I Slut-Shamed Out Of Jealousy

End slut-shaming

End slut-shaming

By Bianca Martinez 

The younger me wore oversized sweaters and baggy pants.

And I avoided skirts, perfume, and the color pink.

I’d thought I did this because I valued “manly” over “girly.”

But really it was the opposite: To me, girly meant pretty, and I didn’t feel pretty. So I didn’t deserve to feel girly.

I guess it’s sour grapes. I didn’t value what I thought I couldn’t be.

So I tried to be invisible, instead.

Really, I was self-hating.

And in turn, hateful toward pretty girls.

Girly meant pretty, and I didn’t deserve to feel girly

My idea of attractive came from a world that bombarded me with hair products, trendy clothing and skinny models. It all told me who was valued and who was not.

I felt sad and uncomfortable in public. A burden I sometimes still carry today.

Amidst the mono-message I hadn’t realized that different sorts of body types were valued in different times and places. Many West Africans even value obesity!

Instead, I learned that to be cool I must be pretty and smart — but not too smart, or boys wouldn’t like that. And hot — but not too hot, or you’re a slut.

And did I say I resented pretty girls?

I started slut-shaming, partly because I thought that was what everyone did. But partly because I was just jealous.

I wanted pretty girls to suffer, too

Because I thought I wasn’t attractive, and suffered for it, I wanted the pretty girls to suffer, too.

When a fifth grader in my class got her first boyfriend, someone started a rumor that she was a slut because she kissed another boy. I had no idea if this was true, but that didn’t stop me from spreading the word.

We kids believed that “slut” was the worst insult, ever. And I thought that if a girl would even think of kissing two boys, she deserved shame.

(But that standard didn’t apply to boys. Boys had the right to kiss whoever they wanted, and later, to sleep with whoever they wanted.)

It gets worse.

I believed rape was her fault

When a man raped a woman I victim-blamed, claiming it was because of what she was wearing. I truly believed it was her fault. A guy couldn’t help himself.

Today I’m incredibly sad and disturbed that that was how I once saw things.

The world victim-blames and maybe that’s why victim-blaming had seemed normal to me, too. When a football player raped a cheerleader I heard people worrying over his “ruined future.” But they were unconcerned about her future, even though she was the victim.

I think that misogynist ideas and ideals harmed the way I viewed myself and the girls around me.

Today, I don’t believe in any of those things. I’ve been lucky to have found friends who have planted feminist ideals in my head, replacing those old, ugly misogynistic, self-hating weeds.

This was written by one of my students who gave permission to post on my blog with a pen name.

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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 November 2, 2016, in psychology, sex and sexuality and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. meaningful….. thoughtful….. very well written….

  2. Interesting and honest !!

  3. Unfortunately I had similar ideas when I was younger. It wasn’t until I got older and realized that girls wore pink girly things and short shorts because they felt good in them not necessarily because they were trying to get attention.

  4. An honest confession revealing a harsh reality…. I’m happy for her that she is now free of these misogynistic ideas… 🙂

  5. I admit that I participated in slut shaming when I was younger, only because I hadn’t discovered feminism. I also was easily influenced from my friends and what they thought of other girls. As I grew up in high school, I realized it was ok for girls to do whatever they want with their bodies. Who cares if she sleeps with multiple people? Go her! When had these feminist ideals planted into my brain, I started to be more fluid with my sexual advances. I slept with men casually and the end result was me being slut shamed the rest of my senior year of high school. People would look at me and whisper about what I had did and what I was wearing. It really bothered me and set the tone for the rest of my year. But I persevered and left all that shit behind. Fuck those people, because they may never understand.

    • Thanks for sharing about your experience with this. The double standard is pretty messed up. And it’s pretty messed up that women so often do it to themselves, too. Just hurts them.

  6. This idea of victim-blaming in rape cases is so real. I consider myself a feminist but even I have found my thoughts wandering to why women dress so provocatively when they know men will be more likely to approach them. However, this is the wrong way of thinking. We shouldn’t ever have to ask ourselves why a woman dressed the way she did, which led to her being sexually assaulted or even verbally harassed by catcalling. Society has brainwashed us to the point where we don’t even question why men can’t “control” themselves. No one should be able to blame their own urges on the actions of someone else. For example, if someone provokes me and I have a gun, I still have a choice on whether to shoot them or not. Similarly, if a girl dresses “slutty,” a man has to make a decision to take advantage of her or not. There is not excuse for his actions.

  7. I have always been shy and chubbier than other girls, so I can kind of relate to this post. I would hide behind baggy clothes. I remember my mom would get mad at me for not wearing the cute clothes she would get for me. I was happy wearing cargo pants and sweaters all the time, and during summer I would find a way to cover myself, because I did not look like all the other girls. Society has created this “norm” which has made a lot of girls become so self-conscious. Thanks to this “norm” that was created, it has become easy to just criticize people. I mean I did not go as far as to spreading rumors slut-shaming other girls, but if I was told something (slut-shaming comment) about another girl I would believe it, because it would make me feel better. Thanks to society we pretty much slut-shame anyone, and yes we do it to make ourselves feel better.

  8. couple years ago I had the same perspective about slut-shaming. where I am from most girls are ashamed to look good or even show a bit their body because people would bully them for it.

  9. When I was young, I was a tomboy too, but not for the same reasons as the author. I was just like that because of my personality, being tougher than the other girls. Today I am still like that, but because of society, I wear make-up and I dress up. I don’t care what people think about me, but I do care about how they will treat me. Being a woman with a disability, if I wear make-up, people will treat me more like a normal person because of the beauty standards in society. I agree with the author that many girls treat other girls badly because they feel bad themselves, and they don’t have confidence.

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post and thought it was very informative and put forth a new light that I had not seen before. It is absolutely true that with how our society portrays attractiveness that it can cause girls to feel like they are inferior and not obligated to dressing girly like most models that pop up on Victoria Secret Fashion shows or other media outlets. I am very sorry that you had to endure that type of feeling towards yourself, it is really great to hear that you changed your self perception into one that disregards shallow perceptions of one self having to do with looks. In reality what makes a person unique is what type of person they are on the inside and what their personal traits are. Slut shaming can have a multitude of negative effects on woman that are not just limited to making them feel inferior and bad about their self worth. As you mentioned in the article, the promotion of slut – shaming can lead to the exacerbation of misogynistic ideologies that lead to victim blaming in rape cases among other situations like that. To make advancement in how we perceive women as a whole and feminism we need to stop acts like slut – shaming, both men and women need to stop slut – shaming alike.

  11. I think most kids, at some point or another, think that to make themselves feel better, they have to put other people down. I grew up feeling exactly the same way, and even still do struggle with it to this day. I hated myself, but I’m working on it. I wore baggy clothes, boys clothes, and acted like i didn’t care because all I could think about was how much I actually do care. I thought the popular, pretty girls were sluts because they could and did have any guy they wanted, when I had none. Jealously is such a hateful tool to live by,and it can take you to a place you never want to go back to. Thank you for sharing (to the student and the teacher who shared), for making me feel like I’m not alone. I think we need to spread awareness, slut-shaming is wrong and hurtful. And in the end, we it still doesn’t make us feel any better about ourselves.

    • I’ve gotten so many interesting and thoughtful comments on this post. Thanks to all of those who have shared their experience with this. I feel another blog post coming up.

  12. This piece hit home for me. I remember feeling and doing the same things to sort shove away and combat the fact that I did not feel pretty and therefore could not be considered girly. In truth, those feelings formed a bitterness towards girls who were considered good examples of a, “girly girl” turned into a deeply ingrained feeling that I had little to no value. All the girls and some adults I knew had slut-shamed this girl or that girl and sadly, I joined in. Before long, that slut shaming I projected towards others turned into my own form of hatred towards myself for ever thinking I would be a pretty or desirable as the girls were fit the mold. It wasn’t until almost the age of twenty-five that I was able to break free of that mindset and see the value in who I was rather than what I looked like in comparison with everyone else. I applaud the writer for being able to be so honest about her experience, as it’s still something that’s terribly difficult for me to do.

  13. I actually commented on a different post with a similar issue. When I was heavier and didn’t feel pretty, I resented skinny models or girls. When I lost all of my pregnancy weight and finally felt pretty, people shamed me. It’s a vicious cycle and double edged sword. I think it goes back to what society deemed beautiful or sexy is. It’s terrible the way our self-esteem can cause us to feel and think even the most disturbing and wrong thoughts, even when we realize it’s wrong. I’ve definitely, shamefully, been on both sides of this fence. It’s a dark, insecure place on both sides. As much as you feel putting someone else down will make you feel better, it only makes you feel a trillion times worse. That’s elementary, we know, but why is it so hard to overcome these thoughts? I think first and foremost, society as a whole needs to do more to broaden what ‘beauty’ really is. Maybe social media and magazines should stop featuring things like models, diets and fashion so much and focus more on humanitarian efforts, motherhood, personal growth, health and esteem more and maybe then we will have a shot.

  14. Leanna Candelaria

    I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by the right friends, even at a young age, so I can’t really say that I relate with/to Bianca’s mindset when she was younger. But, I was raised by heavily Catholic parents who believed that the norm is the norm and nothing should be done to change it. I remember this one instance where my dad told me that if i dress like a respectable, modest woman, I would never ever get raped or cat-called. I let that sink into my head for a good few years, honestly, until my friends explained to me how women should never be at fault for rape. Luckily, that was the ONLY instance where I can say i relate to Bianca, but I’m still a learning young woman and I don’t know what’s to come in the road ahead of me. Being girly was never considered a bad or a good thing where I was raised. If you were girly, you were girly. If you weren’t girly, you weren’t girly. No one was slut shamed for that. I hope that in the future, I can assist my fellow feminists (old and new) by replacing “old misogynistic views” with new feminine ideals, like Bianca’s friends did for her.

  15. “Ruined future” reminds me the sex crime which happened in Stanford University. I have no idea why society tend to forget an existence of a rape victim and worry about a suspect’s future. I have a father who is saying “Mini-skirts cause sexual molester.” When my father said this, we watched a TV show about what polices do to arrest gropers in trains and it showed the number of teen girls who are wearing school uniforms suffer for gropers. I was in a high school and I was wearing school uniforms and going to school by a train. In my school, most of students were using trains every day to go to my school, and most of them had experienced to be molested. I have experienced too. It was the worst memory. I think this is a horrible situation. It is said “There are no women who have not touched their body by strangers.” However, society especially men say “Do you believe you are hot enough to be molested? You are really a self-conscious girl.”

  16. It is sick that anyone would say “do you believe you are hot enough to be molested?” Sexual abuse isn’t about appearance…this is a lie promoted by society.

    As to slut-shaming, I’ve never really shamed anyone but I’ve had it done to me many times. I’ve been shamed for wearing a little bit of makeup; I’ve been shamed for having sex; I’ve been shamed for simply existing as myself.
    One of the female posters above said that she doesn’t wear cute clothes because of what people will say. I can definitely relate to this…most of the time, I want to wear something that makes me feel beautiful and sexy, but people can be unkind. So these days I tend to walk around looking frumpy and feeling really unattractive, which is bad for my self-esteem.

    In my teens and early twenties when I would wear sexy clothes, I was often bullied, sometimes even by random strangers.
    Some people feel like they can insult you just because. Now I believe that the girls/women who slut-shamed me did so out of jealousy and their own insecurities. Seeing another woman with makeup or cute clothes on shouldn’t make somebody else feel bad, to the point where personal attacks are made.
    I think that women who engage in slut-shaming do it because of their own issues and because they feel the need to control other women (keep them “in line”).

    When I see a woman that I find attractive or sexy, I admire her beauty. I try to think of how I can improve myself instead of taking my insecurities out on her.
    Like I’m trying to lose weight again, both for vanity and for health. And I need to work on taking care of my hair and my self-confidence in general.
    But hurting other women is a no-no to me, unless they are being unkind to me first. I always remember this quote: “Calling somebody ugly won’t make you prettier; calling somebody fat won’t make you skinnier”.

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