person is the worst thing you could ever do. This is sending the message to boys and men that girls and women who have sex are sluts and if you come into contact with one of these “sluts” you can do whatever you want to her because they are not real human beings, just sexual objects. Slut-shaming is in itself an objectification of women’s bodies and sexuality and that women are nothing more than sex objects.

In about a month, October is Love Your Body Month; and I am writing this in hopes that we may see an end to slut-shaming…that woman-on-woman misogyny will come to an end…that all misogyny and sexism will come to an end. To me, sex and sexuality are both pieces of love and life. Neither are something to be ashamed of, and no one should make you feel ashamed if you want to dress in a way that makes you look and feel sexy.

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