Slut Shaming and the “War on Women”

I’ve been following some of the news related to women’s reproductive rights with quite some interest for the last few months, and it’s still a little complex trying to sort out my varying feelings of disappointment, outrage, and on some levels, fear.

On a very basic level, as a woman in her late 20’s, it just seems incredible to me that we are even having this discussion about whether or not a women has the right to decide if she wants an abortion, or control when she wants to have children. Plain and simple. What’s even more baffling to me is that a shock tactic as childish and pathetic as slut shaming was actually used as a valid way of publicly addressing the issue of women’s reproductive rights (Great response, conservatives, I really have faith that you’re watching out for the XX chromosomes). And now I  feel the door has been opened to it being acceptable for the public to connect a woman’s sexuality with her ability to have valid, intelligent opinions and to be an upright citizen of good standing in the community. I have no words for how absurd I think that is. Is it naive of me that I think that this is so appalling, I sort of expected everyone else (conservative or liberal) to react with the same kind of disgust?

But right when I’m thinking “Oh man, well that was kind of a low point on the conservative side,”  Todd Akin gets up and makes his horribly ignorant comment, followed by an  insensitive treatment of rape by Paul Ryan. At that point, I’m starting to see the point of the phrase “War on Women” even though on the whole, it’s not my favorite phrase. (I think it’s rather inflammatory and feels exaggerated, though the issues are absolutely real).

And then the Trampire scandal breaks. (Author’s note: Long story short, Twilight star Kristen Stewart is caught cheating on her Twilight co-star Rob Pattinson with the married director of her Huntsmen movie)

You might be asking yourself, what in the world does this have to do with women’s rights? And what does it have to do with recent events? And I’ll tell you. Same man, different hat. This isn’t just about politics anymore. I think Nico Lang in his Trampire article sums it up pretty well.

“For any girl growing up who pays attention to the media, it’s a terrifying time to understand what it means to be a girl in society. From Rush Limbaugh, they’ve learned that they are prostitutes and “sluts” for wanting birth control and healthy reproductive options for women. From Todd Akin, they’ve learned that their bodies can magically judo chop any unwanted side effects of rape and that women somehow can be “illegitimately” raped. From Paul Ryan, they’ve learned that rape is just “another method of conception,” which should be news to the makers of the Kama Sutra. And then Rape Culture Super-Defender Mike Huckabee chimed in by saying that “rape can create extraordinary people,” because young women everywhere desperately needed his opinion on this issue. Thanks, Huck…”

“…for young women, the culture of slut shaming that the Kristen Stewart scandal represents won’t go away. I might not be concerned for K-Stew, but I am concerned for all the young women today who are tuned into this scandal, ones who are learning that it’s not okay to screw up, ever. Chris Brown can publicly beat the hell out of his girlfriend but still be played on the radio and win Grammys. However, if you ever cheat on your boyfriend, your life is over and no one will ever want to be associated with you. Almost no one will blame the much-older guy you cheated with, and it might actually make him more famous and help his career. Few will care that he was your boss and in a position of authority or that he may have have taken advantage of your youth and relative inexperience. Everything is your fault, and your life will be threatened over it. If you are a trampire, you will be publicly staked for it…”

Yeah, I’ll have to wait and see whether this was a temporary lapse in sanity for society or whether this is the harbinger of something greater (and much scarier) for women in this country. But my spider sense is definitely tingling…

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