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On The “Sexual Double Standard” and Slut-Shaming December 9, 2012

Posted by FCM in feminisms, health, PIV, pop culture, rape.
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this will make sense in a minute hopefully?  i wanted to talk a bit about “slut shaming” and what has been framed as the “sexual double standard” since long before any of us was born — i think i first heard of it in the context of first-wave feminists who noticed that prostituted women were being singled out for oppressive state controls like mandatory screenings for venereal disease while male johns werent.  while i think the “double standard” concept was initially useful because it drew attention to a misogynistic phenomenon, so that we could isolate, identify and examine something that was really happening in real life, the concept itself is thinly (or not at all)-disguised equality-rhetoric isnt it?  it means that, assuming we are all the same, or “all things being equal” there should be one standard that applies universally.

the problem with identifying sex-based “double standards” however is that there are actual, meaningful sex-based differences between women and men — the “assuming we are all the same” part poses a problem for radical feminists, who understand that men do not equal women and women do not equal men.  for us, once we have identified the relevant issues as being reproductively-based, or having literally to do with “sex” (either biological sex or sexual intercourse, which implicates biological sex-based difference) an analysis based on the sexual double standard is a nonstarter.  radical feminists can and must do better, and our analyses do in fact shed meaningful light on issues affecting women as a sexual class, including social patriarchal structures and mechanisms which are designed by men to benefit themselves and support male power at womens expense.

in the case of the so-called sexual double standard of oppressive state controls being placed on prostituted women but not on male johns, the problem is not that its a double standard (which is an unhelpful liberal, rather than a feminist, concept), but that its actually a patriarchal reversal — policy and practice has assumed that prostituted women were largely infecting men, when the truth is that its the male johns who are infecting prostituted women, and not so much the other way around.

furthermore, a truth-based policy and practice would also have to acknowledge that, as a general matter, male johns are becoming infected themselves primarily through engaging in penetrative sex with other men (and intravenous drug use) — again, due to biological differences between women and men which make it relatively difficult for women to infect men with disease, as a general matter, men are not becoming infected by women, prostituted or not.  men are also known to engage in risky sexual and other behavior more than women are, which complicates the matter — what that “social” difference does not do, however, is make women more likely to infect men with sexually transmitted disease.  ruminate about “nature versus nurture” on that difference all you like, but for our purposes its largely irrelevant.

to clarify, whats “unfair” about the historical treatment of prostituted women is not that they are treated differently than men — the “double standard.”  no.  in reality, these policies and practices are “unfair” because they are objectively damaging to women and are misogynistic and patriarchal, designed to benefit men at womens expense (and in the case of the reversal, its an inversion of reality, to boot).

savvy?  now, for any of you who are still awake, i will attempt to draw a parallel between slut-shaming and the chest-burster scene from alien.

regarding “slut-shaming”.  slut-shaming, apparently, refers to the “sexual double standard” whereby women who engage in (primarily) intercourse with men are cast in a negative light, while males who engage in (primarily) intercourse with women arent.  yes?  so dismissing the equality-framework of the double-standard as inadequate on its face (we are talking about intercourse, where there are in fact meaningful sex-based differences between women and men) we must go deeper.  what is really going on here, when women who fuck men “consensually” are regarded as “more promiscuous, less intelligent, less mentally healthy, less competent, and more risky” than are the men they are fucking?

first, its obvious that this is a male-centric viewpoint — everything is, and will continue to be, unless and until women develop our own female-centric discourse, and create language and concepts and definitions that center female reality, and that address and communicate what *we* mean when we say what we say.  interestingly, when viewing the world through mens eyes, the reasoning behind “slut-shaming” instantly snaps into focus doesnt it?  to wit, considering that men know that intercourse is harmful to women, including the risks of disease and pregnancy; and understanding that female-specific reproductive harm is central and critical to male political and interpersonal power; and considering that intercourse-as-sex is therefore the very foundation of patriarchy itself — men tend to view women who “have sex” in a negative light because no sane, healthy, competent etc. person would voluntarily engage in it, considering the risks.  get it?

so sane person.  no human person.  no man.

you see, there is not a man in the entire world, if the risks of intercourse applied to men, who would ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER choose to engage in it for pleasures sake.  never, ever, ever, ever, ever would a man voluntarily place himself in harms way like that, and that includes the most submissive, masochistic and self-hating man.  NO man would EVER do this.  so if the question is, “why do men treat women who voluntarily engage in intercourse as if those women are retarded, damaged, or crazy?” the answer, im sorry to say, is “because thats what they think you are.”

historical note: nymphomania.  this is not abstract theorizing mkay.  men have long thought that women who desired intercourse with men were crazy, as in mentally ill.  because no sane person would voluntarily engage in it, considering the risks.  note that historically and today, this diagnosis applies only to women, although that history (and, uh, present) has been obscured of late with bullshit equality rhetoric: wiki now redirects to “hypersexuality” despite the female-specific context and connotations of nymphomania.

its not difficult to see how and in what context “slut shaming” makes perfect sense, actually.  note that *i* am not saying that women who voluntarily engage in intercourse are retarded, insane, or particularly damaged.  i know better, and that its more akin to making a deal with the devil, where men are the devil.

interestingly, and very much related, this is what men appear to think of pregnancy:  (remakes of) the chestbursting-alien scene from alien!  i couldnt find the real one, but these will do.

which is even more reason for men to think women are LITERALLY RETARDED, literally insane, to voluntarily place themselves at risk by having intercourse with men.  it also demonstrates what they think of people who are insane, when sane = man = human.  as in, no sane person.  no human person.  no man.  listening to men tell it, they seem to think pregnancy and aliens are very much related.

and while *i* accept that some women might desire pregnancy under some conditions, men seem to think that NO sane person would EVER voluntarily submit to it under ANY conditions, although they are assuming the continuation of patriarchy including patriarchal medicine and how it is deliberately used to support male power and to harm and damage pregnant, birthing and mothering women.  of course they are.

tl;dr.  slut shaming: its what men really think of women who voluntarily have sex with men, because men know that intercourse is damaging to women.  also,  the sexual “double standard” cannot be applied to radical analyses of policies and practices implicating “sex” and sex-based difference.  in the context of “slut shaming”, a double-standard analysis is unhelpful liberal equality-rhetoric, nothing more.

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Comments

1. MarySunshine - December 9, 2012

Delightful! :-D

Thank you.

2. bugbrennan - December 9, 2012

you need a share this icon for dumblr.

FCM - December 9, 2012

done! sorry, i thought there was one….

bugbrennan - December 10, 2012

Thanks. Also, great post.

FCM - December 10, 2012

meghan murphy is absolutely correct that this “slut shaming” business is really confusing. thats completely consistent with fun-fem campaigns in general — lots of outrage tempered with if-only-men-knew-how-hurtful-this-was undercurrent, but with no coherent political message. which is of course the entire point of fun-feminism (or why its tolerated as much as it is) although i dont think the fun fems know that. COHERENT POLITICAL MESSAGE. IT HAZ NONE.

link to MM within, and here:

http://feministcurrent.com/6845/its-not-slut-shaming-its-woman-hating/

FCM - December 10, 2012

also, this is still the best i can do WRT finding the original chestburster scene: “alien chestbuster (sic) with meows.” the meows are at the end.

3. GallusMag - December 10, 2012

HAHAHA the meows!

LOVE the horror theme.
Pretty much the entire horror genre is based upon female sexuality. From Nosferatu to Cat People to Rosemary’s Baby to Alien contemporaries Carrie and Dressed to Kill and Rabid (which cast porn survivor Marilyn Chambers as the lead to underline the point) etc etc etc. Ad nausea[um]. If anyone can name a single horror film whose theme does not revolve around female sexuality – please name it here. I would appreciate it. Thanks.

4. MarySunshine - December 10, 2012

Interesting thought, GallusMag. That has never occurred to me.

FCM - December 10, 2012

hi gallus :)

i agree that the horror genre is based on “female sexuality” and i have seen that observation made before. theres prob some good reading out there on the subject if anyone wants to google. for example, the “changes” female vampires go through when they are changed mirror puberty exactly — changes in skin and hair texture and the appearance of a lunar cycle, blood etc. even my very unfeminist mom noted that she thought “the exorcist” was an exaggeration of the changes the girls body was going through at puberty — blew my mind it did. i was about 12 at the time.

i would only add that since men do not know what “female sexuality” is because they conflate it with being a PIV-receptacle for men, that this genre is actually based on “patriarchal female sexuality” and womens role as fuckholes and breeders — which men find horrific and alien, since they themselves would NEVER EVER EVER engage in it, if the risks of PIV applied to them. men make it very obvious that they KNOW that PIV is a hateful act that others female bodies and this is made very literal in horror where “sexualized” (patriarchal) women are OTHERED to the point of being monsters, vampires, possessed by demons, and when impregnation is made horrific too. or the ultimate “slut shaming” where (patriarchally) sexually-active women are tortured and killed. men know what “sex” is and what it means politically and interpersonally. the only way they can make any sense of our perceived willingness to engage in any of it is that we are not “like them” and that we are, in fact, not human at all. they really think this, and worse, they FEEL it at a deep level and it informs policy and practice, and male thought about women. in fact, when men postulate that sexuality and motherhood are “good” for women, its a flat-out reversal — they know the opposite is true, and deliberately spin it for political reasons. women hear these patriarchal reversals and it might jive with their experience SOMEWHAT — like that they get pleasure from pregnancy and motherhood, or that “sex” does something positive for them — but this is based in the background and our SUBJECTIVE experience as women (or making lemonade from patriarchal lemons). men are not aware of the background so they cannot be referring to this when they say what they say, and in the foreground, sex and pregnancy for women are not meant to be and are not in fact pleasurable for women at all. they are meant to harm and kill us. i might write about that someday — its partially a language problem. we arent on the same page, at all.

5. Feuerwerferin - December 11, 2012

I think that men also know that they can violate a woman that they are with at any point and she can’t do anything about it. Punishement for rape is unlikely. Thus they probably also think that a woman who is willing to risk this just in order to get PIV (which is on top of that devastating in itself), must be crazy. For a man to be violated by a woman on the other hand – it’s quite unlikely.

FCM - December 11, 2012

indeed. since men know what men are and what men do and what men are capable of, surely it is evidence of our inhuman/alien status that we continue to voluntarily have anything to do with them. it would likely make more sense to them if we killed them for any or no obvious transgression, and the fact that we dont is more reason for them to treat us even worse than they already do — perhaps this explains why things are getting worse over time? because we cannot possibly be human, to put up with any of it. they sure as hell wouldnt.

6. SheilaG - December 11, 2012

It is undeniable that men display all kinds of coded and not so coded hatred for women in public settings. I see this all the time at business meetings, and I watch as the women in the room just sit in silence taking it.
When I take those men on, as I often do, I do it mostly alone. The het women sit and sit and sit, and I’ve never once witnessed them getting outraged even in private afterward. So a lot of women just pretend to tune out the male hatred, the woman hating “jokes” and then men have even more contempt. With me, they have been brutally punished, they know I have an irish temper, and mostly they just stay away from me.

Men are always amazed that women haven’t risen up to destroy them, and only rarely does something happen like the mother who poured gas on her daughter’s rapist, and even the judge let the mother off knowing that it was just cause. So when women do rise up, men do back off, and it is as if the judges of the world are actually waiting for women to finally DO SOMETHING! Take karate, stop associating with men, stop riding in cars with them, stop sitting in silence when you could speak up now and then.

And my old favorite — say NO to MEN for a week, or an entire day. Every time a man asks for something, just say NO firmly with no other words, and rrepeat as often as necessary. Man: “Pass the salt” — Woman: “NO”
Get used to saying NO as much as you possibly can, and build up verbal muscles gradually. Remember, men do not regard you as human, have contempt for you and think of raping and pornifying you — and you want to date them? Go figure.

7. SheilaG - December 11, 2012

P.S. Remember MEN HATE YOU. They are always thinking of raping and exploiting you in some way. MEN HATE WOMEN and believe women to be subhuman. MEN HATE YOU! You have nothing to lose by NOT BEING NICE TO THEM! They hate you, so you have nothing to lose. Remember that always every time you see a man, say to yourself “HE HATES ME, and I don’t give a damn whether he lives or dies.

FCM - December 11, 2012

i think it would be easier to realize this “hatred” or “woman-hating” and see it for what it is if we called it something else — like bananas — and then reduced it to its elements. “hatred” is completely inadequate really, and its partially a language problem — there are no words to express what men do to women every day under an oppressive and totalitarian (meaning the controls are both public and private) patriarchal regime.

in the context of patriarchy and oppressive state, public and private controls placed on women by men, “hate” is a verb. hate is any action, policy or practice by men that others women or pathologizes our female biology — and PIV is at the top of the list. hatred is men acting as if men matter more than women do — and forcing women to act as if men matter more too or else.

saying “men hate you” doesnt settle in for many women, i dont think, who cant imagine men feeling or admitting to feeling towards us and all women what we know as hatred. especially when WE love so many of them, and when fucking is called “making love” ffs. many men wont admit to feeling hatred for women, but those same men “other” women constantly, including by sticking their dicks into women. i dont give a flying fuck about mens FEELINGS, i care about their actions, policy and practices towards women, and men other us constantly. that is hatred, people. its objectively measureable, and its the only kind that matters. love is a verb too, and women perform the elephants share of loving — caretaking, nurturing, building up of each other, and of men and children too — globally and across time. not men. and we perform this “loving” regardless of our precious fee fees about any of it. many women hate men in the FEELING sense, sure, and the men deserve every bit of our hatred and more for what they do to us. but as a general matter, we continue to nurture them and build them up anyway, and very notably we NEVER give them what they objectively deserve from us, which wouldnt be very “nice” at all. and men have the unmitigated goddamn gall to accuse WOMEN of hating men. as if.

8. sargassosea1 - December 12, 2012

“And my old favorite — say NO to MEN for a week, or an entire day.”

This is where it really, really starts. I’d add to that, this: and send it out from your gut through your eyes – lock eyes. They WILL back down.

Indeed. And practice makes perfect, as they say :P

FCM - December 12, 2012

hi s4! :) thanks for reading.

FCM - December 12, 2012

also, it is so true that there is much “coded” language and behavior out there that most women are not even aware of. the “bro code” is not just a code of conduct but an entire coded language including nonverbal cues that men only speak to and with each other, and its purpose and intent is the blackest most virulent misogyny imaginable, and then some. women need to finally get this and to FEEL it at a deep level (if they dont already). we live in the background somewhat and find our pleasure there, but men do not live there with us.

9. DavinaSquirrel - December 12, 2012

I think there are a couple of things mixed in together here. True, that early feminists first identified the (sexual) “double standard” which was a good way to show part of the problem (the results part). And true that it has been primarily men calling females ‘nymphos’ and ‘sluts’ for a very long time – and this is generally based on a reversal as we know (as in, men are the real sluts). But, the term slut-shaming was invented by the fun-fems as a silencing technique aimed at pornstitution-critical feminists, particularly radfems. And the charge of slut-shaming is a reversal, because we are not the ones actually ‘shaming’ prostituted women (it is men who continue to do that). It does make sense that fun-fems would come up with a false accusation based on a reversal, they are actively trying to support patriarchy in many of its forms, and patriarchy is mostly built upon a lot of reversals (or distortions) of the truth. I prefer to call it Advanced Handmaidening when they adopt the same male supremacy tools to silence the women who do resist patriarchy.

The cheat-sheet, if someone wants to progress their feminist understanding, is “look for the reversal”. Once I understood the reversals, my feminist understanding just leapt ahead. Then when you have a grasp on the basic reversals, it helps you understand some that are part-truths (or encoded truths), and the more complex inter-related patriarchical concepts – like: piv is dangerous for women, women must be crazy to do it voluntarily and recreationally (truth) > women must therefore be crazy (largely a reversal) > therefore we hate women for submitting to what we demand of them (a no-win situation set up by males themselves; a distortion).

Generally, most women cannot really face the truth of how much men as a group (and individually) hate females. Certainly, if you investigate things like the symbolism in marriage rituals, you can never again be ‘happy’ for the bride, just horrified that another woman has been sacrificed.

And now, I probably cannot look at gummy bears in the same way, ever again.

FCM - December 12, 2012

But, the term slut-shaming was invented by the fun-fems as a silencing technique aimed at pornstitution-critical feminists, particularly radfems.

oh excellent point dave! is this history true? if so, then the funfems themselves dont even seem cognizant of their own history, bc they expressly stated (didnt they?) that “slutwalk” was against the “slutshaming” doled out by one canadian cop that one time, yes? i agree that obviously they use it against radfems too, absolutely. they go on and on about it in fact, with fingers planted firmly in ears.

there is a phenomenon though by which men actively disparage and denigrate patriarchally-sexualized women who engage in intercourse with men — this has long been the case. a commenter over at MM’s asked about this very real phenomenon and tried to get a discussion going about that, but it was rather stunted by the answer that well, its all just woman-hating. which it is, everything is, so that doesnt really help or further understanding of it (except at the most basic level, which is “men hate you all the time” and we are all soaking in it). the point was made that even virgins are called sluts by men, women who dress sluttily are called sluts (but what they wear isnt indicative of whether theyve had sex or not — so which is it, sex or clothing?) so the conclusion was that well, this slut-talk is confusing, which it is. i have tried to ease some of the confusion here, and its not something anyone is going to be able to put together unless they admit that PIV is harmful to women — and that is that men look at patriarchally-sexualized women as if they are subhuman because we seem to actively seek out harm, or at least dont fight back against it, WHICH HUMAN BEINGS DO NOT DO. its freaky, its crazy to them, considering their worldview as human beings who would NEVER actively seek out harm — even nailing their forsekins to a breadboard is NOTHING compared to the horror of the alien-chestburster, and that is what they see women placing ourselves at risk for all the time.

and their views about pregnancy are a related but somewhat separate issue. OBJECTIVELY looking at pregnancy, as people who will never experience it and cant experience it, this is what pregnancy is to men — literally a violent, bloody horror show. women who desire it and have done it might report otherwise, but crazy freaks have no credibility and arent listened to anyway. plus men ACTIVELY try to make pregnancy as horrific for women as possible by medicalizing it and through strict social controls on pregnant, nursing and mothering women who are dehumanized (made as not-like men as possible) even more. all of this is deliberate, and men know and are trying very very hard to make this as OBJECTIVELY damaging as possible. and some of us still report that its not that bad, or we do it multiple times or whatever, for various reasons. none of which make any OBJECTIVE (to men) sense at all. ergo, we must be crazy and not-human. otherwise it just doesnt make any sense at all.

FCM - December 12, 2012

also, yes i think that mary dalys identification of the “patriarchal reversal” was one of those giant-leaps forward in thought that happens sometimes — many people have said that that is what the concept was for them, and what it did for their own thinking and worldview. things start falling into place after that dont they? its an excellent tool.

more here:

http://radfemimages.wordpress.com/the-gears/

10. DavinaSquirrel - December 12, 2012

is this history true? if so, then the funfems themselves dont even seem cognizant of their own history, bc they expressly stated (didnt they?) that “slutwalk” was against the “slutshaming” doled out by one canadian cop that one time, yes?

As far as I know, the fun-fems (sex-pozzers) invented the term, and that was going back five or six years at least, long before Slutwalk ever appeared on the horizon.

I remember being confronted by (rather, accused of) it online many years ago, and it was confusing because it was so obviously false, on a number of fronts, that we were not the ones ‘shaming’, and men were, and always were, the ones doing all the ‘shaming’.

It is the misdirected blame lobbed at the ones actually trying to stop women being ‘shamed’ – and so it is always going to be ineffective (to stop ‘slut shaming’) if you accuse the wrong people of it. But also it shows the mental gymnastics in the brains of the fun-fems, who are basically ‘just following orders’ by being sexually available to men, then getting upset they are called ‘sluts’ for doing what they are told to do. So, in their male-indentifiedness, they can’t blame menz – they have to blame the party-pooping radfems.

As for Slutwalk, again, they really had to do mental gymnastics to come up with their theme, which was to ‘dress slutty, and be proud of it’. Sure, the whole thing was triggered by a cop telling students not to ‘dress slutty’ to avoid rape – but it does nothing to eradicate the practise of ‘slut shaming’ when they were not blaming men for calling them sluts, only dressing in the so-called empowerful ways of ‘a slut’, and hoping that their fashion statements would somehow stop rape, and stop the ‘slut shaming’. Their brains do indeed go explodey because they are just doing what males expect of them (to dress in a sexually available manner, and to also be sexually available) but still being called meanie names like ‘slut’, so hey, part of the plan was to ‘reclaim slut’ and by a feat of magical thinking, problem solved.

It actually does my head in, to even follow the ‘logic’ of fun-fems, because it is full of misdirection – kind of a really confused version of ‘reversals’ used by patriarchy.

I will make it easy for any recovering fun-fems – patriarchy sets everything up so that it is a no-win situation for women. Does not matter what you do, or don’t do, if you are female, you will be deemed to be doing it wrong. And ffs, stop blaming radfems for your woes…

11. SheilaG - December 12, 2012

…”eyes – lock eyes. They WILL back down. ” Good point SaragassoSea– this works too!

FCM - December 12, 2012

fyi this post is on FIRE…in some subreddit ive never heard of before. anyone want to check it out (and maybe report back?) try not to have too much fun!

http://www.reddit.com/r/TumblrInAction

FCM - December 12, 2012

and yes i know comments here are closed. :) THATS how much i want to know about it.


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