I Slut-Shamed Before I Was Slut-Shamed

By Aili Masuda

I slut-shamed girls before I was slut-shamed, myself.

Yes, as a little girl I succumbed to the standard of humiliating other girls. Now I see that this behavior grew from my own insecurities. And because I didn’t know what it was like to be the target.

But it wasn’t long before I became the target, myself. 

I’m not sure why the darts were aimed at me.

Maybe because I developed early, or more fully than most.

Maybe because I believe that women should be their independent selves and own their own bodies.

Maybe because I didn’t believe women should have to wear constricting bras.

For whatever reason, from childhood on I was derided.

Still, I rejected double standards and double binds that shame women for doing what men do, and that provide women no good, socially approved, choice.

By senior year I felt sexually empowered enough to invite a young man — a fellow classmate — into my car after a party. And he invited three of his friends to join in the fun.

The boys were congratulated and I was shamed. Despite my bravado I let all the insults get to me. I let the boys tease me for doing the same things that they had done.

When I look back I wish I had stuck to my guns, questioning why there should be a double standard and why women shouldn’t be sexually empowered.

Throughout everything, my dad continually reminded me that I am my own person and should do what pleases me.

I have finally taken his advice and let myself be free.

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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 June 21, 2017, in sex and sexuality and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. It is refreshing to hear someone calling themselves out for what they see now to be wrong. I commend her for having the voice many others can not. She is able to tell her story and most likely able to reach other to so many other that perhaps might be ashamed to admit what she has done. To touch on her topic, I too find it as not only cultural but what society has brought to our eyes as how to view and foresee thing. Unfortunately women have seemed to be the underdog in almost every story. To give praise to a man and to slut shame a women for the same thing that has been an equal agreement between the two. Why do we pride our boys and raise them to become the dominate figure, where as to women we raise for marriage? This is what society has set for us but not always forced upon us.

    • It can take guts to admit that you once did something that was used later to hurt you. It’s helpful to see things from both sides. I also applaud her courage in letting me post this.

  2. And, by the way, I can no longer sign directly to your blog. Something is very screwed up with my settings. I can’t even sign in to my own main page, but every attempt takes me to my own dashboard. I was able only through my dashboard to post this message.

  3. It’s difficult to find any solution to this sort of “bullying.” I think that not only is vmurillo15 correct in parents being unwilling to discuss sex with their children, it appears that they don’t do enough to give their children the tools with which to be empathetic. But, then again, peer pressure among children and young adults might be even more at the heart of the problem (go along to get along).

    So, maybe there is no solution in our present society. We need to evolve in our ethical worldview for a few more centuries, putting religion-derived prudishness and insecurity behind us. But the more we, here in the present, push for reason, understanding and empathy, the more we are driving that evolution.

    • The good news is that people do seem to be growing more empathetic. The millennial’s are very oriented to justice– Much more so than other generations. And I’ve even noticed changes in myself that I was discussing with one of my readers. We are both having more problems with things like circuses and zoos and eating meat than we used to.

  4. This is a very well-written article. Unfortunately, just like this article, it has been very natural to slut shame girls, especially when I was young. Now, taking a course in women’s studies and growing up, I have seen the effects of patriarchy in our society, and I have worked very hard to change my thoughts and not judge people. In this society, parents are afraid to talk to their kids about sex, so they learn a lot about it through their friends and unfortunately, that spreads and prompts ignorance. I think that parents need to learn how to be comfortable with their kids to talk about sex, so young girls can learn to talk about it openly.

  5. FHill_Spr'17JR

    This article reminds me about how men will slut-shame women especially in many colleges that contain fraternities. People may not know that women also slut-shame women. This is because we are socialized in a patriarchy that values men over women. When the women are constantly put in this lower position, then there is a want to be dominant over something. That is why women are more socially aggressive than men. They will spread rumors or other shaming on other women. In their perspective is that they may not be more better than the men, or achieve a higher hierarchy than the men, but at least they will be in some higher position than some of the women that they chose to slut shame. I think this is where women who slut shame women is rooted from. Hopefully as progress more into society, they won’t feel like they have to pick on other women to feel more powerful. Hopefully our society starts to leave the patriarchy that is established and work on towards a more gender equal society.

  6. One thing I believe we must take away from this is the understanding that we naturally are judgemental towards what we have not experienced either because of direct fear of what that experience may be like or fear of what it has been like for you specifically. This is true when the experience is stigmatized and therefore traumatic. The second thing I feel like we should take away from this is that we really do not understand something until it happens to us. The third one is one in which I think we are finally attempting to do and it being communication. Just because we experience something does not mean we actually understand what is happening to us. This is true for many reasons. We might be simply young in age to understand what is going on and why it is going on, we can be confused in what we think we are particularly doing, or lastly, we can be misled to believe things which may not be true. In all of these situations, we do not fully understand what is going on. Sadly we do not talk enough about sex, but we are beginning to do it. I think there are many subjects about “sex” which must be spoken about. Sex is closely connected to our identity and how we perceive ourselves and closely connected to us and our lives. For that sole reason, I am glad we are beginning to talk about matters which are important. What I do also understand is that communication is simply the first step of many others which have to take place for change to occur. We may be speaking about it but now we must truly understand each other. This is not an easy process but it must take place. A point to take in mind the quicker we understand each other the quicker people stop suffering for reasons which could easily be solved by simply understanding the problem which is taking place. The longer we take, the more men and women are going to be perpetually hurting each other, while attempting to find themselves through this game we have created as a culture of domination, submission, and fear. Women will keep being repressed and this repression will hurt them mentally and physically and because they marry men and give birth to children they will eventually hurt their children. It is a cycle which perpetuates itself. The importance of communication is that it naturally invites questioning. Questioning invites change.

  7. This is an extremely powerful piece. The emotion that resonates within the words strike through very passionately and it gives us a look into her world. I have seen many women around me slut-shaming other women within my time in school and it was only a matter of time as more and more of them became more aware of the consequences of their actions. Although slut-shaming still exists in our world today with quite the presence across generations, it is definitely being challenged in a multitude of social mediums. Whether it be coinciding with the growing feminist movement or through social media platforms and the news, we are slowly getting closer to equality. As Aili points out, the double standard that our society has created towards sexual promiscuity is disgusting and victimizes women for what men are congratulated for.

  8. I actually a witnessed a girl get slut shamed in high school in front of almost everyone in the school which was not an ok thing to do. It goes side by side with bullying you are putting a person down and can cause a great deal of damage with out even realizing it until it is too late to take back everything you did to hurt that person.

    • For some reason many people think that bullying is better than having sex. Harming someone is better than doing something that does no harm. And something that the other sex is actually celebrated for. It’s insane. And it backfires when Women repress their desire, leading to mass low libido. And then men can’t get women– Including those they are married –to want to have sex with them.

  9. A great takeaway from this blog is that you shouldn’t let what people say to you get to you. It is easier said then done of course, but the reality of our life is that at the end of the day your happiness should not be in the hands of others. As mentioned, everyone should be able to feel free and love the person they are. This might just be me, but I feel that girls that slut shame other girls wish they received more attention from boys or wish they can have what the girl they are slut shaming has. As for boys, I feel like boys slut shame because they do not get what they desire from the girl they are slut shaming.

  10. I have a really vivid memory of something I said about a girl when I was a young teen. In my youth theatre company, there was one girl who was very talented, sweet, funny, and attractive. Lots of my male peers were interested in her. Most of the girls disliked her. (Of course, this was only because we had the idea in our heads that teenage girls are supposed to compete with each other for male attention, and she had a lot of it.) We all wanted to find a proper excuse to hate her because she was too perfect. When she started dating, we finally had our reason. Behind her back, we would slut-shame her, even though we hardly knew her and were just spreading rumors. We just wanted to see her fail. We just wanted her to be a loser, like us.

    Once, I remember saying, “I don’t wish she was dead, I wish she was pregnant” (because having a teen pregnancy is a worse punishment than dying). What a horrible thing for me to say, especially as such a young girl (I was probably around 14 or 15 at the time)! Especially now that I’m a feminist and make a conscious effort to treat others equally, I deeply regret ever saying that about a girl I hardly knew. I just knew that slut-shaming was a perfect way to hurt her. It’s such an easy way to destroy a woman’s reputation without any valid reasoning at all.

  11. It’s interesting to see that she now realized what she was doing and what it felt like being slut shamed since she herself was a target. I think that gave her a realization because even though people may not realize it at the time many people do slut shame, and it can be hurtful to the female being slut shamed. And that’s so dumb how our society does that, we have such a double standard when it comes to this, men are congratulated while women are talked badly about and called names while men are praised. I think if someone is comfortable with their sexuality and their body they shouldn’t feel bad about it by others or our society, this needs to change because it’s only suppressing women.

  12. This is very thoughful and the perceive the title in so many ways, the lack of unity and support between we females.
    How most body-shame others but turn sensitive when it comes to them, how we fail to realise how sensitive ‘Shaming’ is for everyone.

  13. Morgan Watson

    I love this article because it really does show how powerful words can be and how we can not let words get to us by being slut shamed. We have to stand up for what we believe in and not let people get the best of us, because as women we have to show that we are strong and words and actions of people who do not understand sexuality do not get to us. I think this article has an important message about actions and not letting them get to you, but to be careful about the double standard of being a women and judging others because it can come back to bite you one day and learn to be above the hate and judgment of sexuality because at
    the end of the day it is your body and its your life, so its your decisions in life, but we need to make slut shaming more apparent and spread more awareness of the hate.

  14. Araceli Toscano-Hernandez

    I too slut shamed other women because I had the wrong mentality. I was one of not many girls that were still virgins and I took pride in it. Not because it was a goal for myself to stay “pure” but because men/ boys would always comment “wow you’re a virgin? that makes me respect you more.” As if this should define whether I’m respected or not as a woman.

    I slut shamed as a virgin because this meant I was better than the other girls, I was different and worthy of relationships. That was the kind of sick thinking..the kind many young girls truly believe in. It’s sad because your sexuality does not determine your worth nor is it okay to try to climb ranks by putting other women down.

    We have slut shaming for women and this is true for men as well now. The new term “fuckboy” is being used just as much as “slut or ho”. Why is it that having sex is bad? That having past partners takes away from your persona? What is this stigma towards having sex..? I don’t understand why we must condemn people who are comfortable with their sexuality regardless if they are a woman or a man.

    • You find that sexuality is more shamed and patriarchies. Maybe because bearing children once gave women great value. And then reducing women to sex – their only purpose – and shaming both women and women’s sexuality — doubles down on male privilege/patriarchy.

  15. I congratulate her for being one with her sexuality. It is brave of her to finally, after the all the slut shaming that was directed towards her she had the courage to be one with her sexuality with not only one person but four people total. Although, I am sure she realizes the backlash she would get from doing this she did it anyways to feel empowered. However, it is not what others were thinking about her. Just like her I do not believe in the double standards society has created because how on earth do most men and women want equality but still believe in double standards still slut shame women for doing exactly what men do. It is quite ridiculous how men can pull something like what she did in the car and get glorified for it but once women want to explore their sexuality and do these things, they will unfortunately get the biggest hate and slut shamed. Personally gives her props for finally realizing she should do what makes her happy and be her own person, I also give her dad props for sticking by her and continually telling her to be her own self and with this she finally became free. I just wish every women out there will realize that being free will make them so much happier.

    • It’s just crazy that we still congratulate men for doing the same thing that we shame women for. Many people think we have gender equality. This is just one example of how we don’t.

      On the plus side I guess she has become a stronger person.

  16. Her statement is bold and empowering. We do congratulate men on the behavior we all engage in, yet women are verbally and sometimes physically attacked by being a part of the games set up for “boys” . Sex is mutual and it’s something shared between two or more people and is meant to be enjoyed it is not for one person or to be a judgment against another . It almost loses its meaning if one or neither can enjoy . Embracing women’s sexuality is a big step that society needs to begin !

    • Yes. Nearly half of American women have some form of sexual dysfunction, with about 44% having low or no interest in sex.

      With the way we shame women’s sexuality – even as we celebrate men for doing the same thing – it’s no wonder.

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