Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SLUT SHAMING

My son attended a wedding last week.  When he arrived a young man gave him and his male friends each a key and told them to hold on to it, that it would be used later in the wedding.  Zac and his friend, the groom,  have not been close for the past few years, in part because the fiance and her family are very religious.  His friend changed when he started attending her church and was converted to their particular Christian  sect.
He attended the wedding out of respect and to see other old friends.  He actually had a good time and was glad he went - except for a few things, one of them I will share.

During the speeches, a member of the bride's family got up and said that the groom had not been her first boyfriend, but now that she managed to get married he thinks all the guys who have keys to her apartment should come up and hand them over.  And apparently, they all did.  They got up and dropped the key they had been given into a jar placed in front of the bride at the family table.

Zac was dumbfounded at what he called the "slut shaming" aspect of this "joke."  I won't go into any of the other antics at this wedding because that is not really the point of this post.

I was taken by his term "slut shaming" and did a bit of research to see how this term is used.  I know that it was, in part the theme of a great movie called Easy A starring my favorite young actress, Emma Stone,  but what else is being said out there about this subject?

One very insightful blog called Dating While Feminist had this to say:

Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior.” It is damaging not only to the girls and women targeted, but to women in general an society as a whole. It should be noted that slut-shaming can occur even if the term “slut” itself is not used.

Policing women via what’s considered “normal” and “acceptable” boundaries for female sexuality is not limited to sex and sexual activity. For instance, women who wear “provocative clothing” (or just photographed while having breasts) are subjected to slut-shaming. As are women who are sexually aggressive and/or unabashedly lay claim to their own sexuality.

And when I look around me - there is so much of this going on.  I have mentioned the men who come into our bar always making remarks on the "cougars" going to the nightclub next door.  How dare those women dress up and go out looking to meet men - after all, they are not in their 20's any more which is pretty much the last time most men think women should be sexual.  Especially if they are mothers - moms are not supposed to be sexual. 

And while I am not one to ever think a woman is "asking for it" I admit that I am much more comfortable with my daughters dressing more conservatively - leaving more to the imagination, as I have said to them.  I have been uncomfortable in the presence of women dressed differently than I would.  I have considered their clothing "provocative" which is a certainly a judgement based on sexuality.  And really, so what?  If that is how she chooses to present herself, to celebrate her body why should she be judged for that?


In a Canadian court, a judge let a man off who raped a 25 year old woman because the victim and her rapist met "outside a bar under inviting circumstances."  The judge pointed out the victim and her friend were dressed in tube tops, no bras, and high heels and noted they were wearing plenty of makeup.  The judge called the man a "clumsy Don Juan" who may have misunderstood what the victim wanted.  (I am sure her struggles and crying out "no" while being raped off on the bushes was hard to decipher what with those high heels and all.)

The proliferation of gossip shows, fashion critiques, reality shows which pit women against women or set up competitions based on sex appeal have all contributed to a culture which is quick to judge others and very quick to persecute for sexuality.  This does not only apply to women.  Just think of what was done to Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton. They certainly didn't get off with an old fashioned "boys will be boys."

That these "good Christian" folks thought it was humorous and appropriate to suggest that the bride was a slut at her wedding goes so far beyond the boundaries of good taste it sounds like something thought up by writers of tacky bromance movies.  Too bad in this case that the men attending the wedding didn't refuse to participate once they knew what the mysterious key was for.  Perhaps if they, no, if we all, could stop and think of how we would feel if these things are being directed to the women in our lives, we could all put a halt to this shameful practice.

6 comments:

knittergran said...

I have never heard of doing such a thing. And she still married him after that?!
I am speechless...

writingtowellness said...

Ugh, now that's a new term that I just did NOT need to learn. It's enough that the attack on women's rights continue as a point of political gamesmanship without seeing the continued woman-bashing in our society. And, I marvel at the young(er) women who refuse to declare themselves feminists or define the word in some weird way (a la Palin).
Jan

Tricia said...

Another rich post!
I have heard of the 'keys' thing at a wedding but I think it was the groom that it was referring to and women that brought up keys, I could be wrong?
Re: the Canadian judge, I seem to remember that case and if I am correct he got slammed by women activists in Canada, don't think they sat back or that Canadians in general share that view.
I think it is sad that society accepts and even admires men who "bag" a young wife, yet it is considered "gross" when a woman dates a young man. IMO both relationships are going to have problems to overcome.
I also think that women's sexuality needs to be defined differently than men's. Women do not view or experience sex the same way men do.

knittergran said...

HER family did this!!! There are no words...

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That is definitely bizarre.

yogurt said...

I am thoroughly impressed that your son recognized the implied slut shaming. Bravo, Mrs. Bright-mom!

Slut-shaming is a new term for me, although, of course, the concept is far from new. I've always abhorred the term slut, more so than most other four letter words. That a woman or teenage girl must pay a price, earn a "reputation," for submitting to the persistent sexual demands of boys, is altogether too rich. Oh to live in a world where we get to blame others for submitting to own initiatives.