Let’s Stop Slut-Shaming, Nipple Censorship, and Rape Culture

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Maddy Renda, Staff Reporter

So called “slut-shaming” has been a problem for hundreds of years, whether it was in a book such as the Scarlet letter or in high schools around the nation. Slut Shaming is a social stigma, commonly used by men and and sometimes women also, to not only exert power over others but do so  in public ways.  The term can be used anytime someone tries to bring people down who dress “promiscuously”, and to label people like sex workers as somehow deserving of their poor treatment.

Sex working is one of the oldest yet overlooked professions in society. Even in places where it is legal, people constantly slander women (far more than men) for things such as exotic dancing, commonly known as “stripping”, and prostitution.

Many times this starts early, and situations take place commonly in schools. 

One big issue with slut shaming in schools is clothes. Boys can wear boxers to school and no one would notice but if I wear a tank top I’m “sexualizing” my body and it gives boys the right to yell inappropriate terms at me. My shorts may be too “distracting,” causing me to go change, disrupting not only my education, but also my peers after making a bigger deal out of how my outfit is sexualizing me.

This ‘slut shaming’ happens among young women far more than young men. Boys get away with having “side hoes”, they are praised for it rather than punished, yet the girl is labeled the ‘hoe’ for doing the same exact thing. Women being promiscuous is seen as impure and wrong, but for men it’s apparently considered a natural instinct that some can’t control.  In our current culture, calling a young man a “pimp” is somehow a compliment, despite the fact that the word means someone who mistreats women as objects or animals.

Recently, one big topic in the feminism movement is ‘free the nipple’. This movement is about ending the stigma that women’s nipples are sexual, while men’s are not. Instagram has blown up with photos of topless women who photo-edited a male’s nipples in place of their own, therefore not violating terms and conditions of Instagram. Many of nude photos of women’s nipples have been taken down and banned from Instagram after breaking their terms and conditions regarding nudity.  This is most concerning when pictures of women breastfeeding their children are treated as if they were somehow sexually provocative, and censored not just by Instagram, but Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes hassled in real life.

Another big topic is “no mean no.” This refers to rape and how any person’s “no” should be respected, no matter the circumstances. No does not mean convince me, no means no matter what I’m wearing, no matter how much I drink, no will forever mean no. “Prude” “Boring” “No fun”–these are often heard in response–saying no comes with as much backlash as saying yes, ridiculed for your choice. But what about when women do say yes? “Slut” “Whore” “She’s so easy” “Have some self respect”. Women can’t win either way–we say no we’re prudes, we say yes, we’re sluts.

Lastly, the one that I personally dislike the most, is scaring virgins into abstinence. Christian teens have been taught to save themselves for their future husband, if they don’t they are often told (not just by their parents but by other adults in the church community) that they are now dirty, impure. Being compared to things as used cars and napkins–used and unclean.

Perhaps we have to do a better job teaching boys some things growing up.  We should start with the fact that women have a right to their control their bodies and the way they present themselves just as much as men. Women have the right to say yes, just as much as we have the right to say no.