Michigan State University's Independent Voice Since 1909, East Lansing, MI

State News Logo

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | Last updated: 12:06pm


  • Facebook Logo
  • Twitter Logo
  • RSS Feed Logo
  • Email Signup Logo



'Slut-shaming' too common on campus






Abdilla

Abdilla

Katie Abdilla is a State News staff reporter. Reach her at kabdilla@statenews.com.

Nobody likes a slut — at least, that’s what our culture has conditioned us to believe.

Young adults have grappled with the subject of promiscuity and having multiple sex partners for centuries. Two things have remained constant: the topic has remained taboo and sensitive, and what many call “sleeping around” is still generally frowned upon.

I hear the word “slut” often, in both normal and heated conversation. College students toss it around like a frisbee. That woman walking down Grand River Avenue, the one who’s rocking an outfit that shows a little leg? She’s a slut. Any woman who even looks at your boyfriend is a slut. Any woman who has contact with someone on your list of ex-boyfriends fits the bill.

Whether it’s true or not, the word has become the perfect label for all the women out there who make us feel the least bit insecure about our own lives. And if a woman actually does have multiple sex partners and that gets out, it might mean her circle of friends look down on her or respect her less.

In fact, making women who are perceived as “promiscuous” feel bad about themselves to boost our own self-confidence has become such a commonplace action, the concept now has a word to define it. We are all guilty of “slut-shaming,” and whether we like it or not, it hurts people. But more than that, it hurts us. It’s time to stop.

First of all, the bedroom decisions of another person have absolutely no effect on your own life, so stop involving yourself.

Contrary to what seems like popular belief, a person’s sex life is strictly between them and their partners. It’s a notion that doesn’t seem to matter much to most people. In the age of instant gratification from social media, even secrets told in confidence aren’t safe. Truth be told, everyone loves a little gossip about the latest hookup among friends, mostly because we get bored with our own lives. But in addition to making the person in question look bad, a hearty gossip session reflects even more poorly on the source of the story.

One of my best friends was very well-liked in high school, but she developed a reputation for “getting around.” People judged her before even getting to know her sweet and compassionate personality, but she never let it bother her because she knew anyone worthy of friendship wouldn’t judge her like that.

Unless the person in question is sleeping with your significant other or your crush, who they choose to spend some private time with is none of your business. Even then, calling someone a “slut” to spite them is just plain tacky.

I’m not saying I’m blameless. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. We likely will continue to do it — all out of our constant inner desire to make ourselves feel better about our own shortcomings.

In the words of Jayne Schuiteman, interim director of the MSU Women’s Resource Center, women have become experts at judging other women. Women of all ages are harsh to one another as a defense mechanism, Schuiteman said in a previous interview with the State News.

She couldn’t be more spot-on. In times when a hit to the ego grates at our self-worth, it almost seems too easy to take a jab at someone else to cushion the blow. But if it could potentially compromise another person’s reputation, it’s always better to refrain from future guilt and keep your mouth shut.

In cases of sexual assault, slut-shaming also can quickly spiral into victim-shaming, or blaming the victim for being attacked. When I see high-profile rape cases in the news, it makes my skin crawl when people mention what the victim was wearing or their lifestyle choices. There is not a person on this earth who is to blame for their own rape or assault, and it is inexcusable to make them feel that way. People might not realize it, but the prospect of being judged or called a slut can and does keep rape victims from reporting their assault. If it is not reported, they never receive closure. Do not be the person who inadvertently keeps a victim of sexual assault from moving on with their life.

Slut-shaming embraces a gender stereotype that died a long time ago. Women often are expected to give off the vibe of a “good girl,” but still feel the pressure to become promiscuous and “experienced.” Men are encouraged to sleep around, while women often are read the riot act for racking up their score. It’s a double standard that’s darn near impossible to satisfy for both men and women, and it can create serious self-confidence issues for women who feel they don’t measure up. The same can be said for men who believe they “fall short” of the ideal number of partners.

In the end, any possible reason to slut-shame someone surely stems from an insecurity within ourselves.

Most importantly, it hurts people who have done nothing to deserve it.


Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The State News.