For Shame

Writer: Purdy Scuderi

Photographer: Veronica Mellere

 

Living in such a sexualised society where the media is king, and we are the consumers, it will probably come as no surprise to you that we are the generation of multi-media slut shaming.

 

Slut shaming is the unfortunate phenomenon in which people degrade or ridicule a woman because of how she presents herself, whether she enjoys having sex, has multiple partners, or may just be rumoured to partake in sexual activity. None of which create any real grounds on which to ridicule someone.

 

However, that isn’t even the most brutal part. A recent study of online misogyny was undertaken in order to gain a better understanding of why our generation is so caught up on who is considered to be so called ’slut’. The study examined the online behaviour of men and women on Twitter.

 

The study looked at tweets that used the words ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and ’rape’ that were tweeted directly from Australian based accounts between December 12, 2013 and August 20, 2014. The study found that more than 100,000 messages used the word ‘rape’ while 85,000 used the term ‘slut’ and 48,000 used the word ‘whore’.

 

Although, what struck as the most horrific component of the research was that women were just as likely to send tweets with the words ‘slut’, ‘whore’ or ‘rape’ used both casually and offensively.

 

It seems puzzling that great numbers of women are tweeting misogynistic insults that are degrading to their own gender. But when you take a closer look, it’s not actually all that surprising that women are capable of this kind of bullying and repulsive misogyny, particularly online.

 

Words like ‘slut’ are thrown around so commonly that it is now considered normal and expected for a female to be called such things in her lifetime. Little do we realise that the act of slut shaming is a massive part of our everyday conversation right from when we are children, whether it be in a joking manner or to directly offend someone.

 

So why exactly are women contributing to something so vile if it is solely directed at their own gender? Well, it would only make sense that women would join in whether intentionally or unintentionally, even if only to fit in, as these gender-based insults have become so embedded in the way our society discusses women that it is considered a normality.

 

Then there’s our society’s tendency, via media and language and social customs, to strictly police both women’s appearances and sexual behaviour. We are given strict guidelines from a very young age as to how we are expected by society to act and carry ourselves. Women are expected to be sexy, but not overtly sexual, smart, but not too smart. These expectationsare unrealistic as every single person is different.

 

Though it might seem logical that women would push back on every case of misogyny that they encounter to stand up for themselves and their fellow women, this terminology is so thoroughly woven into every corner of our culture, sometimes it can be hard to identify. So much so, that we don’t even notice we’re doing it more than half of the time. But it’s important to know that women calling each other sluts is the same thing as men using the term to define women, and it is equally detrimental to the battle against gender roles and sexism in our society.

 

Purdy was an intern with Hyde magazine in 2014.

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