What Is Slut Shaming?

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Slut shaming has turned into a buzzword lately because of its impact both in the cyber world and the real world. Due to its use by cyberbullies and harassers, the term has caused a bigger stir on the Internet. Slut shaming has also taken its toll in schools, affecting the lives of many young women whether students or teachers. To help raise awareness for this serious issue, people need to know the definition of a slut, what slut shaming actually means, the different ways by which it destroys the lives of women who defy traditions, and how to prevent it. You should also know why an anti-slut shaming movement is a necessity these days.

What Is a Slut?

Slut shaming would ruin a woman’s reputation or cause her to harm herself, sending her into a whirlwind of depression, guilt and inferiority complexes. The definition of “slut” varies according to the different eras it was used in but it usually reflects an offensive, degrading accusation.

In modern times, a slut is a woman who is considered to have multiple sexual partners.  She is a lady with promiscuous sexual behavior. An example of that would be the character Samantha Jones from the hit HBO-series “Sex and the City” who is portrayed as a hyper-sexual woman, confident and experimental with her sexuality. It doesn’t matter if the multiple partners that the “slut” has are men she knows from before, or casual guys whom she meets at the local bar. People automatically assume that the slut has low moral standards and would sleep with “anything that walks on legs.”

In the 1400s, the word slut referred to a woman who was dirty, untidy or generally disgusting. This is an outdated term. Another early meaning for “slut” was “kitchen maid.” Although the term has been around for quite a while, its notoriety has started in the late nineteenth century. This estimates that tolerance for women who don’t comply with gender stereotypes is decreasing.

What Is Slut Shaming?

Slut shaming is the act of making a girl or a woman feel guilty about certain sexual behaviors that deviate from societal norms. Slut shaming includes women who wear provocative clothes, women who showcase promiscuous sexual behavior, women who have casual sex or premarital sex, women who request access to birth control and women who have an abortion. Feminist researchers present the case as “drawing a line” for women to be “sexual, but not too sexual.”

Slut shaming starts as mere girl-on-girl gossip, then it spreads out. By then the person who had their reputation ruined would have to fight to protect their name. In some cases, the attacked person might even start to believe what is being said about her is true. Through defense mechanisms, the target of the insults and shaming might consequently act out the stereotypical behaviors allocated to a slut, partying hard, drinking and getting involved in unsafe sexual behavior.

Slut shaming doesn’t have to involve the word “slut.” This happens when photos or videos that have been shared romantically with a sexual partner (or a husband) are spread online without consent. This method also aims to destroy the woman and make her feel humiliated and exploited, with the blame being placed on her for taking such provocative photos in the first place.

What Stirs the Pot in Slut Shaming?

A common theme for gossipers is to hide the actual, insidious meaning behind their buzz as a form of a joke or a funny story. That way, their behavior is sugar-coated and no harm is seen in shaming some “bad girls”. There is no such thing as “slut shaming” jokes. Some feminist scholars argue that the word “slut” should be deleted from our dictionaries.

Slut shaming is only (or we can say mostly) directed towards women. It creates a scary inquisitional cloud above women who dare to act unique and express their uniqueness. Put in mind that “slut” is a pejorative, gender-biased term that only applies to women, with no alternative terms to describe men.

How Does Slut Shaming Affect People?

Slut shaming is starting to become a major problem. It has a tremendous impact on the life of the victim. What people fail to comprehend is that slut shaming could go on for years. It can haunt girls and women wherever they go, even if they change schools or workplaces. Due to social media becoming an integral element in the daily lives of people, slut shaming could follow a girl or a woman overseas. It might cause her to clash with loved ones, friends, coworkers and family members, who might look at her differently after viewing intimate photos or videos that were posted online without her consent.

Slut shaming could ruin people’s reputations. Especially for young girls and teens, slut shaming would lead them to refuse to go to school, meet up with their friends, or face the outside world. It might take a while for the victim to dissuade the rumors as being false. It might cost the victim her friends, a job or two and lead her to become depressed or suicidal.

Slut shaming gives the false impression that the person was asking for any sexual encounter that came along her way. Words like “consent” and “rape” lose their meanings as the false notion that “you can’t rape a willing person” flies up to the surface. It also deprives sexual violence of its grave, horrifying meaning.

slut shaming

How Do We Prevent Slut Shaming?

Anti-slut shaming movements include podcasts, Facebook pages, blogs and documentaries. Through various and diverse media channels, activists and feminists worldwide challenge this misogynist culture.

The anti-slut shaming movement also aims to support victims of sexual bullying, sexual abuse and sexual harassment whether online or in the real world. The support focuses on helping the women cope with the aftermath of attacks and deal with the consequences without shame. It also aims to create suicide hotlines and support groups for women who have been slut-shamed. Sometimes they provide legal support to the victims. Women are encouraged to file lawsuits against their harassers and stand up to them. They also teach people how it is not okay to joke about a friend by spreading sexual rumors.

Members of feminist movements from around the globe addressed the issue of undermining sexual violence and how slut shaming and sexual harassment should be addressed as “sex crimes” not just “cyber crimes.”

According to Pew Research Internet Project:

  • 27% of Internet users have been called offensive names.
  • 19% of Internet users said they witnessed someone sexually harassed.
  • 26% of women aged 18-24 have been stalked online.
  • 25% of women aged 18-24 were the target of online sexual harassment.

To learn more: Read PEW Research ffor Adult Online Harassment.

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One thought on “What Is Slut Shaming?

  1. Ya right,asking a man to cover up is merely enforcing rules,but asking a woman to cover up is slut shaming?I’ve enough of such double standards in the way authority voices advocate we treat people.Men in present day are shamed from wearing shorts that are too short,but women arent.Are men slut shamed?Women are allowed to wear cropped pants and tights to work,men are forced to keep their pants proper and full.Are men slut shamed?Women are allowed to wear miniskirts,which men do not have the option of and are not given an alternative of that option.Are men slut shamed?Women on the whole expose on the average half their legs at work,while men arent allowed to.Are men being slut shamed?

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