S.O.S.! (Save Our Sluts!)

Image from au.lifestyle.yahoo.com

Image from au.lifestyle.yahoo.com

Okay, now first of all, let me preface this post by saying that the term “sluts” is, IN NO WAY, being used as some sort of colloquial blanket term to homogenize or categorize women. In fact, anyone who knows me knows that few people hate the marginalization or careless objectification of women more than I do. The term is, in this context, being used as shorthand specifically because it is the root wood of the topic at hand, which is “slut-shaming.”

Slut-shaming, as defined by the fine folks at Wikipedia, “is a label for social control of sexuality by exposing a person to shame for engaging in—or being perceived to engage in—unlawfulabnormal or unethical sexual behavior. Some behaviors and events which may expose women to “slut-shaming” include dressing immodestly or provocatively, requesting birth control,[1][2][3] having premarital or casual sex, or being raped or sexually assaulted.[4] Now, though the term seems to have just recently seen a boon in popularity, I don’t doubt for a second that “slut-shaming,” as it were, is nothing new. On the face of it, I don’t really even have much issue with folks who are fighting against it in general, because honestly, it’s a fairly shameful practice in itself. On top of that, NOTHING, EVER, EVER EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, gives a man a right to verbally or physically abuse or rape a woman. POINT BLANK, PERIOD. This is an absolutely self-evident, unassailable point that no reasonable person could ever really argue. End. Of. Story. 

That all being said, the rise of the anti-slut-shaming sentiment recently has, I feel, gotten out of hand. Let me explain.

Time and again, I’ve heard the phrase “stop slut-shaming” being used as a popular refrain, seemingly almost exclusively to absolve a girl of blame in some sort of social situation. To wit, a girl that dresses less-than-modestly may indeed be doing so because it makes her feel good, but as with most things, moderation and context is key. At a rave or a nightclub? Sure, let your bosoms breath a bit within reason. At the local grocery store or going to class? Not a terrible idea to invest in some clothing made with that new thread called MODESTY. Also, isn’t trying to make someone feel guilty for “slut-shaming,” in essence, an attempt to shame someone else? Speaking the truth doesn’t equate to shaming, and that’s often where this thing gets out of control.

Look, we live in a progressively sexual society – that’s a given. There’s no doubt that girls have ratcheted up their displays of sex appeal for a host of reasons, not the least of which being to possibly keep up with an increasing aesthetic demand from men. So, while guys are purported to think in sexual terms constantly, girls are the ones can easily display sexuality on a regular basis, and if doing so means more attention from the opposite sex, then all the better, right? Meh, therein lies part of the issue. Women will often bemoan how guys only want sex or treat them like pieces of meat – both very valid complaints. The larger issue at hand is definitely the fact that we’ve cultivated this culture and that women (and men!) are just reaping the benefits. We created this thing with our (mostly) good intentions, and now that it’s running amok, we have no one to blame for it but ourselves; Frankenstein’s monster, as it were.

That being said, I find myself perpetually asking the purveyors of the anti-slut-shaming movement, “Why hang the meat in the window if it isn’t for sale?” Let’s face it – it’s hard being a young woman in the meat market dating scene of young adulthood. And while you dressing more provocatively doesn’t necessarily betray the perceived lack of self-respect that some guys assume you have in contrast with girls who dress more modestly, it’s certainly not HELPING your case. I say that to say this – people are going to be crass and presumptuous anyways, but why load the gun for them? BECAUSE it’s already tougher to be the prey, why give the predator more reason to pick you out? Tantamount to a deer striding across an open field wearing a bullseye on its body, you can always argue that you didn’t DESERVE to be hunted, but at what point does responsibility get taken for making ourselves a target? This of course OBVIOUSLY DOES NOT APPLY TO EVERY WOMAN WHO’S EVER BEEN HARASSED OR RAPED, but you can help whether or not you’re giving guys the wrong ideas. If that means not wearing that skirt that you know damn well will give a broad view of your crotch if you sit the wrong way, then so what? Is the constant attention you get worth the potential sexual harassment that may follow? I haven’t done the appropriate legwork on the numbers yet, but I think the price of those extra drinks that skirt “buys” you from guys doesn’t quite cover the cost of your dignity or your privacy.

Another problem this anti-slut-shaming movement has helped foster is that of the victim. Basically, one act or transgression was more egregious than the one that triggered it, so the previous act is forgotten in a hasty effort to coddle that person, the perceived “victim” – it’s part of the reason Taylor Swift (and the music she’s known for) has become so polarizing. Again, women are quick to lament how guys only desire sex from them, yet the part that’s always left out is what that girl may have done to stir those feelings up. Ladies, there are ways to nip these things in the bud WITHOUT castrating a guy, and as much as some make claims to the contrary, you often know when you’re leading a guy on, because subtlety isn’t something with which the good Lord decided to grace most of us. No one’s saying you have to be callous when you turn him down or that you even have to say you’re not interested outright; I’m just saying that there are ways to be careful about these sorts of things.

Now invariably, a well-intended post like this will get read by someone with an axe to grind and for one reason or another, the point will sail completely over their head. After all – some people just misunderstand things, and some victims are determined to be victims. But for what it’s worth, we can all certainly agree that a society in which men are free to harass and disrespect women at their whim is definitely one in which no one should be living. That’s understood because it is, in fact, the bigger problem. But I, for one, am not ready to live in a society in which accountability isn’t valued either. No, ladies, he absolutely doesn’t have a right to treat you any way he wants, but no, ladies, you should also not be beyond reproach for giving him the idea that he can. Pointing that out doesn’t mean I’m “slut-shaming”; it means that just because he’s wrong doesn’t necessarily make you right. There is no way to overstate the importance of how someone presents themselves, and if you’re going to present yourself as a sexual entity first, then don’t cry wolf when that’s all you’re taken to be.

Tell the Truth

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