Slut shaming is the principle way that modern society represses self-expression in girls and women. If a female doesn’t conform to a conservative line on behavior and appearance in public, she is labeled a slut, which translates to brazenly oversexed and immoral.
First of all, who gets to decide what is oversexed and immoral?
Conformity is a cultural construct that has been used for centuries to repress women. It began eleven thousand or so years ago, when humans traded the stone-age, hunter-gatherer nomadic way for living in permanent communities dependent on agriculture for survival. The move to settlements also gave rapid rise to a male aggression/dominance paradigm that has shaped human societies ever since.
Women have been subjugated and treated as little more than vessels for child bearing ever since. Women who dared step out of the very dark shadow looming over them were given a scarlet label, or even worse, brutally made into fearsome example by being burned alive at the stake.
In modern, developed societies women have shaken off most of the limits that prevented them from achieving their full potential in earlier times. These days, women’s voices are loud and clear. They have demanded equal treatment and, for the most part, they are getting it. Some battles, like equal pay for equal work and reproductive choice, are still being waged, so the fight continues.
One area where younger people, and young females in particular, remain in conflict with older people is in how they express themselves by appearance and personal behavior. Female sexuality is a powerful force that has been almost entirely repressed since the invention of the wheel. Not anymore. We live now in an era awash in sexual expression. Forty percent of the traffic on the internet is sexual in nature, much of it extremely so.
Young girls born into the age of the internet and cellphones are now getting peer pressure to engage in ‘sexting’, where the private exchange of sexually provocative images is the norm. This is a broad form of sexual expression that is far beyond anything seen in previous eras.
Religious conservatives and traditionalists are apoplectic about the rise of female power and sexual expression. They lament the passing of the female modesty that was once the norm, and they are quick to apply the ‘slut’ label to any girl who choses to express herself overtly, by what she wears and how she behaves.
Here’s a bit of information we’d like to share with anyone who dares condemn another person, because they function outside of a cultural straightjacket. We humans are hardwired to be interested in sex. It is how we are made. The brain sends us strong bio-chemical signals in response to sexual stimuli. That’s what nature intended.
That’s not to say that freedom includes license to behave any way one likes. Some judgment is required. But it’s not young people who are open in their sexual expression that need to change so much as it is older people, who are quick to apply ugly labels.
Bottom line. Being sexual is normal for men and for women. Every person, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, has a right to own their sexuality, and express it as they wish, without fear of attracting a ‘scarlet’ label.
Through the ages, sex workers have been the subject of ridicule and scorn. Many of them choose to express themselves through that career choice. Should they be condemned for doing so? Or should they be accepted for who they are, within a framework of public policy that regulates their work to protect them from exploitation and violence, with law enforcement focused on stopping the exploitation of adults, and particularly children, who are forced into sexual servitude? The answer to this also seems clear to us. Europe, Australia, and New Zealand to a large extent, are already taking this tolerant approach.
We respect women who are comfortable expressing their sexual power. It is entirely normal to think that way. Men should not take that to mean they can behave like alley cats when they see an attractive woman walking down the street. There are ways to appreciate a woman without ceding complete control to one’s limbic brain. Consent under all circumstances is the operative word.
We ran across a video produced by Hannah Whitton, a young girl from London in the U.K. Hannah does a lovely job of putting slut shamers in their place.
Here is a link to Hannah Whitton’s wonderful video repudiating the social phenomenon known as slut shaming… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3bQLq9QGA4