Let A 13-Year-Old Explain Why Shaming Promiscuity Is Wrong

6 years ago

Margo Fortier, who goes by the username astrorice, has been on YouTube for almost three years. In that time, the 14-year-old has amassed over three thousand subscribers and over half a million channel views. Last year, she celebrated her two-year anniversary on the popular video-sharing network by doing a video on a different topic that matters to her, every day for seven days.

The first topic she tackled was "slut-shaming." Despite being only 13 at the time she made the video and not sexually active, the views expressed by the young YouTuber turned the four-minute monologue into an internet sensation, amassing 4,494 comments and 416,385 video views.

This is her video. A full transcript appears below.

Today's topic: "slut-shaming" and why it's wrong. So first off, what the hell is "slut-shaming"? Slut-shaming is the unfortunate phenomenon in which people degrade or mock a woman because she dresses in tight or revealing clothing, enjoys sex, has sex a lot, or may even just be rumored to participate in sexual activity. The message that slut-shaming sends to women is that sex is bad, having sex with more than one person is horrible, and everyone will hate you for having sex at all.

That message is complete and utter -- excuse my French -- bullshit! Yes, I'm thirteen and I said the word "bullshit." Yes, I'm thirteen and I'm talking about slut-shaming. Deal with it. Anyway, if you've given your consent, if you're emotionally and physically ready for it, if you're using proper protection, and if you feel safe and comfortable with your partner, then sex is good. It is nobody's business but your own how many people you're having sex with or how much sex you have. And you don't deserve to be hated on for being sexually active with more than one partner.

Slut-shaming also contributes to rape culture / rape-supportive culture. Rape culture is a culture in which sexual violence against women is commonplace and in which prevalent attitudes tolerate said sexual violence. Slut-shaming contributes to this by sending the message that it's okay to rape "sluts" because by having too much sex or dressing in tight or revealing clothing, they're somehow "asking for it."

Rape is caused by rapists, misogyny, structural violence and institutional tolerance. Not by women's clothing or makeup, not the way she talks or walks, not by her drinking, not by her "not being careful enough," and certainly not by her being a "slut."

Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis said: "Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for work or pleasure."

Slut-shaming takes away women's rights to express themselves sexually without fear of being scrutinized by men and other women and it objectifies women's bodies. What I'm getting at here is that slut-shaming is wrong at any age. I'm noticing a lot of other girls my age starting to say it and it just shocks me every time. How could they use such offensive language in such a casual manner?

It's like they don't even know the meaning behind their words. And that's the thing -- they don't know. So if you're watching this and know somebody who slut-shames, pass this video along. They could learn something. I mean, it might not work, but how awesome would it be to change the opinion of even just one person? Simple actions can have the biggest impact.

A blogger commenting on the video makes several excellent points about the impact of shaming promiscuity or rumored promiscuity among women:

There are people out there who feel they're much too progressively-minded to make homosexual slurs, but they'll make moral judgments against women without stopping to consider the absurdity and harm of it. There are a lot of arguments against sexual promiscuity (one or two of them might be valid, even), but if you stop and think about it, far, far more women are judged by Judeo-Christian moral standards than men. I think this is an issue that both men and women need to be more in tune with. As the FinallyFeminist101 article goes on to say, women are the most likely to slut-shame.

The first thing to realize when talking about women slut-shaming each other is that infighting among oppressed groups is a necessary part for keeping those groups oppressed; ergo women are encouraged, through internalized sexism, to distrust each other and fight for male approval.

In other words: Slut-shaming is one of the chief ways that women attempt to compete with each other for male approval in a patriarchy that defines women's worth by their physical attractiveness and limits their ability to distinguish themselves by other means. [Nine Deuce (Rage Against the Man-chine): Sluts!]

Is that really what we want for each other? Is it what we want for our daughters? Let's change the world, starting in our own homes. Let's not denigrate anyone for their sexual decisions. Let's teach girls that it's great to be girls, that they can be their own moral compasses, that they're worthy of respect and love without consideration for whether they've never had a partner, had one, or had fifty.

AV Flox is the section editor of Love & Sex and Health on BlogHer. You can connect with her on Twitter @avflox, Google Plus +AV Flox, or e-mail her directly at av.flox AT BlogHer.com