Updated: Slut Shaming and Sexual Choice

Slut-shaming (I wish there was a better word for it) is a product of sex negative images. So not only is slut-shaming sexist it is also a process of policing gender. Slut shaming privileges men over womyn, by telling womyn that they are responsible for the sexual responses of men because womyn's power is sexual while men's power is material. "Put on pants instead of shorts, so men won't holler at you when you walk down the street." "If you weren't drinking so much, you wouldn't have been raped." In both of these situations, womyn are expected to be responsible for what men do, because supposedly men can't control their responses when women assumed to be hypersexual, show that they are indeed sexual beings. Slut shaming is telling womyn not to fall out of the confines of modesty and what the stereotype of what a woman should be: dainty, submissive, etc. When a woman falls out of those restrictions, society, including slut shamers ridicule her for not lining up to what their standards of a woman should be, for stepping out of line, for being a sexual woman with autonomy which womyn were never believed to be. They tell her she's not a real woman, that instead she is a ho, and strip her of her gender identity all together. This is the worst situation for a young woman of color to be in. They make her feel so bad that she'll get back in line and never stray again. Slut shaming serves to keep stoic ideas of what a woman should be in tact: pure and passive.

This type of logic disproportionately affects women of color. Since women of color are already seen by dominant society, including men of color, as hypersexual, callous deviants who use sex for purely economic and/or man stealing gains, our sexuality is even more boxed in. We put on a modest persona to seek acceptance not only from other womyn but from the men of our race also. Our sexuality is dictated for us even more than it is for white womyn. Most womyn are so afraid of being ostracized from the community based on sexual choices deemed inappropriate, that they make those choices, not based on love or fulfillment but only so they won't go through this process of gender stripping slut-shaming. My plea is for womyn to start making sexual choices based on what their desires are and what their own definition of a woman is and also allow every other woman to make those same rules, decisions, and choices for herself. Don't let society determine what your sexuality should look like. Define your own ideas and give every other woman the right to do that for herself, she deserves it. Shatter the degrading stereotype of what a woman should be.

My message to women is to be proud of the sexual choices you make when you don't care what others will think of you. Don't restrict yourself based on what ideas are out there about the purity of a woman. Even if afterward, you felt like it was a mistake and regret it later on, remember it happens to the best of us. Be proud that at that moment it was exactly what you wanted. Be proud that you had the clear mind and will to make that decision. If for no other reason, do it for the womyn who didn't get to make the choice about what sexual choices they were going to make.

"SEXUAL VINDICATION ladies, taking back whats ours!"

Sexual vindication: doing what you want, with your body, regardless of preconceived notions and not caring what people think about what you are doing, with your body.

Sexual Violence and Sex Negative Messages

The other day was the first day that I masturbated without guilt. I was in high school when I first started to masturbate. High school was also the time in my life when I was going through my die hard Imma-be-a-minister-when-I-grow-up Christian phase. Not only was I being sent covert messages from the media about how dirty and disgusting masturbation was but I was also being sent similar overt messages from the adults in my life that I loved, trusted, and believed about how wrong and sinful masturbation was. These messages didn't make me stop though, they only made me feel ashamed of what I was doing. I had found a part of myself that felt too damned good to stop, which made me feel even more bad and on top of that I was being told in church every Sunday to let go of the flesh and how only sinful, worldly creatures choose flesh over the Lord. I was a wreck, but a sexually satisfied wreck. Instead of persuading me to stop, those messages that were embedded into my psyche triggered an guilty response every time I felt the fruits of my masturbation labor. I relished the physical goodness but my mind felt like what I had just done was wrong, the physicality of what I was feeling was wrong. Pretty much, I felt bad about feeling good.

Every time, I told myself that I needed to stop, that I needed to get my life in order, that I needed to ask for forgiveness and I did. Over and over again. Imagine what that can do to a person, you continue to commit what you feel is a crime, a religious crime, one even worse than those committed against the law. Imagine what it did to my sexual health. I felt screwed up. The connection had already been made: sex is bad, dirty, wrong, and worst of all sinful.

Now that I've abandoned my religious beliefs and adopted love as my die hard spirituality, I have come to realize that sex is a natural part of life. To tell someone and send messages that sex is wrong is what the true problem is.

I recently read an blog post by sex positive activist Charlie Glickman. In his post he draws the link between sex negative messages and rape culture. He says "sex negative messages don't keep people from having sex. They keep people from having good sex." Brilliant. To further his argument, sex negative messages don't just keep people from having good sex they also keep people from feeling healthy, mature, equipped, and happy about the sexual choices they make. Sex negative messages are violent messages that keep people away from expressing themselves sexually in a safe, healthy, fun manner. They detach people from the very necessary connection human beings need to have with their physical body. Andrea Smith in her book "Conquest: Sexual Violence and the American Indian Genocide," says, "as a consequence of this colonization and abuse of their bodies, Indian people learn to internalize self-hatred, because body image is integrally related to self-esteem. When one's body is not respected, one begins to hate oneself. Anne, a native boarding school student, reflects on this process: You better not touch yourself...If I looked at somebody, lust, sex I got scared of those sexual feelings. And I did not know how to handle them...What really confused me was if intercourse was a sin, why are people born?...It took me a really long time to get over the fact that...I've sinned, I had a child." Therefore, I agree with Glickman's argument that sex negative messages promote rape. In order to have a mind that sees rape as wrong, you have to believe that every person's body is worthy of respect and love, but how can you respect and love someone else's body when you've been taught that all things sexual are bad? when you hate yourself and your own body?, when you're indiscriminate and careless about the sexual choices you make? This why I believe more men commit sexually violent acts than womyn do, because men are taught to be indiscriminate and careless in their sexual choices. If they turn a woman down, they are tagged gay not selective.

In Juice, Bishop said "I don't give a fuck. I don't give a fuck about you. I don't give a fuck about Steel. I don't give a fuck about Raheem, either. I don't give a fuck about myself. Look, I ain't shit. And you less of a man than me, so as soon as I figure you ain't gon be shit, pow!" Even though this is a fictional movie, it was a depiction of a real situation. When someone hates themselves they hate another person even more since society is shaped in a way where we don't give other the same respect we give ourselves. Therefore, I am making the assertion that the first step to stopping sexual violence is to stop sex negative messages. Teach people about sex positivity, so that they can be comfortable, and can respect and love their own bodies and the bodies of others. Its definitely easier said than done, but it can be done.

It took a long time of me constantly rethinking the sex negative messages that I had been sent for so long for me in order for me to fully love and appreciate my body and the body of others and it was definitely worth the wait.