What sensible person of moral righteousness could deny the countless events of havoc and misfortune caused by the slut? The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra employed an irresistible charm to worm her way into the hearts of great men and subsequently, to dynastic rule. Throughout history, mankind (no, literally man-kind) has crumbled miserably at the feet of ruthless and manipulative vixens, causing entire empires to fall with the defiant sway of the hips. Recently also, the Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, attributed the tragic occurrences of natural disasters to the baneful temptresses of contemporary fashion, reasoning that “many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes.”
It seems that from the dawn of time (when Eve plucked that apple and doomed us all), women have been regarded as the perpetrators of much of the world’s problems. But let’s forget the men for a moment. Women love to hate other women. The catty obsession with naming Angelina Jolie as a ‘whore’ and ‘home wrecker’ demonstrates the social phenomenon of slut-shaming – the cheap and easy way for women to feel powerful. Tanenbaum (2000) explains, “if you feel threatened by the sexuality of a female rival, or even insecure or ashamed about your own sexual desires, all you have to do is call a girl a ‘slut’ and suddenly you’re the one who is ‘good’ and on top of the social pecking order.” The countless fan pages dedicated to promiscuous women on social networking site Facebook, displays this bizarre behaviour, with hundreds of thousands of women publicly subscribing to pages labelled, “I hate sluts,” “Relationships = a guy, a girl, and one slut that gets in the way,” and “You are a slut, get hit by a car.” Ironically, while many women consider sexual promiscuity to betray feminist values, the occupation of attacking one another within an oppressed group is a necessary component in keeping these groups oppressed. Women are encouraged, through internalised sexism, to distrust each other and fight for male approval. In this patriarchal society that defines a woman’s worth by her physical attractiveness and sexual availability, the ability for a woman to distinguish herself by other means is consequently thwarted. We learn from a young age that we must dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of “male approval,” which we feel translates into a form of power.
What, then, explains the popularity of crotchless underwear, hyper sexualised media and casual sex among women today? Although this phenomenon directly conflicts with slut-shaming, the motives appear to be the same: garnering male approval. With a culture that simultaneously glorifies both modesty and promiscuity, it’s no wonder that women begin to struggle with the internalisation of two opposing ideals. Perhaps this explains the popularity of one of my favourite Facebook fan pages, boasting over 790 000 supporters: “When sluts hate other sluts for being sluts.”