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Celia Edell

Slut-Shaming: The Woman’s Drama Continued

Slut-shaming is misogyny. It is a sexual double-standard used to shame and silence women, often with dangerous effects. It is, as Barbara Kay points out in her article 'The Slut': The Woman’s Drama, an old practice, one that perpetuates competition between females. However, I would like to challenge Kay’s conclusion that the 'age of the slut' will never be over. She contends that it is 'human nature' for women to aggressively suppress each others' sexuality – moreover, that this phenomenon stems from female competitiveness. Instead, I would suggest that misogyny, in this case, internalized misogyny, is not natural. It is a means of maintaining the status quo. And it is something we are taught from youth throughout adulthood. Kay’s piece is no exception. Social pressures challenge young women in more ways than one. Certainly, girls compete with each other for male attention; attention that often comes with a great deal of expectations from both male and female peers. But there are also pressures bestowed upon girls from parents, figures of authority, even school dress codes. Girls' bodies are consistently re-contextualized through the male gaze – controlling the way a girl can dress her body teaches us that the female body is inherently sexual, and female sexuality is inappropriate. This objectification also removes the agency of young girls, sending the message that her body is not her own; it is a distraction to boys, sexual by default, and it ought be under the control of someone else. As long as their bodies are sexualized, and their sexuality demonized, these girls will continue to be shamed for their promiscuity. Yet while shaming a girl for having consensual sex is nasty, blaming a victim for her sexual assault is dangerous; which is why I was unhappy to read Kay’s assertion that “to avoid being slut-shamed,… Read More