What is all this Slut and Victim Shaming? 

Last week, I was having a chat with a friend – just catching up on life and I brought up a certain observation I had made about Ghanaian radio stations and how somehow almost every advert on there was about sexual enhancing products. We both laughed about this especially about a malt drink advert that somehow suggests that drinking this malt drink will help improve one’s sexual performance. We laughed about this but I was perplexed about the unhealthy obsession with sex and the unrealistic expectations these adverts were portraying. As we talked about these things, he mentioned how these unhealthy sexual expectations play out in society with men being the main target of these adverts and women just being available for a man’s pleasure. He gave an example of how some men slut shame women they have been dating if these women voiced what they expected in the bedroom – see, the expectations should come from men only. I had to agree with him on that as I had heard on many occasions women being slut shamed for wearing something not accepted by their society or simply stating what they wanted in the bedroom.

Not too long ago Pakistan’s Prime Minister would publicly advise women to cover up to minimise temptation on men – so women don’t get raped! In this day and age, for anyone to make such a statement is very problematic and for this to come from the leader of a nation makes it more so! He faced backlash for making such a statement and rightly so – however, my concern are the people who hold such ideas and may never face any backlash and therefore force women who are violated or shamed for being themselves to not seek out help or tell their story. While Pakistan’s prime minister made his unfortunate statement, I was listening to a radio show where the mother of a murdered 24 year old woman was talking to the host of the show on how her daughter had died. The young lady had been killed by her husband – they had only been married for 6 months and during the short marriage, the young woman had run away from her marital home several times due to how much this man beat her.  When the hostess asked the mother of this murdered woman why she did not take her daughter back home or report this man to the police the last time he beat her daughter until she miscarried her three month pregnancy – this grieving mother had nothing to say because she had feared that her daughter would be shamed for not staying married.

Suddenly, everyone was blaming this unfortunate young woman for not leaving this abusive man – but my question was, what support was available for this young woman? Who was available to empower this young woman to walk away from this abusive marriage? And it was these same people, who enforce these toxic shame on unmarried/divorced women, that called into the show to ask why this woman did not leave her marriage. The host of the show proceeded to call out these behaviours in the society and at some point I could sense how emotional the host was when she addressed the dead girl’s family – for the host, she felt it was the fault of the family the poor girl was killed. Because of the shame associated to victims walking away from their abusers, this family sent their daughter back to her abuser time and time again until he killed her. As this played out on the radio show, I was so saddened for this young woman who at the time of her death, was pregnant again – and if not for the concern of her neighbour, her family would never have known that something bad had happened to her. However, throughout the conversation, the one question that got me angry was when someone asked what the girl was doing to incite her husband – at that point, I lost it!

As I discussed this issue with a friend, I reminded her of a notorious area in the city we grew up in – a girl must never under any circumstance wear any clothes that does not meet the standards of the men that trade in that area. I had seen many times girls harassed and even stripped because they were branded as indecent in what they were wearing. For years, I was afraid to go into this part of town – and the few times I did, I was always in school uniform to make sure I was never subjected to this foolishness. But I had seen it done to other girls enough to be afraid to walk through that part of town comfortably. My cousin Portia recounted an incident in a local public bus when a man threatened to suck on her breasts because she was showing cleavage and how she literally had to threaten this man and leave the bus at the next stop to catch a taxi instead. The sad part was, no one stood up for her and most of the women in the bus insulted her for being dressed indecently. I get it, she may have been indecent but that does that allow people to abuse her!

A few weeks ago, I was telling my friends on a zoom call about how I was almost raped on a date – they were shocked because this was something I never spoke about. As I recounted this incident to them, one of them sounded particularly shocked but my other friend would recount how she was slut shamed for having sex with someone she grew up with – because he went round and told everyone they knew. I sometimes get some male readers bashing me for always writing about women issues – and yes I do write about women issues because I can relate – I am a woman and some of these issues happen to women just for existing! What gives any one the right to label a girl a slut because she made her sexual preferences known? And why do people think they have the right to tell victims what they should have done to avoid being abused? I never in my life thought I would be in a situation where a date would try to rape me – I got lucky and walked away but it changed how I looked at certain situations and for years I was afraid to be alone with any man. I was fully covered on this date – and to think that if this man had succeeded in violating me, someone would have the audacity to tell me I should have dressed decently!

Years ago, I was in the car of an acquaintance from church – this was someone I admired greatly and he proceeded to tell me about a story that had broken out in the United States. Some sports person and a beauty queen had been dating and when the relationship ended, this guy came out to say that she had wanted sex and he wanted to wait till marriage because of his religion and that is all well and good for him – but how it was narrated slut shamed this young woman. So I asked why this man felt he needed to give a full interview on this and make the whole world think that he was some saint and she a slut – men do it all the time and I see no woman giving an interview on it! I did not get any tangible answer on this and I always looked at this person a little different – the issue is I could give countless stories of people being victim blamed and slut shamed. Because of this, people are afraid to tell their truths and suffer needlessly in silence.

People should be allowed to speak their truth without being judged or shamed – when I hear people say women should cover up so they do not get rapped, I always ask about young children that are violated? Were they provocative in their dressing too? Or perhaps we should not blame thieves and armed robbers – it is the fault of rich people who flaunt their wealth – right? Of course not! No one has the right to tell anyone how they should feel, especially victims of abuse/crime. I wanted someone to tell Pakistani’s prime minister that a certain good book clearly states that if a certain body part causes one to sin, then they should cut that part off their body! Perhaps, these men that can’t control their urges should blind themselves so they don’t see any temptation – people should learn to control their urges. I could go on and on about this – but one thing I can say is that we need to be each other’s keepers and speak out when people are being treated unjustly by being blamed or shamed for being victims or for their choices.

Thank you so much for always getting in touch – do continue to share your experiences so we can effect the change we need.

4 thoughts on “What is all this Slut and Victim Shaming? 

  1. Women are tired of having their bodies policed all the time, To think it’s 2021 and this is still rife even among the so called educated.
    In the past year the kind of social
    Media videos I have seen of men dancing seductively and it’s all
    Okay because they are men, women on the other hand do a silhouette challenge and they get called out
    I think what everyone does with their body is their choice and if it offends you just look away simple. Another annoying thing is where men decide that calling a women a slut is the worst insult, what does it say about that man who lays with her then?
    I’m hoping for a society where women are treated with respect and given the necessary support to function properly

    Liked by 1 person

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