Saturday, February 16, 2019

Slut-shaming: Still significant

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
 
I’m in college, but it feels like high school. I’m so humiliated and it’s not my fault.

I was sexually assaulted by some guys at my high school. One of them was charged with indecent exposure. Another student called the police on my behalf.

Someone took pictures and posted them on social media. People accused me of being a “slut.”

This was after school in a nearby wooded area, where kids smoke pot. I did not, and do not, use drugs. But I was there. I feel guilty.

One of the guys had a girlfriend and she spread untrue rumors about me. My best friend said she’s just jealous.

Now I’m in college and the pictures have reappeared. I’m worried I’m going to be treated badly again.

It’s not fair. I’m not a slut.

Signed,
Scared


Dear Young Lady, 

We believe you and we believe in you. This is absolutely not your fault and you do not deserve to feel guilty or unworthy.

Our culture is one lacking in civility. Our definition of civility is to be courteous, considerate, and caring. None of these people are treating you with civility or even common decency.

Just so you know, indecent exposure may be a misdemeanor or a felony, and he may have to register as a sex offender. That could haunt him.

But we don’t want this to haunt you. Please get help with a good therapist.

Girls are sometimes targeted because they’re attractive, or good, or intelligent young women, and research shows girls are the ones (mostly) slut-shaming other girls when they’re jealous.

Unfortunately, slut-shaming is still a culturally acceptable form of social critique, even though the judgments are usually wrong and hypocritical.

This is a smear campaign. We want you to decide to not to stay a victim. It will be extremely difficult, but you can do hard things.

Victim-blaming is a common reaction to sexual assault or rape victims, unfortunately. We’ve become a refined society with improvements in science, technology, economic development, but not social maturity.

The action of slut-shaming is a form of social punishment and is sexist. It’s still a double standard in our society – boys may actually be praised for their “conquests.”

The improvement of your condition starts with you defining yourself before others do. No one has that right but you. Affirm to yourself that you are good, worthy, and loveable.

The last thing you need to do is ignore cruelty. Be courageous, stand tall and don’t defend yourself. Do not collapse in the face of victim-shaming bullies. You can be strong and gentle as a great lea
  
Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri