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Slut Shaming: A New Social Media Phenomenon

Slut Shaming: A New Social Media Phenomenon

SLUT SHAMING: A new social media phenomenon that entails the exploitation of salacious, or “slutty” photos of girls.

Provocative photos of girls are being posted and reposted on Facebook by both genders as a way to punish girls for taking lewd pictures. This form of ignominy is reminiscent of the scarlet “A” worn upon the bosom of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s scandalous protagonist, Hester Prynne.

Coincidentally, in 11th grade AP English, students just wrapped up reading Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. The antiquated classic revolves around Hester Prynne who must wear a scarlet “A” on her bosom for the rest of her life for committing adultery. The scarlet “A” is supposed to be a mark of shame, worn to humiliate Hester for her actions. Although the novel is set in the mid-17th century, the trend of publicly shaming others is occurring again on social media sites.

According to a recent National Public Radio broadcast, “Slut Shaming” involves using previously posted, inappropriate photos and videos of girls to chastise them for their indecency on social networking sites. The internet has created a whole new forum for social interaction. However, the development of a corresponding etiquette, establishing parameters of correct behavior has yet to follow.

When Facebook users scroll down newsfeeds, pictures of girls invariably pop up. Some of these females are often scantily dressed, or the picture focuses on a particular physical asset. Pictures are a way for individuals to flaunt their “goodies,” a colloquial term used to describe a girl’s physical assets and/or sexual attractiveness.

A quick poll of Clairemont students reveals that most males enjoy scrolling down their newsfeed to see risqué pictures of “hot” girls, and girls shake and smile with mirth when they discover an eye-catching photo of a desirable boy. Junior Lily Meakim, wide-eyed and with a visage of excitement explains the whole photo-hype this way:

“Posting pictures on Facebook reassures a person that they are good looking. The amount of ‘likes’ a picture gets is crucial in determining whether or not a photo has achieved mass acceptance. So, people take pictures in the bathroom mirror expecting to win ‘likes.’ All I can say is, what are you trying to do? Prove to people you look good after taking a dump? It’s disgusting.”

So who sets the standards of what’s appropriate to upload? Viewers of both genders do, by their collective actions.

So what do students here at CHS think about the idea of Slut Shaming? Let’s start by defining the term. What does “slut” even mean? Senior Lindsey Donohue shares her interpretation:

“Typically, a slut is defined as a woman who engages in casual sex or partakes with multiple partners. Yet, the only reason that society deems a woman a slut is because she’s going against the social norms of our western society. Our generation labels ourselves as unique and innovative, yet we still maintain the harsh attitude that our ancestors had against loose women. In order to progress as a society, we need to employ gender equality on all levels.”

Senior Abbi Chick challenges the label,

“What does the word slut even mean? Self-confidence shouldn’t be reprimanded. We were given our bodies for a reason. Why do we have to be ashamed? When society finally accepts this, then sexual equality will be a realistic dream where women and men are free to love themselves and each other without feeling guilt or shame. The word ‘slut’ is de-feminizing. The sooner it becomes obsolete, the sooner everyone will have to stop worrying about fitting into its stigma.”

An unidentified male senior offers his opinion,

“I think sluts are cool. Who cares about what type of photos they take? You’re not their moms.”

Who’s to be the judge of what constitutes a “slutty” picture, and is it okay to punish these “slutty” ladies?

Lily Meakim concludes,

“As for slut shaming, I think it’s a good thing because it can cause self-realization for girls who are sluts. Let them take the shame and change who they are.”

Joel Currie, a junior, whose opinions seem to be revered amongst his classmates, says,

“I think that girls who upload very ‘inappropriate’ pictures only do it for the attention. And even though slut shaming sounds like a way to give it to them (punish them), it’s bullying, and I think bullying is wrong. Who cares if a girl wants to show off her ta-tas (breasts)? That’s up to her. I think people should just let others do what they want on the Internet, even if it’s in bad taste.”

Senior Adam Farid, a brother to two younger sisters, is worried that these “sluts” are defaming all females.

“I think that sluts are very disgusting! However, it is their body so they can do whatever they want,” he says, as a smile of interest spread across his face. “Some might say that they are ‘highlighting’ their beauty, but really they are just bringin’ shame to the female name,” says Farid.

Senior Lindsey Donohue is against the use of the word “slut” as a label, “Labeling other people’s photos as ‘risqué’ or ‘slutty,’ only fosters the bad connotation associated with sexuality. These judgments can be detrimental to both women and men. Slut shaming objectifies women’s bodies, making expression of sexuality seem distasteful and facilitates anger with other women,” she says.

“More importantly, this adds to the ‘rape culture,’ where men actually blame their victims for tempting them with their clothes or actions. In an age where social media and technology are infused in every aspect of our lives, Slut Shaming is only going to exacerbate our corrupt view on gender,” added Donohue.

Some may argue that not all uploads are sexual –yet clearly most of the profile pictures users choose to upload highlight some alluring asset; it all depends on which asset it is.

Personally, I feel irritated when I scroll down Facebook and see salacious photos of my female peers. It is a disgrace to our generation of females –it further solidifies the idea that our generation is much more lewd than previous ones. I understand that not every female wants to portray themselves as modest, but if you’re still a minor, what are you gaining from posting scandalous pictures of yourself — The grand approval of accumulating over twenty “likes” –mostly from the male community that is drooling over your bold exposure?

There’s a double standard at work. Without making too broad of a generalization, it’s more acceptable for boys to pose suggestively than it is for girls. More judgment seems to be aimed at females. Males are not subjected to the same rules. Males do not face the same level of chastisement for their inappropriate posts (Ahem, this includes quoting misogynistic lyrics).

And thank you, muscle man, for posting the picture of your six-pack reflected in a bathroom mirror so we can add you to the short list of possible courtiers from our high school campus. Thank you, fellow Facebook friends, for posing suggestively with a middle finger held high up in the air in numerous photos –You are the definition of YOLO.

Will slut shaming have the opposite effect? Will the act instead change the definition of “slut” and make it empowering?

English teacher, Mrs. Klein, offers her opinion on the word’s connotation.

“During my tenure at Clairemont high School I’ve heard the term ‘slut’ used loosely (pun intended), by girls to call to one of their friends! I’ve heard a female student shout out to her girlfriend down the hall, ‘Hey slut. Wait for me!’ Who calls their friend a slut? More importantly, why are these two girls using such a negatively connoted word in a positive way, thus giving it power? In the American English language, historically under-represented groups take words, intended to harm, and turn them around to empower themselves. Although, I don’t think that’s what these young ladies were intending.”

The etymology of negative words has evolved over generations, for instance, women are now starting to re-appropriate the word “bitch.” Klein goes on to add,

“As the mother of a daughter, I want my daughter to have freedom of choice, within reason, but with the accessibility of free porn, predators, and down-right nasty and inappropriate role models in society and on the Internet, I’m intending on selectively guiding her ‘choices.’ I hope parents realize the image their children are presenting via their Facebook posts and pictures…I fear that the young people of today really don’t think before they click and post.”

You have the freedom to post whatever you want –photos are supposed to be fun and reflect your life. Just keep in mind that the pictures you post are a portrait of your life.

 

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