What Is Slut Shaming?

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We need to put an end to slut shaming. Source: ShutterStock

Slut shaming is a topic that we discuss often here at Gurl, so we figured it would be good to take a moment and just remind everyone what it means — and why it shouldn’t be happening.

Finally A Feminism 101 Blog has a really in-depth look at slut shaming, which I found really helpful when it comes to understanding just what it means. The term’s definition refers to the act of targeting a person through degradation or humiliation for acting upon their sexuality in some form that isn’t “acceptable.”

This could mean ridiculing someone for how many sexual partners they’ve had, spreading rumors about their sexual activity (whether true or not is irrelevant), or judging someone based on the way they dress or act.

While the term “slut” can be applied to men, it tends to primarily be a derogatory word for women. Why is it then that the term is often used and other slut shaming actions are committed by girls against girls? One theory is that our society fosters this kind of girl vs. girl competition, and using strategies like slut shaming is a way to cut each other down in order to “win over” guys. No matter the reason, it still doesn’t make it okay.

Just because you’re not directly calling another person a “slut” or “skank” or another derogatory word that a targets their sexuality, you may not be aware that other things you are doing may actually contribute to a culture of slut shaming. For example, what about the modesty club that decided that girls who were dressing a certain way lacked self-respect? Even if they aren’t saying the word “slut,” that same harmful message that a person is devalued or should be embarrassed about acting a certain way is being expressed.

We are always trying to bring slut shaming to your attention because it can severely damage people’s reputations, and have incredibly tragic and heartbreaking consequences. Reading these stories should be a reminder of how important it is to eliminate slut shaming.

A person’s sexuality is their own, and as such, it’s nobody’s business what someone else chooses to do or how they act. It is not what defines them as a person, and it’s wrong to place someone’s value on those types of private decisions. Everyone approaches their own sexuality differently in terms of the choices or decisions they make.

You don’t have to choose to act the same way as someone else, but you do have to respect someone’s right to act in the way they choose when it comes to their body and their sexuality. So just as you shouldn’t call someone a “slut,” calling them a “prude” and trying to shame or judge them in that way is right along the same lines.

First off, break that habit of using the word “slut” to describe someone, and educate those around you to stop using it too. From there, keep in mind how you may speak, act or think and commit yourself to going against the culture of slut shaming.

There are so many better ways to spend your time than by weighing in on people’s decisions that you have no business even commenting on. Slut shaming is not only a form of bullying , but a form of sexism, and those are two things we definitely need way less of in this world.

Is slut shaming something that ever happens at your school or in your community? Tell me in the comments!

Who Is Sandra Fluke? She’s A Hero, Not A Slut!

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Posted in: Just the Facts
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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Slut-Shaming: Another Form of Bullying | Girl Talk w/ Dr Carol

  2. avatar sarah says:

    i totally get the whole being judge for what your wearing thing. A couple weeks ago (in the hot days of summer) i was wearing a tank top. My friend told me that “some creepy guy” looked me up and down… i didn’t see it? but she said i was “asking for it” by the way i was dressed? lol… no

  3. avatar WarryIceflower says:

    I am sort of being “Slut Shamed” by my friends because I have like a whole bunch of guy’s, keep on changing who I like, and by how I dress. And it does hurt. I’ve never had a sex partner, but they are still calling me a “slut”. How can I stop this? I don’t want to “unfriend” them because I basically hang out with them all the time and it’s kind of hard to avoid them. What should I do? Please help.

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