Labels are how violence is packaged.
Words can really hurt.
Slut. Player. Fag.
Tease. Stud. Pussy.
Ho. Skank. Champ. Easy.
These are words we hear all the time in school, from friends, family, on tv, in music. We hear them so much, we forget the power of these words to hurt. Until they are directed at us.
Labels take away a person’s humanity. Labels make it harder to see the individual. We make assumptions about people based on their label. People labeled as “players” and “sluts” are assumed to always want sex, even if they say they don’t.
People use words like “gay”, “fag” and “dyke” as insults. These are positive identities for gay or queer people. Using these words as negative labels is a form of homophobia. Guys labeled as a “fag” and girls labeled as a “dyke” are harassed and sometimes assaulted.
The Double Standard
|SLUT ↓||PLAYER ↓||FAG ↓|
girls + sex = slut, guys + sex = status.
The labels “slut” and “player” show that there is still a double standard about sex for guys and girls. This double standard makes it hard for girls to be proud of their sexuality and pressures guys to be sexual. These labels pressure us to conform to gender scripts and keep us from being true to ourselves.
“She deserves it…”
Girls who are labeled a “slut” are targets of violence. Other girls ignore, harass, spread vicious gossip about, and sometimes even physically assault girls who are labeled as a “slut”. When girls who are labelled a “slut” say no, or set sexual limits, people may be less likely to listen to them. Girls who are labeled as a “slut” are more at risk for sexualized violence.
It is assumed that if a girl called a “slut” is assaulted, she deserves what she gets because she was “asking for it” by what she wears and how she acts. This is not true. NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ASSAULTED. We all deserve respect.
- We have the power to create a world without labels.
- Stop using labels in your life.
- Stop sexualized violence.
The label “slut” harms all girls and women. When girls call other girls “slut”, we reinforce the power of the word to damage and control all girls, including ourselves.
The label “slut” hurts us all because:
- It punishes girls for being sexual beings
- It gives girls only two choices: “good girl” or “bad girl”
- It keeps girls competing for male attention and feeling insecure.
- It makes girls targets for sexualized assault
“I was labeled as a slut in grade nine. I don’t really know why. Maybe because I developed early and lots of guys flirted with me. I lost all my girlfriends. They all accused me of trying to sleep with their boyfriends. Guys came on to me all the time. Older guys too that kind of scared me with how aggressive they were. There were all these rumours that I did all these things even though I was still a virgin. They called me dirty. This one guy, older and really attractive took me out one time. Everyone said I slept with him. What really happened was that he tried to sexually assault me and I fought him off. He started a rumour that I wanted it so that no one would know what he did. Because he was hot and popular, everyone believed him. I was so depressed, I felt suicidal at times. I ended up moving schools.
Another girl I know was labeled a slut. She just laughed it off and said she was proud to be one. She had a few friends but most girls hated her. She took a lot of flak for her attitude. I know lots of guys that talked trash about her all the time. She said she didn’t care, but she must have sometimes. I think she put up a strong front but that deep down it hurt her.
Being called a slut then still affects me now. I feel like I have to hide myself. I am super conscious of what I wear. I don’t date. I have a hard time making friends with girls because I am always worried they are going to turn on me. I used to call other girls sluts when they pissed me off or I didn’t like them. I never do that any more and I hate it when I hear people using that word. People don’t know what damage it does.”
Video Responses to Slut Shaming:
Slut Shaming and Why It’s Wrong:
“It was cool cuz girls would come on to me all the time and flirt. I had my choice. All my friends looked up to me. I bragged all the time about the action I was getting. Sometimes, I added to the stories just to make them jealous. It was a weird feeling having all these people see me like this totally cool hot guy. It felt good but I also felt lots of pressure to keep up the image. Sometimes I would play girls just to impress my friends. I feel bad about a few of them. I think I really hurt one girl. I didn’t make her do stuff. I mean, she didn’t say no. I just told her that I cared more than I did. But I don’t think she would have done those things if I didn’t say all that stuff to her.
The time that it affected me most was when I really liked this girl. She was totally cool. I liked her more than just wanting to get with her. But she wouldn’t take me seriously. She thought I was just playing her because of my reputation. All her friends told her to stay away from me. And it seemed like the harder I tried to tell her I was for real, the more she thought I was lying.
I’ve since cooled it on the player routine. But people still see me that way. It is hard to change my reputation.”
“I was always the guy everyone picked on and called fag. At that time, I didn’t really know if I was gay or not. I was confused. I didn’t really feel sexually attracted to anyone. Sometimes I would think about guys. Sometimes girls. But everyone, guys and girls called me fag, constantly. I was harassed and beat up. People wrote stuff about me in the bathrooms. I was pushed around in the halls. Teachers wouldn’t take me seriously. School was hell.
I had a few friends, girls, that were also outcasts at school. One of them I hung out with all the time. One night we were watching videos at my house. No one was home. We decided to have a few drinks. I don’t know what happened. It was like I wanted to prove to myself that I was straight. I was sick of being harassed at school. I was sick of always being picked on. I started kissing her. We started making out, but I could tell she was not really into it. For some reason, I couldn’t stop. Or I wouldn’t. I just wanted to say that I’d had sex with a girl and make everyone shut up. Finally, she pushed me away. Hard. I kinda “woke up”. She left and didn’t talk to me for a really long time. Later, she finally confronted me and told me how scared she felt and how I’d forced her. I felt terrible.
I’ve finally come out as gay. I feel much better about who I am but I still have to deal with what I did to my friend. I am really aware of how other gay guys can really pressure each other to be sexual. I think about how I made my friend feel and I don’t think it is that different in gay relationships. Date rape can still happen with gay guys. I always make sure my partner really wants to before we get into it.”