If a young man is a virgin by a certain age, he’s a loser and needs to get laid. If a young girl who’s the same age is a virgin, she’s angelic and innocent.
If a grown man is having sex with many women, he get’s high-fives from his buddies for his conquests and virility. If a woman were to behave the same way she gets called a slut by both men and women alike.
The hypocrisy of slut shaming women for their real or presumed sexual activity and expression is an insult to us all. Slut shaming attacks and humiliates the way women dress, flirt or how many people they choose to date or be sexually intimate with. Slut Shaming is dangerous to our mental health and well-being as it induces shame, fear and anger into its target---women.
Even though this vitriolic behavior targets mostly women it often attacks gay men too. (The slut shaming of gay men became popular after the HIV epidemic came out in the 80’s and never went away.)
Slut Shaming is a small antiquated piece in much larger women's equality movement that has yet to be fully respected by all genders. It is set against some personal and societal code of acceptable sexual behavior that is in serious need of an update.
Even though I was raised in liberal household slut shaming was pervasive in school during my pre-teen and teenaged years. We used words like, “slut” and “easy” to attack other girls our age who were more physically developed or flirty, while the boys could express their sexuality however they wanted.
I barely knew what the word slut meant. But, I certainly knew how important it was to have a gaggle of girlfriends by your side. And then I grew up. I chose to become intellectually and emotionally educated. I chose to ask questions when something didn’t feel right. I chose to change from those adolescent years.
When I see grown adults hiding behind their social media platforms, or standing with picket signs shaming another for their sexual behavior I’m infuriated. On a country that supposedly values equality for all and a “free to be you and me” way of life, is it really that difficult to co-exist peacefully with someone who expresses their sexuality different from our own?
Too many of us take for granted the serious damage that centuries of sexual oppression caused by religious influence and gender inequality still influence today’s modern, hypocritical Western Culture. The women's march on Washington (and around the world) the day after the bombastic and polarizing Donald Trump was sworn into office speaks volumes about the continued fight for gender equality in which slut shaming is a branch off its tree.
I like to believe I was raised in a country that supports sexual freedoms for men and women in the same way. However, given recent political events it is clear that too many of us are moving backwards to the days where books like, "The Scarlett Letter" that spoke volumes about how women “used to be” oppressed are becoming too realistic for comfort.
I’m not so idealistic or spiritual as to think, “peace, love and joy” is the answer for everyone. But, I do think it’s necessary that those of us who have voices and walk on the sex positive side of our freedoms speak up whenever we can in a non violent way.
With slut shaming we walk a very slippery slope. If we continue to head down this road we start to travel even deeper into rape culture with victim blaming, sexual bullying and body shaming. There are already far too many instances of telling a girl, “she deserved it” when referring to sexual assault because of the way she dressed, flirted, or drank booze (slut shaming).
Slut Shaming kills in its worst scenario and psychologically torments at its least. There is no benefit. If we focused our attention on our personal inner conflicts, demons, sexual repressions and self-loathing perhaps we’d be less likely to offer our criticisms of someone else’s sexual expression and behavior.
We all have freedoms that allow us the right to keep how we express our sexuality personal or public. We have the luxury to take part in or not take part in social or religious sexual shaming. We have the freedom to teach our children about gender equality to accept people who are different from themselves.
Why not use those freedoms to stop the sexual shaming, elevate ourselves in the process and educate everyone who is willing to learn? Start with asking ourselves, who created those sexual standards and morals we are all willing to defend, attack and live our lives by?
Author: Heather Dawn
Heather Dawn has a column on Elephantjournal.com where a version of this blog was originally published.