equality / human rights

The Subject of ‘Slut-Shaming’ as a Sign of Emerging Adolescence in Modern Man

Are those her ankles!? The shame of it all!

Are those her ankles!? The shame of it all!

Since the Steubenville incident, the rape/rape culture theme has become a far more prominent theme across the internet. Not to say it wasn’t there before – but it’s again bubbled to the surface though recent and horrid events. As one of the billions of ladyfolk here on Earth I’ve taken an active interest in the topic, mostly (and understandably) because it directly affects me.

I recently read a post entitled Tables Have Turned on ‘Slut Shamers’ by Julia Baird from the Sydney Morning Herald which described how evidence previously used to shame women seen as ‘sluts’ (videos, photographs and so on) is now being used to incriminate the men doing the shaming. I am happy to see this turn around in public convention – people should be free to have a good time without being shamed or harmed. While I agreed with the overall sentiment of the piece, one of the comments caught my ever-jumping attention:

It’s one thing to defend a woman’s right to her own body and sexual choices and another to promote promiscuity as female empowerment. A majority of women who feverishly endorse the anti-sult shaming movement will in turn quite readily shame any woman who does not consider promiscuity a healthy choice. The impression you often come away with when discussing this issue is, “sex with lots of partners equates to female liberation”. In defending the right of women to be “sluts” – that is to use their sexuality in hedonistic ways, as men have long done – we aren’t exactly endorsing self-preservation for men or women, but rather insisting that we should all drink and shag as much as we like and damn the consequences, so long as no one dares call us a “slut”. Just what is the message here?

I feel this is a point well made. I hold a very fixed opinion that if a woman wants to show leg, marinate in a tipsy night out, have sex with someone/many someones/many someones at the one time, then she can go right ahead as long as everyone involved is consenting and having a good time. Equally, I feel that if a woman doesn’t want to have sex with lots of people/one person/any person then she’s equally entitled to do so. Same goes for men. Same goes for anyone. People should feel free to do what they like without having so much conventional judgement passed upon them. So what is a woman goes into town in a short, tight dress and gets drunk?  I’ve seen men with their pants belted at the thighs with way too much crotch-through-underwear showing going into town to get drunk. Doesn’t turn me on but if they’re having fun then all the best to them (additionally, it seems as though there’s a certain amount of skill required to walk with pants slung that low. Tenacity is the route to all skills and I salute their diligence).

The above comment makes the point that promiscuity doesn’t necessarily equal empowerment – a point I happen to agree with. Middle ground says it’s a woman’s right to be able to embrace her sexuality without fear of persecution, violence or aggression. More commonly, society sits off to one side and states that women should be allowed to embrace their sexuality but only within the confines of old-fashioned social convention, a convention that differs from person to person and place to place. It places constraints and blame on the sexuality of women that are not necessarily placed on men. On the opposite side are those who believe that women should be allowed to be as promiscuous as they like and that any woman who doesn’t openly embrace her sexuality is a prude and supports an old and decaying ‘traditionalist’ system that centres around the idea that if women dress like that then they obviously want some sort of sexual incident because men can’t help themselves.

I feel that either sides of the argument are fundamentally flawed and overly biased. My feelings towards topics involving the pigeon-holing and labelling of others may seem to some as blasé or uninvolved, but to me this is a mute debate. As long as no one is getting purposely hurt, then whatever you do is your business.

If women want to wear skimpy clothes – that’s fine.
If women want to cover up from head to toe – a-ok.
If women want to work in traditionally male roles – go for your life.
If women want to do/be/say/feel whatever – good on them.

People will always observe, label and judge others. This can be a good thing. To hold an opinion and then have that opinion challenged can help thoughts and attitudes to grow, evolve and solidify. It forces you to defend your point of view which can be a crucial factor in determining whether or not it holds water or leaks, producing a gooey mess all about your shoes. To debate with someone who doesn’t have the same ideas as you can be liberating, educating and damn good fun. To discuss topics that challenge your automatic assumptions can lead to a better congealed lump of knowledge that can’t be so easily washed away, no matter how hard storytellers scrub.

This type of boxing up is done by and to humans of all walks of life: there are women, men, gays, straights, trans, bis. There are different appearances, religions, opinions, walks of life, jobs, situations, dreams, fears and loves. They are shy, powerful, outgoing, timid, pedantic, worried, annoying, funny, sophisticated, educated, street-smart, pretentious, inspired, upset, loved and loving. Society tries to package them into tiny boxes that attempt to represent who they are and what they do so as to allow the human brain to make sense of them.

I like to call this variety of boxed up creatures People.

Variety is a delicious spice of life. The side dish to variety should involve privacy, respect, tolerance, a curiosity for knowledge and a saucy splash of good manners. People are more than the sum of their parts and to try to confine and, more importantly, condemn them due to one aspect of their makeup is both foolish and insulting.

Prejudice is fuelled by the belief in a just world. Life and existence can be, at times, seen as unfair and unjust due to conditions we place upon it; death is unfair, having to do extra is unfair, being tall/short/female/male/gay/straight is unfair. Like our concept of time, these genres of life are created by humans for use by humans alone. The prejudices we have are generally localised to traits developed and exhibited by our own species (I’ve yet to see an ‘Anti-Shetland Pony Association’ amongst equines). While the particular topic of rape, rape culture and ‘slut shaming’ is a theme of this bias, the actual issue runs far deeper. Humans are clan animals; by aligning ourselves with those similar to us in some way, we can feel a sense of belonging. We’re a long way off using our common species as a connecting trait. Maybe one day we’ll move beyond worrying about people sexuality or appearance or opinion. But for now we have many deep-seeded issues to work through.

Father Christmas DOES exist! I've seen him on the telly!

Father Christmas DOES exist! I’ve seen him on the telly!

We’re a child race who is just beginning to discover the natural world around us and, unlike when we were very young and we believed nature would take care of us, we are finding nature to be cold, dangerous and completely indifferent. That sort of realisation can send shock waves through the soul, in much the same way as the truth of Father Christmas may have once done. Our adaptive nature will certainly get us through our disputes but how long will that take? Many great civilisations have fallen due to rigidity and false knowledge (and who knows how many others have been forgotten and swallowed by time), their lessons and knowledge lost. Our ability to tackle these small (on the grand scale) problems will set our foundations for the future and determine whether or not we will survive in nature’s unconcerned landscape or whether we will ultimately destroy ourselves and be lost to time forever.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s