This semester I’ve become very passionate about a small subset of feminism. I’ve been taking my Intro to Research Methods course, in which you are supposed to write a research proposal. My proposal is about examining slut shaming rhetoric on the blogs Total Frat Move and Total Sorority Move. If the term slut shaming is new to you, don’t worry. It’s a coined term of art that has only appeared in the past 5-10 years but the concept it describes is one as old as time (probably, anyways). Soraya Chemaly, a writer for the Huffington Post, defines slut shaming as the “embarrassing, insulting or otherwise denigrating a girl or woman for her real or extrapolated sexual behavior, including for dressing in a sexual way, having sexual feelings and/or exploring and exhibiting them.” It’s a growing epidemic according to Leora Tanenbaum, author of the book “Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, who states that by the time a female graduates college, she will have experienced slut shaming at some point in her life. Body policing falls into the categorization of slut shaming. In effect, body policing is the shaming of what a girl wears or looks like because it doesn’t suit her body, whether it shows too much of her “womanly figure” or whether someone thinks she’s too skinny or overweight to wear whatever she’s wearing.
So I’m guessing your wonder what brought me to talk about this subject today. Well while on a study break I came across this post on my Facebook:
I agree with the the original post, the picture. The reason we police women’s bodies and tell them what/what not to wear is to “protect them” from the boys who will automatically degrade them or be distracted by their attire. This is treating the symptom to the problem. The reason that men do this sort of behavior is because of how we social men to associate to women. Men are taught that they should dominate others to have power, especially women (a reason why their is a sexual assault epidemic in our society). Men are told that women are yours for the taking whether she wants you or not (which is reinforced by certain types of pornography and other types of media). These and other small behaviors teach men and women that its the WOMAN’S fault for the MAN’S behavior.
Here’s the problem I have with the comment:
1. This woman assumes that women and girls dress in “provocative” or “racy” clothing because their trying to get males attention. While yes, some people do, some women do it because they like a certain outfit, it could be hot outside, or she just wants to feel good about herself and dressing like that gives her confidence. REGARDLESS, a woman should be about to wear whatever she wants because it is her body and most of the people making the policies (ie school boards) are predominately male.
2. She says that women to respect themselves. However she links that if you wear A TANK TOP you don’t have self respect. I can respect myself and wear whatever I god damn please. This specific type of logic tells women that you only dress a certain way so you can have a man, when I wear whatever I want because I feel like it. I can wear a body con dress out because I look hot in it and I gives me confidence, not because I’m trying to get a man.
3. She says dressing in a certain way is detrimental to your health. The reason it’s detrimental to our health is because we’ve created a society where women are blamed for men’s actions. The reason women can’t dress in a provocative fashion is because we teach men that women are for their taking and they should be violent to anyone (but especially women) if they want to dominate anyone. If you want to STOP the problem with violence against women, treating the symptoms haven’t solved anything. Teaching women self defense, having women go out in groups, etc has been a strategy going on for a while. While sure it may have helped, slut shaming, rape and other forms of violence against women are a thing that women have to protect themselves against on a daily basis. If you really want to end this epidemic, we need to teach the young males of society that power does NOT come from violence and domination. We need to teach young males that women are AUTONOMOUS and have the right to dress how they want without any reactionary action taken from the. We need to teach young males how to RESPECT women, regardless of what she wears, how she acts sexually, or what she denies you. These solve the root of the problem and until these underlying causes are addressed, we will continue to have these violence acts verses women.
What do you think?