THE UPRISING OF SLUT SHAMING

May 6, 2015

Jaslyn McCarthy

As I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed, like many, I am bombarded with idiotic posts, links, photos and comments. But lately there has been an emerging trend that has caught my eye, this trend involves accusing females of being “side-hoes” and people finding it entertaining in sharing a girl’s naked photo which she has sent trustingly to a male. For some reason, people are finding it important to determine whether a girl is a side-hoe or not, and shaming girls by using their nude photos against them. Not only this, but a large emphasis is being placed on how teenagers should be in a relationship no matter how dysfunctional for either individual it may be.

I am unsure of where this all came from and whether or not I am only realising these things now, but one thing I am sure of is that 13-18 year olds should not be placing such importance on relationships and shaming a girl for being what mainstream calls a “slut” or a “side-hoe”.

The roots of the word come from American slang; the definition of a side-hoe to my understanding is a female who participates in sexual relations with a male who has a girlfriend or partner. Not only does the title make the girl sound like a sexual object, but it degrades her as a human also. The word only looks at the female’s mistake and makes her receive the majority of the blame. Not just this, but it makes it sound as if she is not fully capable of holding a relationship of her own. I am in no way condoning the act of cheating, and as they say it does take two to tango but there is so much in a situation like this that can be subjective. For example, maybe the girl was not aware that the guy was in a relationship. Why does society feel the need to always degrade the woman in these situations rather than the man who is most likely the instigator of the act?

I wouldn’t describe myself as an overly active feminist, I do a lot of things such as listen to misogynistic music (without even noticing sometimes) as well as put myself through painful treatments to remove hairs on my body which contrasts many of my views and what I have to say in relation to gender equality. Although most of the time I am happy with being a female in Australia, when I am confronted with words like “side-hoe” I question as to why I had to have been born a girl. What is so offensive about the term is that society make it out as if every male is entitled to one, and a lot of females themselves are adopting the word for girls they dislike. Men are more than proud to admit they have a girl on the side or that they have in the past. I often see both male and female rappers posting videos that outline ‘How to know if you’re a side-hoe’ that involve lyrics to intentionally dis-hearten a female, and I even see publications by female writers titled ’10 ways to you know you’re his side-hoe’. Girls, if you’re aware he is in a relationship and he’s more than happy to have sex with you, he is not emotionally attached to you. You don’t need someone with a degree, or hear it in a song to tell you that you can do better by putting a degrading label on it.

Being aware that females cheat also, I am using cheating males as the example because there is simply no term like “side-hoe” for a cheating male.

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Back to the topic of teens having to need a significant other, why? Why do we all need to get married one day or be in a relationship? Boys and girls need to be told it is okay to not want to put a ring on it. It’s great if you do and I say go for it, but we shouldn’t be made to feel that being truly valued as a human involves having a partner or being married. Back to decades ago, marriage carried importance in terms of family relationships and financial security but these days we can remain comfortable without having to say “I do”. Social media is constantly displaying the many benefits of being in a relationship and sometimes paints this unrealistic fantasy that all relationships are perfect and easy to come by–not to mention that most of the time the couples advertised are usually wealthy, straight and are more than likely white or African American.

I am not against relationships, but for young teens they tend to cause more harm than good, creating greater self-esteem issues with the risk of cheating involved at such an experimental age. You don’t need the same person every day to remind you how great you are in order to feel entitlement for feeling good about yourself. These are the years we are meant to be discovering ourselves and what we want to be, not getting so caught up in someone else you forget who you are or shaming other people of the same gender for being a “hoe” or a “slut”. It’s evident we live in a patriarchal society and by continuing to make use of degrading words for females, we are just going to maintain the same misogynistic environment for our own children and generations after. How about we begin to lift each other up rather than feeling the need to get involved with a taken male or female to achieve status above someone else by making them upset or jealous.

When naked images of Kim Kardashian arise, we are convinced it is all in the name of art. When images of a naked 17 year old girl emerge, we are disgusted. These images usually come into the public eye by creeping into our social media feeds by someone who is willing to humiliate the individual out of jealousy, hate or whatever you want to call it. Most of the time the image is uploaded by a member of the same gender which makes it even more concerning. We use the naked body of an average day-to-day female to cause hatred and shame upon the individual while the naked body of a celebrity is celebrated and seen as beautiful. If we want women to embrace their bodies and feel confident within their own skin, there should not be such a large contrast in reaction. Releasing a female’s nude pictures is becoming an overwhelming trend which is responsible for a lot of feelings of depression and some people even attempting suicide. We can tell girls and boys not to send these sorts of images to one-another but realistically, it will not stop. Why should they stop when people like Kylie Jenner and Amber Rose are able to do publish these photos themselves everyday on Instagram? We either make sure nobody is endorsing naked imagery of themselves or we lay a lot harsher penalties for those who publish another’s images without permission.

This uprising of slut shaming and degrading terms for women needs to stop if we ever really want to achieve gender equality.

– Jaslyn McCarthy

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