Slut Shaming?

Slut Shaming Lead to Rehtaeh Parsons's Suicide.

Slut Shaming Lead to Rehtaeh Parsons’s Suicide.

If There Were No Shame in Being Sexual, Slut Shaming Wouldn’t Even Be a Thing. 

Red_On 7 April of this year, Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old girl from Nova Scotia, died three days after trying to hang herself. This followed 18 months of bullying, the result of a picture circulated at her highschool of her being gang raped by four boys at a party when she was passed out drunk.

It’s not the first time this has happened.

It’s not the first time this has happened recently.

The rape didn’t kill her.

The picture circulated at her high school didn’t kill her.

No, her friends killed her.

She was bullied online mercilessly—by her closest friends.

I’ve been following the news of this for several days, as horrified I’m sure as most of you are by what happened. Among the questions being asked of the pundits and experts is, “How did this happen?” Another one is, “How can we stop this from happening again?”

The answers have almost universally been depressingly obvious and wide of the mark. Apparently, we’re sexualizing our teenagers. Our permissive culture is letting them think they can do whatever they want. You’ve heard this bullshit before; so did your parents; so did your grandparents.

Rehtaeh was 15 when she was assaulted. Her parents are too young to remember Woodstock.

The sexual revolution happened in Rehtaeh’s grandparents generation. We were supposed to be free of this bullshit by now.

In case you missed it, what killed her was slut shaming. Her friends told her—in direct and very crude terms—that if she hadn’t been such a slut she never would’ve been raped. She was made to feel worthless by the people who meant the most to her.

Why would her friends do this to her?

Because they were terrified. They saw what happened to her and thought about it happening to them, and that scared them. They wanted more than anything not to be the victims of something so horrific themselves. The only way to avoid being a victim was not to do what Rehtaeh did. So they invented a crime—no, strike that—they invented a sin: she must’ve been a slut. Rehtaeh was too drunk; dressed too provocatively; was asking for it. What happened to her could never happen to me. I’m careful.

I’m not a slut.

Like Rehtaeh.

If this teenage girl had been mugged in an alley, beaten, robbed, and left for dead, would any of this have happened? I think you’ll agree with me the answer is ‘no.’ Her friends would have rallied around her and the perpetrators soon would have been known and arrested.

Now we’re being told that the permissive nature of our culture is to blame for her assault.

Let me see if I have this right. Teenagers are too sexual and modern culture is to blame. We need to make teenagers less sexual; then there won’t be any gang rapes. That’ll work.

Worked last generation. And the one before.

These same people tell us that sexuality is a sacred thing. Having sex before marriage is immoral; it cheapens the act. They place a high value on virginity—of the female.

I don’t think I need to remind anyone that these are also the same people who think that non-reproductive sex is a bad idea; sex between people of the same gender is a bad idea; contraceptives are a bad idea; and abortion is murder.

Yeah, these are the people we should be getting our advice from.

When someone takes a moral stand on sexuality that involves calling it sacred, likely what they’re thinking is it’s dirty; shameful; sinful.

These people—and I don’t think I need to identify them explicitly (Christians, Muslims: True Believers all)—hate and fear human sexuality, especially the sexuality of women. Rehteah was blamed by her friends for being raped while she was drunk at a party because women are the cause of the evil of sexuality. Whether her friends framed it that way in their heads or not, that is what they were thinking because that is what we have been told by the ‘moral’ leaders of our culture for well over a thousand years, now.

We need to get rid of this notion of the sacredness of sexuality (to my Thelemic friends, I trust I don’t have to tell you that I’m using ‘sacred’ in a way very different from the way we use it). Virginity should be seen as a thing best got rid of—or better yet—an archaic notion that has no relevance to morality whatsoever.

Sex is an appetite no different than hunger for food. It should not be treated any differently than that.

You’re hungry? Grab a bite at a café, or a snack at the corner store. Raid the fridge, if you’re at home.

You’re horny? Call a friend and ask if he has twenty minutes for a shag. Or rub one out, if you’re in a hurry.

No fuss. No shame.

If there wasn’t something seen as shameful about human beings fucking each other when they had the urge to, this assault would be seen as an assault. Full stop.

This young woman would have been comforted and supported by her friends, the identities of the rapists would have been known to the police within hours, and Rehtaeh would be alive, the trauma (having been much less initially) would have been well behind her by now.

Sex is just sex.

The cause for shame lies exclusively with those who think it’s evil.

You know who you are.

Shame on you.

Gideon Jagged 
Toronto, April 2013 e.v.
Copyright © 2014 C.E., Gideon Jagged & Alchemy of the Word
All Rights Reserved

Posted in Essays, Social Justice and tagged , , , , , , , .

Author of Speculative & Erotic Fiction, Contrarian Essayist, Freethinker, Feminist, Free Expression Absolutist, Proud Child of the Enlightenment, Elf.