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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why Do Women Slut-Shame One Another???


Although I have touched on this issue in previous posts, I feel that it warrants another examination- why do women slut-shame other women? Let’s begin by taking a look at something that REALLY pisses me off- radical feminists who think that they know what’s best for MY vagina.

When I first embarked on this whole anti-slut-shaming mission of mine, I had no idea that some of my worst critics would be other women. When I began to speak up for the rights of sex workers, I did not expect that feminists would be so offended by what I had to say. After all, isn’t feminism about equal rights for men and women? A woman’s right to do as she pleases with her body, whether that be enjoying multiple orgasms or terminating a pregnancy?

I have been a self-proclaimed feminist since the age of 12, during which time my crush on punk band Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna was turning into a raging obsession. I drooled over pictures of Hanna, the word “Slut” scrawled on her stomach, while listening to her sing the lyrics “I can sell my body if I want to, God knows you already sold your mind!” 




Didn’t all feminists believe in a woman’s right to do as she pleases with her genitals? Apparently not. Cue…THE RADICAL FEMINISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (dramatic horror movie music plays in background)

So, here I am (well, there I was, 2 months ago), all excited about my new little blog, and I want to share it with other feminists!! Look at us…we have vaginas and you can’t tell us what to do with them…HOORAY! I wanted to spread the gospel of sex worker advocacy, and find other like-minded women!! This was my thought process when I posted one of my blog posts on Facebook’s Feminist page. Big. Fucking. Mistake. Well, perhaps it wasn’t a mistake, because I learned something very valuable that day: republicans aren’t the only ones who want to control my genitals, so do the rad fems!! Shit! They’re all coming after my snatch! RUN!!!!

Many of these women accused me of supporting sex trafficking (um no…when the women are over 18 and consenting to their occupation, this is NOT trafficking), and of being under the wicked spell of the patriarchy. A couple of them even accused me of being a man posing as a woman on Facebook. At that point, I decided to double check, and I unzipped my jeans. Nope…no penis down there. Still a woman.

When I started to pay attention, I realized how much slut-shaming and stigmatizing is really going on among these abolitionist groups. They say that they want to help enslaved women, but they confuse sex workers with victims of sex slavery. In my opinion, that’s doing a huge disservice to actual victims. They discuss the sex industry as a vile, misogynistic, abusive, drug-ridden hell hole. Ok, so what does that say about the women who choose to do sex work? The women who strip to help pay for their education, or hell, just to pay their rent? The women who work as porn performers? The women who escort, AND ENJOY IT? It says that they should be ashamed of their career choices. Remember when society believed that a woman’s place was in the kitchen? I guess we haven’t progressed that much since those days, have we? Society is STILL telling women what they should and should not be doing for a living, and the sad part is that so many of these so-called feminists are engaging in this behavior. I even had one of these rad fems tell me that I am supporting violence by watching pornography. Really? C’mon…get a grip.

So, where do I think a woman’s place is? Wherever the fuck she wants it to be- whether that be the kitchen, the stripper pole, or the office. Choice….CHOICE. REMEMBER?

“That girl thinks she’s the Queen of the neighbourhood, well I’ve got news for you SHE IS. They say she’s a slut, but I know, she is my best friend” Bikini Kill

So, back to my original question- why do women slut-shame other women? I was reading some articles last night for my dissertation, and stumbled across some interesting literature about sexual economics and intrasexual competition (Baumeister & Twenge, 2002; Vaillancourt & Sharma, 2011). I have provided the citations below, but will summarize the basics of these theories (which have empirical support to validate them): In a heterosexual environment, the principles of sexual economics influence the way females behave towards one another.

Sexual Economics 101 (Crash Course):

Sex is a valuable resource, possessed by women. Women use this resource to obtain other resources from men. The same is not true for men- a much lower premium is placed on their sexuality. Basically, men pay for sex, and women do not. Now, as in any economy, the market value of sex decreases if there is too much supply and not enough demand. In other words, if women are slutting it up, the value of the vagina decreases. Women compete with other women for the attention of men, and become resentful of women who “give it up too easily.” Thus…slut-shaming.

Very interesting stuff. I can’t say that I agree with all of it, but I do see a lot of value and truth in it. The articles also go into female’s perception of pornography and prostitution, stating that women are generally more disapproving of the sex industry than men. Well, naturally, the accessibility of porn and hookers = too much supply! Here is a direct quote from one of the articles:

“Second, just as any monopoly tends to oppose the appearance of low-priced substitutes that could undermine its market control, women will oppose various alternative outlets for male sexual gratification, even if these outlets do not touch the women’s own lives directly. Prostitution, pornography, and other forms of sexual entertainment may offer men sexual stimulation. By satisfying some of the male demand for sex, these entertainment forms could undermine women’s negotiating power, and so women would naturally have an interest in stifling them (Cott, 1979, as cited in Baumeister & Twenge, 2002).”

So, there’s one theory as to why women slut-shame each other. Jealousy…competition…fear? But what about lesbians who slut-shame other women? What about the radical feminists who truly aren’t trying to compete, but still claim that they know what is best for all women? Perhaps it’s just a case of “I think that I know everything, and I know what’s best for you.” That’s my best guess, for now.




Baumeister, R.F., & Twenge, J.M. (2002). Cultural suppression of female sexuality. Review of General
Psychology, 6, 166-203.

Vaillancourt, T. & Sharma, A. (2011). Intolerance of sexy peers: Intrasexual competition among
women. Aggressive Behavior, 37, 569-577.

26 comments:

  1. As always, very interesting. I think I'm with you, that the theory is interesting and might hold some validity, but in general I'm not too sure. Of course, I lean a little towards my Developmental Psychology and Sociology personal interests when it comes to theories on slut-shaming, etc. The theories definitely gave me something to think about in regards to what I feel drives that hateful/fearful nature. I think I stick with socialization and upbringing with a mixture of public versus private sphere. But as I stated, this is interesting and probably holds true for some women.

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  2. Thanks Jay! Yes, I think it's a mix of things, and it's probably different for each woman. I read those articles that I cited last night, and was very intrigued by the theories. Sexual Economics 101- it would make for a great course lol

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    1. Yeah. Also, I'm glad that you can always make sense of the shit that I say!

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  3. Everything you said made so much sense. How can women ever hope to express their sexuality without being slut-shamed if women themselves are the ones who slut-shame? Society has us all brainwashed that sex is bad, & that women are not "allowed" to desire or have it. And the worst part about this sexist belief, is that radical feminist, who are supposed to be standing up for women's rights, are the ones who slut-shame the most. For some reason they don't think women have the right to desire or have sex. Desiring sex doesn't make someone a slut, it makes them human. It's completely normal to have these desires, & to act on them as you appropriate.

    Thanks for speaking the truth!

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  4. Carrie- Exactly! I couldn't agree more! And thank you for reading, glad you enjoy it. xo

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  5. Love what you've got to say - I submit that there's a biological imperative being served as well. Sex not aimed at reproduction is a negotiable commodity on both sides; however, it pays to keep in mind that reproduction is the primary purpose of the sex-drive, and therefore mate-viability is also at stake in the long-game. Slut-shaming is a means of taking players out of the genetic competition by socially isolating them, not just a social-ethical mechanic.

    So, in the edge cases you point to, it helps to keep in mind that there's a strong kyriarchic tendency in primates. We humans love to reduce things to neat heuristics, and often, that means treating everything as if it were a cleanly binary issue. Regardless of an espoused political or social position, biology *does* plays a role in destiny and often makes itself heard through behavior inconsistent with a rationally determined position. As such, the slut-shaming mentality could be seen, in some of the edge cases as either a surfacing of the biological imperative or the surfacing of a social imperative - the will to power. The net result is the same- the behavor reifies the mutual opression inhernet in class structures.

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  6. Lets get a little item straight here. Some women have penises and some men have vaginas. What makes one a woman or a man isn't between the legs,its in the heart and mind.

    Having said that. I was a sex worker (I am disabled now due to PTSD I suffered while in the Army - nothing to do with my sex work) I support my brothers and sisters still in the industry. I am also a feminist. But, while I support fully feminist issues, march, petition, donate and support, I am pariah to those radical feminists. Because I am a trans sexual.

    My ID, life, etc, all female, but because I wasnt born with a uterus (or a vagina for that matter, never mind I wasnt born with an Adams apple and suffered early breast development during puberty)I am the enemy.

    I have no love for radical feminists either. I would never actively engage one, I have my own battles, but I cringe when aside from demonizing me and my sisters, they turn on the "women born women" (their trite phrase) and denounce anyone who doesnt subscribe wholly to their narrow little doctrine.

    I dont see where the divisiveness they produce does anything constructive or helpful. More they seem to provide fodder for the patriarchy to justify the war on women.

    My .02 and I dont mind being corrected.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, and you're absolutely right. It was narrow minded of me to only speak in cisgender terms. Many of the ideas that went into the making of this article came from the literature on sexual economics, which unfortunately, does not make mention of the trans community. As far as the rad fems opinions of trans individuals, it can best be summed up by the following- they can go fuck themselves.

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    2. Anonymous,

      I am all too familiar with the lonely battle to get even half as far as you have. While I have no interest in debating with Michael, as he has already inadvertently disclosed his unwavering ignorance on the issue and superficial support to me, I'd like to remind you that for every person who will try to bring you down, there is always at least one who will support you. Thank you.

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    3. Jay & Anonymous, thank you for both sharing your thoughts. I am a cisgendered female, and can't pretend to understand your struggle. However, I have a lot of respect for those who are able to come forward as trans individuals, especially in the face of societal scrutiny and stigma. <3

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  7. Another brilliant piece!!! Love your work. -Beck xx

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  8. Thanks, great piece. It reminded me of Amanda Marcotte's idea that women are policers of the patriarchy:
    www.rhrealitycheck.org/node/14134. She says: "In a patriarchy, women are usually tasked with the job of monitoring female sexuality and enforcing norms of modesty." So the radical feminists who say they're fighting the patriarchy are basically doing the opposite!

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    1. Joyce- thanks for sharing that piece, and it's so true!! xo

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  9. Michael WhiteacreJune 1, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    To the anonymous commenter above who wrote, "What makes one a woman or a man isn't between the legs, its [sic] in the heart and mind" -- your comment represents everything that's wrong with modern science and philosophy.

    WORDS MEAN THINGS. When you re-define a word to suit an agenda, you UN-DEFINE it.

    An example: RAPE. Would it not be offensive to victims of ACTUAL rape if I said I felt "in my heart and mind" that rape was an unwanted glance? Or that rape was 100% consensual sex after which I had a change of heart? Or that a wife or sex worker cannot be raped?

    The hideous construct "date rape" is another example of this. When you qualify a word like that, you're basically saying "Well, it's kinda rape..." Either it was a rape (a despicable crime of violence) or it was not rape. There's no such thing as quasi-rape.

    And there's no such thing as quasi-men or quasi-women. The idea of quasi-men and women is no different than the quasi-personhood that leads to persecution and genocide based on race, religion, or sexual preference.

    "Cisgender" is a CONSTRUCT not a reality. It's a fiction which, although it may be useful in the classroom study of "issues" related to gender (in a particular context), has no independent meaning. Even when we compare a Marxist analysis of a socio-economic situation with a Keynesian analysis -- two theoretical prisms through which we can examine subtleties and perspectives of situations -- those analyses (and the situations) are full of TERMS with FIXED, defined meanings. The buyer is the buyer and the seller is the seller. WORDS MEAN THINGS.

    How would you like to play a game of poker with me where the gender identity of the Face Cards was fluid and subject to individual interpretation? "Sure it looks like a Queen, but I sense 'in my heart and mind' it's really a King." This is nonsense.

    'Male' and 'female' have fixed scientific meanings. They are specific and quantifiable terms. They ate immutable. If I "feel" like a woman, I am no more a woman than I am a tree if I "feel" like a tree.

    Only in terms of mythical constructs (or genetic aberrations) can someone with a Y chromosome, and with no uterus, etc., be a woman. That person can "feel" like a woman all they want, more power to them -- and I would never be so rude as to refuse to call them Miss/Ms/Mrs if that is their preference -- but a man is not a woman. Even after surgery, it is a transgendered man who "feels" (more) like a woman.

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    1. Michael WhiteacreJune 1, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      Or rather, it is a man who THINKS he feels like a woman -- for, not having ever been a woman, he lacks the context to know with certainty whether he truly feels like a woman.

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    2. Michael WhiteacreJune 1, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      Allow me to illustrate my point of view:

      1) If you and I were standing in your front yard, and I exclaimed, "This feels just like when I was at Mt. Kilauea!" but I had never actually been to Mt. Kilauea, would I have ANY justification or contextual basis for that statement? Or would I AT BEST only THINK this is what being at Mt. Kilauea is like?

      2) Likewise, if I were to say, "I feel like a woman," but I was born with a Y chromosome and thus have never been a woman, would I have ANY justification or contextual basis for that statement? Or would I AT BEST only THINK this is what being a woman is like?

      Gender is FIXED, because biological reality is fixed. Gender identity, based on feelings is FLUID.

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  10. Michael WhiteacreJune 1, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Back to this excellent blog post...

    Christina writes:

    "Sex is a valuable resource, possessed by women. Women use this resource to obtain other resources from men. The same is not true for men- a much lower premium is placed on their sexuality. Basically, men pay for sex, and women do not. Now, as in any economy, the market value of sex decreases if there is too much supply and not enough demand. In other words, if women are slutting it up, the value of the vagina decreases. Women compete with other women for the attention of men, and become resentful of women who 'give it up too easily.'”

    I think this is largely correct, and explains perfectly the intersection of the Women's Temperance and Suffrage movements, and the criminalization of prostitution and gambling. It's not merely "alternative outlets for male sexual gratification" that women have an interest in stifling, it's any outlet which keeps the man away from the home (which is run/managed/controlled by the home-maker).

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  11. I think what it comes down to is that they want women and men to be equal in the work place but only in the work places that they approve of. The one interesting thing about the sex industry is that a woman typically has more power than a man. The woman sets the ground rules (examples: In stripping whether the customer can touch or not. Porn performers or prostitutes can decide who they are going to have sex with and what acts they will perform).

    The sex industry is also one of the very few industries where women make more money then men who are at the same level. It's hard to say in the realm of exotic dancing because the top guys can make a lot of money. I don't know but women go nuts over male strippers. It's probably because the guys usually don't have a problem with touching.

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  12. I don't believe other women should slut-shame as you put it and neither should men. What you say about escorts enjoying their work, however, I don't believe. The facts around prostitutes (including all levels from streetwalker to call girl) are that 75% have been physically and sexually abused as children. Also 70% of prostitutes have suffered multiple rapes. The reason why most women in prostitution are able to do the 'shutting-down' they have to while having sex with people they more often than not find unattractive, is because they learnt that 'shut-down' skill as a coping mechanism when they were a child in order to deal with abuse. Healing from childhood abuse and living a full life is what these women deserve. They have the right to a full life just like every other woman in society.

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    1. We are all entitled to our beliefs and opinions. I would like to see where you got your statistics from. Statistics without a proper source don't carry much weight with a researcher. However, let's talk about the whole 75% abuse stat- whether this is true or not is irrelevant to me. I have spoken about this in previous posts. Let me pose this question to you- if an adult was abused as a child, does that mean that they are unable to make consenting decisions as an adult? I just don't buy it. You're implying that adults with trauma histories aren't making rational decisions. Additionally, I have spoken to many sex workers who were abused as children and actually report that sex work has helped them to OVERCOME their trauma. They are able to "take the power" back, feel empowered by it. Also, your theory on "shutting down" is interesting, but where does that theory come from? Do you believe that is also true for exotic dancers, web cam models, porn stars, etc? Is it possible that some of these individuals actually ENJOY the sex? I have spoken to porn performers who, believe it or not, have enjoyed the sex. So, are workers always shutting down? No, of course not. Some are, but that's a generalization.

      Yes, women do deserve to heal and live a full life, of their CHOICE. If sex work is a choice for a woman, regardless of her childhood, I am not going to make assumptions.

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    2. The last thing sex workers need is even more judgment and assumptions from society.

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    3. i am a sex worker, and yes, i sometimes hate what i do. but i also hated waitressing, working in a warehouse, and an office job i once had. i do occasionally shut down to a certain extent while entertaining clients, but i dont find what i do anymore demeaning or stressful or more awful than other jobs i have had. i worked in an office where i was told to lie to customers about when orders shipped, when requested info was being sent etc... i had people call and scream at me every fucking day. i hated it. and i shut down on bad days there same as i do when i have bad days at work now. its quite deceptive to say that prostitutes shut down in response to their job. prostitutes may do that, but so does the vast majority of the population. most people shut down and detach when they have reached their maximum level of stress. prostitutes, doctors, lawyers, bankers, stay at home moms... all do it. i feel it is very ignorant and misleading to suggest it is only prostitutes and it is a result of abuse. it is a normal reaction to stress and it is done by people in all walks of life.

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    4. i also wanted to add that you are shaming prostitutes in a way by suggesting they are a unique class of people who are so accustomed to being victims that they shut down and detach. you make it sound as though we are all broken victims who have terrible coping skills. that is not the case at all because this is a common defense mechanism displayed by many people including those who have never been abused and those who are not involved in sex work. making a distinction of what sex workers do makes the impression that we are different and therefore should be viewed differently. which leads to shaming.

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  13. Oh, one last note- do people always enjoy their work? I've had jobs that I hated. Sex work (escorting, phone sex, stripping, porn, doming, etc) IS work, and sometimes work sucks.

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  14. As a male watching on, the whole issue is hilarious. Pornography on the internet has put the female sex in crises. 'Are we empowered, are we victimized, oh i just don't know.'

    But one thing is for sure, these anti porn and sex work groups are fuelled by other women. The female sex is at war with itself whilst man are happy to provide the money to sustain the economy of fucking and fapping.

    The whole hating and ostracizing of women who are sluttier than them or use sexuality to their advantage is a deep rooted female behaviour, and is observable all through society, not just commercial sex work. Looking back, some of the women reading this blog probably expressed such negative sentiments themselves about the 'sluts' at their school.

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