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FAQ: What is “slut-shaming”?

Short answer: Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior” (Alon Levy, Slut Shaming). It is damaging not only to the girls and women targeted, but to women in general an society as a whole. It should be noted that slut-shaming can occur even if the term “slut” itself is not used.

What constitutes “slut-shaming”

Quick jump: What is “Slut-shaming” | The Sexual Double Standard | Male Sluts | Why Women Shame | Effects of Shaming

Put in the most simple terms, slut-shaming happens when a person “publicly or privately [insults] a woman because she expressed her sexuality in a way that does not conform with patriarchal expectations for women” (Kat, Slut-Shaming vs. Rape Jokes). It is enabled by the idea that a woman who carries the stigma of being a slut — ie. an “out-of-control, trampy female” — is “not worth knowing or caring about” (Tanenbaum, p. 240).

If all negative connotations are removed from the word, a “slut” is simply a person, most often a woman, who has had sex with multiple partners. In societies where the only acceptable expression of female sexuality is within a marriage (usually for the purpose of having children), engaging in sex with more than one partner is enough to justify the label of “slut” and the slut-shaming that comes with it. In societies such as the United States where it is not uncommon for people to have several relationships throughout their lives, for the most part it is no longer considered a requirement for a woman to wait until marriage before engaging in sex. However, this shift in sexual mores has simply shifted the goal posts for “proper” female sexuality from marriage to “the attitude of the girl, her emotional feeling for the boy she’s with and her feelings about sex as an expression of love” (Taunenbaum, p. 67).

Policing women via what’s considered “normal” and “acceptable” boundaries for female sexuality is not limited to sex and sexual activity. For instance, women who wear “provocative clothing” (or just photographed while having breasts) are subjected to slut-shaming. As are women who are sexually aggressive and/or unabashedly lay claim to their own sexuality.

As illustrated above, any woman who has had sex can be a victim of slut-shaming. A virgin can be a victim of slut-shaming. Indeed, as long as gendered slurs like “slut” continue to be weapons casually wielded against girls and women by both people from all walks of life, any female who acts in a way that another person doesn’t like is at risk for being slut-shamed.

The sexual double standard

Quick jump: What is “Slut-shaming” | The Sexual Double Standard | Male Sluts | Why Women Shame | Effects of Shaming

When it comes to how and to whom sexual slurs are applied, there has been and continues to be a clear sexual double standard — meaning “that there is one set of sexual rules for men and boys, and another, unequal one for women and girls” (Tanenbaum, p. xvii). In terms of slut-shaming, the “transitional double standard” (a term coined by sociologist Ira Reiss) applies: “men are allowed to engage in coitus for any reason–women only if in love or engaged” (Tanenbaum, p. 58).

Linguistically, the slut-shaming double standard can be seen in a variety of ways. One telling way is the frequency of sexual slurs aimed at women versus those aimed at men:

In a study of North American English, Stanley (1977, cited by Graddol & Swann, 1989, p. 110) identified 220 words for a sexually promiscuous woman but only 20 for a sexually promiscuous man.

[Sandra McKay and Nancy H. Hornberger (Cambridge University Press, 1995.): Sociolingüistics and language teaching, p. 226]

Although the exact number of words for women versus men have undoubtedly changed since the above study, the ratio most likely remains about the same. In addition, the imbalance comes not only from frequency, but also content:

[Terms for women who “sleep around” include] fast woman, hussy, doll, inamorata, siren, gypsy, minx, vamp, wench, trollop, coquette, bint, crumpet, floozy, scrubber, slag, groupie, nympho, and slut.

[...]

The comparatively small field devoted to male promiscuity reinforces the notion of the double standard alluded to previously. The tenor of the terms is also entirely different: Casanova, Romeo, Lothario, and Don Juan derive status from their literary and historical pedigrees, while ladies’ man, lady-killer, gigolo, stud, and sugar daddy obviously do not have the same condemnatory overtones as most of the female terms. They embody machismo notions of power and conquest. The sole exception is roué. The invocation of great lovers of the past, real and fictional, serves to provide role models suggesting respectability.

It is also worth noting that the above article contains the only positive reference to a sexually active woman I could find while researching this piece: sex-kitten.

On “Male Sluts”

There is undeniably a growing trend, which in which men and boys may also be labeled “sluts” which is often cited as proof that the term “slut” is not gendered, and therefore not sexist. However, when examined within the framework of cultural context and the sexual double standard, it is clear that the usage of the term when applied to men is different than than when it’s applied to women.

First and foremost, the term “slut” was originally term that applied exclusively to women and only later was the definition encompassed to allow for the inclusion of men. Because of that, “slut” without any qualifiers or context implies a woman or girl. Indeed, in order to specify that it is a man (not a woman) who is being referenced, “male” will often be appended for clarity.

Also worthy of note are the differing definitions of a “slut” (note: the vast majority of the definitions on Urban Dictionary specify female) versus a “male slut”, which according to Urban Dictionary, “is one who prowls a regular bar route to lure coyote-ugly women home for selfish reasons.”

However, even in instances where the person in question takes care to use “slut” in a gender neutral way and apply it evenly across genders, the cultural and social weight behind the word means that its impact is not, and cannot, be equivalent:

The problem is that when we use the word “slut” to describe men, even if we’re using it as a term meaning they’re not appropriately careful with who they do the deed with, we’re still not using it consistently with how the word is used in regards to women.

When we “reclaim”1 the word slut to use it against men, it tends to get used to criticise a habit. But when we use the word slut to describe a woman, it’s almost always understood as a dismissal of what she’s saying, what she’s doing, or even of her worth to the speaker as a person. There is no such undertone for men- if men have “bad” sexual habits, that’s mostly viewed as some private failing. (Unless you’re a politician and you get caught at it)

For reasons such as those given above, the application of “slut” to men does not negate the sexual double standard, nor does it take away the ability of the term to slut-shame, and therefore harm, women.

Why women slut-shame

As with many sexist phenomenon, women aren’t just the targets of slut-shaming, they are often the perpetrators as well. Not to mention that many times women will slut-shame in one moment and go on to revel in their “sluttiness” in the next. This, especially when compared to male behavior regarding sexuality, can be seen as confusing and contradictory:

So is that what women slut-shaming other women is about? Do they worry they themselves might be labeled sluts? Do they want to appear less slutty? I don’t know. That may be part of it, but I don’t think it’s quite the same. After all, rarely do het men parade around in “gay” outfits and say “Look how gay I look” to other het men unless they want to get beat up. And yet a woman could wear what she considers herself to be a “slutty” outfit and say “Look how slutty I look” to her fellow non-slutty friends and get a couple of laughs and that’s it.

The first thing to realize when talking about women slut-shaming each other is that infighting among oppressed groups is a necessary part for keeping those groups oppressed; ergo women are encouraged, through internalized sexism, to distrust each other and fight for male approval. In other words:

Slut-shaming is one of the chief ways that women attempt to compete with each other for male approval in a patriarchy that defines women’s worth by their physical attractiveness and limits their ability to distinguish themselves by other means.

It is also important to keep in mind that, in a patriarchal society, “male approval” translates into a form of power (albeit a limited one). Even in societies where women have access to other ways in which to attain power, girls are still encouraged from a young age to seek out and maintain male approval as a way to secure their own power in the world.

Tanenbaum looks at this phenomenon as it relates to slut-shaming:

Slut-bashing is a cheap and easy way to feel powerful. If you feel insecure or ashamed about your own sexual desires, all you have to do is call a girl a “slut” and suddenly you’re the one who is “good” and on top of the social pecking order.

[Leora Tanenbaum (Harper Paperbacks, 2000.): Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, p. 238.]

So, if slut-shaming other women is so rewarding, why would a woman want to be “slutty” and/or call someone else “slutty” as a compliment? While the phenomenon are ostensibly in direct conflict with each other, the reasons behind reveling in one’s sluttiness are the same as the reasons for slut-shaming other women: garnering male approval and raising yourself up in the hierarchy. When a culture simultaneously glorifies both “modesty” and “raunch” — hailing both as a way to be a “proper” woman — the women who live in said culture are going to internalize the contradictory messages. So it should come as no surprise that many women both attack the “slut” while trying to be one.

The effects of slut-shaming and what we can do about it

Calling someone a slut may seem harmless. Slut-shaming may also seem to be useful as a kind of cautionary tale — helping “good” girls from making sexual “mistakes”, or even being sexually assaulted and/or raped, by making an example out of the “bad” girls. But, in fact, the very opposite is true:

A reputation acquired in adolescence can damage a young woman’s self-perception for years. She may become a target for other forms of harassment and even rape, since her peers see her as “easy” and therefore not entitled to say “no”. She may become sexually active with a large number of partners (even if she had not been sexually active before her reputation). Or she may shut down her sexual side completely, wearing baggy clothes and being unable to allow a boyfriend to even kiss her.

[Leora Tanenbaum (Harper Paperbacks, 2000.): Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, p. 229.]

The consequences of slut-shaming go beyond the personal, shaping societal discourses on rape, abuse, and harassment:

How many times has rape been discounted because a woman was deemed a slut? How many times are women called whores while their partners beat them? How often are women’s sexual histories used against them in workplace harassment cases? The sexual double standard is a lot more dangerous than we’d like to think.

A brief Google search on the above questions turned up: Alleged Victim Slut-Shamed, Rape Case Thrown Out, False Rape Accusations and Rape Culture, Georgia rape case dismissed because of victim’s sexual history?, 13-Year-Old Girl Commits Suicide After Classmates Spread Nude Photos, and Fighting back: workplace sexual harassment and the case of North Country *.

And, finally, here are some suggestions to help stop and prevent slut-shaming:

Boys will treat girls with respect… when we have one standard for both sexes–that is, when we have sexual equality.

[Leora Tanenbaum (Harper Paperbacks, 2000.): Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, p. 234.]

Parents should be open about sexuality with their kids–and that means being open about female sexuality as well as male sexuality. They should teach their daughters and sons that girls as well as boys have sexual feelings, and that sexual feelings are entirely normal. That way they won’t have to pin their sexual anxieties on a scapegoat and then distance themselves from her.

Teachers must recognize that slut-bashing is a serious problem. Too often, they dismiss it as part of the normal fabric of adolescent life. But slut-bashing is a form of sexual harassment, and it is illegal under Title IX, which entitles students to a harassment-free education. If a teacher witnesses slut-bashing, she must make sure that it stops. [...] [Teachers and school administrators] must create and publicize awareness through sexual harassment policies for their schools.

Schools and youth programs have an obligation to talk to kids about the harm in sexual labeling. [...]

But the most important thing that all of us need to work on is this: to stop calling or thinking of women as “sluts.” Face it: At one time or another, many of us have called a woman a “slut.” We see a woman who’s getting away with something we wish we could get away with. What do we call her? A “slut.”

We see a woman who dresses provocatively, and maybe we wish we had the guts to dress that way ourselves. What do we call her? A “slut.” [...]

Most of us recognize that this stigma is unjust and unwarranted. Yet we have used the “slut” insult anyway: Our social conditioning runs too deep. We must will ourselves to be aware of the sexual double standard and of how we lapse into slut-bashing on an everyday level. If we become aware of our behavior, then we will have the power to stop.

[Leora Tanenbaum (Harper Paperbacks, 2000.): Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, pp. 238-240.]

First and foremost, stop calling other women sluts! It doesn’t behoove us to bash each other, gals. And speak out when you hear men do the same. I’ll never forget in college overhearing a conversation that my boyfriend’s roommates were having. They both had slept with the same girl over the course of the year — they called her a whore and made a joke about her vagina being “loose.” I asked them why she was the bad person in this scenario — after all, they had had casual sex with her, too. They couldn’t provide an answer, but that didn’t stop them from continuing to laugh. I always regretted not saying anything more. Outside of calling ourselves and others out on perpetuating the double standard, it’s a hard battle. But I think if we recognize the hypocrisy of the slut/stud nonsense when we see it — whether it’s an anti-choice law or a movie that makes women who have sex look like deviants — we’re on the right road.

Related Reading:

Introductory:

Clarifying Concepts:

  • On the term “Slut” and its effect on girls:

    Slut-bashing– as I call it–is one issue that affects every single female who grows up in this country because any preteen or teenage girl can become a target. “Slut” is a pervasive insult applied to a broad spectrum of American adolescent girls, from the girl who brags about her one-night stands to the girl who has never even kissed a boy to the girl who has been raped. Some girls are made fun of because they appear to have a casual attitude about sex (even if, in reality, they are no more sexual than their peers). Many others are picked on because they stand out in some way–being an early developer, new in school, an ethnic or class minority, overweight, or just considered “weird” for whatever reason. Some are called “sluts” because other girls dislike over envy them, and spread a sexual rumor as a form of revenge. While a girl can almost instantly acquire a “slut” reputation as a result of one well-placed rumor, it takes months, if not years, for the reputation to evaporate–if it does at all.

    [Leora Tanenbaum (Harper Paperbacks, 2000.): Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, p. xv.]
  • More on slut-shaming and the sexual double standard:

    Slut-bashing shows us that sexism is still alive and that as boys and girls grow up, different sexual expectations and identities are applied to them. Slut-bashing is evidence of a sexual double standard that should have been eliminated decades ago… Slut-bashing sends the message to all girls, no matter how “pure” their reputations, that men and boys are free to express themselves sexually, but women and girls are not.

    [Leora Tanenbaum (Harper Paperbacks, 2000.): Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, p. xix.]
  • On some of the damages slut-shaming causes:

    Slut-bashing is uniquely damaging–and not only to teenage girls but to all women. Fearful of being considered a “slut,” many girls and women don’t carry or use contraception, leading to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies and life-threatening diseases. Worried about seeming sexually aggressive, many girls and women remain silent in ambivalence rather than say yes or no, which leads to murky sexual scenarios that are neither completely consensual nor completely coerced but somewhere in between. The cultural assumptions behind slut-bashing implicate us all: Knowing that being sexually promiscuous stigmatizes a girl, many of us assume that a girl who reports that she was raped is lying in order to cover up a regretted sexual encounter.

    [Leora Tanenbaum (Harper Paperbacks, 2000.): Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, p. xix.]
  • A sociolinguistic approach to slut-shaming:

    Schulz (1990), reviewing the history of the many terms used to refer to women, argues that the “analysis of the language used by men to discuss and describe women reveals something about male attributes, fears, and prejudices concerning the female sex” (p. 135). Words which began with either neutral or positive connotations over time acquired negative implications and finally ended up as “sexual slurs” (p. 135)… Although Schulz’s study found no similar derogatory meanings of terms used to refer to men, Risch’s (1987, cited by Graddol & Swann, 1989) study of North American college students found a wide variety of “dirty” words to refer to men, including bitch, whore, and slug, which have traditionally been used to refer to women. It may, however, be misleading to look at slurs against men which work in the same way as those against women.

    [Sandra McKay and Nancy H. Hornberger (Cambridge University Press, 1995.): Sociolingüistics and language teaching, pp. 226-227]

  • Intersections – slut-shaming, clothing choices, and fat activism:

    And this is also why, when someone tells me that my clothes are “too tight” and that “you don’t have to wear tight clothes to be sexy,” I feel rage. I wonder if they know how hard I had to work just to feel like I was even allowed to wear those clothes, much less feel confident and beautiful in them. I wonder if they’ve ever been slut bashed, and wonder if they’re policing my fashion because they’ve been slut bashed. But I especially don’t understand it when those criticisms come from other supposedly fat-positive people, because in my world, letting the outline of your belly show in a dress, or wearing something sleeveless that doesn’t hide your arm fat isn’t just ok, it’s appreciated. Tight clothes on fat bodies are inherently political, and I would even say moreso when those tight clothes look damn good and are worn with pride.

    I don’t need everyone to like the clothes that I wear, but I am also attuned to the undercurrent of slut shaming that is so often levied against people who wear revealing clothes. I would ask those people who feel discomfort and/or disgust to think about what it is that’s behind those feelings.

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30 comments on “FAQ: What is “slut-shaming”?

  1. What bothers me is the idea that (and I’d long dismissed it as a Victorian hangover, but it really isn’t) sexuality is about men chasing women. So that a woman who is sexually interested in men (or other women) and acts on it, is some kind of predatory beast (or a “she-devil” as my father liked to say). Men and women are sexual beings, and get to make their own choices, whatever they are. The key thing is that they are their own choices.

  2. [...] FAQ: What is “slut-shaming?” – a new diligently-researched post at the FF101 blog about what slut shaming really is, why it happens, consequences and what can be done to address it. [...]

  3. I agree that every person has a right to his or her own choice but it is very difficult and disheartening to have to deal with the repercussions of those choices. I’ve always been told that you shouldn’t listen or care what other people think about you, but it hurts to be called those names and feel ashamed of yourself for making a choice which is, in the case of women sexuality, a “bad” choice. The double standard for men and women in this area is just astounding and I don’t see a reason for it to still be prevalent today.

  4. Thank you for putting this issue so eloquently.

    I’ve used the term ‘slut’ in the past to describe males in an effort to demonstrate how disempowering and derogatory it is. You’ve brought to my attention that it’s not necessarily as effective because the context is entirely different for a male being called a slut than it is for a female being called a slut.

    I appreciate that you’ve made suggestions about how to change slut-slamming. I do wonder that if, as an individual, the best way to dimish the power of the
    term is to use it in a humorous way, for example, to light-heartedly describe promiscious friends of either gender. At the same time, when the term is used in a derogatory manner, one can be firm in condemning its use. Humour is a really powerful way of pointing out absurdities (such as sexual double-standards for men and women) and implementing changes in social attitudes.

  5. Calling men sluts, whores or bitches is a way of reinforcing the notion that men are inherently superior to women.

    Such references are comparable to referring to a white person as a ‘whigger.’ Some white people who wouldn’t dare utter the term ‘nigger’ have no trouble using ‘whigger’ because they figure insulting one of their own is fair game. The problem is that first, one must conjure up the mental association with the base word ‘nigger,’ which is, of course, a racial slur imputing all manner of ghastly qualities to persons of color. Then one transfers that description to the white person in question.

    So not only is the insult to blacks still implied, it’s made worse by the fact that the initial slur is used indiscriminately against all blacks while the modified slur only applies to a specified portion of whites who are denigrated for acting in an inferior (inferior=black) manner.

    Similarly, in order to think of a man as a man-slut, one must first conjure the definition of slut which is in reference to abhorrent female behavior. The term disparages all women while maligning only a small portion of men for inferior (inferior=female) behavior.

    The person who engages in these descriptors is usually trying to be humorous and/or enlightened. Upon examination, though, the impression given is as bad as, if not worse than, direct racism or misogyny. Persons who own up to such antisocial traits can be easily dismissed from arguments or Rolodexes. Persons who think they are being magnanimous toward other races or sexes can be very difficult to convince that their expressions are offensive at best and contribute to a culture of oppression at worst.

  6. It seems to me that you may have missed an implicit dimension of what the word “slut” refers to: Not just a woman who has multiple partners, but one who has multiple partners as a manifestation of lacking psychological health. (Note that this feature can be applied to men as well.)

    A woman who presents as psychologically healthy and may have more than one sexual partner – to me, “technically speaking”, that is not a slut.

    Regarding the claim that men and women have different standards – intepreted as victimization of women – you overlook an obvious contributor: Women GET PREGNANT and men do not. Pregnancy is a serious, life-altering consequence for a woman, so OF COURSE women would develop different views/practices with regard to multiple sexual partners (or casual sex) than men.

    With all due sensitivity to women, we need to be more mindul that this (liberal consciousness) tendency to interpret nearly everything as being about victimization is a PROJECTION on the part of the thinker.

    To a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail…..

  7. “Women GET PREGNANT and men do not.”
    Men can also get pregnant from casual sex. Not in the sense that they carry the baby to term, but in the sense that their genetic material is used to create a new life form. If they are any sort of decent human being they will want some involvement in the kid’s life. If they do not want involvement, they can still have legal obligations in the form of child support. Pregnancy is a serious, life-altering consequence for women AND men.

    “With all due sensitivity to women, we need to be more mindul that this (liberal consciousness) tendency to interpret nearly everything as being about victimization is a PROJECTION on the part of the thinker.”
    You’re hardly showing due sensitivity to women. Slut slurs are very common; it’s not about projection or victimization, it’s a social fact.

    Re: Palaverer
    Perhaps a more accurate analogy would be a black person calling a white person ‘nigger’.

    I’m not convinced your definition of ‘slut’ captures the fluid nature of language. The meaning of words evolve over time. As it stands, yes, ‘slut’ is generally a derogatory term referring to female behaviour. However, it has the potential to evolve to have a lighter, more humorous connotation that applies to both sexes. Hijacking oppressive words and using them to signify something different is potentially a more effective way of challenging oppressive power-structures than it is to sit back and condemn anyone who uses the words.

    If I ever get called a slut I will say; “no, I am a psychologically healthy woman who knows what I want; you are a coward who cannot handle sexually assertive women.” And in the mean time, I’m going to continue to joke around with my promiscuous male friends and call them sluts in an attempt to help undermine the power of such words.

  8. Thnak you for posting this informations. It realy got me catched.
    By the way, it saddens me that that women being the victim of slut-shaming and within their same like are also perpetrators of slut shaming. That couldnt get it around their minds that the term Slut shouldnt be used to castigate or even shame women. what ever she did.

    Such act causes women to shut themselves from further development, experience and expansion.
    They would fear of doing lots of things that can further enhance their individualities.

    “If I ever get called a slut I will say; “no, I am a psychologically healthy woman who knows what I want; you are a coward who cannot handle sexually assertive women.” And in the mean time, I’m going to continue to joke around with my promiscuous male friends and call them sluts in an attempt to help undermine the power of such words.”

    with such existence of insults, it came up to me that since this derogatory term and practice had existed along our culture and society. Its up to us whether were going to be affected by such name calls. Such statement i quoted above only refelcts that if we cannot chnage such terms and belief in our society, it will be our own will not to be affected by it, and so, hopefully people who perpetuate such act will eventually realize that its not worth the time for feminist.

  9. I find the S word has emotional connotations like the N word which go way beyond just an insult to something which is visceral. Until we men become true men, confident self-assured people who do not hide behind the traditions of a patriarchal society, we will have difficulty dealing with our own sexual nature and hence with women. I am, however, still hopeful.
    http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/07/sex-im-man-and-youre.html

  10. I agree with the article about having different effects on men and women when called a slut. When a man is called slut, there seems to be a sense of pride and joy when heard. When a women is labeled a slut, it’s more palpable and more damaging; almost as if it’s leaving a scar for others to see. I don’t understand the need to be labeled for the pleasure of sex. It’s the 21st century, the choice is personal and private.

  11. I definitely agree with the article as well as Yong Ma’s comment. The real question I’d like to ask here is “why?” Why does our culture and the society, in which this “slut-shaming” aroused from, seemingly seek to look down upon women as inferior, while the men become the forces of dominance day by day? This “slut-shaming” terminology does absolutely nothing but inflict further damage upon the conscious of women. It’s highly controversial yet hypocritical that when a woman’s sexuality (regardless of her race, class, and or ethnicity) is looked down on as slutty or whoreish, while male sexual encounters are consistently praised and rewarding with terms such as player, playboy, pimp, etc.. Women and men are equally given the right to make their own choices in life. I mean who we are and how we are defined as are ultimately based upon the choices we make, right? With this in mind, I ask you, who are we to berate and shame people for the choices that they make, especially women? Are we not the socially immoral ones here?

  12. I I think everyone has a right to express their sexuality, but no one has a right to label someone’s actions. I agree with the article about this being a double standard. For women it’s a negative thing. Yet women are the ones who seem to use this type of language on each other even when the other isn’t even showcasing their sexuality. it’s become a word simply used to degrade another woman just simply because she’s prettier or attracts more guys.

  13. We live in a double-standard society. Men can be called sluts, whores, etc and be praised because it shows off their masculinity. Yet, for women, it is just the opposite. Slut has such a negative connotation when it refers to women but positive for men. Its sad to live in a world that has such double standards but i think what its worse is that women, themselves, are enforcing these double standards. 99% of the time women are the ones referring to each other as sluts in a negative way. In order for things to change, women have to make the first move by removing the the negative connotations with the word slut.

  14. Hmm. I dunno. Maybe women think that men are glorified for being sluts, but that is not the case. I agree abou tthe term slut not really apply to men equally as women. But is just a matter of lexicon. The term ‘man-whore’ conjures up the exact same images to me as ‘slut’ or ‘whore’. In describing a roommate a mutual friend, my friend said ‘i dunno much about him i hear he’s a man whore’….we didn’t exchange high fives or feel proud for th guy. Immediately conjured up bad images, (sleazy, cheap, predator)… ya so i will 100% admit that its worse for a girl to be slut than man label a man whore because both girl and guys might personally attack them. on the same token, i’ve never seen this man whore thing being glorified in real life. unless your talkin gabout american pie films or rap videos. but thats not real life.

  15. Tahnk you for writting this, its a very thorough exploration of a very insidious dynamic in our society that are best toys with sexual expression as taboo, and at worst incurs serious harm on all of us and women in particular.

    Calling someone a slut is also a way to control sexuality. Sex is the biggest and least controllable source of vitality in our lives. It is raw, powerful and often overwhelming. The history of humanity shows how many ways we’ve tried to control it and navigate it. In societies that have come to venerate it and bring it to light, it is has been integrated into the culture; addressed directly and taught to its members as part of their development. People can then learn to treat it with respect and be nourished by it. Rather than tormented in it. Calling someone a slut is an easy way to dismiss sex, trivialize it (which is where humor may be a pitfall), and in general ostracize its power so that it will not effect our stable world.

    Can we shift to knowing it in our lives? yes. And it will take work; work in accepting its raw intensity and that at its best and most free… it is now wholly controllable.

  16. At a time when a sexual encounter can lead to such things as an incurable STD or unwanted fatherhood established by a DNA test, it’s long past time to retire the sexual double standard. In the past, society has okayed all kinds of behavior that is just plain wrong, such as spousal abuse and child abuse. The sexual double standard is wrong on so many levels because it both stems from and encourages dishonesty ,immaturity and selfishness on one hand and an unhealthy fear on the other of healthy expression of one’s sexuality.

    I have known girls who were brought up to believe boys only wanted one thing from them, which laid the groundwork for a warped view of men later in life. Another destructive aspect of the double standard is that women have often been held responsible for their own behaviors as well as that of the men they’ve dealt with. But worst of all, they have often been held responsible for how they were perceived even by men they didn’t know and had no sexual interest in at all.

    I totally agree with a single sexual standard, since it teaches men and women to respect each other’s humanity. It’s a lot healthier than having women placed on an impossible pedestal, which we inevitably fall from just because we’re human. It’s also a lot healthier than labeling women who deviate from some idealized concept of womanly behavior as “sluts” who are therefore not worth caring about. It also frees men from the stupid idea that they are supposed to be “hunters” with every sexual “conquest” being a notch on their belts. Although only women become pregnant, birth control has greatly reduced that
    fear. That was yet another reason for the double standard.

    What it boils down to is that because of its inherent negativity, the sexual double standard has been responsible for a lot of needless suffering and dysfunction in relationships

  17. Th nly rsn slt shm s bcs sltty wmn hv dsss slly nd thy r nt cmmttd. bt gss, NW dsn’t cr bt cmmttmnt, thy prfr scty wtht mrrg

  18. I would really like more information written about the reclamation of the word.

  19. FYI the link in the parentheses “(or just photographed while having breasts)” of the third paragraph of the “What constitutes ‘slut-shaming'” section is broken.

  20. There is no double standard. Sorry to say it, but you overlook many key points in order to demonstrate what you would call “patriarchial dominance”. Everybody is accountable for their actions, “slut-shaming” is not a trend to be bucked… People should practice accountability and responsibility in all aspects of their lives. Everyone should be in the practice of self-fufillment, but perhaps women people should worry less about how they’re perceived by everybody else and look inward to themselves instead. Then decide what they want. I could write an absolutely identical article from a male perspective and call it “pig-labelling”. That’s a word women sure love to toss around, but I’ve never let it hold ME back. Women have license to do whatever the hell they want, just the same as men. If you’re not prepared to take some flak in order to pursue your own happiness, then I guess you haven’t learned what being an adult is all about.

  21. most women, well at least a large percentage of the female population, are not too fond of the idea called ” free love”. This is the case even with many very feminist women. So if some girls are giving away for free what others wish to sell, how can they sell it, especially at high market value? They have to say what they have to offer is of a higher quality because they are higher quality people. Therefore the ones giving it away for free, as they say, are of lower quality. Plus it is also a tactic, even if subtle, and maybe not even fully conscious, to discourage others from giving it away for free. It is a strategy to keep a high exchange value on what they have to offer which ensures they have the resources and power they need and want (in this day and age-mostly want since women can support themselves, and both can use birth control to avoid pregnancy). I believe feminism is built on this power imbalance- its of a matriarchal hegemony. So the guys who participate in slut bashing i think are just idiots in line with this matriarchal hegemony. I mean, if you do a search on feminists that write about promiscuity, you will find a lot of disapproval, These authors even write that being “easy” gives the men more power. Instead of “slut bashing and feminism” as i just did, type “casual sex and feminism” into a search engine… there you will find all the old feminist authors voicing their disapproval.

  22. Read the short story “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” its a very good story on this subject…

  23. [...] the world of feminism, which is to say, the world we all inhabit, there’s a lot of talk about “slut shaming.” To “slut shame” is to try to make a woman feel bad about her sexuality, particularly if she [...]

  24. Like @Tony said before I am under the impression that at least in the circles I do hang around most of the slut-shaming/bashing is done by other women not by men. Moreover the slut-shaming done by men is usually more judgemental and emotionally detached. Women on the other hand are much more aggressive and emotional against the ‘sluts’ as if they were hurt by them in some way. A typical example I can give you was a few years ago when I was in the army and the gossip went about a young beautiful female officer having oral sex on another officer in the office. Typical male reactions were of the sort ‘Good for them!’ or ‘Lucky him! while a lot of the females colleagues reactions were more of the slut-shaming type.

  25. tony- Just because something sounds vaguely like economics doesn’t make it “reasoned” or logical. Women don’t “sell” sex unless they are prostitutes, and expecting courtesy from men they are dating does not constitute “selling” it. So many men are convinced that women use sex to secretly control society or something- its bullshit. Women really do stay at home because it is a societal norm, not because they use sex to get men to work for them. HAve you actually had a relationship before. I would think anyone who has, or who has witnessed one even, would recognize that social interactions aren’t economic transactions.
    Also, “free love” means free in the “freedom” sense, not monetary, and it implies abolishing marriage and possibly open relationships.
    Of course, anyone who talks about a “matriarchal hegemony” is just full of shit anyway, it was men who created “slut shaming”. It was men who created in ancient societies laws to execute adulteresses, or encouraged families to abandon daughters who “shamed” them by having premarital sex. It was not created by women to protect their “economic investment” in their bodies, that is not how human relationships work. No girls “wish to sell” sex, it has no “market value”, there is no sex market, anymore than there is a friendship market which is depressed by extroverts.
    Of course the real problem with this comment is the assumption that there is a matriarchal hegemony of women controlling us poor men with their bodies because they are unable or unwilling to do real work, and men are just passive participants who would really love for women to be promiscuous but they have to withhold sex to maintain their control, but I can’t deal with that level of bullshit right now.

  26. I’ve always been of the conviction that no person should be told what their sex life should be like. Having more then one partner is just as valid as having one, and nobody should be obliged to be married. As far as I can tell these are all shamed because of social traditions that exist for the sake of tradition, and dare I say traditions that are in place thanks to the patriarchy?

    I am all for the elimination of slut-shaming, as far as sexuality goes people really need to learn to mind their own business. Sex can be a beautiful thing it does not need to be treated with such scorn.

    • I absolutely agree! I think the world would be a much better place if people could simply learn to NOT CARE what others do privately. So many problems would be averted if people could just learn to mind their own business once in a while.

  27. Someday we shall overcome! (Sex+)

  28. [...] Jay, is when did wanting “attention” become an open invitation for harassment? See: Slut Shaming. @No1butBakeDawg asks, “If you don’t tell us what you want, then how are we supposed to [...]

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