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April 12, 2016

Being Sexually Liberated Doesn’t Make me a Slut. {Video Interview}

Slutwalk Manchester, Man Alive! / Flickr

The word slut has German, Dutch and Swedish origins.

Combined, schlutt, slada and slodde mean unkept, idle and slovenly. But this common insult didn’t pick up its recent sexual shaming implications until a few decades ago.

I’m certainly not looking to add to the reactive, “walking on eggshells,” social media-slamming society I think we are living in now. It seems every other day someone is taking offense to what or how someone said a word or phrase. But, I do think there is a middle ground.

We could all do with a little less slut-shaming and a lot less hypocrisy.

If a young man is a virgin by a certain age, he’s a loser and needs to get laid. If a young girl who’s the same age is a virgin, she’s angelic and innocent.

If a grown man is getting laid all the time by many women, he get’s high-fives from his buddies. If a woman were to behave the same way, she gets called a slut by both men and women alike.

Slut-shaming condemns and attacks mainly women (and gay men) for their real or presumed sexual activity, behavior and expression.

Slut-shaming (and its cousins body-shaming, victim-blaming and sexual bullying) are pervasive.

Social media has not only brought more attention to the problems of slut-shaming, it has also made it worse! Hordes of people now hide behind their laptops, computers and cell phones verbally attacking a “slut-offending person” on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook as well is the comment sections of blogs and videos. Just ask targeted celebrities like Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian and so many other women over the decades (famous and non-famous alike).

Slut-shaming is not okay. It’s dangerous to our health and well-being.

Its vitriol targets mostly women and some gay men. Yes, gay men get their fair share too. While many gay men embraced their sexuality as a political statement post-Stonewall, they also internalized slut-shaming messages post-AIDS to shame even each other.

Slut-shaming attacks the way we dress, flirt or how many people we choose to date. All of which is set against some personal and societal code of acceptable sexual behavior.

Who created the societal code of acceptable sexual behavior so many of us defend and live our lives by?

The last time I was involved in slut-shaming anyone was in middle school. I didn’t even know what the word slut meant. But, I certainly knew how important it was to have a gaggle of girlfriends by your side.

I was pre-pubescent, pre-therapy, pre-meditation and yoga and pre-adulthood-inspired independent thinking. When I see grown adults hiding behind their social media platforms sexually shaming other grown adults I find myself thinking, “Really?! How old are you!?”

Is it really that difficult to co-exist peacefully with someone who expresses their sexuality differently to the way we choose to? If it is, go meditate or something.

I’m not so idealistic or “spiritual” that I think that “peace, love and joy” is for everyone. But I do think it’s possible, with a little effort on our part, to stop shaming people for their sexual expression. It’s just so Scarlet Letter!

The only kind of sexual shaming I can tolerate these days is the shaming of the many male-driven cultures around the globe who can legally jail, stone, maim or kill a woman for promiscuous behavior, premarital sex or even flirting.

We live in a country that claims to support sexual freedoms, a country that supports the rights of women—in theory. We live in a country that is suppose to have a separation of church and state. Why not walk on the sex positive side of those freedoms instead of habitually falling into sexual condemnation?

If we focused our attention on our own inner conflicts, demons, sexual repressions and self-loathing perhaps we’d be less likely to offer our criticisms of someone else’s sexual expression and behavior.

Let’s stop projecting onto our scapegoats and start looking inside at what our motivation is. Slut-shaming kills at its worst and psychologically torments at its least. There is no benefit.

With slut-shaming we walk a very slippery slope for a supposedly “free to be you and me” nation. If we continue to head down this road, we start to travel even deeper into rape culture with victim-blaming, sexual bullying and body-shaming. There are far too many instances of telling a girl that she “deserved it” when referring to sexual assault because of the way she dressed, flirted, or drank booze (slut-shaming).

We have freedoms that allow us the right to keep how we express our sexuality personal or public. We have the luxury to take part in or not take part in social or religious sexual shaming. We have the freedom to teach our children to accept people who are different than us.

Why not use those freedoms to stop all the shaming, elevate ourselves in the process, and educate everyone who is willing to learn?

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Author: Heather Dawn

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Man Alive! / Flickr

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