In its simplest form, feminism advocates equality of the sexes in every aspect of life. The main concept is: women are the same as men so treat us the same. Real feminism does not paint women as superior beings and misandry is not a requirement for aligning yourself with the movement. In fact, any woman who believes that she deserves the same social, educational, cultural and political opportunities as her male counterpart is in fact a feminist. It is that simple.
However, throughout the years many have begun to stray from that basic concept. Taken out of context, many people have used the feminist movement as a guise for their inborn hate of the male species and as a medium to perpetuate their ignorance. This often creates problems, since people who don’t necessarily consider themselves feminists think that every feminist is a small-minded lesbian maneater. The movement has a lot more depth than lengthy judgmental discussions over trivial matters. Feminism is about exalting our sisters regardless of their skin colour, sexual orientation and physical appearance. It is not about putting them down. This is where “slut shaming” becomes a part of our plot.
Slut shaming is the act of making a woman feel inferior because of what she wears and who she chooses to have sex with. The root of this judgmental attitude cannot be attributed to any one thing; a lot of factors have bred this within us. It ranges from religion to our own personal ego. Whether they like to think it or not, everyone is judgmental. The real issue is when individuals don’t realize that this behaviour is problematic and make no effort to correct it. The real issue is when they hurt women because of their ignorance.
Picture a group of women sitting together in a coffee shop. Another woman walks in dressed provocatively. The group of women take offense to the provocatively dressed woman, and have already formed negative thoughts about her. By the time the provocatively dressed woman leaves the shop, they have already speculated in hushed voices about how many sexual partners that woman has had, and just what exactly her profession could be. All of the women call themselves feminists, yet their opinions are steeped in misogyny. They align themselves with a movement meant to protect women from oppression, yet they are oppressing a woman without even realizing it.
Another classic example of slut shaming is the prevalent idea that once a woman engages in “too much” casual sex she automatically becomes a whore. On the other hand, the more casual sex a man has the more respected he is by his male counterparts and (ironically) women. The same behaviour that makes a woman “less desirable” to her peers and the opposite sex makes a man revered. This kind of slut-shaming goes hand in hand with victim-blaming in rape cases. Some individuals still blame rape victims for their rapes, accusing them of “soliciting” such actions by the way they dress or the type of work that they do. In the twenty-first century, life for a female should not be this complicated. We should be entitled to live our lives the way we choose and do whatever makes us happy. As humans we are entitled to do whatever we want to do, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. Who a woman has sex with and how short her skirt is does not infringe on your rights, so why does it bother you to the point that you feel the need to attack her social standing?
I have witnessed my friends make choices about their lives in order to make society happy, and who they choose to have sex with and how they dress are perhaps the two biggest choices. I find it appalling that as females, we still don’t have full freedom regarding our lives. The kind of behaviour that is viewed as inconsequential to males, can ruin a female’s social life.
A woman’s life should not be defined by who she has had sex with. A woman’s life should not be defined by what she chooses to wear. A woman’s life should not be defined by the fact that she has been raped, and it really isn’t our place to decide if she deserved it or not (nobody deserves rape though, so why do you even need to think about that?)
Feminism and slut shaming do not belong in the same category. In fact, nobody can call themselves a feminist and still engage in this kind of behaviour. They do not go together. We all need to correct our view of other women. The next time you find yourself about to say or even think something negative about a woman because of what she wears or what you hear she has done, stop yourself.
We need to unlearn this problematic behaviour. Open-mindedness is the solution to every problem that we have.