Slut Shaming and Friendzones

By Tapasya Pandita in Fashion & Lifestyle 18/07/2016

Slut.

This one word has been used for centuries now to pull women down. Woman, being the enslaved, captivated commodity that has a check over all its activities, its behaviour and social abilities, has to be constantly kept an eye on. Who knows, you might turn your gaze and she might run off with all that latent corruption exploding out from her body? Women, as a resource, have been placed only at that status where they provide. They are the supporting actresses to the lead heroes who run their life and take the most substantial decisions around them.

Slut shaming has been used in almost every part of the world. The slut stigma was, and still is, used to label a woman who does not conform.

Patriarchy’s obsession with women’s sexuality, through which they control their movements and actions and even thoughts, has been the reason why morality and righteousness were linked with a person’s sexuality. To allude to sexual acts a signification greater than that of bodily pleasure, and to make them connotative of the goodness or evil in a character, was a successful way in which patriarchy established strongly the ideas of sex equivalent to character, marriage as a sacred institution. With these notions, they came to control women’s sexuality, whose active indulgence would be a threat to these institutions that fostered patriarchy and the nexus of it with the dominant political and religious bodies of power.

 
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Now, as feminist discourses are engaging almost every aspect of our cultural lives, many inspirational women achievers along with other feminist artists and academicians are talking about these mechanisms of control that exert over the female body and mind. These systems of control, in fact, are averse to every other behaviour that does not accept the rules of heterosexuality, heteronormativity and monogamy.

A woman is a slut if she does anything that does not conform to the conventions. She is a slut if she is sexually active outside the heterosexual-monogamous-married relationship.

These orientations and institutions, that are the pillars of patriarchy and the status quo, are threatened if women start breaking the boundaries they are supposed to stay in.

 

Which is why, every woman that says “yes” to free-love, to sexual pleasure that isn’t restricted by the judgements of morality, is called a slut. We have top inspiring women around us, like Kangana Ranaut who accepted the label saying if it was what empowered her, she had no problem being called a slut.

 

In line with this, slut shaming is also a way of “othering”. Many social critics talk about the fact that women slut shame each other to distance themselves from a particular class ideology. For example, working class women might call rich women sluts to distance themselves from their high-class, elite behaviour and their casual sex practices. On the other hand, rich and wealthy women call low-class women sluts in order to detach themselves from their “dirty”, “unhygienic” ways of life, and the poor conditions and situations in which they marry or sometimes prostitute their body for a living.

 

Right from controlling the sexuality of a woman, it also is used in “class-othering” and also to ostracise women who don’t conform to norms, be they sexual, or in the field of education, arts or politics. Which is why empowered women in any field are called “sluts” because this way their sexuality is questioned, and because sexuality has been deeply linked to morality, which questions their character as a trustworthy people.

 
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Contrary to this, the idea of “friend-zoning” is as much an attack on women as autonomous individuals who ought to take their own decisions.

The laughter and teasing around the fact that a woman does not want to sexually engage, is often concluded to mean that she is using her sexuality to exert power.

 

First, you are then considering her sexuality as a commodity you can claim, and criticising her for not being serviceable.

 

Secondly, the censuring of women for ignoring and overlooking the sexual advances of a man also questions society’s attitude towards women’s exercising of their choice regarding sexual partners. In societies where the fate of women has been decided by the patriarchs and by patriarchy as a structure, the world today finds it difficult to give this choice solely to the woman.

Long story short, both slut-shaming and decrying women for friend- zoning men are two faces of the same coin.

What women need to do is appropriate these words and find their strength in them. If slut means a non-conformative woman, then let it be a slut. If slut is the word that means, indirectly, an emancipated woman, I’d embrace it and take the label to my grave. Women need to be sure of their right to exercise their sexuality, and to filter their sex life by the application of their choices, as they desire, wish, will, or reason.

 
 

Tapasya Pandita
An English postgraduate student from Delhi University, Tapasya is deeply passionate about fictional writing, she aspires to write strong feminist and social realist pieces that impact the readers’ consciousness about the functioning of social structures that impose unspoken influence on their lives. To explore culture as a forum for social change is the motive she alludes to her work.

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