There’s nothing like a good case of sexual activity to reinforce people’s gender stereotypes. Particularly here in the Philippines, men and women are supposed to behave in a certain way that society deems acceptable lest they run the risk of encountering certain negative labels and stereotypes. Two phenomena that fall under these negative labels and stereotypes are the acts of “slut-shaming” and “man-shaming”. In this article, we tell you guys more about what it is, who it affects, and why you should care about it.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “slut”? Chances are, nothing good. The word is often used as an insult to people who are seen as promiscuous, dirty, unclean or impure and, more often than not, the word is directed towards women. Media and society often reinforce the idea of judging a woman’s worth and reputation based on her sexual activity. Women who are seen as “sexually out of control” or “been around the block” are seen in a negative light, and they are often seen as loud, aggressive, pushy, and not worthy of other’s respect. Women are often punished for this behavior despite the fact that their male counterparts are celebrated for the exact same things. This phenomenon is called “Slut-Shaming”. Acts of slut-shaming range from name calling, criticizing and ridiculing a woman for what she is wearing, and can go all the way up to posting someone’s nude or provocative photo online with the intention of humiliating or objectifying them (Tanenbaum, 2015).
At the totally other end of the spectrum are men being shamed for not being “man enough” or “macho enough.” This is what we call, “man-shaming.” In local Filipino context, we’re very familiar with the expression “mag paka-lalake ka nga!” loosely translated as “be a man”. These kinds of statements are used to imply that men should not show vulnerability and even go as far as implying that the measure of being a man is his sexual domination and machismo. This, not only sets a society that gives men a free pass for displaying unwarranted dominance, but also puts a pressure and expectation on men to be and act a particular type or way.
You may be wondering out there, why should I care about this? Particularly with the rise of social media, it is now easier than ever for someone to call a woman out as a “slut” or to devalue a man because he’s not “man enough” for the whole world to see.
While the experience of being humiliated in public is horrible in itself, the experience goes far deeper than that with women who are labeled as “sluts” are far more likely to experience unwanted sexual advances or assaults from others. Many women who are sexually assaulted also end up being victims of “slut-shaming” as people begin circulating rumors and pictures of them being “easy”, pictures in what are perceived as skimpy clothing, screenshots of supposed “flirtatious” messages, statements that they’re game for sex, in an effort to make them seem responsible for their own assault (Nelson, 2013).
As for men, the one-dimensional macho stereotype that they are expected to embody is not only limiting their own freedom to be who they are but is also propagating more and more the double standards that men and women have to deal with. With social media becoming everyone’s primary mode of communication, all it would take is one misguided post for a woman or man to be labeled, and the sexist ideologies be reinforced. It could happen to you, your sister, your friend, or anyone you know. If it’s not a problem for you right now, don’t wait until it becomes one for you to start caring. Fighting a phenomenon like this takes an entire society to change, and every person who cares about it counts.
Nelson, S. (2013). Slut-Shaming and Rape Culture. HuffPost. Retrieved 25 September 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sabrina-nelson/rape-culture_b_3279668.html
Tenenbaum, L (2015). The Truth about Slut-Shaming. HuffPost. Retrieved 24 September 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leora-tanenbaum/the-truth-about-slut-shaming_b_7054162.html
Worrow, L. (2015). The Cost of Gender Inequality. HuffPost. Retrieved 25 September 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-cost-of-gender-inequality_b_7142546.html