Slut Shaming: the act of criticizing a woman for her real or presumed sexual activity, or for behaving in ways that someone thinks are associated with her real or presumed sexual activity.
What this definition doesn't include are the potential side effects: depression, self-hate and suicide. Grammy-nominated R&B songstress Kehlani is the prime example of slut shaming in the news right now. Here's the rundown: Kehlani dates PartyNextDoor, then is linked to baller Kyrie Irving until PND posts a now-deleted pic holding the singer's hand in bed on the 'gram. Social media jumps on the case and attacks the 20-year-old, who landed in the hospital Monday night following a failed suicide attempt. Now, she's getting shaded for being an "attention whore" on top being called, ya know, a regular old whore. While I can go into a whole rant on "casting stones," I'd rather take a page from Amber Rose's book (I never thought I'd say that) and shed some light on the history of slut shaming.
Slut shaming is so normalized in today’s world that it’s hard to find a young woman who hasn’t been called some variation of the word "slut." Sad, I know.
In light of Kehlani’s ordeal, I did a little research on the word "slut" and the origins of slut-shaming, since everyone throws the terms around so willy-nilly.
Here’s what I found out:
1. Historically, by standards set forth by the reigning white patriarchy, "purity" was something believed to be unattainable for Black women from the get-go, so "sluttiness" was a demeaning label given to them by default. That’s racism for ya!
2. Men were the first sluts. (Oh, how the tables have turned!) There’s a clearly a double standard when it comes to slut shaming these days, where a man's transgressions are celebrated and a woman's are scrutinized. The first publicized use of the word "slut" was in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in 1386. It was used to describe a man that did not sleep around, but who was rather a poor dresser. Whomp, whomp.
3. Despite being the targets a majority of the time, women are also the ones doing much of the shaming. Whether online or in person, girl-on-girl slut shaming is an epidemic WE ourselves created! Why? Apparently, according to some research, it's a sexual liberator to justify our own proclivities.
The point I want to make, though, is that we’re all desensitized to slut shaming, the word slut and all its variations. It’s disturbing that the bullying gets so bad that a young woman, who is known for singing positive anthems like “Alive” and “Bright,” is driven to such darkness that she would try to take her own life. It's time for us to realize the damage the word "slut" has done. In 2016, words still hurt.
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