Since I don’t like to watch the news because it depresses me, and I try to stay off of social media because it ends up wasting a lot of my time, one of my best friends brought to my attention the latest tragic tale of male rap artists degrading women as apart of their show of male bravado. Using the career choices or relationship choices of past or current partners as ammunition, completely unrelated to their personal talents or abilities. As if women’s bodies, and sexual histories are all women are made of.
For centuries men have had multiple wives, stepped out on their significant other, and entered into sexual relationships with women with no regard for their feelings and sometimes under false pretenses and no one bats an eye. The more sexual partners they have usually the more they’re admired and rewarded. Gaining notches on their belt because a challenge or a competition. When a woman decides to live her life with the thought process that she is well within her right to do whatever she wants with her body, she is then called names and a scarlet letter is placed upon her chest. They literally forced us to read a tale in high school about a woman who was shamed and force to wear the letter A on her chest for her perceived indiscretions. However, I don’t recall a tale being written about a man having to do the same.
Women have had to endure so much ridicule and judgement while making the same choices their male counterparts make several times over on a daily basis. Slut shaming or whatever you want to call it is nothing new. Men have been stoning women or burning them at the stake for the choices they’ve made with their bodies since the beginning of the human existence. Remember that dirty little harlot Eve who shamed the entire human race by eating an apple from the wrong tree? Women have been not only been perceived as the property of men but judged and convicted for exercising their choice to do what they want with their bodies.
Even if a woman has done no actual deed the pure perception of it can do irrevocable damage to her reputation. I have personally had people spread rumors about my sexual history and bully me relentlessly because I reported someone for assaulting me. Instead of making the focus about what the man did wrong, every relationship with the opposite sex I had, every man I interacted with, every move I made, every outfit I wore was dissected and analyzed to illustrate how my choices resulted in me to be assaulted. Even when the man is wrong in his interactions with women, we blame the woman for being weak, complacent, demanding, provocative, not knowing better, or whatever other judgment we place on her.
As a progressively thinking person, I hoped we had come far enough to respect each other’s choices. Instead I was reminded of how far we still need to go. Just a few days ago, while in Trinidad for Carnival, a woman who had frequently visited the island to celebrate was strangled to death while still in her costume. She was familiar with the tradition and was proud to come there, dress in full costume, and celebrate in the streets with everyone else. Instead of offering his condolences for the tragic end to the life of this beautiful, talented young woman, the mayor publicly shamed female visitors who flock to the island for their outfit choices and willingness to dance in the streets to the beat of the fast paced Caribbean music. Feminist groups called for his resignation but the fact that he publicly shared these sentiments in the year 2016, the fact that one would go on a public stage and share those thoughts is what’s really scary.
Just because a woman is proud of her figure and chooses revealing clothing doesn’t mean she’s inviting unwanted comments or touching. Everyone should feel safe enough to wear what they want, dance how they want, and live their lives the way they want without fear of assault, ridicule, or punishment. Whether you call someone a whore, slut, gold digger, bitch, THOT it doesn’t make her any less of a strong, confident, self aware woman. Just as if you call a rose by any other name, it doesn’t make it smell any less sweet. We all need to respect the fact that women are free to sleep with whoever they want, dress the way they want, build relationships the way they want, and move in the world the way they want as long as they are doing it in a way that makes them happy.