Slut

We’ve all either been called a slut, know someone who has been called a slut, or called someone a slut ourselves. It’s a common word, especially recently. But how does one become a slut? What’s the criteria?

The problem is that there is none. Anyone can be called a slut for any real, perceived, or imagined sexual activity. There’s this prude/slut dichotomy and we are forced to stick our toes in the slutty side, but have to be careful not to cross fully over in order to be accepted. However, this often gets skewed and women are shamed no matter which side they are on, because it is all up to interpretation.

Often times “slut” doesn’t have anything at all to do with a persons actual sexual activity, but with their *perceived* persona. How sexually a person is perceived, because they developed early, because they flirt, because of what they wear, etc., determines if they are labeled a slut.

So if the word is meant for those “too sexually active”, why does it apply to those who aren’t sexually active at all?

It’s a way to police all women, not only the one being called the slut. When a girl is called a slut her reputation is ruined. Consequences of being labeled a slut include, but are not limited to, verbal harassment, being sexually assaulted, engaging in sexual activity before you are ready, engaging in unhealthy sexual activity, depression, eating disorders, and self harm.

Seeing what this label does to other girls, they want to avoid having this done to themselves. Sometimes this means joining in on calling someone else a slut in order to avoid having the label placed upon themselves. This fear causes hatred among females and furthers the cycle.

Of course another aspect to being called a slut is the double standards that go along with it. Sure, we’ve all heard about some “man whores”, but what are the implications of that compared to girls who are called sluts? If you go online and search synonyms for both slut and man whore two totally different feelings come about. For females, synonyms are hateful words. For males, one of the synonyms is player, another being ladies man.

So for a man to be considered a slut, it is more of an empowering word, a congratulations of sorts. As previously mentioned, the repercussions of being a female labeled a slut include self harm and detrimental behavior.

What I’m getting at is that the reasons we call each other sluts needs to be evaluated and analyzed, and so do the double standards involved. People throw around words without thinking about what will happen because of them. Start to think more critically about the words that you use.

-JB

*side note, I was inspired to create this post because I am reading “I Am Not A Slut” by  Leora Tanenbaum

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The Personal is Political

In instances of oppression brought about by political figures, of course the political is personal.

This is for all institutionalized forms of oppression. That is to say, if you’re not cis, white, male, able-bodied, straight, and rich, this is for you.

It’s so frustrating – SO frustrating  – when someone tells me they hate politics. That they don’t want to get involved in politics, that they ignore it if they can. Because you can’t! Unless you’re as privileged as the example I’ve already stated, politics are literally always affecting you.

I can only speak from my place as a woman (and a queer, but this isn’t about that right now) but hearing women who are just so ignorant about the political climate of today, so unknowing of every injustice that faces them… it breaks my heart.

Of course I don’t want them to suffer, as I suffer, with the knowledge of how unfair everything is. Yes, they’re happier not knowing how bad things are, but them not knowing is so damaging! To themselves and to the greater public.

Putting aside how damaging internalized sexism is to women (that’s its own post), do you know how many women I know who tell me they’re voting for Trump? An alarming amount.

This isn’t about Trump’s economic policies or his Islamophobia or his wall, although those things are important: simply put, Trump hates women.

He hates women. Rape accusations from his ex-wife, stating on the record he would have sex with his own daughter, shaming Hillary Clinton for using the bathroom and other, countless instances where this man has proved how little he values half of this country’s population.

Watch Mad Max: Fury Road. That’s what a Trump administration looks like.

And there are women who want to vote for him. Because they don’t know, they don’t realize? Because they value themselves that little? Because they’re doing what they were told?

So no, you can’t separate yourself from politics because being a woman – just existing in the world as a woman – is a political statement. Every time we have to pay a luxury tax for basic sanitary products, every time we pick an outfit for the day, every time we fall in love, it’s a statement either for or against the system of rules put in place by society. Some people fight that by accident, living the only way they can and having it take on a significance they never expected. Some people set out to watch it burn, witnessing the unfairness in those around them and biting off a piece for themselves just to spit it back in everyone’s face. But there will be a point in every woman’s life where she has to make a political decision. Are you going to let it come to you or go to it?

-JM

 

Fat shaming

Eat, guilt, restrict, binge, guilt, restrict, binge, guilt, restrict.

This is a cycle that far too many of us are far too familiar with. The reasons behind this feeling of guilt after eating nearly anything are a lot more ingrained than we think. It is put in our heads from a young age that eating food and feeling full should result in regret. It stems from “cheat meals” and “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful!”

Fat shaming is pushed on each one of us, mainly girls, through every avenue of media and every aspect of our social lives. I remember being 11 and looking in the mirror, sucking in my stomach to look thinner. Girls are taught that the number on the scale dictates their worth. 

Not that all of us are told directly that being fat is the worst thing you could be, but that’s the message that is being sent to us. Recently there was a “plus size” model in a bikini on a sports magazine. She was a size 6. Do you know the average size for a female in the US? A 12-14. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that we are having more average looking bodies on covers of magazines, but how detrimental is it to label a size 6 as plus sized when the average is a size 14? It leads to feeling ashamed, due to the negative association with “plus size”, if you are a size 6 or up. This is the kind of standard that leads to fat shaming and self hatred. It causes repetitive, unhealthy eating habits that can be extremely harmful.

I’ve been seeing a lot more body positivity trending lately and I absolutely love it. However, there is still a lot of fat shaming that goes on with body positivity. Those who exceed a certain look or weight are often excluded. It feels like “you can be proud of your body until you reach this point, then it’s unhealthy”. 

The idea of loving your body no matter what is phenomenal, but it seems that skinny people are often trying to dictate what is body positive and what is not. For example, if a heavy girl wears a crop top it is automatically considered body positive. Sounds good, right? But what say does the girl in the shirt have? She should be the one to decide if she’s feeling body positive that day. A heavy person wearing a crop top is not always doing it to take a stand. Wearing a certain style is not inherently brave, people can wear what they want. 

What I’m getting at is that, from a young age, we need to teach people that there is not one correct way to look (talk, skinny, fit, white, blonde). It is absolutely great to love your body, but having it be the deciding factor on your worth can be extremely harmful. So love yourself for whatever body you have, and don’t try to tell other people what do do with theirs. 

Stop policing what people wear, stop deciding what makes a person body positive, stop only complimenting people when they lose weight. Start loving yourself and those around you for reasons other than their body. 

-JB

Why Acknowledging Privilege is So Hard

priv·i·lege
priv(ə)lij/
(noun) a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.

We’re all pretty familiar with this definition. We hear it in contexts like “It is my privilege to be here today” to people giving or accepting awards and parents start taking away privileges when their kids are in trouble. But there’s this other side to the definition that makes people less comfy.

Privilege: A group of unearned cultural, legal, social, and institutional rights extended to a group based on their social group membership.

Really, these two definitions mean the same thing. Except the first is general and the second is much more pointed.

Privileged people don’t like to be pointed at. They don’t like to be told the things or opportunities they have are unearned.

That’s not what that definition means, though. Saying a person is privileged is not meant to take away from the struggles they may have faced or the success they may have earned. Privilege simply means that you were in a better place to face those struggles and seize that success than someone who does not come from a place of privilege.

Individuals with privilege are considered to be the normative group, leaving those without access to this privilege invisible, unnatural, deviant, or just plain wrong. Most of the time, these privileges are automatic and most individuals in the privileged group are unaware of them. Some people who can “pass” as members of the privileged group might have access to some levels of privilege (J. Beal 2009).

Privilege is white people who say “I don’t see race.” Because they have race privilege, they never had to be aware of the social stigmas against non-white people in America. They get angry and uncomfortable when things like “Black Lives Matter” and whitewashing in films come up because “Why do you have to make everything about race?”
It is about race. You just have the privilege that you don’t have to see it.

Privilege is men who say “Not all men.” Because they have gender privilege, they don’t have to be aware of every way a woman can defend herself in the face of assault like women do. They get angry and defensive when women tell their stories and share their accounts of abuse because “I’m a nice guy, I would never do that, you’re just saying this for attention.”
No, we’re not. You just have the privilege that you don’t have one of these stories when every single woman does.

Privilege is cis people who say “Why are pronouns so important? Who cares?” Because they have cis privilege, they never had to go through the discomfort of dysphoria and internalized self-hatred. They get angry and uncomfortable when they’re corrected on names or pronouns and the bathroom issue is brought up because “Why do you feel so strongly about gender?”
Just because you don’t feel strongly about gender doesn’t mean it’s not important to some people. It’s about public safety for trans individuals. You just have the privilege that you don’t have to constantly consider it.

Privilege is seeing yourself in movies. Privilege is not having to ‘Americanize’ your name on job applications. Privilege is not having to come out to everyone you ever meet. Privilege is seeing Donald Trump’s popularity rock the polls and not being horrified.  Privilege is rich kids getting to go to college when they did a mediocre job in high school while the kid next to you had to work three jobs and get above a 4.0 to get the scholarship they needed to be there too.

I have privilege. I know Jessie has privilege. Chances are, you probably have some bit of privilege too.

Acknowledging this privilege may make you sad, it may give you guilt, but ignoring it is way worse. If a person ignores their privilege – if they look at where they are and look at all the people who have not reached the amount of success they have and doesn’t consider the social and cultural aspects that went into it – that person who ignores privilege may look at those unsuccessful people and think they deserve it. For not applying themselves or for being lazy of for not working as hard. And that doesn’t help anyone.

Yes you deserve your success. But those who don’t have the privileges you do deserve the same opportunities you had.

-JM