Verbal assaults can come at all levels of adolescence, especially for young girls. There is one element of attack that I find particular heinous and it relates to sexuality. It’s bad enough when a teen girl that is not sexually active is considered a prude or uptight, but a girl considered sexually active is labeled as easy, cheap, and, yes, slutty. You just can’t win! Teens are brutal when it comes to talk of alleged promiscuity. The verbal and non-verbal attacks upon those accused of such an act is called slut-shaming. Both boys and girls are guilty of slut-shaming young teen girls, and although they may feel their knowledge of the facts justifies their hurtful verbal attacks, they do not understand the damage that is being done to the victim.
Slut-shaming does not just target girls with reputations for being promiscuous or sexually active. Many young teens experience this type of harassment just by the clothes they wear or the “vibe” they give off to others. If girls are offended by another girl’s behavior, jealous or threatened, the result could be slut-shaming. Non-verbal messages of disapproval, disgust, or shame can be relayed through body language and mistreatment such as eye rolling, laughing, exclusion and comments via social media. Regardless of how a girl gets that title, it can be very serious with permanent consequences. Slut-shaming is a form of bullying and this type of verbal assault can leave a girl with low self-esteem feeling guilty, dirty, and possibly cheap. Many girls that are victims of slut-shaming don’t know where to go for help to escape the hurtful labels and attacks. Sadly, statistics show that teenagers are resorting to taking their own life to escape the abuse and label. This has to end.
Once again, like many things in life, there is a double standard for men and women, that is clearly seen. There is a set of sexual rules that apply to men and boys and another set of rules that apply to women and girls. The rules for boys promote promiscuity and sexual activity with multiple partners. In fact, boys learn early on that is may be a way to gain approval, and validation by their peers. However, girls are expected to abide by another set of rules that discourages expressing themselves through experiences, clothes, and attitudes about sex. When those rules are broken, the affects can be brutal. Although slut-shaming is done by both teen girls and boys, it typically lies in the hands of girls. We cannot excuse the role that boys play; however, girls seem to take part in this behavior far more often. Why do we condemn instead of protect and uplift our fellow woman?
Combating against slut-shaming begins with young girls and women. No more passing unfair judgment on one another because of the way someone dresses, carries them self, or based on their “assumed” sexual behaviors. Draw the line.
Bottom line, everyone is entitled to own their own sexuality. Girls and women should be comfortable with their sex life, their decisions, and their bodies. People have no right to label or pass judgment on anyone for their lifestyle choices. These labels can have serious consequences. A person’s sexual lifestyle is their choice, and their choice should not result in bullying of any type. I’m not saying that I condone teen sex, I’m saying that labeling a girl’s sexuality in any way is damaging and unacceptable.