(Please note that this article will be focusing on primarily the act of slut shaming in regards to one’s clothing preferences.)
Slut shaming is the act of shaming an individual for their choice in wearing clothes that are deemed provocative, simply because of the fact that sexuality in one’s clothes is not meant to be shown — in the eyes of those who shame people for their clothing choices. One way to point out an act of slut shaming is when a person says a remark that is charged with hostility towards how a person is dressed. For example, a fraternity brother decides to call a woman a slut because she likes to wear low cut dresses that show off a lot of skin. Society has taught women who wear provocative clothing simply for their own empowerment tend to be feared by men, because they feel that a woman is trying to seduce them, even though they are not. During the Salem Witch Trials, most of the women who were sentenced to burn at the stake were wearing clothes that were deemed too revealing by the men in that society, and thus were accused of being ‘Witches with deadly powers.’ One theory about why people slut shame is they know on some fundamental level, they can’t pull off the kind of clothing that they wear due to their own self-esteem issues.
As a woman who is currently going through significant changes in her transition to womanhood, this writer has been facing a lot of obstacles from some people on campus regarding to how she chooses to express herself and her sexuality. The reason why I wanted to talk about this particular issue is because many women, including myself, face this problem on a daily basis when we decide to wear ‘sexy’ clothes that are revealing, yet empowering for us at the same time, here at Gallaudet University. There have been several incidents on campus in which a person has essentially policed my body because for them, seeing that I possess real breasts that have been strategically placed in outfits that show off my cleavage, makes them uncomfortable for a multitude of reasons.
The first reason that I can think of is that they can’t handle the fact that they have transphobia, which is hidden deep inside them. They emerge when the ‘threat’ of the evidence of my partial transformation into being a full-fledged Valkyrie happens to be staring at them in the face. Second, their brain development has not made any significant progress in regards to the fact that women, whether they choose to wear revealing outfits or not, are entitled to do whatever they want without shame or ridicule from men. On the other hand, women are supposed to be helping each other, not pulling each other down to make themselves feel better. It really bothers me as a black woman of color who happens to be going through a lot of significant changes in her transition to hear that what I choose to wear will essentially shape people’s perspectives of me into a negative light. This is simply because they would, whether they realize or not, label me as ‘easy’ because of the way I dress or how I behave towards people.
Overall, if you are one of these people who finds enjoyment in tearing other people down by policing how they dress, in order attempt to force them to fit your own twisted standards of what a woman should wear in order to attract you to make yourself feel better, take a step back out of your comfort zone. Realize that whether my outfit of the day is revealing or not, I am still a part of the signing community and should be treated with respect and love instead of hate and ignorance. More importantly, remember that what goes around comes around, if you are wasting your life tearing down other people simply because of how they choose to dress or present themselves as, maybe there is something wrong with your own life that you need to fix before you go and try to “fix” someone else’s without their consent. One thing that we can do as a community is to discuss different strategies to unpack one’s own biases and prejudice so that we don’t continue our behavior at the risk of making others feel like they are less than human– simply because of the clothes that they choose to wear.
Here are a few links to get you started on the path to unpacking your own biases:
Definitions of -isms: http://www.anti-racism.ca/node/1