This might seem too obvious to a lot of you who’re reading this, but internet comments as well as the ignorance I’ve seen in real life kind of inspired me to write this. Weirdly, women slut shame and victim blame more than men (in my experience); with men, the only ones who victim blame seem to be doing it for darker reasons, such as excusing violent behaviour by other men or themselves. This post isn’t aimed as these (thankfully very few) individuals. So I’m aiming this at other women.
Girl, you might feel superior snickering at your colleague’s short skirt or bullying that “slut” in your History class. But see that girl sitting at the back? She calls you a slut behind your back. That woman in reception calls her a slut in that prim, proper voice of hers. That Asian woman over there thinks you’re all sluts for watching porn or reading 50 Shades. And that girl with her hair covered thinks the Asian woman is a slut, for flirting with men and showing her hair like some £20-an-hour crack whore.
Call as many women a slut as you want, but the same number are calling you a slut. It’s a never-ending slut shaming chain. Depressing and pointless, right? Time to grow up, then, and stop using the word.
It’s cultural, not real!
The examples above were cultural stereotypes, as what a slut is varies even within a culture, even within different regions of a country. But it’s broadly true that if you talk to boys, show your hair and party, millions of women in many countries in the world consider you a slut.
And the definition of a slut changes not only with the country, but with the decade. We’d all have been considered sluts fifty years ago, and our daughter will be very slutty, but by that time they won’t be considered slutty. So what’s the point? If nobody can agree on what a slut is, then sluts aren’t even a real thing.
You’re doing it out of fear
We call women sluts because we’re afraid of being called a slut ourselves. We want to present ourselves as pure.
You’re complicit in your own oppression
Did you get to decide what you can wear or how much sex you can have or how far you can go before you’re a slut? Would you have decided that only women can be sluts, but men are studs? No, you didn’t. This was decided long ago by rich men who are dead now – priveleged men who shaped society around their interests, who probably marginalized or oppressed (to some degree) your ancestors, who were most likely unpriveleged and powerless.
As a woman, it’s stupid to collude with the patriarchy to shame women but praise men – why would you want to be sexist? And it’s stupid to collude with the priveleged class who decided this.
You’re only hurting yourself – what if you get attacked?
Suggesting that a what a woman is wearing (or how much she was drinking, or how she acts) makes a man rape her is not only ignorant and hurtful, it’s hurting yourself, your friends and your family. Do you really think that contributing to a victim-blaing culture is going to mean you can expect sympathy and understanding if someone sexually assaults you, your friend, sister or daughter?
Anyone can be called a slut
These are the people I’ve heard being called “sluts”: lone mothers, a young woman who cheated on her boyfriend, a 14 year old girl who kissed 3 boys in a month, a 14 year old girl who had sex with 2 boys, a girl flirting with a boy at a party, a woman who wore a short skirt one day, a 19 year old university student, a woman walking alone in the street at night. So, any woman can be called a slut. You don’t even need to be sexually active – wearing the “wrong” clothes, being a mother, kissing, even walking in the street can provoke someone to call you a slut – because you’re a woman.
If you call yourself a feminist, slut shaming and victim blaming are out. Slut shaming and victim blaming are a form of misogyny, which is what feminism is against. (Though certssin high-profile feminists do not seem to have realised this).
It hurts men, too!
Blaming and shaming rape victims or calling other girls sluts doesn’t exactly make their boyfriends, brothers and sons happy, right? Men hate it when their mum or sister is slut shamed.