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    6 MIN READ

    Reclaiming the word slut

    Women across the world are generally taught from birth, implicitly or explicitly, that their sexual behavior defines their worth in the world.

    Ever heard someone say, or even thought to yourself…

    • “Oh she gets around”

    • “She’s asking for it”

    • “I don’t think she’s girlfriend material because we had sex on the first date.”

    • “She’s not the kind of girl that I’d want to introduce to my folks”

    • “I think she does that for the attention”

    Welcome to your latest chapter of unlearning.

    Today’s tutorial: how to deprogram your mind from slut shaming. 

    Straight up, we are pro slut and we think there is a good girl problem. Every time we raise this conversation with our sisters, we realise just how ingrained our internalised judgements are. We want to unpack how we can reclaim the word slut and break free of the idea that our worth is dependent on how many lovers we’ve taken.

    The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines slut shaming as “shaming a woman for her sexual experiences, real or invented, because of perceived violation of ideas of purity and morality.” In its purest form, slut-shaming is an attack on someone’s character and reputation, and one that demonizes female sexual agency. In a recent call out via our Instagram, you told us that slut shaming has made you question whether it was okay to be sexually curious (it is) and question if you should be exploring yourself (you should). You told us that your closest pals called you a slut (not on) and told you that you were asking for it (also, totally not okay). 

    According to a study conducted by the American Association of University Women, it is one of the most common forms of sexual harassment that students in middle and high school deal with. And sadly slut-shaming is not new, but a form of cultural suppression of female sexuality that has been practiced since antiquity.

    Women across the world are often taught from birth, implicitly or explicitly, that their sexual behavior defines their worth in the world. If you send nude photos your reputation will be ruined (it wont). If you reply to a text message too quickly, you’re too easy (you’re not). Whether these words are spoken aloud or we hear them in our internal monologue, they represent patterns of oppression that link our sexual conduct with self worth. There are so many issues with slut shaming, not the least that it encourages rape culture and sees womxn shape the way they exist in the world in order to adhere to the male gaze (depicting and revering womxn for her beauty, physique, and sex appeal). This results in hostility and judgement about our sexual adventures, and in doing this, we teach ourselves and others, that it’s unsafe to bring up sexual assault becuase we run the risk of our abuse being labeled slutty behaviour.

    SO WHAT DOES MODERN DAY SLUT SHAMING LOOK LIKE?

    Slut-shaming is the experience of being labeled a sexually adventurous girl or womxn and then being punished socially. It’s the comments in hallways. It’s food thrown in the school yard at girls because of who she kissed. But, slut shaming on the internet is nek level. It’s the posting of threads in DM about how that girl behaved. It’s videos posted online without consent. It’s images circulated among friends and friends of friends.

    We recently ran a poll and over 85% of you told us that you had experienced or been witness to slut shaming. You told us stories of victimisation often at the hands of our close friends, you told us about people you know calling you out for kissing a boy in public, about the siblings of your close pals acting without consent and when you addressed it, the result was to be told you were asking for it. We were told of you being fired for your outside of work hours side hustle. It breaks our hearts to hear that at the root of most slut shaming experiences, was insecurity, a curiosity and then a public shaming. This shaming is often delivered by other women, towards women, and often, it’s when women are exploring, are liberated in ways that the oppressor is too afraid to explore themselves. 

    But have you had that feeling when you feel sexy and hot, when you feel desired, feel strong in your sexual power, it’s euphoric.

    Slut shaming hasn’t evolved an awful lot from our Roman forefathers. And while we have certainly evolved to a point of making space in today’s society for sex outside of marriage, have we completely relinquished judgement from sex with multiple partners, prior and while in relationships? While yesteryears’ judgement may have been delivered by the church, or the male dominated leadership systems, today’s version of good girl judgement tends to be reinforced through articles discussing the clothing that Billie Eilish does or doesn’t wear or the lovers featured in Taylor Swift’s lyrics, and of course through social media, family structures and most heartbreakingly, friendship circles.

    WHAT IS THE FALL OUT?

    We have arrived at a point in history where we have a firm set of boundaries for today’s good girl and if we fail to meet the standards it too often results in spiraling mental health. Of course there is an inherent sexual double standard. A male counterpart does not get judged, harassed or have his reputation damaged for the many sexual partners he may explore with, and instead he may be ridiculed or judged for not having enough! Why are we doing this to ourselves? The message: Boys will be boys, and girls will be sluts. 

    Schools and parents can unknowingly play into the slut-shaming culture by creating restrictive dress codes that penalise girls for showing too much skin while allowing boys much more freedom. When we tell young womxn to dress in a certain way to avoid attracting attention, we’re blaming the victim instead of the perpetrator. 

    Womxn can be left with a sense of shame, embarrassment, and sometimes pain. We can feel worthless and hopeless often experience body-image issues and depression, and anxiety.

    THE NEXT GENERATION

    As we lag in our evolution in broader society, thankfully characters like Normal People’s Marianne and Sex Education’s Maeve, are showing us a beautiful broader, messy, angry, intelligent, and sexually curious female. Young women today are working to break the cycle of good girls. The fourth wave of feminism has brought to light conversations around sexual harassment, body shaming, and rape culture – all of which sit oppressed under the tension of ‘good girls’. 

    So, individually are we listening, are we beginning to evolve our views to accept broader definitions of beautiful empowered womxn?

    LISTEN TO YOUR OWN SLUT-SHAMER

    As you and your friends raise your voices and lean into your sexual exploration, listen to the inner critic and check your thinking patterns. The next time you think, “well if she hadn’t been out by herself” or similar, pinch yourself and verbally call yourself out. Model the behavior you want to see, not just for yourself, but for those around you.

    If you worry that people won’t like you if you call out a behaviour (someone judging you) or if you worry that by having a voice you won’t be desirable, gently remind yourself that you’re part of a revolution and breaking down an archaic messed up system.

    Know your boundaries and ask for what you want and deserve. Want to take that guy home for a one night stand? Invite him. Want to wear that spaghetti strapped lil number? Justify it to yourself that you’re celebrating your fine bod and loving yourself sick. Want better treatment from your friend judging your behaviour? Tell them to cut it out.

    People will always drag you into their judgement. We often seek validation and bond over shared judgement. But we have to check it. If you hear a pal judging someone else, call it out.

    If you hear yourself slut shaming yourself “I’ve been masturbating too often” or “I don’t want to do that kinky shit because he’ll think I’m dirty” correct yourself, pinch that arm and remember that you’re following that inherited systemic thinking error. You’re free to pleasure yourself, explore all the butt plugs you like and free to choose who, when and why you enter into sexual relationships. 

    It’s time to be more slutty if you please. It’s time to quit judging others and ourselves. And it’s time to uphold the same standards for both men and womxn. Girls will be sluts and boys will be too. When we give time, energy and love to our sexual selves, we free ourselves from shame and allow creative, sexual love to flow. 

    So go on, go enjoy your most slutty and wonderful self.

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