Did Slut-Shaming Kill Phoebe Prince?

Guys aren’t threatened by other guys’ successes with women. When a guy “scores,” men celebrate all around. But women are different. Slut-shaming was not the sole factor in 15-year old Phoebe Prince’s suicide, but it seems to have played a part.

According to Jezebel, Phoebe had been depressed before the bullying began. She missed her absent father, had been self-mutilating, and had attempted suicide after a broken relationship.

But slut-shaming played a role, too. Many girls at South Hadley High began calling Phoebe a slut, a whore, and a cunt because she sought attention from older guys at the school and had been close to, or involved with, some young men who the girls at South Hadley were also interested in.

Why are women threatened by women who are attractive to men, yet men celebrate men who are attractive to women?

While men can actively pursue women, women must take a more indirect course of action. Might the more passive power of feminine beauty cause women to feel less powerful, less secure, and more threatened?

More likely, women and men simply know how they’re supposed to think in this culture. And what they’re supposed to think is that men who get women are studs, but women who do the same are sluts.

The word slut then becomes a handy weapon. It’s pretty sad to use a weapon that has been used to control women, and that could be easily turned on themselves.

While women punish each other for success with the opposite sex, what’s with the high-fives among men?

Women never worry about proving that they are truly women. But men must constantly prove their manhood. Perhaps by flattering the success of high-status men a guy creates a sense of brotherhood with them. They become one of the guys. And in this brotherhood their manhood is assured.

Whatever the reason for the difference between men and women, it is pretty sad that slut-shaming can kindle suicide.

Georgia Platts

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 22, 2010, in feminism, gender, men, sex, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Nobody wants to be called a whore or a slut. Society has clear norms that tell us how men and women are supposed to act and what it is allowed for each sex. Men can pretty much do whatever they want without risking getting a bad reputation. Being called a player is not necessarily a bad thing. They may be labelled a bad boy but that can i many cases even increase thier status. For women the oposite occurs. I think women have been being brainwashed by this. It explains why so many girls and women have low self esteem because they may have had several sex partners. But what does it really matter? Guys do the same thing but it has just always been that way. It may be getting better now but women are still being stigmatized for not following societies norms. I think that these ideas are affecting women in the same way that women find women more sexually attractive than men.

  2. I think that this culture of women and girls being shamed for doing something natural is incredibly depressing, and its outrageous that men and boys are applauded for the very same thing. It makes me sad that other women have such low self esteem as a result of having multiple partners, or even none, depending on the situation, Maybe for myself it was different, because I made it a point to ignore a lot of the things that girls will say, and I let myself feel good and happy. Not everyone can do that, and I get it, but I wish that was the way it could be for all girls and women. I wish that they could feel free and content with themselves, and not feel the pressure of other peoples expectations in a sexual way. Unfortunately, with the extreme right, and the religious fruitcakes (not all of them, just the extreme ones that say all the dumb things about women) make it incredibly hard for women to not feel terrible for being who they want to be.

  1. Pingback: My Son Wants to Be Snow White for Halloween | BroadBlogs

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