Slut Shaming 101

Although there are double standards everywhere within society, everyone knows there is a double sexual standard, specifically regarding women. Women are judged more harshly than men despite engaging in similar behaviors, especially behaviors including hook-ups and sexual contact with multiple partners. Some men are seen as “the man” whereas women are slut shamed and labeled as easy. Boys and men receive praise and positive attributions from others, while girls and women are believed to be derogated and     stigmatized for similar behaviors.

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cover_hesastudshesaslut As Jessica Valenti states in her latest book, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, “if you have a vagina, chances are someone has called you a slut at least once in your life. There’s just no getting around it.” Additionally, as a strong feminist she is, she writes about her personal experiences behind being called derogatory terms and the double standards she faced throughout her life. Again she wrote, “But it makes sense when you think about what the purpose of the world “slut” is: controlling women through shame and humiliation. Women’s bodies are always the ones that are being viewed over for control – whether it’s rape, reproductive rights, or violence against women, it’s our bodies that are the battleground, not men’s.”

To focus on the audience at hand, college students, men tend to gain status from having sexual experience, whereas female college students lose status and are seen as not having any self-respect – showing that females are more likely to sense regret due their peers’ reactions and lack of acceptance. However, from the start of one’s childhood, girls have been shamed for engaging in sexual activity. According to a study by Derek A. Kreager, Jeremy Staff, Robin Gauthier, Eva S. Lefkowitz & Mark E. Feinberg, The Double Standard at Sexual Debut: Gender, Sexual Behavior and Adolescent Peer Acceptance, they concluded that female adolescents who reported having sex during teenage years had significant decreases in friendships and peer acceptance, whereas male adolescents who reported having sex had significant friendship increases. “These patterns suggest that females and males receive very different social feedback during a critical period of sexual development. Adolescent girls who had sex lost friends, but adolescent boys who had sex gained friends. Sex, therefore, elicited a negative peer response for girls and a positive one for boys. Seventeen percent of girls in the sample had lost their virginity, while only 12 percent of the boys had.”

Another study conducted uncovered a new, more nuanced double standard among adolescents: Girls who reported making out gained friends, but boys who did the same lost friends, however there’s a different standing shown through this. According to the researchers, “this pattern is in line with the sexual script, because “‘lighter’ sexual behaviors may serve as markers of sexual desirability and maturity for girls, but may signify dependence and submission for boys.””

Additionally, to connect peer acceptance toward adolescents and acceptance throughout college campuses, Maura Gallagher, writer of The Female Perspective of Hooking-Up on College Campuses shows that in recent years, it seems to be just as acceptable to hook-up as it is to date on college campuses. Hooking up is now considered a social norm, which makes students believe it is more acceptable. In their survey, Bradshaw et. al. (2010) found that “77.7% of females and 82.4% of males reported hooking up at some point in college with a mean of 10.8 hook ups and a range of 0-65 hook ups. Previously, hooking up with strangers would instantly ruin a person’s reputation. Now it is not so commonly viewed as something to necessarily be ashamed of. College students tend to view their peers as much more promiscuous than they think of themselves to be, but this is not always the case” Hamilton and Armstrong 2009). Society tends to push two contradicting messages: sexual deviance is completely acceptable, but it is only acceptable if you are a male. It is so common now for words like “slut” and “whore” to be tossed around as if they have no negative connotation.

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However, these double standards within society have not only been prevalent just in the twenty-first century. These standards date back to far back in history, specifically the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s. As shown on by this graph, engaging in sex while in a committed relationship is shown as acceptable whereas casual sex is less acceptable. And as you can see, these stats have not changed from much from the year 1990 to 2012.145296-147203

Comparatively, however, women are constantly shamed for showing their bodies on media whereas it is fully acceptable for men to be shirtless. Women are always “asking for it,” even though we merely get dressed up to look good for ourselves and in photos rather than to impress the male race. Yet, to offer another perspective, Cosmopolitan posted these tweets. Why are women always objectified for what they’re wearing, but we [women] can openly talk about the assents that appear when watching the Olympics and within other situations as well? A statement that needs further more discussion than whats currently stated in this post.

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In conclusion – these are the points I have discovered through my research.

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