Friday, September 06, 2013

Slut Shaming Has Its Place (but don't shoot me before you've read my whole post)

If you are on Facebook and haven't seen people linking to this blog post, you must have your eyes closed. Mrs. Hall's, "FYI (if you're a teenage girl)" blog post, an open letter to teenage girls regarding social media, has gone viral and then some.
In short, she says that she goes through her sons' social media accounts and blocks any girl who posts provocative pictures, including duck-faced selfies.
On many levels, I have no problem with what Mrs. Hall says. But then there are several other levels that she just plain gets wrong.
For starters, she comes off as a complete hypocrite for saying all of this, while posting pictures of her attractive young sons, posing in bathing suits on the beach- the exact kind of pictures she says she would block if a young woman posted one of herself doing that.
And she fails to teach her son's to be accountable for their own thoughts, and puts all of the burden and blame on the girls.

There have been dozens of bloggers responding to Mrs. Hall's post. My favorite thus far is "The Questions We Should Be Asking."
Last week the world was all a-twitter about Miley Cyrus' overly sexualized performance at the VMAs. While very few people talked about the fact that Robin Thicke was equally responsible for the performance, and even wrote the song.
But I digress.
Both sides of all these equations are right- women (regardless of age) should not be so anxious to post sexualized photos of themselves online, and men (regardless of age) should be held more accountable for their thoughts and subsequent actions.
What disturbed me the most in all of this discussion was a comment left on Facebook by a younger woman (20ish perhaps), angry at Mrs. Hall for "slut-shaming."
Her exact words-
"Dude selfies help boost self esteem. I post selfies on tumblr all the time, some more flashy than others and I post them because I feel good while taking them and I want to share that with the world. Acting like a girl posting pictures of herself on fb is the end of the world is super over dramatic of this woman. I'm sorry that her precious children are harmed so much by these images but she needs to stop policing women on what they do and start policing men on how they react. END SLUT SHAMING!"
There are so many things here I want to address and I barely know where to start. 
"selfies help boost self-esteem?" Oh sweetheart, I barely know what to say. I want to give you a huge hug, a plate of cookies, and a glass of milk, and sit you down and explain this one to you. Selfies do not boost your self-esteem. It's the artificial "likes" of the anonymous internet that is so-called building your self -esteem. If there is any lesson in life that I wish I could impart to you it is that you should never, ever build your self-esteem around the "likes" of random people on the internet.  
If you want to argue with me that it is the beautiful self-taken picture of yourself that gives you joy to look at, by all means, go ahead. But let me warn you, very little happiness has ever lasted long-term from taking joy in looking at yourself. Build your self-worth on something besides your image or how photogenic you are. 

And if you really want to prove to me that it isn't the "likes," and really is just the image, that builds your self-esteem, don't post them online for others to see. Keep it yourself and that will make it that much more special!
Claiming that you "feel good while taking them, and I want to share that with the world," is a bit... pathetic. You felt good taking pictures of yourself, and you want to share that... If it is your smile, happiness, and joy that you have captured in the moment, and that is what you want to share, share the MOMENT- not the duck-faced, cleavage shot. The MOMENT is rarely just your face. The MOMENT is the scenery, the experience, the people you were with. 
"stop policing women on what they do and start policing men on how they react. END SLUT SHAMING!"
Whoa, girlfriend. You almost got it right. Here is the problem-
We should never "police" anyone. We should teach- with love- accountability for our actions, and this goes for men and women. Men must be accountable for their own thoughts and actions. And women must be accountable for their thoughts and actions as well. 
And one of those actions is how they choose to dress. You can't expect to dress a certain way and not send a message about yourself. You chose the message when you chose the clothes. Take accountability for your choices!
"Slut Shaming" is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior."
That I do not agree with. We should never make another woman feel guilty and inferior for her sexual choices.
BUT she should not be surprised that people will look at her and judge her motivations and actions if the message she sends is that she wants to be sexualized!  If the message you send is, "I'm open for sex," don't be surprised when the message is received and responded to!
For every word there is an opposite. What is the opposite of "slut shaming?" "Slut promoting?" "Slut proud?"
No, no ladies. Never will I be proud of you for dressing in a way that sells you short and sends the message to anyone who sees you that you see yourself as a sex object.
"But I want to look like a sex object, but be treated and respected for my mind."
IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. 
Why?
Because you only get to send one message about yourself. You may try to send 5, but most people will only take the time to receive one. And the invisible message (the one that says you are smart and have superior brains) will get overlooked and ignored, as the colorful one on the outside screams louder and louder.
Women, you must own up to the messages you send. You must own up to the labels you choose to dress yourself with.
And yes, the men must absolutely own up to their thoughts and actions as well.
Girls, "selfies" are not a beautiful art form. They show no talent, no skill, no worth. I've taken my fair share of selfies. In fact, I consider it to be a tradition to take a selfie when I am on vacation. I've been doing this long before we started calling them "selfies." I have no problem with a selfie when there is no one else around to hold the camera for me.

There is an overabundance of photos (particularly on Instagram and Facebook) of doe-eyed girls staring into the camera, posing for a selfie. Ladies, good for you, you figured out that certain lighting, colors, angles, and makeup can improve how you look in a photo. But I want to stick my finger down my throat and puke every time you lean over the bed, careful to scrunch your boobs together with your elbows to create extra cleavage, while holding the camera above you 'just so,' and then you look deep into the lens and look surprised that, "Oh my! Did you catch me in this compromising, yet innocently seductive pose- with my camera? Oh my!"
I admit it 1,000 times over that I am guilty of too many selfies myself. (This blog is FULL of them.) Sometimes you want a picture of yourself at a special occasion, and there's no one to take it but you. You gotta do, what you gotta do.
Case in point-

But posting a semi-slutty image of yourself, just for fun, just for the "likes," is not enjoyed by others, nor does it do anything to boost your self-esteem, or help make people see the true you, and/or like you.

(Just the first 1.47 minutes of this video will do!)
My point here is ladies, don't sit around fooling yourself that others want to look at selfies of you (in compromising positions or now), or that they somehow make people think better of you. If you really want to look at that many beautiful pictures of your head, get a friend with a decent camera to take you out for a real photo shoot. 
Girls, ladies, women, own up to your own actions. Own up to the messages you send. Oh be wise, what can I say more? (Jacob 6:12)
And men, own up to your own actions. Own up to your thoughts. Own up to the messages you send.
Accountability is what ends victimization, and the immature blaming and pointing of fingers. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree that our culture is over-sexualized, and I agree with many points you make but I don't think that slut-shaming has its place ever...because you don't know the background of that woman who is dressing like a "slut". Neither you or I may not know why she was dressing provocatively, if she's been raped or sexually assaulted or even a victim of incest and has a really skewed view of her own sexuality, and is working through one of the worst things that can happen to a person. Shaming her for her negative behaviors may just lead to more negative behaviors.

    That being said, here's a great article in response to the original post: http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2013/09/on-respect-responsibility-and-mrs-halls.html

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