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Let’s Eliminate Slut-Shaming On Campuses Everywhere

What’s in a Word?

Language is a powerful, ever-evolving thing. It can be an outlet for expression, a tool to spark change or a source of sexism. Think about how many synonyms for “slut” exist in the English language. I can name at least five off the top of my head. Now, how many words exist for the male equivalent (and no, the sarcastic “man-whore” doesn’t count). See the problem? What makes it even worse is that slut-shaming is often a girl-on-girl crime, meaning that it involves one female judging the sexuality of another female.

Why is Slut-Shaming a Thing?

Ladies – why the hate? Well, it can probably be contributed to the fact that there is so much emphasis on sexual behavior in college, especially for us girls. It’s like there’s an imaginary scale which measures a girl’s “dateability”: if she’s had too much sex, she’s slutty and isn’t girlfriend material, but if she’s had too little sex, she’s inexperienced and probably no good. And because words like “slut” exist, a girl who has casual sex on a regular basis is seen as strange, but a guy who does the same thing? It’s the norm. This probably has to do with the long history of purity being closely associated with virginity for women since…well, practically the beginning of time. However, that same society also viewed women as property who couldn’t vote, own land and weren’t seen as true members of society until they were married. With all the advances women have had since then, why is the world still so concerned with our sex lives and using it to judge our character?

How Can We Help?

To completely eliminate the word “slut” would mean a pretty dramatic shift in our whole culture, which would take a pretty long time. However, advances are being made. Here at JMU’s campus, we have events, like Project Condom, which aim to encourage people to embrace their sexualities rather than to feel shame. Shows like Girls normalize the sexual behaviors of women and illustrate other aspects of women’s professional and social lives. Artists like Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Meghan Trainor sing about loving themselves and embracing their sexualities. However it isn’t just up to the stars to fix the s-word problem. If you hear the word, tell the person to knock it off, and explain why the word is wrong and how it contributes to a sexist environment that shames women. Let’s eliminate slut-shaming from campuses everywhere, starting right here at JMU.

19-year-old intersectional feminist on a mission to spread love and encourage girls to embrace their sexuality and bodies. Also on the mission to find the most delicious cup of coffee.
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