Eliminate labels to show respect

Wisdom can be found in “Mean Girls,” one of the most quotable movies of all time, when Tina Fey’s character tells her students: “You all have got to stop calling each other sl*ts and wh*res. It just makes it OK for guys to call you sl*ts and wh*res.”

A few years ago, hearing the word “sl*t” used to make me cringe; it was such a harsh and derogatory term. Today, I have become totally desensitized to it and even hear girls use it a term of affection (“Hey, sl*t”/ “How’s it going, sl*t?”).

This transition from using the word “sl*t” as an insult to using it as a term of affection can hardly be called progress toward gender equality.

In its original meaning, “sl*t” is used to represent someone who either dresses provocatively or engages in promiscuous sexual activity with the opposite sex. The problem is that the word occasionally refers to a sexually promiscuous female, not a male.

No matter how many gender equality bumper stickers fill up Pinterest or feminist blogs exist on the Internet, we still cannot rid ourselves of the age-old sexual double standard. Men with many sexual partners are revered; women with the same number of sexual partners are demeaned.

In a 2001 study of the English language, 200 words were identified to describe a sexually promiscuous woman, while only 20 words were identified to describe a sexually promiscuous man.

A dangerous side effect of the sexual double standard is the act of sl*t shaming, which is the shaming of women who have multiple sexual partners. Aside from the fact that this rarely happens to men, it is important to point out that women are responsible for the majority of the sl*t shaming that occurs, especially on college campuses.

We women constantly seek gender equality, yet we set ourselves up for failure by putting down our own sisters.

Perhaps the most dangerous result of sl*t shaming is the propagation of rape culture in our country. Calling out women who dress in a certain style is another way to perpetuate victim-blame after sexual assault.

All too often, perpetrators claim that their victims were “asking for it” because of how they dressed. This is, of course, absolutely absurd. No one ever asks to be raped. Ever.

Recently, sl*t shaming and rape culture have attracted significant attention from the media. The students of Florida International University consider sl*t shaming to be a big enough issue on their campus, that they will be holding a Slut Walk on April 3 to change attitudes about women and sexual assaults.

Words like “sl*t” and “wh*re” seem harmless – after all, the person getting called those names usually doesn’t know she’s getting called them – but the issue at hand can be solved by breaking old habits and improving campus culture.

If we could completely eradicate labels like these from our vocabulary, we might finally eliminate the rape culture and instead spread respect.

Nayna Shah is a freshman majoring in music composition.

March 30, 2014


Nayna Shah

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

He’s all grown up. Yet University of Miami defensive end Scott Patchan is only 20. Two reconstructiv ...

Michael Rumph, former Cane cornerback and current cornerbacks coach, has mentioned, along with every ...

N’Kosi Perry, definitely on the quiet side, met the media for the first time on Monday. He’s the Mia ...

On a day in which University of Miami football coach Mark Richt said veteran quarterbacks Malik Rosi ...

Week three of fall camp began today, and the first practice after Saturday’s first scrimmage of camp ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

Former University of Miami Dean of Students William W. ‘Bill’ Sandler, Jr. passed away on August 6 a ...

Researchers use a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar to show an in ...

UM’s First Star Academy supports foster care youth. ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.