The Double Standards of Slut-Shaming

So, imagine you’re a teenage boy. You’re at a concert. A really drunk girl has been flirting with you for a few minutes. All of a sudden, she offers to perform oral sex on you. Right there. In the middle of the concert. You happily accept. While she is pleasuring you, you put your hands up in the air, cheering for your lucky, lucky self. You are the epitome of “cool.” 

Now – imagine you’re a 17-year-old girl. You are at your favorite singer’s concert. You have had way too much to drink and you’re incredible intoxicated. You see a really cute guy standing nearby. You approach him and begin flirting with him. You really want him to like you, so in your drunken stupor, you offer oral sex to him. He enthusiastically says, “YES!” and so, you kneel down, unbutton his pants, and begin. You are a total slut. 

My question is – why is there such a discrepancy in the way society views both people in this scenario? Both teenagers are engaged in explicit sexual activity in public, but somehow, most people would view the girl in a more negative light than they would the boy. This picture I have painted is basically exactly what happened at an Eminem concert at Slane Castle in Ireland last month. The photographs went viral and were all over social media. Needless to say, the story got a lot of people talking. Some people were rightfully upset about the fact that these pictures were similar to (if not exactly) child pornography. More importantly to this discussion, however, is the multitude of comments made about the young girl. One tweet said, “Lesson to be learnt from #slanegirl dont give head in public ..twice ..with 80,000 people watching” [sic]. While I agree – that is great advice – my problem is the lack of similar commentary concerning the boy’s behavior. How about, “Lesson I learned from #slaneboy: Don’t take advantage of an obviously drunk girl”?

The problem is that this type of hypocrisy isn’t rare. Remember Miley’s twerking incident a few weeks ago? The entire world is upset about Miley setting a bad example to young girls (which, don’t get me wrong – I agree, she did), but what about Robin Thicke sending a terrible example to males of all generations? He’s married and yet, he finds it somehow appropriate to allow a young woman to grind on him (which he admitted that he had prior knowledge of) and sing a song that has rape-y lyrics about “blurred lines.” While Robin Thicke did, admittedly, get criticized for his performance, I think most would agree that his reputation is not permanently destroyed the way Miley Cyrus’ is.

All of this relates to a concept in feminist philosophy called, “slut-shaming.” Basically, this term refers to making women feel guilty or inferior for certain sexual behaviors or desires that deviate from traditional gender expectations. Slut-shaming is the phenomenon that exists when women are “sluts” when they dress provocatively, request birth control, or have premarital sex – but men are not judged in the same manner for behaving in a way that indicates they desire sex, or when they buy condoms or have premarital sex.

I’d like to know what the readers think – why is there this discrepancy in the way we view sexuality in women and men? And what can we do to fix this problem?

Ashley Pierce

About Ashley Pierce

Ashley Pierce is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Houston Baptist University in 2010. While she was in college, she worked with a non-profit organization called Ambassadors for Christ that partnered at-risk youth with college students to serve as positive influences. During her first summer as a law student, Ashley worked in employment discrimination law with Bashen Corporation, in order to expand her horizons and see a completely different side of the legal world. During her second summer, she worked as a law clerk with Lilly, Newman & Van Ness, L.L.P., a family law firm. She will continue working there during her third year of law school. Ashley has always been passionate about helping children and families and she has a genuine interest in the intersection of psychology and the law. This year, she is looking forward to learning more about amicus work and she plans on focusing her research and writing on the "best interest" standard as it is applied to children.

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