Social Media and Slut Shaming: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Guest blog post by our volunteer, Tegan

There have been a number of news stories recently involving social media and the issue of slut shaming. One, right here in Maryland, involved a police department’s plan to live tweet a prostitution sting. They made the announcement saying they were going to conduct a sting on an undisclosed day, and live tweet the sting as it progressed. There was instant backlash and the police department announced they would no longer tweet the sting. They claimed it was to protect the identities of the undercover police officers, and that they would never have tweeted the identities of the people arrested. However, the mere idea of instantly naming and shaming men or women targeted in this type of policing is appalling. While social media use is generally great, the police could have used a second opinion before deciding that their plan was a good idea.

 

Another story to recently go viral is that of a young woman who was kicked out of her prom for wearing a dress that chaperones deemed too short. Although she met the only dress code provision, that the dress be longer than her fingertips, she was still ejected from the prom. What is particularly upsetting about this particular story are some of the quotes from it, that some of the dads who were chaperoning the event thought her dancing “was too provocative” and that she was going to “cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts”. A classic case of blaming a woman for something solely based on how she was dressed. I would have hoped by this point, 2014, we could have moved past things like this, but it is unfortunately still quite common.

 

There are a plethora of other stories about young folks being told what they are wearing is inappropriate and putting blame on women for what they were wearing. I understand that there was a dress code, but more often than not the dress code is female specific and targets young women, telling them they are not allowed to dress how they want and shaming them into not loving themselves and how they choose to present themselves in the public.
While these stories are quite common, the positive side to these tales is they are being heard in a large arena. While social media can be misused (looking at you #PGPDVice), it gives a voice to those looking to be heard, like Hollaback!. When stories like these hit the news, it makes me wonder, does anyone else have a story like the young lady at prom that has gone unnoticed? Have you ever been “policed,” so to speak, about dressing a certain way by a friend, an acquaintance, someone on the street, or a family member? If you have, speak up and share your story. The more we talk about it and acknowledge it, the more attention it gets and hopefully someday you won’t have to care about inspiring “impure thoughts” in others.

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