Unapologetic progressive. Fearless activist. Plucky liberal.

I find the most interesting articles thanks to Twitter. One I read recently was called “Slut-Shaming on the Playground,” and it was by a mother, Airial Clark, who was trying to deal with her 11-year-old son wanting to have his first kiss. He starts talking about a girl he knows who has kissed three people already, and Clark doesn’t like his attitude: “I’m concerned that you are judging someone for doing something that you yourself wish you were doing, and I’m also a little upset that you’re making this about her being a girl.”

They talk a little more, and Clark reaches the conclusion:

It would have been easy for me to  demonize this girl’s behavior in order to make him feel better and also to try to control his future sexual behavior. Slut-shaming is a time tested tool in our culture. We use it under the guises of keeping kids from doing some sexually inappropriate thing. But does that work? No. Does it cause a lot more harm than good? Yes. I don’t want to raise a hypocritical judgmental misogynist. Which means I have to have these conversations with him NOW, not when he’s 21 and in college.

I wanted to cheer Clark on for being an awesome parent, because this type of behavior does start young, and we need to nip it in the bud. I can remember when I was in fifth grade, one of my best friends called me a slut. For no reason. I definitely hadn’t been kissing any boys, but as Clark points out, even if I had, it wouldn’t make me a slut. But my friend knew even at that age that it was a insulting name to call a girl. It certainly hurt me enough that I remember it years and years later.

One of the many reasons slut-shaming should be avoided is because it’s so subjective. Who decides how many people a girl has to kiss — or have sex with — before she’s labeled a slut? Is it her enemies? Her peers? Society? Are two kisses too many? Five? 10? One, if the person she’s kissing has a jealous ex? What it boils down to is we should refrain from judging other people for their choices if all activity is consensual.

And we might like to pretend kids don’t know anything about sex and don’t need to, but that’s not true. Many kids have started puberty by 11 or 12 and we need to make sure they are learning about sex in a healthy way from their parents or trusted adults and not from outside influences — I highly doubt my friend heard her parents call anyone a slut. Comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education in schools is a good way to start. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Barbara Lee have introduced legislation that would repeal funding for abstinence-only programs, which study after study has shown doesn’t work. The bill probably won’t get very far, but it’s refreshing to see leaders in Congress take a proactive stance for once.

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Comments on: "The slut-shaming starts young these days" (1)

  1. Thanks for the link! Very refreshing.

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