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It's Time We All Stop The Slut-Shaming Already

The only person who gets hurt in slut-shaming is you, TBH.
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We've all done it. We've done it to Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and to so much more. We've looked at that girl in the low-cut bodycon and thought, "Slut!" and viciously gossiped about her with other girls. We've called women we don't know "bitches" and "skanks," just because they put on too much makeup or wear really short skirts. We've blamed the "slutty-looking" girl when your boyfriends cheat on us.

You'd think it'd be men at the forefront of slut-shaming, but as one guy aptly put it, "Why would we hate a woman who looks like she's in for a good time when it works to our advantage?"

So why do women humiliate other women who express their sexuality? Why do we care how she dresses, or if she's promiscuous? What's it to us if she likes pekpek shorts and sky-high heels?

From direct name-calling to indirect passive-aggressive behavior like blatantly ignoring "sluts" and making sure they don't enter our sacred circles, women are more than eager to cast the first stone.

In a McMaster University study, two groups of women were tested for reactions to perceived sexual competition. A thin, attractive blonde in conservative attire met the first group (where she barely made a ripple); then the second group, but this time wearing sexy clothes (she caused an uproar, with one woman snidely saying, "She's dressed to have sex with the professor.").


Also not surprising? The women were found to be more likely to want to be friends with the conservatively-dressed woman and introduce her to their boyfriends. The study also showed that the women's reactions had less to do with their trust in their boyfriends, but everything to do with their suspicion of the other woman perceived to be sexual competition.

But what are we actually competing against each other for? Women see other women as competition for things they perceive to have limited access to. Women who use sex appeal and sex as an unfair advantage to negotiate and get ahead are met with hostility and disdain.

In the Stone Age, women needed men for protection from wild animals and to provide for their basic needs (i.e., hunt for food). Eventually, competition for male attention was driven by marriage as the prime goal for women, her only access to financial stability and a form of emotional security. Today, women are still clawing each other's eyes out, but this time, over who has the better job, the hotter boyfriend, the man who can offer not just a life but a lifestyle.

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But are we at war with other women or really just at war with ourselves? Is the sexually aggressive woman and what she stands for (power, control, and ambition) something we actually wish we could have? Or does her reflection bounce off our own perceived inadequacies and deep-seated insecurities?

We women are constantly fighting to be recognized for our capabilities and talents instead of being classified, limited, and labeled by how we look and dress. That is a battle that is best fought with empathy and open-mindedness, and one that will be won when we stop judging other women and slut-shaming them.

This story originally appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine, April 2014. 

* Minor edits have been made by Cosmo.ph editors