stopviolenceuw

Scarlet Letters

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Picture This:  You walk into a house party with your group of friends, ready for a good time and looking fantastic.  You look across the room and you see a girl in a black mini-skirt, teeny-tiny top, and bright red heels.  She is chatting, smiling, flipping her hair, drinking a Smirnoff, and flirting with a guy in jeans and Hollister Polo.  He’s grinning, sipping on beer from a red Solo cup, and looking this girl up and down.   Within moments, the two are sucking face and dry humping in the middle of this party.

What is your first thought?

Well, if you’re like most people, your brain goes straight to: “What a Slut.”

And why shouldn’t it?  That’s what we’ve been conditioned to do.  Every time we see a woman act promiscuously or explore her sexuality, she is: slutty, a whore, bitch, crazy, easy, tramp.  This is the whole premise of the movie “Easy A.”  The main character, Olive, lies about sleeping with her best friend in order to protect him from bullies (he is gay).  From there, her reputation spins out of control and she is considered the school “slut.”  It’s basically a modernized version of The Scarlet Letter (how many of us had to read that for English class in high school?). 

Here’s a fun blog talking about “Easy A” and its message: http://jezebel.com/5642942/easy-a-tackles-slut+shaming-gossip–what-we-expect-from-girls-now

But the funny thing is that, while we’ve made some advances in women’s equality, it is still difficult, if not impossible, for a woman to express her sexuality in the way a man can. 

In the scenario at the beginning of this entry, did it occur to you to think: “God, that guy is such a man-whore.”

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Even though we see more and more women expressing their sexuality in popular culture (Samantha in Sex and the City, Snooki on Jersey Shore, and a million other programs), there is still a negative stigma attached to the sexuality that they represent.  They’re still considered sluts by the majority of the population because they dare to enjoy their sexuality and actively seek out sexual conquests.

However, men are portrayed in the media as seeking sexual conquests all the time (think Christian in Nip/Tuck, Charlie on Two and a Half Men) and it is simply an accepted part of the culture.  Sure, every now and then they’ll be referred to as a “man-whore,” but not nearly as much as women are referred to as “sluts” and “whores” for the exact same behavior.

I remember when I was in undergrad, I attended a party.  I was drinking and started making out with this guy, Matt, in the middle of the party (something I would never do sober).  The next day, I was teased by my sisters for making a spectacle of myself, especially since it was so out of character for me.  If it had been a habit, they wouldn’t have bothered to say anything to my face; they would have called me a “slut” behind my back and talked about how “unbecoming” it was for my sorority. 

On the other hand, Matt was awarded with high fives and congratulations by his brothers.  His “accomplishment” was considered a win for the whole fraternity and was discussed during their chapter meeting that week.  In fact, I later learned that someone had taken video on their cell phone and they played the video during the meeting.  They cheered.

Does this make me a slut?  Should I feel ashamed?  I don’t think so. If I feel comfortable with what Matt and I did, and I consented without coercion and enthusiastically participated, then I haven’t done anything wrong.  I certainly did no more or less than my partner had.  Does he feel slutty?  I’ve never really asked, but I highly doubt it.

There is not the same about of social pressure on men to NOT engage in sexual activities than there are for women.  To as certain extent, the opposite is true – men are almost expected to be promiscuous and, if I may, “slutty.”  And this makes it okay.

So, why the double standard?  I don’t understand.  If I may remind everyone – IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO.  When it comes to sexuality, men and women are after the same things.  So, why should they be viewed differently?

Has anyone ever made you feel slutty because of something you’ve done?  Or do you find yourself wondering what it really means to be slutty and if you fall into that category? 

Or do you feel like the stigmas surrounding sexuality are changing and that it’s okay for a woman to engage in as much sex as a man?

Let me know!  Leave a comment or email me at jarthur2@uwyo.edu

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  1. A student came into my office today and let me know about this interesting response to a woman’s sexual exploits. What do you think?

    http://jezebel.com/5652114/college-girls-power-point-fuck-list-goes-viral-gallery

  2. I skimmed the “Fuck List” and my response is WAY TO GO GIRL! Honestly, guys have been doing this for decades, they just aren’t put on display when doing so. Even when guys are discovered to have lists of this nature, it’s no big deal because it’s a “typical guy thing” to do. I think it’s great that this female was able to enjoy her sexuality and was proud of it. I’m sure all of us at one point or another has been “a name on the list.” And why is it ok for guys to have such lists, but it’s so taboo for women to enjoy sex and their own sexuality? I think society is due for a change!

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