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Slut-Shaming Influences Self-Esteem In Girls

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The truth behind slut-shaming.

Slut shaming and the double standard have been a common occurrence in this day and age. Slut shaming is defined as an act of making any person feel guilty or inferior for certain sexual behaviors or desires, but lately, it has included shaming women for having certain body types, too. It affects girls from middle school to high school and continues on into college and the adult world. Girls are shamed for having sex, for having a larger chest or for how they dress.

We see it not just real life, but in movies, music and books as well. These have an effect on the people who watch television shows or read books that contain slut shaming which many do. Girls do it to other girls, guys do it to girls and even school official’s slut shame with dress codes, but they do not realize the repercussion that it has on an adolescents or adult’s self-esteem and self-confidence.

Statistics explain that in middle school and high school, 46 percent of the girls were slut shamed, which is two times more than guys. This is a form of bullying that has caused many negative consequences. It shows in the facts -- 37 percent of girls did not want to go to school and felt sick to their stomach, 22 percent of girls has trouble studying and even 11 percent of girls stayed home from school. This shame they experience affects their whole life, not just their self-esteem, but also their education and health. Girls all over are being shamed by not just their peers, but their school administrators for their clothing choice for school.

When did enforcing the school dress code turn to shaming girls and making them feel awful? We have seen all over in the news how school administrators have sent girls home for leggings or for shoulders showing. A case in an Illinois school explains a case where two 12-year-old girls were wearing the exact same pair of shorts, yet, only one got asked to change. You ask why? It is because one of the girls had a different body shape than the other.

When Bond was asked how she felt about the slut shaming and the situation she said, “For me, it’s about shaming girls about their bodies. It’s this message across genders that girls have to cover up, and teachers saying to girls, the reason for this rule is so that boys aren’t distracted.”

Girls are sent home form school and made to wear a different type of clothing in fear of distracting boys by wearing shorts or showing shoulders. Is it fair that we have to dress differently in fear of distracting guys and then feel shamed for wearing a certain article of clothing no matter the body type? Girls have to leave school for clothing missing class and tests while the guys stay. This is not the only consequence girls face.

The newspaper at Worcester State College featured an article that discussed the shame women endure. In cases with harassment and rape, the article explains that a woman’s reputation can also be used as 'evidence' against her when it comes to cases of rape and harassment. What is her sexual history? What is her reputation? What was she wearing? How many partners has she had? This is just one affect of the bullying. A girl with a reputation with of being slutty is taken as a less credible source in cases of harassment and rape. How is that just to ask about a girl’s sexual history when she says she is raped.

Marissa Robert of Worcester State College states, “In a culture that holds women to an impossible double standard, all too comfortably accepts sexual abuse and rape, as well as holds a mindset of victim blaming, we should analyze and consider what is really being said when we use and accept the word 'slut.' We need to clarify the meaning of the word slut and stop using it. It has caused so many issues in woman’s life by ruining their reputation and credibility which affects their life in serious matters."

The taunts and harassment women get, leads to worse things such as suicide. A 15-year-old from Staten Island committed suicide after being slut shamed at school. She allegedly had sex with four football players at once at party and was harassed at school for the incident. The four football players she had sex with were doing a fair share of the harassment. How could the guys who she allegedly had sex with harass her for sleeping with them so much that she committed suicide and have the school join in on her torment? It is d

espicable. Sara Imparato, a class mate of the victim said about the incident, “They were torturing her… How can you go through life being verbally assaulted like that? These guys are cruel and malicious."

This leads to the importance of teaching men and boys of all ages how slut shaming causes such irreversible damage.

This correlates with the double standard that if a girl sleeps around, she is a slut, but if a guy sleeps around, it is no big deal. It is seen all through out college that women who sleep with guys are judged more harshly judged. In a study done by the University of Illinois, they found that men express more sexual freedom. They interviewed 51 college students and 25 college alumni who concluded their experiences in college. In another study in the psychology of women quarterly, it explains that mixed messages are sent. Women are encouraged in college to “go have fun,” but then they get judged for it. How is that fair?

The lesson in this is to think before you say, “You are such a slut,” or calling someone a slut based on what they wear or how they act. These actions could have irreplaceable consequences for women, causing shame, suicide and a ruined reputation with lasting repercussions. This is a serious matter that people need to start taking more seriously.

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