Slut shaming. It’s highly unlikely for anyone to have not heard this term now. The term labels women who are sexually active with more than one person, most likely through casual romances. It identifies the woman involved as a slut/slag/ or insert your choice of derogatory term here. Many forget that the term is completely sexist and only applicable to women. For example, where a girl takes a walk of shame, a boy takes a stride of pride. If a girl sleeps with a number of boys she is a slut, and if a male does it, he is congratulated – creating a sexual double standard.
Slut-shaming is in no way a new term to us, but the fact it has become so normalised makes it even more harmful. In 2010, two girls in America were so harshly harassed that it lead them to attempting suicide to escape the bullying, both online and from their peers at school. Showing that no matter what a girl does sexually, slut-shaming seriously affects the victim.
It seems that social media, as well as other media platforms, have a huge price to pay in this shaming phenomenon. Women, especially teenagers and young adults, are constantly reminded by celebrity presence that femininity comes from look sexy and expressing sexuality. Take Kim K in one of her see-through dresses for example. Yet following these trends more often than not leads to girls being judged, shamed and damned for ‘slutty’ behaviour. Meanwhile being the opposite or not showing off in these ways leads to a girl being irrelevant and uninteresting… Can a girl ever win?
Image from Kim Kardashian West’s official Instagram – @Kimkardashian
Would you dare to dress like Kim Kardashian or would stigma make you worry that you’d be slut-shamed for showing off so much flesh?
The most worrying thing for me personally is that in the age of social media, Slut-Shaming is even easier than it has ever been before. Anyone can take a cheeky Snapchat and send it round to their friends without realising the degrading effect they are having upon someone. As well as this, a nude image of a girl can spread like wildfire when in the wrong hands. This recently happened at a Penn State fraternity party, where a male student took naked pictures of a passed out female and anonymously sent them round the university. The boys were later convicted and labelled sex offenders, yet the victim was deemed to be a ‘drunken slut’ and villainized for blaming the boys. Is that fair? It has also been argued that once a girl is deemed a slut she is more likely to be vulnerable to sexual assault from other men because she is seen as ‘easy’.
The problem with this sort of stigma is that it runs deep in society and the term slut is used by such a majority. There are over 508 MILLION google posts relating to ‘sluts’, showing just how much it is spoken about in the web and mobile world as well. Whilst the word is mostly used in its derogatory form, girls have started referring to each as sluts and slags too, not as an insult but instead as a positive joke, meaning that the word will never become obsolete. This could be more dangerous than we realise as the word is not a term of endearment. If we girls start calling each other sluts and slags we are desensitising it and make it okay for men to do so too! Similarly, the use of the insult is growing beyond sexuality to being a vague vulgar name for anyone. Remember Gavin and Smithy using it to answer the phone to one another once in Gavin and Stacey?