I blog for Change…

As I attempt to orient the windy and often treacherous roads that encapsulate life, here are some of my thoughts on the successes, failures and ultimately the hope and positivity in which I strive for a better world. I also hope that I can use this blog as a platform to elevate the social justice issues that are somewhat forgotten in the modern discourse of staying silent on issues that challenge. Sx

#16Days – Slut-shaming.

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slutshaming2

This particular topic has got to be one that infuriates me the most when speaking about gendered inequality. I think the best quote I have ever seen on the hypocrisy involved with measuring men and women against so called ‘promiscuous behaviour’ is that “boys will be boys and girls will be sluts”. Well fuck. If that doesn’t demonstrate the double standard that exists then I’m not sure what does.

Slut shaming in itself is basically the act of judging a woman’s ‘loose’ sexual behaviour and deeming her with a derogatory label forever branding her with the scarlet letter of ‘S’. The inequality here is rife enough without me needing to point out that there is no male equivalent to a slut. Apparently when it comes to men there is no such incidence ever when sexual intent or the pursuit of endless sexual contexts is deemed to be ‘too much’.

For women you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you inhibit too much confidence and agency when it comes to your sex life you are viewed as being overly sexy and therefore a slut. If you fall too far onto the other side and are not sexy enough then you are frigid prude. We cannot win! And god forbid that a woman who has been judged as being ‘too overtly sexual’ is ever the victim of sexual violence…. cause you know that her past history of whoring it out will be pointed to as the reason her assault happened in the first place. Thus being a proverbial #sorrynotsorry from a society intent on judging, shaming and policing women’s behaviour.

As pointed out by many, slut shaming isn’t actually about women’s sexuality. It is grounded in the belief that men get to assert themselves, and women do not. That women and girls are taken to task over their sexuality and men and boys are celebrated and congratulated for exhibiting this same behaviour. It is an engrained double standard which aims to continue to propagate that women are asexual beings whose worth is measured against their purity and wholesome reputation. This ideal purports that a woman is only worth what her sexual virtue suggests and that abstaining from sexual expression is a given.

Systematically tearing down women based on their sexuality is a primordial example of a endemic culture of shaming women. Publicly deriding a woman who openly engages in sexual activity (notably that is ANY sexual activity) which is considered as taboo is wielded as a weapon to guilt or shame a woman into forcibly changing her behaviour.

To be labelled as promiscuous or sexually provocative is something that we as women try to avoid at all costs. Whether it be actively hiding our numbers of sexual partners or intently lowering them to mask our sexuality, this continues to feed into a culture in which a woman’s worth is only as much as her ability to be sexually virtuous. We live in a world today in which freedom and equality are supposed to be paramount and yet when it comes to sexuality a woman is far from equal.

It is about time that we as a society ceased punishing women socially for possessing an identity of sexual freedom. We practice agency in all other elements of our lives and therefore our sexuality should also be one of these. Women are not asexual creatures who embark upon sexual activity only for procreation purposes. The expression of sexual identity and agency should be considered as what it is a choice and one that can be empowering for women to feel comfortable within their own bodies. What men need to realise and recognise is that is that women do things for themselves and not just for them.

Lastly, as women we also have a lesson to take from this. Let’s not be so quick to judge each other on purported ‘looseness’. Let’s not continue to promote the practice of questioning a woman’s character or morals based on her expression of her sexual expression and identity. Let’s take the sting out of words like slut, whore, ho, floozy, slag and whatever other terms exist to shame women. This is a call out to all my sisters (and I mean sisters, not just CISTERS) out there, be free in your sexual expression and your sexual identity because that is a right which has been provided to you universally by simple virtue of the fact that you are human.

End. – Day 11.

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Author: es.el.gee

Sabene is a development practitioner, activist, writer, blogger and intersectional feminist. She currently works for CBM Australia and manages its India portfolio of Community Based Inclusive Development programs. Sabene’s expertise specialises in the intersection of gender and disability with a specific focus on South Asia and the Pacific. She is passionate about equality and social justice and serves as the Co-Director of Catalyst Co-Lab, an advocacy and rights based group which aims to raise awareness and empower active citizens and agents of change.

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