Sunday, May 15, 2016

‘Slut-shaming’ has lasting impacts

Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri:
When I was in high school, I used to have to wear dresses to school until the whole dress code was dropped and suddenly we could wear anything to school. So I wore a midriff top with jeans one day shortly after that. It was the same way I dressed with my friends after school and on the weekends. My girlfriends didn’t say anything about it because they wore similar outfits.

Those same friends started whispering that I was a slut when a popular guy, who one of my friends liked, said I dressed like a slut at school. That girl started dressing more modestly after that and completely ditched me and threw me under the bus. Just me! The other girls she hung around with once in a while. All of my friends stopped being my friend. Everyone at school thought I was a slut and I was still a virgin.

Fast-forward to today. I have a daughter myself now.

I came back from a trip and she was so despondent because her “friend” started texting her and telling her she was getting a reputation for being a “slut” because she dresses too sexy. My daughter is beautiful. I went ballistic that this “slut-stuff” is still going on!

My daughter then told me that she was slut-shamed when she was 11 years old because she was thin and wore cute clothes. Her friend was gaining a lot of weight. My daughter said it almost ruined her life. She said she has been depressed ever since then and she has been suicidal.

I don’t understand why she never told me. We have always been open. All that time I could have helped. Now she’s suicidal. I’m so angry at this ancient name calling – slut-shaming – to shame women is still going on!

What’s wrong with people? It’s horrible.

Signed,
“Slut-shamed” girls

Dear Girls,

Slut-shaming is the worst and, recently, the most common type of bullying. It is gossiping at its very worst. It’s humiliating, often untrue, and degrading. We agree with you – one hundred percent – that this rampant name-calling is epidemic and wrong.

Girls and women, mostly, decide they aren’t worth anything when peers, friends, parents, teachers, boyfriends, sisters and/or brothers slut-shame them.

It does not matter if the rumor is true or not – this particular name-calling becomes a stigma the moment it is attached to someone – the victims start to self-harm, go into depression (and many other trauma-induced behaviors) and attempt or commit suicide.

This type of sexual bullying is like pouring oil all over someone. Once it’s done, it can’t be undone very easily or quickly … if ever.

Jealousy is often the reason that such a traumatic and horrid offense is committed. Revenge is another excuse for the tragedy of sexually tarnishing another person. There isn’t one reason or excuse that this type of name-calling could be acceptable by a civil society.

Slut-shaming can easily define someone if the victim doesn’t know how to move on to the next step of being a survivor and then a good leader.

As ghastly as slut-shaming is, you, “mom,” are a shining example of someone who was a victim and became a survivor by changing your circumstances, deciding to be the one who defines yourself (not letting anyone else define you) and victoriously becoming a great mom and professional leader. You are the epitome of our Triangle of Triumph!

Since you and your daughter have an open and close relationship, help her to follow in your footsteps and don’t allow yourself to slip into your past angst. You’ve come too far. Congratulations! We have faith you may lead your daughter along the same great pathway.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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