Get widget

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How much slut-shaming can we fit into a day -- Guest post

Slut-shaming is the act of shaming someone for being -- or even just appearing to be -- sexual. It is used to control the behavior of women and girls by criticizing or demeaning them any time they don't conform to the rigid expectations of our sexist society. Some incidents are pretty straightforward. If someone yells "slut" to me from their car as I walk down the street in a short skirt, almost anyone would agree that I was just slut-shamed. However, sex-negativity and misogyny are so ingrained in our culture, that more subtle acts of slut-shaming occur every day (sometimes all day long) without anyone even realizing. A lot of people might not notice (or care) when this kind of slut-shaming takes place right in front of their own eyes.

I consider myself a sex-positive feminist, so I might be slightly more tuned in to slut-shaming than the average person -- I did run a blog called "Evil Slutopia" for seven years -- but I never really thought about exactly how often I experienced (or witnessed) slut-shaming on a daily basis. So I decided to do an experiment and document every incident that I experienced or witnessed, no matter how subtle, within a 48-hour period of time.

This is what happened...

Day 1

-- I start my day by flipping through radio stations. I almost immediately hear a conversation about women who cheat. The term "nymphomaniacs" is used.

-- I post a photo of myself in a Facebook group for fashion critique. One woman describes my outfit as “very street walker.”

-- As I scroll through the other submissions, I notice more than one woman asking the same kind of question: "Too much boobs?" "Are my boobs too big for this?" "Is this too low cut?" "Do I need to wear a cami under this top?" Most of the responses are encouraging, but it still makes me wonder why this question keeps coming up.

-- As if she psychically knows I am reading about low-cut tops, my mother refers to the shirt I'm currently wearing as being too revealing. Cleavage is my favorite accessory.

-- While listening to Paramore, "Misery Business" comes on and I catch the line "once a whore you’re nothing more, I’m sorry that’ll never change." Boo.

-- Chatting with a guy friend online, the conversation turns to dating and he says, "you’re not that picky. Well… you’re not picky with who you hook up with. Maybe you are with who you date."

-- My daughter tells me about a lesson from her English class this week. The teacher gave everyone a list of twelve people with descriptions and said they can only fit seven in a life boat... who do you take? (Context: They’re reading Lord of the Flies.) One of the people that was dismissed by her group was a 23-year-old cocktail waitress who had worked as a prostitute in the past. My daughter says the conversation went something like this...

Classmate: We don’t want her.
Daughter: Why not?
Classmate: She’s a prostitute.
Daughter: Who cares? We need some women so they can reproduce.
Classmate: She only has a ninth grade education.
Daughter: We only have a ninth grade education.
Classmate: Yeah but we're not prostitutes.
Daughter: <Eye roll>

-- Scrolling through Facebook, I see that one of my friends has posted something about "Hookers for the Handicapped," a program in the Netherlands that provides citizens with disabilities with money from the government to pay for sexual services. I’m not sure if this is a real thing, but the first comment on his post is "I hope they don’t get herpes."

-- I read a blog post about RealDolls (anatomically-correct, rubber women). The author mocks the people who buy them and says, "I fear only what this says of our humanity." Wow. A little heavy-handed for sex dolls, don't you think?

-- I go to a party with friends and the topic of sex comes up, as it usually does. I am especially vocal on the topic, as I usually am. While I'm talking, I catch a glimpse of an eye roll in my direction from another party guest who has overheard our conversation (although I can’t prove it was necessarily aimed at what I was saying).

-- I flirt with a cute guy friend at the party and someone mistakenly refers to us as a "couple." We both correct him that we're not a couple, but later when he catches us kissing he suggests we were lying when we said we weren't a couple. He seems confused by the idea that you can casually make out with someone without trying to date them.

Day 2

-- I make a conscious effort to hide a hickey from the night before and then wonder if I’ve actually just slut-shamed myself.

-- A guy I sort of know shares a photo on Facebook from an anti-feminist page. It is of women at a Slut Walk protest screaming at a man who exposed his penis to them. The caption is “Feminism. Because street harassment should be illegal.” Sigh.

-- My daughter tells me that her father said earlier that he didn't approve of the outfit she wore today. He said she needed to button her shirt farther up. (She's wearing a button down with a tank top under it that isn't even that low cut.)

-- I feel like watching some bad TV on Demand, so I turn on Two Broke Girls (CBS). The character Max makes a comment about her boobs. My mother, passing through, says "this role is beneath her." I ask, "why, because she said boobs?" but she doesn't elaborate. Max makes a ton of sexual comments and aggressive advances towards a cute waiter, while Caroline slut-shames her repeatedly. I don't get to see how it ends because I have to turn it off when they make a "Precious" fat joke.

-- I switch to Your Family or Mine (TBS), a new show that is about... I don't know... a family? "Only strippers should dress like strippers." Pass.

-- I consider trying reality TV instead, so I put on Little Family (Lifetime), a spin-off of Little Women LA. Pregnant Terra and her boyfriend Joe are looking at baby clothes, when she shows him a baby bikini. He questions why she's trying to make the baby "sexy." Ugh. Before I can even grab the remote, he says, "I don't know what Terra was thinking. A baby has nothing to do with a bikini and she'll be wearing turtlenecks 'til she's 18."

-- I decide I'm not going to stop looking until I find at least one show that doesn't slut-shame. I try Finding Carter (MTV), a show that I sometimes watch with my daughter. Fraternal twins Carter and Taylor are shopping for dresses for a party...

Taylor: Carter thinks that I should slut it up.
Dad: Carter’s wrong. Very wrong.

-- I figure Last Man on Earth (Fox) is probably safe because there are almost no characters on the show at all to slut-shame. I was wrong...

Carol: Why would there be any hard feelings? All you did was make a series of quick slut-based decisions about sharing your body with a man you hardly knew.
Gail: Carol, you know we would never have done that stuff if we’d known Phil was married.
Carol: Of course. I don’t hold it against you. You had no idea. And you’re not even from here. In this country we tend to do a little bit of research before inviting a man into the land down under.

-- I finally turn on Mom (CBS). The character Bonnie is going through withdrawal as she gets sober again and imagines both a "Good Bonnie" and a "Bad Bonnie" arguing over her.

Good Bonnie: I’m the reason she reconciled with her daughter.
Bad Bonnie: I’m the reason she had a daughter.
Good Bonnie: At age 17.
Bad Bonnie: Oh yeah here comes the slut-shaming.
Good Bonnie: I’ve asked you not to use that kind of language around me.
Bad Bonnie: Slut.

They earn points for acknowledging that slut-shaming is, you know, a thing, but points deducted for the voice of reason on the subject coming from the imaginary persona that is advocating for drug use. I decide to give up on television for the day.

-- I read an article about revenge porn. The author suggests that anti-revenge porn laws might do more harm than good, but fails to give any evidence of this actually being true. (Laws against posting all nude photos are referenced, but that's not exactly the same thing.)

--Another article about yet another pharmacy that refused to sell a woman birth control pills because of their "morals." I can't even bring myself to read it.

-- Just before bed, I get a notification from an online dating app. It's someone way out of my age range, so I politely decline. He responds by calling me a whore. Thanks and goodnight.

So what did I learn? Nothing I didn't already know: Slut-shaming is all around us, all the time.

Now to be fair, not all of these incidents were blatant examples of intentional slut-shaming. Some of it cannot be mistaken (like being outright called a "whore"), but some may not have been slut-shaming at all (like the eye roll during my conversation) and others were, but only indirectly so. A lot of the slut-shaming we experience (or inflict) every day is probably unintentional, but it still does damage. For example, mocking someone for buying a sex doll may not be textbook slut-shaming, but criticizing someone's sexual behavior sends the message that there is such a thing as "too much" or "too weird" when it comes to sexuality. It perpetuates the idea that some kinds of sexuality need to be policed or controlled, and when that belief exists, it is usually women that end up bearing the brunt of it.

Slut-shaming contributes to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts in girls and women. It also reinforces rape culture, through misogyny, victim-blaming and rape apologism (e.g., "you can't rape a slut"). One little comment on a stupid television show might not make or break a person, but when it's the eleventh or so experience of the day... who knows how deeply ingrained these "anti-slut" messages can really get? I'm not saying that someone is a bad person if he or she accidentally slips up now and then, but we can all be more conscious of it.



...

Abby Rose Dalto is a freelance writer, editor and social media consultant. She is also a single mother and a sex-positive feminist. Abby was Co-Founder of ESC Forever Media and Co-Founder/Executive Editor of the blog Evil Slutopia, where she wrote under the pseudonym "Lilith." She is the author of two books, Create Your Own Sand Mandala: For Meditation, Healing and Prayer and Create Your Own Power Jewelry, as well as numerous articles on a variety of subjects. She holds a B.A. in Women's Studies with concentration in Creative Writing and Literature. Visit her online at www.abbyrosedalto.com.















1 comment:

  1. I've just installed iStripper, and now I enjoy having the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...