Slut Riot! Busting through the layers of slut-shaming

Over on my site, The Sin City Siren, we launched a week-long series on slut-shaming called Slut Riot! It all started when I asked my intern to pick a feminist book and review it during the late-summer doldrums. Her pick — Emily White’s Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut — not only launched a spirited discussion at SCS headquarters, it got us thinking that we wanted that discussion to continue with our readers. And with that, Slut Riot! was born.

All this week we have a diverse group of guests — women of color, sex workers, LGBT people, even men — slated to post their thoughts on sluts, stigma, and sex. Through each of these myriad lenses, I hope we can chip away that much more at this thing we call slut-shaming, an ineffectual term at times meant to represent a wide array of sometimes divergent experiences.

In planning this week’s itinerary — we’ve got a video coming mid-week and a tweet-chat set for Friday at noon (Pacific time) — I gave a lot of thought to the kind of discussion we wanted to bring forth. Some may wonder what more there is to say after so many Slut Walks the past couple of years. But for everything that Slut Walks may have done within certain communities, they also mirrored a constant problem within the white, cisgender, female feminist movement. If the major criticism of the Slut Walk movement was that once again it was an insular, white woman’s take on misogyny resulting in a collective exclusion the experiences of people of color and LGBT individuals, then perhaps this is our chance to dive that much deeper. Indeed, as I am a suburban, married, white mother, I hope what you find this week is that my narrative has taken a backseat — because that identity has been well-covered. We must lift up voices from across the spectrum, not just those that sound like our own.

Photo by De'Liza Galimidi, courtesy of The Sin City Siren

Photo by De’Liza Galimidi, courtesy of The Sin City Siren

So what will we be talking about? As I’ve been telling the writers, just about anything and everything that relates to their experience of stigma, shaming, and privileged oppression around the concept of calling people sluts, hos, cunts, dykes, “trannies,” tramps, trashy (or its racist cousin “white trash”), bitches, easy, fast, harlots, hoochie-mamas, and more. In fact, there are so many words for this thing, this shaming thing, that it would be hard to list them all here. These words bind to the identities of so many of us and each time it happens, it’s a reminder of the racist patriarchal systems we live within. It is a reminder that as a cisgender woman, I am always on display. It is a reminder to the transitioning female that she does not “measure up” to the standards of the male gaze. It is a reminder to a woman of color that her body and her very culture can and will be reduced to a fetish and a list of stereotypes to suit a system reinforces white privilege. And so much more.

If I can accomplish just one thing with Slut Riot! it will be to empower people to take back their dignity and identities. Each of us holds the power to dismantle slut-shaming, in all its forms. Each of us have the ability to learn why calling an outfit slutty is not just catty, it’s part of a larger system of oppression. Each of us has the chance to understand the ways that patriarchy and racism intersect in this thing called slut-shaming.

So, I hope you will join us as we discuss all these thing and more! And please join us on Friday noon/3pm for a tweet-chat with Fast Girls author Emily White, hosted by The Sin City Siren and Feminism 2.0! We’ll be using the hashtag #slutriot.

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