Friday, July 11, 2014

Society needs to stop ‘slut shaming’

It’s an old story: men who sleep around are called “players,” while women who do the same are sluts. Men who bed lots of women are admired for their sexual prowess. Women who sleep around are branded as whores.
Men get to “play the field” and “sow their wild oats,” but women are expected to stay virgins until they get married or they reap society’s scorn.
In the U.S., sexually active single women face criticism. In some Muslim countries, they face death.
In May, a pregnant Pakistani woman was beaten to death by her family because she married the man she loved instead of her cousin.
“The 25-year-old woman’s father, brother and spurned fiance were among about a dozen male relatives who used bricks and clubs in the so-called honor killing of Farzana Parveen for disobeying her family's wishes,” USA Today wrote. “She suffered massive head injuries and was pronounced dead at a hospital.”
Around 1,000 Pakistani women are killed every year by their families in honor killings, according to Pakistani rights group the Aurat Foundation, Reuters reported. But the actual figure might be much higher, the group says.
The U.S. isn’t as savage in its treatment of women as the Muslim world. But much of the country looks down on women who flaunt their sexuality.

Consider the case of Alyssa Funk. The 19-year-old college student committed suicide in April after being harassed online for her appearance in a porn video. (See articles by the Huffington Post, Radar Online, KMSP Fox 9, the Daily Mail and the Daily Dot.)
“Alyssa Funke did not have to take her own life. That was her choice,” writer Jacky St. James said on her blog. “However, I completely agree that bullying and harassment absolutely contributed to her choice. I don’t think people realize just how impactful their words are (whether it be online or in person).”
Funke likely was suffering from depression before the bullying, blogger Bree at Planet Bree wrote. A lot of girls in porn are struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, but don’t seek treatment because of the perceived stigma of having a chemical in-balance in the brain, she said. They should be encouraged to do so by people who care about them.
The media drew parallels with Duke University student Miriam Weeks, 18, who was outed as porn star Belle Knox by a male student earlier this year. Weeks was harassed about her porn performances as well, but chose to fight back. She noted that some of her harshest critics were men who watch porn. She said consumers of pornography are in no position to judge the people who perform in it. The Belle Knox case also lifted the curtain on how porn fans often try to invade the personal lives of adult actresses, the Huffington Post reported.
Porn actresses are entertainers, just of a different stripe. They’re also sex workers, along with nude models, strippers and prostitutes. They deserve to be treated with basic human dignity.
Some are able to break free of stereotypes on their own. For example, recently deceased poet and author Maya Angelou had stints as a prostitute and madam, AVN reported.

Photos of Alyssa Funke.


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