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No more “slut-shaming” & sexism

The only way the horrific so-called “slut-shaming” that the young woman at the centre of the #Slanegirl incident can be understood, is as a product of the proliferation of sexist objectification of women and the commodification of women’s bodies pushed by corporations and the mass media in the recent period. In the light of the warped and sometimes hateful portrayal of women and women’s sexuality that capitalism has promoted in various guises throughout its history.

This young person was the victim of nothing less than vile sexist abuse and bullying on social media sites, and was treated not much better by elements of the tabloid media.

Being a young woman is very confusing. It’s implied that sex before marriage is wrong in school, music videos and many other forms of media say you are worthless if you aren’t sexy at all times, the law makes it incredibly difficult to have safe sex; contraception is expensive, abortion is extremely difficult to access, if you are sexually assaulted your attacker may well get away with it. And what you want is generally ignored. Hardly any sex ed. classes in the country ever talk about consent and doing what you want to do with your body.

Lads mags and sexist songs tell us “you know you want it” and some say it will happen whether we want it or not. The man who sings a song to ‘blur the line’ between consensual sex and abuse is celebrated (Robin Thicke), while the woman dancing provocatively next to him is a bad example (Miley Cyrus).

So if a woman says that she does want sex she is “slut shamed” and bullied. This extreme hypocrisy must stop. Female sexuality is not a commodity to be bought and sold on the terms of capitalist patriarchy, it is for the individual to express in ways that make them happy.

Men are not inherently sexual predators out to pressure women into things they don’t want to do but the increased sexism in our media and culture is encouraging this. The vast profitability of making women feel like they are never good enough and selling sexism through all forms of media mean equality is not in the interests of the system. A challenge to sexism and to capitalism must go hand in hand.

By Rita Harrold

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