Society should stop slut-shaming


Opinions Editor John Kesler (The DVC Inquirer)

On February 23, a Georgetown University law student named Sandra Fluke advocated in Congress for insurance companies to make contraceptives for women more affordable. Cool, right?

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh reacted to this in a mature, respectable manner. Just kidding, from February 29 to March 2, Limbaugh called Fluke a slut and made several jokes about her perceived promiscuity.

One such statement came on February 29, when Limbaugh said, “What does [Fluke’s testimony] make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

As if this weren’t childish enough, Bill Colley, a conservative talk show host from Delaware’s WGMD radio station, made several totally sensible tweets and blog postings, such as “I’m told President Obama had no trouble tracking down her telephone number. It’s on every men’s room wall in Washington.”

Really? It’s 2012 and a woman can’t talk about sex without a grown man calling her a whore? Can women not express their sexuality in a mature manner? What century is this? Why is this such a huge problem?

In addition, judging from the music reviews I’ve written before, I’m also a part of the problem. I criticized Lana Del Rey for being sexually charged while merely noting that J. Cole was “boasting too much” when he described his sexual encounters or prowess. Despite Cole’s many  uses of pejorative terms for women (which adds to the issue too), I unconsciously found his display of sexuality to be easier to take than Del Rey’s. Why is it?

This problem is known as slut-shaming, which the Choices Campus blog (run by the Feminist Majority Foundation) defines as “publicly or privately insulting a woman because she expressed her sexuality in a way that does not conform to patriarchal expectations for women.”

Note how “patriarchy” is included in the definition. Think about all the various derogatory words for women (such as the four I’ve mentioned already) as opposed to the derogatory terms for men. I can only think of “dick” as an insult that applies exclusively to men, and it is not sexual in nature.

The best solution I can think of is for people to try to stop using those words, since they enable a patriarchal, slut-shaming thought process. This childishness really has no business in any sort of discussion, political or personal.