Slut Shaming

10 Jul

i’m stealing these questions verbatim from a discussion Mr. Michael started on fetlife.  For some reason, when i get involved in a discussion on fetlife, i end up sounding ~ i don’t know ~ not the way i intended for things to sound.  At least, that’s how it feels.

Plus, a family event is going to keep me away from the Special Interest Group discussion AGAIN this month.  So i thought i’d bring the discussion here and see what happens.

Here are Mr. Michael’s questions:

Most of us like to think that our community is a sex-positive place. I’ve been hearing the term “slut shaming” a lot lately in blogs that I follow and wanted to see what people thought about the practice in supposedly sex-positive circles.

What do you consider to be slut shaming behaviors?

Do you feel slut shaming has a place in our community, or is in some circumstances appropriate?

Do you see forms of slut shaming in our community? Have any examples of instances you’ve seen before or are commonly witnessed?

What are some less-obvious slut shaming behaviors you would like to see abolished?

What is your opinion on why people would engage in slut shaming?

Are there double standards for men/women, gay/straight, or Dom/sub, etc. identities? How so?”

In case you’re not familiar with the term “slut shaming,” here are a couple of ways it’s defined:

“Short answer: Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior” (Alon Levy, Slut Shaming). It is damaging not only to the girls and women targeted, but to women in general and society as a whole. It should be noted that slut-shaming can occur even if the term “slut” itself is not used.”

{From Feminism 101 – http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/what-is-slut-shaming/)

Or, as Mr. Michael defines it:

“To me, it’s the practice of trying to make someone feel bad for their personal sexual choices based on your own ideas of what is socially acceptable, but usually in the context of how many partners they have, how many they have in bed at once, how fast they go from introduction to play or sex, which partners they choose, etc.”

It’s the opposite of sex-positive, which is a movement that:

“…promotes and embraces open sexuality with few limits. Sex positivity is “an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation. The sex-positive movement is a social and philosophical movement that advocates these attitudes. The sex-positive movement advocates sex education and safer sex as part of its campaign.”[1] The movement makes no moral distinctions among types of sexual activities, regarding these choices as matters of personal preference.

{From the Wikipedia}

i know that’s a lot to sort through. And maybe it’s not even a conversation we need to have, or want to have. But i’m curious.

i guess i would have expected a kinky community to be sex positive, but i don’t think that’s a given. Maybe these questions are more appropriate a starting place:

~ Were you already familiar with the terms slut-shaming and sex positive?

~  Do you think the kinky community ~ cyber or real life ~ is a sex positive place?

~ Do  you think “sex positive” is a goal for the community and/or society?

 

29 Responses to “Slut Shaming”

  1. Fondlers Anonymous July 10, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    quick reply-

    this is the first i’m hearing the term slut-shaming and from reading the definitions you provided, so far I haven’t had any experience with it.

    i do believe that my blog friends AND real friends are all sex-positive and while i’m not sure that it’s a goal to be aspired to in society, at the very least I think people should all be NEUTRAL about each other’s sexual preferences / tastes / kinks. If you don’t understand something, just say so, but reserve judgement please.

    I dont think there’s anything wrong with saying – i’m not familiar with that, but if you’re happy then i’m happy. or with admitting that – I’m uncomfortable with *** but if you enjoy that and as long as you’re safe and have taken the steps to learn more about it to carry on this way, then I wish you all the happiness (again with no sarcasm or judging undertones here).

    i don’t know if thats what you would consider sex positive.

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      Hi, FA,

      Good description of being sex positive! If you’re found a group of friends who feel the same way, you’re lucky. i’m pretty much in the same place, and really appreciate it.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      aisha

  2. sin July 10, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Hmm, honestly Aisha, I think we all want to be fairly sex positive. But I don’t think many of us came with the idea that we needed to be open to other people’s kinks. And while I do want to be open, there are things that shock me. I love the idea of slutty behaviour, and I get off to it, but sometimes the reality of it makes me think “slut”, and not in a positive way that acknowledges how far we’ve come, but in a pretty negative way. And … maybe I should try and change that. Maybe.
    -sin

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

      Hi, Sin,

      All good points. i think it’s a process. i used to be more judgmental than i usually am now. Lots of conditioning around judging other people’s behavior in lots of ways, isn’t there?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts…

      aisha

  3. vanillamom July 10, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    I am definitely positive that I like sex.

    🙂

    I’ve never heard the term but it was really the most hateful thing one girl could say about another back in the day when I was in school…

    I’ve worked hard to take ownership of the word slut…working to abolish my own early memories of that word (not directed at me…I was the shy, awkward girl reading in the corner) and make it a positive choice in my D/s life…even Master says “you’re such a slut, nilla” in both amazement and positively…

    For certain I feel the bloggers that I tend to circle around to are sex positive. The world at large? Not so much.

    Deep thoughts on a Tuesday, heartsister…

    🙂

    nilla

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

      Hi, ‘Nilla,

      i’m definitely positive that you like sex too, Missy!! And isn’t that a good thing!

      You’re so right, for many of us, using slut purposely to push back has been helpful. Yeah.

      They are deep thoughts, aren’t they? 🙂

      aisha

  4. striving for peace July 10, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    I think the online community is different — or at least our little community is.

    There are some unwritten rules here and some practices that camouflage slut shaming

    1. it’s rare to have someone criticize you on your blog — very rare — people who don’t agree, who are shocked or think badly of your behavior typically are silent — when they are not — the community defends.

    2. We choose who we read — If we were in high school we would be a bitchy-cliquey bunch — only hanging out with our friends and ignoring the rest. (wow — it makes us sound mean) — we tend to read those who challenge us a bit — but those who truly shock or upset us??? — most of us move on and stop reading them.

    3. When we do criticize each other – we generally keep it anonymous — or handle it with tact.

    but this doesn’t mean that we don’t judge.
    I think it’s human nature to judge

    to say that If I’m a 5 on a 10 point scale of kink that I “get” people who are 4 – 7 on the scale — but think anyone below a 4 is a prude and anyone above an 8 is too “out there”

    but does that make us truly and completely sex-positive?
    I’m not sure it’s possible.

    I also think this would be true if we were writing DIY blogs or dieting blogs.
    I think it’s human nature.

    sfp

    • sin July 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      Agree – I want a like button on this.

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      Yes. What you write has that ring of truth. And ~ i think i said all this in my next days post, but i’ll do it here too.

      i think there is judging and there’s judging. I think we can decide something is too risky, too extreme, too far outside our comfort level, even too icky, without necessarily judging the people doing it, without deciding there’s something wrong with them.

      Yep. It is human nature to evaluate. And it takes thought and practice to separate the person from the action.

      Great answer ~ thanks for taking the time to gather your thoughts and put them out here.

      aisha

  5. Kitty the Submissive Wife July 10, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Wow to sfp’s answer. Seriously, it rings true to me.

    Slut shaming is real – in real life, but yes, in blogger land people just move on to other blogs. And that is probably why blogs work – you can be whoever you want and then others find you and share or don’t, but you don’t actually have to see their faces when they make that decision. So no harm, no foul.

    • Kitty the Submissive Wife July 10, 2012 at 11:27 am #

      I had to come back because I just had a thought about this. Often, when a person is sharing their body around, it is a reflection of low self esteem or other inadequacies (usually younger women aren’t able to fully grasp the sex positive aspects), so shaming them becomes a compounding issue and leads to all kinds of unequal relationships that aren’t positive. It takes a really long time to recover from all of that, if you ever do.

      • sin July 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

        I totally agree with this! Well said.

      • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

        Dear Kitty,

        YES.

        And when people share their body from a reflection of low self-esteem it is often “abuse reactive,” or because they’re coming from an invalidating environment where they’ve learned that their own wants and needs aren’t valid and worthy of respect, that pleasing other people, or using other not so healthy mechanisms are the way to get affection or attention or get their needs met emotionally.

        And when you add shame to that mix, yeah, it’s not helpful and it’s actually harmful and they can get stuck in that for a long time. One more good reason not to slut-shame!!!

        hugs,

        aisha

    • Conina July 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      SFP’s answer absolutely rings true. I have seen the silence – the crickets chirping – on some of the more extreme blogs I’ve read, post after post as people are shocked or just unable to say anything good so they say nothing at all.

      But not being able to relate to something isn’t the same thing as slut-shaming. Saying “do that if you want, but it’s not for me,” or just choosing not to communicate at all about something isn’t shaming any more than saying “You like olives? Good for you; I can’t stand olives!” is olive-lover-shaming.

      As a vegan I often get the feeling that people feel shamed by my diet choices as well – they often become defensive without me ever saying anything about their choices. But that’s not anything I’ve done, that’s something working within their own psyches.

      I think slut-shaming and sex negativity require a bit more overt behavior, more intentional than “I choose not to make myself a part of this.” It’s not possible for everyone to be into everything, but it IS possible to respect other people’s choices and kinks.

      I’ve done a lot of thinking about this over the last few months, if you couldn’t tell.

      • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

        Yes, yes yes.

        Really, that’s all i can say.

        hugs,

        aisha

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

      Hi, Kitty,

      Yeah, it was a great answer.

      So what keeps us from being more like that in real life? There are lots of people who don’t see the world as i do, and they don’t need to be my best friends. IRL, i’m not interested in being a furry, but i can be curious about it and open minded to the idea that it appeals to others. And if my best friend is not a furry, that’s ok too…

      BUT sometimes i feel threatened by people who are judgmental and then i can get judgmental right back and it’s not really helpful. And i think i’m getting off track here… or maybe there is no track.

      i think it should all be “no harm, no foul.” That’s what i’m saying…

      Thanks for commenting!!

      aisha

  6. Greengirl. July 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    I have the hardest time wrapping my head around the contradiction of the term slut used by a D for his s. It’s meant to humiliate or at least indicate his view of her place in the grand scheme of things – yet clearly he doesn’t actually want her to be a prude, to not want sex… Iknow it’s all context. Works for people. But I have a hard time with the first hint that he is teasing me about being too needy or too sexual: it’s what he always wanted me to learn to be.

    I know this wasn’t the thrust of your question. I think it’s true on a bigger scale too though. Sex is a big part of this whole thing. That means the people involved need to like sex. Period. Why use that against them? Except that it’s such an easy target to twist around and use in humiliation or insult.

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

      Dear Gg,

      Yeah. It is an easy target. And i think that some of us ~ maybe all of us ~ aren’t completely sure that what we’re doing is really ok.

      And when we’re insecure, often it feels safer if we can find someone else to disagree with and disapprove of. Then we can safely feel “better than” them, so we must be ok.

      At least i think it’s like that sometimes for some people.

      i know what you mean about feeling anxious if they act like we’re too needy. It’s uncomfortable.

      Thanks for commenting, Gg. As always, you bring a nice perspective.

      aisha

  7. faerie July 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Very interesting conversation. I had not heard the term slut shaming before, though as a former slut I have endured my share of it.

    Interestingly enough I do not associate the word slut with negativity, even though I know it was used in an effort to make me feel bad about myself and/or my activities, it never did.

    I think that is most likely because I started out with sex in general being a negative shameful thing. Incest is shameful, whether I was a willing participant or not, which I wasn’t. But that was a huge hurdle I knew I would have to get over, the shame of liking sex. I used men, lots of them, to clear that hurdle. Does the fact that I have been with lots of men make me a not so nice person? Not in my eyes, and that is really the important thing. How I see myself, not anyone else. I think that is easier for me to do then it is for some people, mainly because I have all the facts about myself, others don’t. No one in my real life knows about my abuse or the extent of it, so how can they possibly judge me accurately? I think it also helps me accept others a bit easier too, because I never forget that I’m not the only one with secrets.

    Okay, that may have veered way off topic, sorry 🙂

    • vanillamom July 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      faerie…I don’t think you veered off topic at all…I think it is important to own your feelings, and be accepting of them. Master does tease me about being a slut, but …it’s not “admiration” per se…but I sense that He is glad that I own my feelings of being a sexual person. I came to it late, very late…but i LOVE sex. I’d have sex every day with many different people …partly from joy, and partly for exploration, and partly for the naughty of it…so the term slut fits me.

      Your situation is different…you used sex as a way to overcome a horrible abuse…yet you accept and own the term and are comfortable with it…the arrows of the word pass through you, because you do accept.

      kudos to you…you’ve worked hard to get to that place…and it has a part in this discussion.

      Aisha? a marvelous posting…so many interesting conversations happening…

      nilla

      • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

        Thanks, ‘Nilla, you all rock!

        aisha

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      Dear Faerie,

      Yeah, not off topic at all. Right on target.

      hugs,

      aisha

  8. Suzanne July 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    First I hear of the term slut-shaming and it makes for an interesting discussion. I always try to remember that no one can make me feel inferior by themselves. They can try, but they would need my help to be successful.

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      Hi, Suzanne,

      Good point! That is the most empowered place to be, for sure.

      Thanks for commenting!!

      aisha

  9. Wordwytch July 11, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    This is indeed a ‘heavy’ converation for a Tuesday. I have heard of ‘slut-shaming’, although more in the “mundane community rather than in the kink community. I live in a very hispanic, interrelated community where it is almost a mark of adulthood to be a mom by 15 or 16. So, the whole view of what is and isn’t appropriate is a bit bent. Drives me crazy.

    I believe that the Kink community should be sex positive. Supportive, forgiving, etc. As mentioned by others, online is different than ofline. I was nodding in agreement with lots of the posts already on here.
    I’m poly. It can be very interesting to try and work that dynamic. It can be difficult. Especially in a culture that believes that monogamy is the only way.

    Society as a whole needs to get over itself. It needs to take a better look at the morals and doctrines that they’ve been using for the last 2000 years if not more. And I’ll stop there before I froth.

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      Dear Wordwytch,

      i would think that it would be difficult to be poly and not be sex positive, but i’m sure there are people who manage it. i think slut shaming is more prevalent and openly accepted in mundane society, but is more underground in the BDSM community.

      And yes! It would be nice if we were more rational about what “morals” we decided to live by, as a society. Don’t see it happening anytime soon, but i think things are changing for the better. Maybe. Sometimes anyhow.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      aisha

      • Wordwytch July 12, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

        I realise I wasn’t very clear. 1) I am poly and 2) in the monogamous world being poly is difficult. Due to the difficulties of working on a poly relationship, women especially are labeled sluts, loose, whores, etc. which makes for a very uncomfortable dichotomy. It often makes it difficult to be sex positive when those around you consider you wrong for your moral choices.

        I’ve had social services called on my poly household. Luckily, Wolf and my ex, when asked if the four of us had swapped spouses, Threw themselves into each others arms and did the “oh darling… we’ve been discovered” thing which totally embarrassed the case worker and the case was dropped.

        Sorry for causing confusion.

  10. tori July 12, 2012 at 5:55 am #

    Coming late to this but just come accross it.

    I havent come accross the term slut shaming before but is an interesting concept, i would like to think i dont judge people on their sexualities and what they engage in there are many activities i enjoy which im sure many dont. To be honest sometimes i feel like im isolated because my personal sexuality and sexual enjoyement is very much interwoven with s/m and humiliation which to some i wander if they find it too much…or simply cant relate.

    I dont expect everyone to agree with what i may write or even to understand, i have had my fair share of critiscism (on the blog) ranging from being told im in an abusive relationship to suggesting that perhaps i need ‘help’ it hurts or it used to, not so much anymore, i cant and wont tailor make who i am to suit another pesons ideal of what is right and wrong.

    Sometimes i do think the blogging community is similar to being at school with the cliche groups and they close ranks if you dont fit in with their ‘ideal’ i finished school years ago and would like to think i have moved past that.

    tori

    • aisha July 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

      Hi, Tori,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here!

      i’m glad for you, that you’ve decided to live your life as you see fit regardless of other people’s opinions. Ultimately, the only person we have to please is ourself, right?

      i did run over to see your blog ~ nice! It looks like you are really exploring the pain dynamic, and i’m sorry if some people have been judgmental about that. i’ve learned to be careful what i say i’ll never do ~ i’ve crossed the line i set too easily too many times.

      i hope you’re friends with people who “get” what you’re talking about. i’ve found it helpful to have people understand where i’m coming from. i hated high school and cliques when i was there, and that hasn’t changed over the years. Life is too short for that kind of crap.

      Thanks again for commenting, i really appreciate your input!

      aisha

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