My 16 year old daughter wrote this essay for school ~ it is beyond amazing. Her depth and insights impress me the the core of my being.
How bizarre it would be to shame someone for doing something as natural as eating, sleeping, or even breathing. Yet people still do it, and one of its most common forms is slut shaming. Slut shaming is a verbal or physical attack on someone who is presumed to be sexually active in some way. Slut shaming is wrong and must be stopped.
The first of many reasons that slut shaming must be stopped is because it is a major part of sexism. While many males experience problems with slut shaming it is the women that take the brunt of these attacks. In our society as well as many others men are seen as creatures who are innately sexual. If a man is sexually promiscuous the repercussions are usually mild or may not exist at all. In fact it is possible that the male's sexual escapades will be celebrated or he will be praised for them. Women on the other hand are not seen an innately sexual, but rather something to be sexualized. They must look sexually appealing but remain virginal until some formal institution like marriage. If a woman defies this expectation she is often assaulted. Most commonly these assaults are verbal insults, but less commonly these assaults are physical. Sexual harassment and even rape can occur as the result of the 'she's a slut, she doesn't mind' mentality. Slut shaming reinforces the misogynistic attitude that men and women are not equal and should not be treated as such specifically in regards to sexual activity.
Slut shaming also acts as an enforcer of rape culture. When someone, women in particular, reports their rape they are often accused of being sluts and are told that they deserved it. A prime example of these attitudes were the comments surrounding the recent Steubenville rape case. The victim has faced incredible scrutiny for 'allowing' herself to be raped. Slut shaming discredits victims of rape by saying that the victim deserved it because they are either sexually promiscuous, wore alluring clothing, or were acting in such a way that beckoned the rapist. Slut shaming does not only cause a problem for victims who report their rape, it is also the reason that many rapes go unreported. Depending on the location and source the number of unreported rapes is thought to range from sixty to ninety percent. Some of the main reasons rapes aren't reported are that the victim is afraid they will get in trouble, be suspect to public scrutiny, or that they won't be believed. In Canada (1993) roughly fifty percent of rape victims who didn't file a report refrained from doing so because they believed the police would not believe them. If a person is thought of as a slut then it is often assumed that they can not or will not say no to sex.
The absolute number one reason slut shaming must be stopped is that its only purpose is to dehumanize people. Calling a man or a woman a whore is no different than telling them that their natural instinct be open to sexuality somehow makes them less than human. Sex is a natural part of life for much of life on the planet, it is societal aversion to the natural that is unnatural. Negative words and actions about someone's sexual choices can easily negatively affect their self-esteem. Whether one agrees with the lifestyle choices of another or not it is necessary for us to understand that every person deserves to be treated as a human being. To disagree with the choices of another is perfectly acceptable, but to try and dehumanize another is not.
In conclusion slut shaming is a problem that has far reaching consequences. Slut shaming can and has resulted in sexist thought, sexual harassment, rape, rape victim blaming, depression, suicide, and lowered self-esteem among other things. Through open mindedness and respect for fellow humans slut shaming can be stopped. This is not a problem that is beyond human control unlike earthquakes and plagues. Slut shaming was created by humans and can be stopped by us as well.