Posts Tagged ‘slut-shaming’

I’m not saying she’s a slut for being a stripper, but…

March 26, 2012

You don’t have to call someone a slut for your words to be considered slut-shaming. Houston Press writer Richard Connelly, who reports about everything from crime to sports, didn’t say the word “slut” in his 600+ expose on Houston Chronicle reporter Sarah Tressler’s moonlighting as a stripper. But his words spoke for themselves, shaming a woman who dared report on the society page by day and strip by night.

So my question is: So what? Is it a scandal that she spent time in high society among the elite, and then took her clothes for the assumed lower class? (I’m sure rich people don’t go to strip clubs or do anything prsumably dirty! NEVER!!!!) I can see that being a surprise to people — it might be more of a cultural shock in Texas, where I think acting “ladylike” is emphasized more than, say, the Midwest.

She’s also an adult who’s got a right to report, teach as a college professor, and strip if she wants to. I like that this reporter — and probably tons of other people — want to make sure her identity stays defined as primarily one of these things. Because once you admit to voluntarily taking your clothes off for money, or having sex on camera for money, etc., then it’s impossible to be anything else. You’ve dropped a rank in societal standards, it’s unthinkable you’d interact with high-class people — but Richard, you’re right, you never said the word “slut.”

You just downgraded her writing as tasteless and highlighted that her co-workers were furious, complaining that she obviously “flaunted” her stripper money by wearing nice clothes and owning designer purses. I know plenty of people at my office who wear nice clothes and have designer bags — should I be mad that they spent their money on these things, or is it only when it’s stripper money that we should be pissed about what people spend with their own cash?

I have a lot of mixed feelings about shaming women who choose to strip, do porn, etc. Especially when they aren’t actively doing those things anymore, but them just being a part of their past limits women’s access to jobs. I remember a while back that a teacher was fired because she had a porn star past; that Sasha Grey was banned from reading books to children as part of a charitable effort. She doesn’t want to have sex in front of a bunch of first graders. She wants to read them a damn book.

Maybe you don’t like Tressler’s writing style — that’s fine. But I think it’s easy to read between the lines of Richard’s piece to see his disdain for her profession — and her — in what to me seems like an attempt at public humiliation (aka slut-shaming) of some sort. From his update — just calling her choices “interesting” — it seems he might’ve ended up more humiliated.

‘Real World’: Double standards when it comes to hooking up

May 5, 2011

‘Tis the season for double standards this week on Real World: specifically, (1) that gal-on-gal sexual relations are awesome but guy-on-guy sexual relations are gross, and (2) gals who have one-night stands are sluts but guys who have one-night stands are ballers.

The same-sex relations double standard came up this week when Heather and Nany had some ambiguous sexual relations. They did more than make out, but Heather wasn’t clear on the details when she told Dustin about it. Anyway, Nany wasn’t fazed by it, but Heather was particularly distraught about what had happened. She was upset after the fact, saying her confusion about Dustin manifested itself in a hookup with Nany.

This is a double standard because Heather initially had said she wouldn’t get with a guy who had been with another guy before — even just kissing. When Heather found out about Dustin’s past (living his life on a webcam with other guys, participating in a guy-on-guy porn where he admitted to giving another guy oral sex), she was very distraught — not only because he lied about it, but because she had established that guy-on-guy interactions made her uncomfortable.

Now, I don’t think this is a true double standard because Heather was upset after the fact, not claiming that it was OK for her and Nany to hook up but not two guys. It does, however, speak to how our own personal experiences can change our judgment calls. There’s something to be said about how we view something we’ve never experienced  versus how our opinion changes once we do experience it. (Other things in the it’ll-never-happen-to-me category — aside from being attracted to a member of the same sex — include unplanned pregnancy, being unemployed, needing government assistance, etc.) It could give her a fresh perspective on how she views Dustin’s past interactions with guys.

Now the other male roommates’ reaction was definitely pure double standard. Mike, who wrote a letter to Dustin basically saying he didn’t like him anymore because he had sexual relations with other guys, and LeRoy, who tried to have a religious intervention with Dustin and encouraged him to ask God for help, both thought the Heather-Nany hookup was arousing and awesome. No intervention with Jesus for girl-on-girl action, eh?

The second double standard was courtesy of Dustin, who was surprised that Cooke hooked up with his friend who was visiting from out of town (later Dustin himself made out with Cooke in the backseat of a taxi). He said he was shocked that Cooke had a one-night stand, saying, “I’m from the South where ladies don’t do that.” I might sound like a broken record, but seriously? You don’t say a word when LeRoy brings home different women, but Cooke does and suddenly you need to imply that she is a slut? Groooooooooan.

Also, for crying out loud, USE PROTECTION. Naomi got a vaginal infection (and a pregnancy scare) likely courtesy of unprotected sex with LeRoy, who admitted to having unprotected sex with some other women in Vegas too (though initially he was not honest with Naomi about it). I did appreciate their mature talk about it, and that LeRoy apologized for putting Naomi and himself in that position by not only having unprotected sex with multiple women, but not being up front with Naomi about it. Pull-and-pray not only is a terrible birth control method, but it protects against ZERO sexually transmitted infections.

Society’s stance on sexual violence makes me a bit sad

April 21, 2011

Tonight is the annual Take Back the Night (TBTN) march and rally at my alma mater, Ohio University. The march is the culmination of a week of events and activities meant to raise awareness about violence against women, and it typically is women-only, with men encouraged to support from the sidelines. Unfortunately though, I’ve had a pessimistic outlook on the fight against violence against women lately.

First, Charlie Sheen. Ugh. That people want to be “TeamSheen” and that Sheen has such a colorful, vast history of violence against women is extremely disheartening. His history involves gunshots, knives, death threats, and other forms of physical and verbal abuse. To this day he still threatens both his ex-wives publicly, and yet most people remain unfazed. I’ve heard he makes $200,000 per show — just five shows where he freely calls female audience members sluts and he’s banked $1,000,000. Is the price of seeing Sheen’s trainwreck in person worth the price of supporting an abuser?

Justin Bieber recently said Sheen was the most influential person in the world right now. This is scary for two reasons: (1) because young girls take Bieber’s word as the gospel, so if Bieber is saying Sheen is “winning” in a positive light then that’s worrisome because young girls might think Bieber is condoning that behavior and might then think it’s OK if guys treat them that way; and (2) because Bieber himself is a young teenage guy, being influenced by the douchebag that is Charlie Sheen, does he laugh off Sheen’s violence, too? Does he think it’s cool to act like Sheen?

That someone can have such a public, violent history of attacking women yet still get support from the general public is … ridiculous? Unbelievable? Depressing?

Second, at my alma mater this weekend, there were three sexual assaults reported. Of the alleged sexual assaults, one was at knifepoint in a church parking lot, one was in a fraternity house, and one was in an off-campus apartment complex. Police don’t think the sexual assaults are related, but it’s nonetheless terrible to hear of just one sexual assault, let along a string of three sexual assaults.

But I’m preparing to hear outcries that the two non-knife-related assaults are just cases of women getting too drunk and choosing to have sex, but then regretting it in the morning and calling it rape. Or that they were wearing clothing that showed a millimeter of skin so they were inviting it. Or that the women were drinking so this means it’s not really sexual assault. People don’t even need evidence that alcohol was involved — merely hearing that it was a Friday or Saturday night on a college campus is enough evidence for the court of public opinion to assume this scenario.

This goes with my third reason for disillusionment, courtesy of The New York Times. A police officer was accused of raping a woman that he was supposed to see get home safely after she had been drinking during the night, but the Times article doesn’t hesitate to illustrate for the reader why her story might not be credible:

Still, the prosecution’s case may rely heavily on the credibility of a woman who was admittedly drunk at the time she says she was sexually assaulted, and cannot recall large portions of the evening.

As Ms. Magazine points out, alcohol doesn’t make you hallucinate or create false memories. And the officer admitted to her on tape that he had sex with her that night. The line of consent here is crystal clear — the on-duty officer was perfectly sober and aware that (1) she was too drunk to consent and (2) his job was merely to make sure she got home safely, not to try to have sex with her.

I’m so sick of hearing “… but she was drinking …” as an excuse for sexual violence, because it implies that if women don’t want to be sexually assaulted, then they shouldn’t drink alcohol (blaming the victim instead of the assailant). OK, so what else should women to do avoid sexual assault? Not wear skirts? Not go outside? Not talk to anyone of the opposite sex ever again? It’s like if you weren’t attacked with a deadly weapon by a stranger in an alley, then the public doesn’t think your story holds water. About one-quarter of sexual assaults are perpetrated by a stranger — the vast majority are by non-strangers, yet we still are more skeptical when the suspect is a non-stranger. The statistics don’t lie, but we’re far too easily convinced that the victims do.

I’m not sure this ramble was very cohesive, but society’s attitude toward sexual violence frustrates me. Charlie Sheen made $2 million per episode on Two and a Half Men, $1 million per five shows on his current “tour,” and his violent nature toward women has never stopped his success. The line of consent between drunken people is blurry, but society still errs on the side of “she probably just regretted it in the morning” when it comes to women reporting sexual assaults.

But it’s not healthy to just dwell on the negatives, which is why the TBTN march and rally are so great. Women can gather together, march together, shout together, and really have a loud, collective voice that is otherwise often unheard. So if you’re at Ohio University’s main campus today (April 21), go to the Scripps amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. for a rally and then a march to raise awareness about sexual violence. We’ve got a long way to go to change the social stigma around sexual violence, but it’ll never change if we stay silent about it.

P.S. Check out this informative article about the stigma around reporting sexual assault, via The Post, Ohio University’s independently run student newspaper.

Female columnist promotes rape, slut-shaming, lies about PP

March 4, 2011

Victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and feminist-bashing are abhorrent coming from men, but they are exponentially worse coming from women. This column from The Daily Collegian, the college newspaper for the University of Massachusetts, was actually briefly taken offline because it was so offensive. (I’ll throw out a trigger warning right now.) The author is a young woman who believes that sometimes women deserve rape, contraception doesn’t affect abortion rates, and “feminist liberation” has turned everyone into nymphomaniacs. Shall we chronologically take a look at some of the claims?

1a. Planned Parenthood isn’t a charity

Author Yevgeniya Lomakina jumps right in, making blatantly wrong claims about Planned Parenthood and its services:

It is a business. It is not, however, a charitable organization, as it is portrayed by its many supporters. Their services are not free, although they may be cheaper than regular hospitals.

Actually, it is a charitable organization. A section 501(c)(3) organization that files tax forms in accordance with its tax-exempt, charitable status. I can see how this information would be difficult to find, considering it’s on the Planned Parenthood website, alongside the actual tax forms they file.

Also, did you know that “charitable organization” doesn’t mean that you just give stuff away for free? You see, it’s charitable because it offers low-cost services to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. It’s actually really helpful, because low-income women can get cancer screenings, prenatal care, pap tests, and contraception at reduced prices. I’m pretty sure the condoms are free, though.

1b. Planned Parenthood posts misleading/false information on its website

After proving that Planned Parenthood is in fact a business because it doesn’t do everything for free, the author next points out a glaring error in the numbers on the Planned Parenthood website:

According to the American Life League, Planned Parenthood performed 289,750 abortions in 2006. The number rose to 324,008 in 2008. However, the organization’s website misleads in reporting that abortions constitute only 3 percent of its services. In reality, it performs about 23 percent of all abortions performed each year in the U.S.

Now the numbers here are right (see the 2006-2007 annual report and this 2008 fact sheet), but they aren’t misleading or contradicting each other. The difference is that the 23 percent is Planned Parenthood’s abortion services compared with other abortion providers’ — the 3 percent is Planned Parenthood’s abortion services compared with other services within itself.

2. Sex is now shameless

The author writes:

Sex has become a service, like any other, but without fiscal exchange or shame.  It is no longer associated with love, marriage or a committed relationship.

Really? Because I’m pretty sure that sentence is 100 percent slut-shaming, as is the entire column.

3. If you wear a short skirt, you deserve to get raped

By far, this assertion makes my blood boil more than anything:

If a young woman wears a promiscuous outfit to a party, then proceeds to drink and flirt excessively, she should not blame men for her downfall. She made a decision to dress a certain way, to consume alcohol and should be prepared to deal with the consequences. Far from being a victim of rape, she is a victim of her own choices.

Pardon my French, but that is fucking ridiculous. There is NO scenario in which a woman deserves to be raped. There is no time when a man has the right to force a woman to have sex with him against her will. There is no skirt length, alcohol level, or flirtation level — nothing. And it’s this kind of bullshit that blames women for wearing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing or drinking the wrong amount instead of pointing the finger at the rapist.

But our author is not the cold-hearted person she seems, as she does think rape is bad:

This is not to say that rape is inexistent. Sexual crimes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Rape exists, just not if you’re sexually active or flirtatious or wearing clothes that show too much skin. It’s only a crime when it happens to someone who has made good, moral choices, and then the rapist is a criminal. This makes me want to slam my head into my desk about 348 times.

4. Having sex with men is giving them the “upper hand”

The author writes:

With the easy accessibility of noncommittal sex, men have gained or recaptured the upper hand in relationships. Women, instead of acclaiming “sexual liberation” have received, at the least, a bad reputation.

Read my recent post about this idea of men having an “upper hand” because women will have casual sex with them. Also, let’s note the additional slut-shaming. You know, the “bad reputation” only comes because people associate women having casual sex as bad, and men having casual sex as good — they have the “upper hand” when they get it.

And why is women trading commitment for sex any better than women trading sex for sex? Why are people so attached to the notion that men won’t commit unless you withhold sex from them? Why is this entire article blaming women for wanting to have sex and giving men a pass for wanting to having sex?

5. Abortion and the morning-after pill are the same thing

An often-used political ploy is juxtaposing two things in hopes that the reader or listener begins to associate them with each other, without the speaker ever directly linking them:

Abortion is also viewed in a different way. For many, it is no longer a last resort for victims of rape or in other emergencies. It is simply regarded as “Plan B.” In a Planned Parenthood YouTube advertisement for the “morning after” pill, a woman states the scenarios in which the product may be useful.

Note the transition from abortion as a “Plan B” to the morning-after pill, commonly called “Plan B.” This is likely an attempt to lump together morning-after pills with abortion, but the morning-after pill is not the abortion pill. They are completely separate, and the morning-after pill doesn’t terminate pregnancies. The morning-after pill is over-the-counter; the abortion pill is not.

6. Birth control doesn’t prevent abortions

The author says it plain and simple:

More contraception does not translate to fewer abortions.

If you look in the aforementioned Planned Parenthood data (1b), there could be a correlation between less contraception and more abortions — in 2008, more abortions were performed but less contraception was given out at Planned Parenthood. Also, I can guarantee that less contraception will not translate to fewer abortions.

And actually, the abortion rate generally has been going down in recent years:

1980: 1,297,606
1985: 1,333,521
1990: 1,429,577
1995: 1,210,883
2000: 857,475
2005: 820,151
2006: 846,181
2007: 827,609

And considering contraceptive use has increased over this time frame, I’d say more contraception does translate to fewer abortions.

__________________

I’m glad the newspaper apologized for the article, and I’m also glad they put it back online. Even though their apology covered that it was reprehensible to suggest women are responsible for being raped and that other claims were inaccurate, I couldn’t help but expand on that further. Because despite the editors’ apology, it still somehow managed to get published, so we can’t gloss over the content that was originally deemed passable, and we have to look at it a little more critically.