Women: The Secret Slut Shamers

Today is International Women’s Day, and whilst we celebrate the empowered women around us and support those who are facing dangerous abuse and sexism right now, I have been reminded of the importance of females supporting other females.

Women are given enough conflicting messages and oxymoron demands every day, without fellow females becoming part of it.

Male oppression remains a real and current issue, and more examples of female inequality are shown each day.

Girls are being exploited as sex workers and statistics have revealed that a quarter of the world’s women were once child brides, with ceremonies often taking place at night because of its illegality in places such as India.

Victim blaming remains a damaging ideology within rape culture; a culture where we still associate rape with random people in dark alleys, yet 90% of attacks are carried about by people known to the victim.

However, some women’s attitudes can do just as much internal harm to the fight for equality as external people do.

Slut shaming is by no means a new phenomenon  but I am becoming increasingly concerned with the amount  of women who are the perpetrators of this behaviour.

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The term ‘slut shaming’ refers to the act of shaming someone because of their sexual conduct. However, the word ‘slut’ means different things to everyone, and can encompass everything from promiscuity, to how women dress, speak or present themselves.

I’m not sure how early I learnt the word “slut”; let alone when I became conditioned to use it against other women as a way to attack and isolate them. 

Can you remember the first, or even worse, the last time you called a woman a slut, or attempted to criticise her based on her looks alone?

I’ll admit I used to slut shame when I was of high school age. I was a product of a conditioned generation who is told that a woman’s worth is related heavily to how she conducts herself around men, and there’s a very fine line between being “attractive” and a down-right whore.

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“Reclaim the Night” march in Sheffield to fight rape culture. Image my own. 

Being labelled as a ‘slut’ is one of the most degrading things you could do to a woman, (you can thank the patriarchy which sexualize women from a young age for that) and often devalues her of other attributes or achievements. Yet women do it to other women all the time.

Now, feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” and the movement has made great progress, specifically in the west, and more and more women are identifying as feminist.

Yet the incidence of slut shaming is still rife, often from the very same women who call themselves “feminists”. 

We will never achieve equality whilst there is a lack of cohesion among women and whilst women are prolonging and feeding the patriarchal ideals that sex for females = bad.

I know women who lie about how many guys they have slept with, in fear that they will be judged harshly for their sexual exploits. I also know women who’s judgemental behaviour is the cause of such fear among their friends, and myself personally.

Insulting other women for you own personal gain, whether its because of their race, shape, size, beliefs or their appearance is so damaging, yet this outright bitchiness is often ignored.

Call it a case of female connivance.

A woman who sits and outright bullies others actions or looks out of misguided dislike or jealously should think about the true value of inclusive feminism.

Take this recent article in The Guardian entitled: “Oscars red carpet fashion: a retrograde year for Hollywood feminism”. Author Jess Cartner-Morely ‘analysed’ the lady’s looks of the night, and, whilst using language akin to playground bullying, insulted the majority of their fashion choices.

Speaking about Alicia Vikander, she stated: “I mean, seriously: this is the biggest night of your year, Vikander, and you wear lemon yellow and your hair in a half-bun? What are you, eight?”

She described this “tweeny, princess aesthetic” as a retrograde in feminism. In my eyes, no feminism is valid whilst it invalidates another woman’s choice of dress. 

Subtle digs at feminism are made everyday. I had to listen to one man jokingly state that “Emma Watson should shut up once in a while.”

She has today come out against others who have called her a “feminazi” yet the attack on feminism isn’t isolated to males.

Some women vehemently reject the movement because they feel they don’t identify with it.

It can be difficult to identify with the struggle toward female empowerment through gender equality when there’s so much discrimination within it. 

When is the fact that a woman should be a two things: whoever and whatever the F**K she wants, going to be accepted as fact?

I get it, all women are clamouring for the top against a predominately male-dominated world, but pushing other women down on the way will achieve nothing.

And neither does men hating, for the record.

It’s time we all joined hands and fought the subtle, everyday sexism and slut-shaming that is created by our own gender. 

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We must remember that women who don’t enjoy western privilege are shunned by their own families once they are raped, aren’t given the chance to read, to be educated, to learn or to work. Women in war-torn countries are given no human rights under Sharia law, and women all over the world are still paid less than men. Everyday sexism harms females self-image daily.

This is the real fight; not whether a woman is a slut or a frigid (because neither term should exist). Neither is it your place to join the vindictive trolls who try to dampen a woman’s body positivity.

In order to truly dismantle this oppression we must be inclusive, and support and empower every woman around us. 

 

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