I do, obviously. And can I just point out that this is the second time I've blogged two days in a row, which is crazy. Anyway, slut shaming. Good stuff, right? Over the past few days I've been watching the responses to this lovely bit of advice to teenage girls.
I think there's a good message in there somewhere (underneath all the slut-shaming). It is important to recognize that in a digital age, we can very quickly lose control of our audience. We need to know that. I think it's an important thing to talk to young people (not just girls) about. It all comes back to audience and purpose (says the English teacher).
Who do you want looking at you in your underwear and why?
Is it feasible to just go to their house?
If you feel like you would be uncomfortable approaching them in person and asking if perhaps they'd like to see you in your underwear, maybe we should talk about how you don't seem quite ready to exercise your sexual agency in this particular way.
(Note how my advice in no way implies that there's a problem with wanting to be seen in your underwear, nor does it imply that anyone who has once seen you in your underwear is under no further obligation to treat you as a person.)
It's interesting that we live in a culture that sexualizes young people (particularly girls) at an age when they are incapable of agency. A few months ago, I was sitting through a “dance” performance in which prepubescent girls gyrated suggestively in sparkly bras and very little else. I remember picking up my phone and texting Jen something along the lines of "I am watching the propagation of rape culture right now." (Who guessed I was going to bring this back to rape culture?)
What was uncomfortable about this performance wasn’t the fact that the behavior in itself is problematic, but that we’re demanding the behavior from people who are unable to exercise the power behind it. We live in a culture that sexualizes little girls, but we don’t teach them that they have control of their sexuality.
And as they reach an age when they might begin to actually exercise some sexual power, we tell them how dirty they are for doing it. We dress our eight year olds in hyper-sexualized Halloween costumes and then criticize college-aged girls who dress suggestively and drink a lot (but it's okay, because out of the corners of our mouths we once in a while also say to boys "hey, don't rape her even though she's mostly asking for it," so rape culture is totally not our fault.)
Sex is dangerous and scary and tough as hell to figure out. Sex is about competition and status and reward. It's about power.
Maybe we should talk about that. When we insist that women in this culture dress and behave in a sexualized way and yet simultaneously disempower them through slut-shaming, this is when we turn them into sexual objects rather than sexual beings.
That seems like a bigger, scarier, more complicated subject though, so maybe we should just stick to blaming it on adolescent and teen girls and their dangerous, suggestive bodies. That's way easier, isn't it?