Slut shaming

I’m a feminist, and you probably are too. Here’s a simple test you can take to determine whether or not you are a feminist: do you believe in equal rights and opportunities for men and women? Then congratulations, you’re a feminist. The name and the movement have been used to achieve a wide assortment of goals, but ultimately, that’s what it comes down to. You can disagree with some feminists, and there is disagreement among feminists. But that’s what it is, and anyone who says they are against feminism either doesn’t know what it is or run away!

As was pointed out to me, since I haven’t read anything by Ayn Rand and only have read criticism and analysis of her work, short biographical articles of her life, and have listened to too many diatribes by her fans, I’m ignorant when it comes to all things Rand. Nonetheless, I was disturbed today when I was reading a blog wherein the blogger railed on Ayn Rand and slut shamed her! Since I am ignorant of Rand, I must turn to my Rand-admiring friends and ask if there is any truth to the allegation that she enjoyed sex, the horror! But regardless of my ignorance, I felt the need to champion her. Both on that blog and here.

Calling a woman a slut isn’t cool, no matter what you think of her philosophy on life or writing abilities. Why? Because it’s really better for everyone when the woman enjoys sex. And so what? So she likes sex. Does that make her worse writer or give her a more warped opinion of the world? No, because the two things probably have very little to do with each other (the caveat being situations like Fifty Shades of Grey and the author knowing little about BDSM. In this case, contrary to the assertion of the blog I read, E. L. James’s relative inexperience, or sexual purity, probably made her a worse writer for her subject matter. Though again, full disclosure, since I haven’t read E. L. James, only commentary and summary, I guess I am ignorant and shouldn’t talk about it.). It just turns off people who would otherwise probably tend to agree with your assessment of her writing and philosophy.

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About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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11 Responses to Slut shaming

  1. ytakery says:

    Feminism also normally contains a belief that there’s some sort of patriarchy actively oppressing women. That’s normally the more controversial part, that all or most men worldwide are participating in a conspiracy to oppress and slut shame women.

    This generally assumes an assumption that women are automatically better than men as male sexuality is dirty and female sexuality is pure. For example, Ayn Rand, who idolizes abuse and rape in her novels as sexy, is just enjoying sex.

    • emmawolf says:

      Yes, if feminism is about equality at its core (though there are many parts to feminism and many different types or waves of feminist, some more controversial than others) then something would have to be oppressing women to prevent that equality. Equality should be a pretty non-controversial idea in a Western society, but it’s not.

      Re. male and female sexuality, I’m not sure that I follow. It’s been my observation that male sexuality is neutral or expected whereas women are either Madonna or the whore.

      • ytakery says:

        Inequality can easily be due to a lack of care, not oppression. There’s no particular reason why different outcomes have to be because of someone actively trying to oppress another.

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/18/male-sexuality-desire

        This article covers some common negatives about male sexuality. Cougars are praised by pop culture, older men who like younger women are perverts. Men who get sex are simple and just want sex, men who fail at getting sex are creeps.

        Feminists actively work to protect the reputation of women, regardless of their sexual choices. There’s little, if any, effort by anyone to protect the reputation of men.

        Some men and women do have rather abusive sexualities. Ayn Rand’s is on the edge.

        http://jezebel.com/5490207/a-welcomed-rape-sex-and-ayn-rand

        • emmawolf says:

          I think we’re talking past each other re. equality and oppression.

          Re. male sexuality being negative, I still don’t buy it. I’m not seeing cougars praised, or if so, very rarely. I’m seeing the men who sleep with them be praised. But I am seeing the opposite: older men in May/December relationships be accepted or praised but the relationships being less ok when the woman is older. (just as an example of what I mean: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/fashion/16cougar.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&hpw=&adxnnlx=1274191790-KqNlFvz8emSm8UXAqkwrbA) And the term “pervert,” if I’m hearing that in connection with an older/younger relationship, I think pedophilia. I don’t think that’s what you mean…

          Re. Ayn Rand, I’m not going to champion her anymore. I just don’t like to see people slut shamed.

          The Jezebel article you provided a link to is very interesting. It also reminds me of criticism of the Twilight books and its portrayal of relationships.

  2. ytakery says:

    I thought we were directly addressing each other’s points with equality and oppression. It’s not a moot point for people when they are told men are oppressing women and actively working to hurt them. It’s the most controversial part of feminism.

    Your article notes the growing popularity of cougar culture, and notes that google made a weird decision that they didn’t quite explain. There was no clear cougar shaming, just the random unexplained whims of someone in google. However, similar articles talking about the issue make sure to shame the male version of cougars directly.

    http://mashable.com/2010/05/14/google-cougars-online-dating/

    “The site goes on to describe a mutually beneficial relationship as “a relationship between an older and wealthy individual who gives a young person expensive gifts or financial assistance in return for friendship or intimacy.” Inviting young people to walk the fine and blurry line between sex-related leeching and bald prostitution is safe for families?

    And since “family” is a euphemism for “children,” let’s make the distinction even clearer: Would you rather have your kids know that mature ladies can be desirable to cute young guys, or that college girls can get their bills paid by having sexual relationships with older men? One message seems fairly sex-positive, and the other just creepy.”

    Men are older, women are mature. Careful choice of words. Cougars and sugar daddies both often use their money to their advantage to sell a better life, but the financial side is ignored for cougars so that men who like younger women can be called creepy.

    “And the term “pervert,” if I’m hearing that in connection with an older/younger relationship, I think pedophilia. I don’t think that’s what you mean…”

    I’ve certainly seen the word pedophilia used to describe 18+ women with older men.

    Many books, Twilight included, have rather creepy (actual creeping involved) stalky relationships. Abuse is just a sign of how strongly he loves you according to them.

    • emmawolf says:

      We’re not addressing each other’s points, but neither of us are moot. And there are much more controversial aspects of feminism than the idea that there is a patriarchy (in some places) that oppresses women (in some places).

      • ytakery says:

        What is more controversial than the patriarchy, and most or all men being part of it?

        • emmawolf says:

          I don’t think you understand feminism. As I said earlier, it is merely the idea that all people are equal. And while some feminists believe that the US (I can only speak from this experience because this is where I live) has patriarchal elements, most feminists do not believe that all or most USian men are part of some patriarchal conspiracy.

          Well, for one. I think the concept that any heterosexual sex is inherently a rape is pretty controversial and more controversial than the idea that there is a patriarchy. If you want to learn more about any part of feminism, I recommend the blogs http://www.feministe.us/blog/ or http://feministing.com/ or http://colorlines.com/gender-sexuality/

  3. infidel753 says:

    I saw that posting and I agree with you about this. Calling Rand a “slut” is a bad thing, not because insulting Rand is a bad thing, but because using the term as a pejorative legitimizes using it that way against women more generally. Being sexually adventurous or unconventional is not intrinsically a bad thing. Rand should be criticized for the malevolent influences she exerted, not for behavior which was not, in itself, wrong.

    • emmawolf says:

      Thanks. I had been feeling kind of strange championing Rand because she seems the kind of person who would kick me in the teeth if she could make money doing it and wouldn’t want the help of someone who is so left wing she flies in circles (me). But maybe I have to stand for anti-slut shaming always if I’m going to stand for it at all.

  4. Pingback: the conspiracy in us « The Adventures of Leo Tarvi

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