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Close down the slut-shaming websites

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Cyberspace is the hub for finding like minded people, where you can share multimedia content that relates to the particular topic that you share an interest in - be it Harry Potter, Justin Bieber, or, as is proving to be increasingly (and alarmingly), popular... slut-shaming.

Slut shaming or slut-bashing is basically the name given to the scathing attacks of disapproval directed at scantily clad females (although of course there is such a term as man-slut) who are stereotyped as dressing provocatively and engaging in promiscuous, garish and often unsafe activities.

Whilst slut bashing is a concept that has always existed (but perhaps not been labelled quite as crudely), with the numerous social networking platforms available at the touch of a screen rather than a button, slut-shaming has reached its most severe peak yet. Indeed, the rate at which individuals have jumped on the slut-bashing bandwagon makes this campaign increasingly less like a way of actually caring about the potentially misleading ways in which individuals may portray themselves and more like an extensive form of cyber peer pressure.

Many of these attacks are being instigated by the peers of the victims, some of whom are girls as young as 13. Their 'shaming' ranges from general witty comments either posted on Facebook or tweeted, including the slightly amusing 'Spread nutella...not your legs' to cruel Tumblr blogs where youngsters even dare to name and shame teenage girls and accompany their memes with bold claims that immodestly dressed female victims of sexual assault are not only making themselves vulnerable to such attacks, but by default should be expectant of them because of the 'slutty' image that they project.

On the one hand, this new fad of slut-bashing fuels the debate on rape culture and its female victims but on the other, in some cases it is simply nothing more than a form of humorous 'colloquial' feminism in which emotionally scathing comments are replaced with lighter, wittier and generally more amusing one-liners (the Nutella one, for example). Such statements are classified as not so much an attack but rather as a general comment on female promiscuity: yes dressing inappropriately, especially for young teenage girls, can attract the wrong sort of attention, but dressing this way does not mean that they are automatically up for a night of sex.

However, whilst it is encouraging to think that young girls feel empowered within themselves to not feel the need to guise their insecurities behind fake hair and even faker tan the way some women do, it is ironic that the girls that are seeking to stop this stereotype are the very same ones who are reinforcing it.

The chain of posts, comments and memes that are maintaining this trend of cyber slut-shaming exudes a sense of superiority rather than self-assurance, transforming the supposedly morally virtuous perpetrators of this shocking behaviour into sexist patriarchal surrogates whose self-righteousness seemingly allows them to dictate to their own sex as to how they should dress and behave. In fact, rather than categorising these comments as misogynist and sexist (which of course they are) such cruel behaviour should be seen for what it truly is: a form of bullying.

It could well be that those shaming the so-called 'sluts' don't see themselves as bullies. Maybe they really are (albeit in a roundabout way), trying to preach some cautionary tale about the wrong messages that provocative dressing can portray or even the dangers of freely advertising one's promiscuity, but that doesn't excuse the fact that targeting, labelling and quite frankly attacking innocent young women is wrong. Just as sites which encourage eating disorders and self-harming should be shut down so should blogs, groups and sites which encourage slut-bashing.

Whilst strict cyber policing won't erase the issue, it will perhaps decrease the alarming rate at which slut-bashing has become both fashionable and (judging from the sheer amount of youngsters actively taking part in this campaign) acceptable.




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