Two nights ago, I hosted a discussion group where we talked about slut shaming. The evening was amazing as participants of all ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations talked about their experience being shamed. It was pretty incredible to hear everyone’s stories but it was heartbreaking at the same time- especially to hear all the negativity. We talked about recent events- more specifically, the whole Miley Cyrus twerking incident. A participant mentioned that the majority of negative responses about Ms. Cyrus were from women while her many of her supporters were men (NOTE: I’m not stating this as fact as Miley received negative and positive reactions from both genders. This is something I’m going to research. I’ll share that information with you readers as soon as I find creditable results). We talked about why women bashed other women- whatever happened to ‘Girl Power?’ Did it die out with 90s pop music and platformed-sneakers? We agreed that other women are simply jealous- with Miley, you see a beautiful young girl who has freedom- the freedom to be sexually-open and the freedom to express herself however she wants to. I understand what some of the backlash said- she is a role model for little girls; she is attention seeking; etc, etc… My thoughts on that is she can do whatever she wants. She seems like a smart girl who knows what she’s doing. She’s young, too- I look at my early twenties and at all the so-called mistakes and poor decisions I made. I’m not saying that Miley made a bad choice for her infamous dance moves. I’ve just been there. Who am I to judge someone when I’m far from being perfect myself?
Slut-shaming. Nah, how about just “shaming?” Judging is more like it. I see this most on the college campus. School started this week and people are eager to get an education- or at least, I think they are. I haven’t been in a classroom in about three years and I feel like things took a 180 from when I was in school (seriously- how hard is it to “pardon me” when bumping into someone or “thank you” as someone holds open a door for you?). One of the things I noticed on the first day of school is that every girl who walks by you looks you up and down. Walk to into the campus Starbucks and everyone’s head lifts up. I understand if these girls want to check out a hot outfit (I love clothes as much as the next girl) but I feel like these eyes are filled with judgment. I am being sized up and labeled simply based on the way I look. I understand this is the way society works- we put as so much emphasis on the way we wear out hair and the clothes we put on our backs- but I would think on a college campus that women would be smart enough to overlook appearances. We’re in college- shouldn’t we be more competitive with the grades we want to received rather than what purse we’re carrying?
I just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” (thanks for the amazing Christmas present, Bima and Dad!). Sheryl doesn’t address the Miley Cyrus twerk-off but she does mention something about women helping women. We should be encouraging each other, lifting each other up, helping each other accomplish our dreams (whether those dreams are to dance on stage at the VMAs or to be your state’s first minority female Senator). When we gossip about each other, stare at each other with judgment-filled eyes, or even laugh at one struggling (yes, I’m talking about you girls in my Spanish class on the first day of school), we aren’t only bringing ourselves down but we’re dragging the rest of womenhood down as well. While equality between men and women may never been truly seen in my lifetime, I hope that women would be able to rise up, hand in hand, to support each other- whether that support comes through achievements at work or school, relationships such marriages or one’s family, or even just through a goofy exploration time in their life. No judging. Not hating. Just kindness, acceptance and support. And that’s something to twerk about.