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Slut shaming, victim blaming, and sex worker stigma

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Joan Elizabeth

on 27 August 2015

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Transcript of Slut shaming, victim blaming, and sex worker stigma

Slut shaming, victim blaming, and sex worker stigma
Slut shaming
Slut shaming is the practice of stigmatizing women and queer people when they step out of bounds of socially prescribed sexual roles or behaviours. As our society tries to strictly control the sexuality of women and queer people, almost any display of women’s or queer people's sexuality outside of committed, private, hetero-monogomy transgresses socially prescribed sexual roles or behaviours.Slut shaming, then, occurs when a woman or queer person is attacked for having one or more sexual partners, for talking about their sexuality, or for engaging in behaviours that could be seen as sexual (even if they are not intended to be sexual).


It’s crucial to recognize that Women of Colour and Indigenous women experience multiple, intersecting oppressions; social judgments about their sexuality are different in kind and degree than those of white women. Ongoing legacies of dehumanization and hyper-sexualization of Women of Colour and Indigenous women continue to effect how their sexuality is perceived and judged. These legacies also result in increased rates and levels of violence against Women of Colour and Indigenous women.

In “An Open Letter from Black Women to the Slutwalk”, it’s pointed out that “.the way in which we [black women] are perceived and what happens to us before, during and after sexual assault crosses the boundaries of our mode of dress. Much of this is tied to our particular history. In the United States, where slavery constructed Black female sexualities, Jim Crow kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more recently, where the Black female immigrant struggle combine, “slut” has different associations for Black women.”



The following resources go into greater detail about the intersections of race, class, and misogyny’:

http://www.blackwomensblueprint.org/2011/09/23/an-open-letter-from-black-women-to-the-slutwalk/

https://tothecurb.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/slutwalk-a-stroll-through-white-supremacy/

http://www.autostraddle.com/slut-shaming-becomes-even-grosser-than-you-thought-with-bonus-classism-240253/





It’s also important to note that there is a double standard between how women and queer people are judged for their sexuality, and how straight men are judged for their sexuality. Men can be publicly celebrated for being openly sexual, while women and queer people are often attacked for it (for example, men can be praised for sleeping with a lot of women, while women are attacked for having “too many” sexual partners). For this reason, the term ‘slut-shaming’ does not apply to straight men in the same way it applies to women and queer people.






Slut shaming is often used a mechanism to continue to control women and queer bodies and actions by making them feel shame or embarrassment for their sexuality. It also can be used as a way to discredit women and queer people who have experienced sexual assault or harassment. An example of this would be someone asking a survivor of sexual assault what they were wearing when they were assaulted, and implying they may have provoked the assault by wearing revealing clothes.
Slut Shaming and
Sexual Harassment
Examples of Slut Shaming:

1. School dress codes that ban tight clothing for girls because it might “distract” male students. This shames female students for wearing clothes that may be interpreted by teachers as sexual (despite the fact that the students wearing the clothes may not view their clothes as sexual)

http://bust.com/slut-shaming-now-in-student-dress-codes.html

2. Making fun of or attacking someone for using birth control. This shames someone for having sex and/or thinking about having sex.

3. Telling someone that they were "asking for" street harrassment by wearing a short skirt (again, because a short skirt may be perceived as sexual, even if it is not).
Victim Blaming

Victim blaming occurs when someone claims or implies that a person who experienced sexual violence is responsible for the violence that happened to them, or that the violence was ‘their fault’. Violence is never the fault of the person who experienced it; it occurs because the perpetrator made a choice to do violence.

Some examples of victim blaming in response to a disclosure of sexual assault or harassment are:

- You were drinking a lot though.
- But it sounds like you two just fight a lot.
- You provoked him by wearing a short skirt.
- You led him on by flirting with him all night.
- You went back to his room, what did you
expect to happen?

As Hillary Di Menna points out in her article “Gender Block: victim blaming” in This magazine, Victim blaming is particularly pervasive when the person who experiences violence doesn’t “follow the rules”. They may have sex, be working class, be queer, have an addiction, live with mental-based illness and/or be a person of colour. In Canada, notably, the dehumanization of Aboriginal women also persists. A recent example being the case of Cindy Gladue, a sex worker who was brutally murdered, and whose alleged murderer was initially found not guilty until a recent appeal. Stephen Harper has said that Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women is not an epidemic and not on the Conservative’s radar. Aboriginal women are dehumanized the same way other racialized women are when it comes to sexual violence.” Racist, misogynistic stereotypes, she makes clear, are used to justify violence and blame the person experiencing violence.



According to the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness,
victim blaming is a problem because:

“Victim-blaming attitudes marginalize the victim/survivor and make it harder to come forward and report the abuse. If the survivor knows that you or society blames the survivor for the abuse, s/he will not feel safe or comfortable coming forward and talking to you.

Victim-blaming attitudes also reinforce what the abuser has been saying all along; that it is the victim’s fault this is happening. It is NOT the victim’s fault or responsibility to fix the situation; it is the abuser’s choice. By engaging in victim-blaming attitudes, society allows the abuser to perpetrate relationship abuse or sexual assault while avoiding accountability for those actions”

More information on and examples of victim blaming:

http://www.thenation.com/article/asking-it/








Stigma against sex workers (that is, the ways that sex workers may be /are marginalized and/or dehumanized) often means that they are at greater risk of experiencing sexual assault, harassment, and violence. The concepts of slut-shaming and victim-blaming are used to dismiss or discredit sex workers who have experienced sexual assault or harassment. In these cases, a sex workers profession is taken as evidence that they wanted or deserved the violence that was committed against them. Further, sex workers may not feel comfortable reporting assault to the police. Many activities surrounding sex work is illegal in Canada, and they may face arrest (as well as further victim-blaming from the police) for reporting. The marginalization of sex workers also may mean that the police (and potentially the media and the parts of the public) may not pay much attention to violence committed against them.
Sex Worker Stigma
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