Friday, May 17, 2013

Slut Shaming: What Happens When Women Judge Each Other

   I get it. I understand the distinction you are trying to make. But what you don't get, when you sit there slamming another womans choices, is that it doesn't help us on the whole. It doesn't make the world respect us any more to hear you talk about her lack of respect for herself. Your slut shaming hate speak may feel morally informed and dignified and it may garner you the accolades and temporary praise from the men in your life. But what you don't understand is, she isn't harming the image of women. You are. You have no way of knowing by looking at her whether her mode of dress feels degrading or empowering inside that precious head of hers. You may get a vibe, and as a woman with instincts about such things it could often times prove to be right... but how do you know if that gut reaction isn't resonating from a different place in your mind? From programmed beliefs about the way a woman is supposed to behave... or maybe from latent desires or fears. From memories of times when the world lashed out at you for the very same offense. On whatever scale.

   The most important point you're missing though is that you're inadvertently making yourself a point of reference. The men who overhear your comments, many times without even realizing it or intending to do it, file that information away and pull it out as precedence... license to judge the intentions of women by the way they look and dress. Do you see the difference? When we women judge other women by the length of their skirts we do so with an intrinsic knowledge most men don't come equipped with. We are judging their decisions. You are judging someone who had the same or similar options laid out before her along with the same or similar consequences and she chose differently than you. That's what you are judging. But men don't get the privilege of hearing that subconscious internal dialogue. And they aren't generally presented with those same options... even if they were, the consequences are so greatly different that it's impossible to infer our female experience from a single set of similar circumstances from time to time.

   Men see the external result of your internal experience that lead you to verbalize something negative about another woman's appearance, and they think that makes it okay for them to judge women on this level too. Both are bad. It's wrong to think this way of someone else regardless of your gender... but the judgement you're helping to perpetuate in men through your hateful talk isn't the same brand as your own. Men are (generally speaking) judging intentions not decisions. They can only assume what went into that decision, unlike us women who know, at least in part the different factors at play. And we all know assuming is dangerous.

   When we say "that's so attention seeking" guys interpret that through the male lens. It must be a certain type of attention she's seeking... You can see where I'm going with this...

    So by all means teach modesty to your daughters. Carefully so as not to imply undue guilt, or disproportionate levels of responsibility on her if she doesn't follow your teaching to the letter... as most children growing into adults are prone to do...  or heaven forbid she chooses a different path altogether. But please make sure you're not inadvertently teaching misogyny to your sons and brothers and husbands.

   Women may not have power in many areas, inequality is everywhere... but don't for a second underestimate the power of our words. We move mountains with our tongues. Let's do our best to stop shooting ourselves in the foot under the guise that it's about her and not about us.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...