#Opinion

Why Do Women Slut-Shame Other Women?

women slut-shaming women, Women's clothing choices
What prompts women slut-shaming women? Is the old barb about a woman being another woman’s worst enemy true after all? Are these a result of the ‘catfight culture’ we’ve been conditioned into? How does this impinge upon the progress of the feminist movement? Here’s attempting to understand what lies behind the curtain of the matter, with real-time voices of real-life women.

Men slut-shaming women is a reality, the ugliest one, known to all seekers of equality trying to fight it out of existence. But slut-shaming is a sneaky monster. It has drawn such vast attention to its male gatekeepers that its female ones have slipped out of mainstream view. Look closer, and one finds that some of the tallest mantles of slut-shaming women are upheld by their own gender.

Did you see how tight her shorts were? Shouldn’t she have worn something better to the party? XYZ is a good guy, how could he have behaved inappropriately with her? Maybe she did something to provoke him? Look at how she’s walking, it’s a total call for harassment. Look at how she’s breathing, what an attention-seeker. Look at how… she just is.

There’s often no reason one needs to slut-shame a woman. It’s just seen as harmless ‘gossip.’ But much of it reinforces the stereotypes and judgments about women – as promiscuous creatures, gold-diggers, mean persons – as has been promoted by the male gaze.

What moves us to bring down our own kind? Does it stem from genuine aversion? Or is it just how we have been conditioned by the patriarchal setup? Must we still police women for how they live their lives? Does it not give impetus to the dangerous narrative that women invite sexual violence rather than the crime being imposed on them? How does one begin to break this toxic system down?

Women Slut-Shaming Women? It Happens Everyday On The Internet

Women have cultivated dislike for their own kind on so many fronts for so many years.

On the ground, it comes through via back-biting about a third person’s clothes – how short and ‘slutty’ they were or how long and ‘prude’ they were. Pop culture, for long, has also shown us that said hatred often plays out in ‘catfights’ between women cheered on by an aroused, excited audience. The millennial Mean Girls genre of films has contributed in large part to this culture.

Thanks to the internet, the scope of women slut-shaming women has widened extensively. From photoshopped photos to social media comments to abusive DMs, the playing field has become limitless. And everyone’s coming out to play.

Fashion influencers and celebrities often become prime targets, being public figures who are expected to bear the heaviest brunts of fame. The kind of clothes they wear and how much skin is on display is always under their fans’ scrutiny. As I write, on Twitter, discourse (read: criticism) is unfolding about one content creator and the ‘artificial’ wardrobe she flaunts online.

But that their cases of being slut-shamed come to the fore just means there are a million others that go unknown. All the hate regular women get for doing the most regular things – such as choosing what to do and what to wear and where to go and at what time. Remember the bois’ locker room chats that revealed how brutally women are ripped apart in closed corners?

We asked you if you had ever slut-shamed: Here’s what you had to say

When we asked women on Instagram, whether they have ever slut-shamed another woman, the answers were overwhelmingly in the affirmative. Here are some: “Whom I didn’t even know.” “Yes!! In college, when I think I was naive ..but always had a judgement to pass.” “When I was in school, sometimes even when I knew I shouldn’t.” “i didn’t do it, but i have regret that i didn’t stop other girl doing that in front of me.”

What this indicates is that slut-shaming is less about the gender perpetrating it and more about the gender victimised by it. Everyone slut-shames but only women are slut-shamed. What will curb the breeding of this continuous cycle of toxicity? Is the answer in looking at women as more than their physical parts? Will apology and acknowledgment of our past mistakes cut it? Or will we have to do more, learn more, promise for more?

Views expressed are the author’s own.