Tanenbaum, L. 1999. Slut!: Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation.

Tanenbaum, Leora. 1999. Slut!: Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation.  New York: Seven Stories Press.

Slut-shaming as a wide array of activities – spreading rumors, graffiti, speculation of homosexuality – often due to evidence of some difference in social location (race, class, etc.) or as a means to correct cultural deviance.  Long-standing impacts that are very easy to establish.  “A girl’s sexual status is a metaphor for how well she fits into the American ideal of femininity. Boys who don’t conform to the masculine role are similarly judged on a phantom sexual scale…” (11).

Sexual double standards as rooted in age-old understandings about morality, property, inheritance, and boundary maintenance.  Slut-shaming as sometimes racialized and classed, creating discourse about sexual appetites and avarice, creating stigma and stronger defenses to sexual claims.  Most policing performed on girls by other girls, as a means of social control – policing those who are too different, or those that may outperform them somehow.  Slutting not just about sexual actions, but choice in sexual partners, means of (non)sexual dress, bodily (under)development, etc.

The Masculine Mystique (synonymous with hegemonic masculinity?) of Myriam Miedzian (1991) – “Many boys equate masculinity with aggression against girls and women, or against anything they associate as feminine (such as homosexuality). Being callous and dominating toward females is, in their view, proof that they are ‘real men’ and that they fit in with other boys. […] … if girls and women are equal to boys and men, then boys and men cannot be sufficiently masculine.  The masculine mystique masks a sense of vulnerability: Masculinity must continually be proven lest the ‘truth’- that a boy is not genuinely masculine – be revealed” (155).

Feminine appropriation of these words as powerful?  Or, as means to fit in with those considered powerful?

“Being a member of a clique, a cohesive social group, gives a teenager a certain power, a status, a value.  The more exclusive and elitist the group is, the more power it confers on its members. But all cliques are larger than the sum of their members. They endow their members with a smug sense of insularity that sets them apart from the ‘real world’ of parents and siblings and teachers. Members radiate a sense of belonging and security.  But being a part of a clique often exacts a heavy price: uniformity of thought and action.  The clique tends to flatten out idiosyncrasies and signs of individuality.  To be accepted into a clique, one generally has to minimize conflicts with other members. And too often the glue that bonds clique members to each other is the practice of making fun of outsiders” (185). Collapsing of personality traits into a singular assessment of femininity and sexual practice.

“Popularity requires conforming for the most part while making and publicizing an occasional distinction – being ‘your own person’, expanding the ground of conformity rather than crossing the boundary.  A girl who can’t make a distinction doesn’t have the social power to be popular. A girl who makes too many can’t fit in” (Thompson 1995)

CITES:

Miedzian, Myriam. 1991. Boys Will Be Boys: Breaking the Link Between Masculinity and Violence. New York: Anchor.

Thompson, Sharon. 1995. Going All the Way: Teenage Girls’ Tales of Sex, Romance, and Pregnancy. New York: Hill and Wang.

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