Think before you speak: a culture of slut-shaming

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week and a half, you know that people can’t stop, and they won’t stop, talking about Miley Cyrus at MTV’s Video Music Awards. 

On Aug. 25, she took the stage with Robin Thicke and some drugged up teddy bears and gave the world a performance that it will apparently never forget. 

She gyrated all over the stage with a giant foam finger, getting her twerk on at every possible moment, which included a brief encounter with Robin Thicke’s crotch region.

The media, other celebrities, and the general public wasted no time in taking to the Internet to express their opinions on Miley’s risqué performance. The words “slut” and “skank” have been thrown around so many times that it would be impossible to keep count; they have become synonymous with her name.

While it seems harmless to throw these derogatory terms around when referring to a pop star who voluntarily put herself and her body on display publicly, it brings up the question of when using these terms is or isn’t appropriate.

The answer is never.

Slut-shaming has become an epidemic in our society, and it seems to be especially prevalent for college aged kids. Labeling someone as a slut happens without much thought.

 I myself am guilty of doing this and am sure you or someone you know is, too. The implications of this behavior go a lot deeper than just a mild insult.

Being referred to as a slut can have a debilitating effect on someone’s self-esteem. The word evokes feelings of worthlessness and being unclean. Assuming that someone is beneath you if they wear revealing clothing or sleep around is unfair and cruel. 

While I haven’t been putting a gender to the victims of slut-shaming thus far, because I know that it happens to both men and women, it most commonly happens to women. I’m not a feminist. However, I find something deeply wrong with the double standard between men and women relating to sex. 

The classic picture is that of a guy in a locker room bragging to his buddies about who he slept with. They congratulate him with whoops and cheers. If a woman did that, she would more likely be met with sneers and judgment, even from other women. 

I’ve seen more slut-shaming between woman than I have from men which can be even more hurtful. Women have a tendency to compare themselves to other women and knowing that your peers are judging you is harder to deal with than people who you don’t identify actually with.

We all have different belief systems and ideas about what is right and wrong. That’s part of what makes each of us a unique individual, which is key to having a diverse and cultured campus. Just because someone acts in a way that you feel is immoral or provocative does not mean that you are entitled to publicly pass judgment on them. 

Slut-shaming is a real problem, and it is in everyone’s best interest to keep the name calling and degrading to yourselves. We should be building each other up and respecting one another’s decisions.