Slut

Slut (Photo credit: artgoeshere)

I’ve written about this topic before as I am growing increasingly frustrated by the entire concept.   To quote FinallyFeminism101

Short answer: Slutshaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior” (Alon Levy, Slut Shaming). It is damaging not only to the girls and women targeted, but to women in general an society as a whole. It should be noted that slut-shaming can occur even if the term “slut” itself is not used.

Personally I don’t agree that the term ‘slut’ is gender specific as I know plenty of men who also proudly call themselves sluts or slutty.  I do however think slut shaming is a real problem and that the media uses completely different criteria for the appropriateness of sexual behavior of men and women.  There is a very strong double standard that reinforces the notion that ‘good’ women don’t like sex, don’t have many sexual partners and don’t express themselves sexually.

Recently Think Progress tried to make the argument that the media was using the recent Anthony Weiner sex scandal as an excuse to slut shame the women involved.  Although I agree with them that they have a point, I don’t think Weiner’s sexting partner is best example.

The facts of the story as we know it is that AFTER Anthony Weiner publicly humiliated himself, resigned from congress and nearly destroyed his marriage he started yet another virtual relationship with Sydney Leathers, a 22-year-old from Indiana.  Leathers knew Weiner had a sexting problem, was a married man, and that his wife was expecting their first child.   Informed of all of this, she decided to have a virtual sexually explicit relationship with him.   According to her, Weiner promised her an apartment, political contacts and even a possible job.   After months of these exchanges she grew bored, realized any monetary gain was not forthcoming and ended the relationship.  When she discovered that Weiner was running for mayor she decided to share her story to show the world that he was not a changed man.

During her brief interview with Howard Stern, Leathers came across as flippant and completely uncaring towards Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin.  She seemed completely unrepentant of any pain or humiliation that she might have caused Abedin.   It takes two people to have an affair of course, and Weiner is more culpable for damaging his marriage than anyone.

I don’t see a victim in Ms. Leathers.  What I see instead is an opportunist who knew completely what she was doing and when she didn’t get her promised rewards of a condo or a job she figured she would cash in somehow and take revenge on her lying virtual lover.  If anything her actions have been quite regressive.  Women like her reinforce the stereotype of the shallow, heartless succubus exploiting men when they get the opportunity.

Is anything sacred anymore?  Have we completely thrown out the rule book?  Is it OK to have sex with any adult at any time and refuse to take any responsibility, regardless of the consequences?  Does marriage mean anything?  I can’t bend my morality to the point that all behavior no matter how selfish or hurtful towards others is simply written off.   If Leathers wants the notoriety for being the ‘other’ woman she has to accept the good with the bad.  Not everyone is going to champion a cheater.

Will Leathers appear in pornographic films, get her own reality show or column in the NY Post?  She didn’t accomplish anything, she merely had no  qualms about having an affair with a married man.  She also turned on him on a dime when she saw the opportunity.  Are these values that we want to promote?  Do I have to support every woman’s poor choices in life?  Both Weiner and Leathers made poor decisions and they should live with the consequences.   I’ll save my outrage for slut shaming when a person is actually being shamed inappropriately.   Such as the teacher who lost her job years after her porn past, or the 15-year-old who was harassed by a TSA worker, or when someone blames a rape victim for their own attack.   If we use the term ‘Slut shaming’ when it doesn’t apply we weaken the power of the label.

Women are not inherently victims.  We are human, and just as likely as men to make bad choices.   I seriously doubt any woman rushing to Leathers’ defense, would feel so strongly if they were in Abedin’s shoes.  It’s one thing to knowingly have an affair with a married man, it’s another entire to mock the wife on a national radio program after the fact.  Leathers will disappear into obscurity soon enough, and Weiner has destroyed his own political career.  The person shamed and humiliated is Huma Abedin.  Hopefully she will find the strength to realize she might be better off without a lying, cheating sex addict for a husband.

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