"Let s/he who is without fault cast the first stone."
--Jesus on "slut-shaming," John 8:7
Seed of Inspiration
Each Monday, we bring you some empowering music by a seedy woman to plant within and get your work week moving!
This Monday, I bring you a video from my former college all-female a cappella group, the Washington University Greenleafs! I was so blessed to come of age making music with this talented sisterhood of women, and I'll never forget what it felt like to sing my heart out on stage with some of my best friends.
Here, the Greenleafs are performing an arrangement of "Bang Bang" by Ariana Grande, which presents an alternative to the portrait of female sexuality that dominates our culture. The singer clearly does not feel shame about her body or sexuality. Instead of playing the traditional female role by being an object of male desire and pursuit, Grande turns the tables by singing and rapping about her desiring and pursuing.
Whether or not the strong lyrics and rapping are up your alley, the artist reminds us that a woman's sexuality is her choice. A feminist might choose to wear modest clothing and remain abstinent until marriage. A feminist might also choose, however, to wear tight clothing and live a polyamorous lifestyle. The foundation of feminism is not that we all agree what the right choices are, but that we agree that all women have the right to make their own choices.
Seed of Action
On March 26th, two teen-aged girls were barred from a United Airlines flight for wearing leggings. A third girl who was wearing gray leggings had to change before she was allowed to board the flight from Denver to Minneapolis. You can read the full story by clicking here. These young girls were sexualized, shamed, and disciplined for wearing clothing that is today commonplace.
"Slut-shaming" is a form of social stigma applied to[...] women and girls, who are perceived to violate traditional expectations for sexual behaviors. Some examples of circumstances wherein women are "slut-shamed" include violating dress code policies by dressing in perceived sexually provocative ways, requesting access to birth control, [breastfeeding in public], having premarital, casual, or promiscuous sex, engaging in prostitution, or when being victim blamed for being raped or otherwise sexually assaulted.
"Slut-shaming" is used by both women and men to punish women and girls for breaking society's accepted codes of female sexual conduct. Men, however, are often congratulated for the very same behaviors for which women are shamed, thus revealing a double-standard.
Women also must walk a tightrope; they are affirmed for presenting their sexuality just enough in to be perceived as "hot," but if they take it one step too far, then suddenly they receive the scarlet letter -- something that doesn't wash easily.
I confess that in my heart, I have often judged other women for wearing clothing I would have found too revealing or flashy to wear myself, only to find out later that the woman was intelligent, kindhearted, and down-to-earth. But feminists lift women up; we do not tear women down with shame, no matter how different they are or how different their choices are from our own. Here are some seeds to scatter to promote pride and security in women and girls when it comes to their sexuality:
- Commit to end the "slut-shaming" today, especially when young people can hear. Never tolerate women being shamed for the clothing she chooses, the number of partners she has had, or the other choices she may make, no matter how different they may be from your own. Perhaps even write up a contract for yourself -- or your students if you are an educator -- that you can keep in your journal, your wallet, or a special place.
- Time and time again, no abstinence-only-until-marriage program has been shown to help teens delay the initiation of sex or to protect themselves when they do initiate sex. Yet, the U.S. government has spent over one billion dollars supporting abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. These programs disproportionately harm women and girls as they end up bearing and caring for the unplanned children. Click here for info about state laws, and how to contact your elected officials today and advocate for "comprehensive sex education."
- Talk to your local school board and ask what kind of sex education they have in place and why.
- If you are part of a Christian or Unitarian congregation, you might investigate implementing the "Our Whole Lives" sexuality education curriculums for your congregation's children, teens, youth, and/or even adults. These excellent, progressive, and shame-free sex education courses help participants make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, health, and behavior in the context of their faith. (They are very inclusive of GLBT persons.)
- Click this link for an excellent list of both children's and adults' books that promote help families raise sexually healthy children. If you're a parent yourself, purchase or check out a title for your and your child today. If you're not a parent, purchase a title for someone else or for your local public or school library.
- Need to have "the talk" with your kid? Click here for help. The earlier you start, the easier it is.
- Do you struggle with shame in your intimate relationship? Therapy can help, especially if you think you might be struggling with past abuse, a sex addiction, or a pornography addiction or compulsion. If you just need a little boost in bedroom, however, you might try self-hypnosis with an audible download like this one. Or how about enrolling in a burlesque class? ;) You deserve love without shame.
You people amaze me! I'm over the moon when I hear about a seed landing on fertile soil. Keep us all updated on your seed scattering adventures by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, posting on our Facebook page, or using the social media tag @seedstoscatter.
If you make a donation as part of your march, I would love to know about it! You can donate and name Seeds to Scatter or you can email me about it at email@example.com. I've found out about some great organizations from you all this way!
If you haven't been able to scatter every day, don't give up! You're always welcome back on the march. We do what we can; we're just so glad you're here.
And above all, scatter with love.