Yeh ladki badi characterless hai! ( She is s very characterless woman )
Men slut-shaming women is the ugliest reality. But slut-shaming is a sneaky monster. Look closer, and one finds that some of the tallest mantles of slut-shaming women are upheld by their own gender. There’s often no reason one needs to slut-shame a woman. It’s just seen as harmless 'gossip'.
Two of the earliest, most well-known examples of ‘character judgment’ for women were Sita from Ramayana and Draupadi from Mahabharata. While Sita had to undergo ‘Agnipariksha’ to prove her chastity, Draupadi’s cheerharan in a lot of ways put the brunt of harassment on her and not the men who were responsible for it.
Why is only women’s character at the center of attention?
We judge women for so many things but pay no heed when men do the same things. We accept it as regular behaviour on their part. Rajas, Maharajas throughout history have had multiple wives and partners, and it was totally acceptable. But we still judge the one woman - Draupadi - who had five husbands. And she was not even looking to marry five people at once. Only Arjuna... But the brothers shared her.
Before you go judging people or feeling bad that someone judged you, Here’s a list of things which does not decide the character of a person:
1. Your Clothes- How much cloth one has on their body does not determine their character.
2. How others have treated you: You are not characterless for being in an abusive relationship or for being sexually assaulted and speaking up. The only thing this says about the ‘character’ of a woman is that she is a fighter, she’s courageous, and willing to stand up against harassment.
But a lot of people in society still have the mentality that the woman who faced harassment needs to be shamed, that her character and morality need to be questioned - How can we put the blame on the one who faced harassment and not the perpetrator?
3. How many people you’ve slept with: Having sex for the first time doesn't define you any more than any other experience, like the first time you travel abroad or eat Thai food or play pinball. And subsequently, sex remains just another experience. No number of sexual partners make you less wholesome, less innocent, or less respectable.
4. Who you’ve slept with: You have the right to have sexual experiences you choose without labeling yourself for it. You don't need to label yourself at all based on your attractions or experiences, and you certainly don't need to label yourself based on how an outsider might.
5. Your occupation: If you’re an actor, dancer or in any such profession that requires to be “Bold” outspoken, wear certain kind of clothes- It does not make you characterless. No one should judge you by how you make a living.
6. Lifestyle: If a girl lives alone, goes out to party, has many guy friends- Does that make her characterless? No.
7. Your opinions- Every time a girl has something to say, she gets slut shamed. Ever since I’ve started putting out my opinions publicly, along with a lot of messages by girls who appreciate what I’m doing and how positively it’s impacted their life, my DM is full of people, slut shaming me. Sending me rape threats. Tagging me in stories saying, ki besharam hai yeh ladki. ( She is a shamless woman)
Let me tell you. A woman is judged merely for raising her voice. The negative consequences of disrespecting and slut-shaming a woman for stating their opinion impacts every single woman.
So how will we determine someone’s character? Kindness, how they treat other people, if they respect people’s choices, if they don’t hurt people purposely, someone who is honest and responsible.