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Slut-shaming: What It Is & What You Need To Do About It

As a woman, it takes skill to maneuver through this world. We are consistently bombarded with obstacles as a coalition, both nationally and internationally. Feminist movements such as the recent HeForShe campaign are highly criticized, and the same sexual freedoms that men enjoy are openly oppressed when women engage in them. The latter idea brings up the very relevant issue of slut-shaming.

According to Geek Feminism, slut-shaming is “the act of criticizing a woman for her real or presumed sexual activity, or for behaving in ways that someone thinks are associated with her real or presumed sexual activity.”

Okay, so that’s a mouthful. More simply, slut-shaming is exactly what it says it is: shaming women for practicing or acting like they practice sexual freedom.

Why is this a big deal? Girls call each other sluts all the time. Sure the word has a negative connotation, but in recent years, girls use the term almost like a nickname. For example, depending on the language you and your friends use, it’s common to see a Facebook comment or text message that says, “miss you slut” to convey something positive. Sexuality is so engrained in our culture that we need to find some way to contain it, right? Wrong.

Slut-shaming is taking away the sexual freedom that should be accessible to women. It reinforces the idea that women especially have a certain place in society and must occupy that space and that space only. Where safe sexuality is a freedom, slut-shaming is repression.

We all remember the recent leak of our favorite tough girl Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos. Not only was it a complete breach of personal property, but it was, in fact, also a form of slut-shaming. She received a lot of backlash claiming that if she had never taken the pictures, she wouldn’t have this current problem. But why weren’t people up in arms about the hackers? Why did so many people only recognize this instance as a sex crime after Jennifer Lawrence had called it one?

In her interview with Vanity Fair, Jennifer wrapped up the fight against slut-shaming fully in her statement: “It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world. ”

She continued, “It is a sex crime … I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for.”

This is exactly the idea surrounding rape culture and slut-shaming: Women somehow have a responsibility for how the world perceives them. A woman’s only responsibility is how she treats herself in the search for comfort in her own skin. And yet, again and again, there are obstacles.

In middle and high school, girls must comply with stricter dress codes so they don’t “distract the boys.” They are turned away from semi-formals for wearing something as simple as a halter-top. Women who are victims of rape, including instances on Miami’s campus, are asked why they were drinking, or why they were wearing what they were wearing, rather than focusing on the rapist.

This is an issue that needs to be eradicated, and ladies, it has to start with us. Refrain from classifying girls who exercise their sexual freedom in the same way boys do as “sluts.” Instead, recognize what a gift it actually is to be a woman in this day and age; we are given the opportunity to alter the perception of women forever. All we have to do is begin that shift from shaming safe sexuality to celebrating it. It’s as simple as this: treat your body in a way you are happy with, treat your mind in a way you are content with and treat each other with respect. 

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