Amber Rose, blonde with a buzz-cut, single mother, all in one entrepreneur and feminist icon, speaks about the term “slut” and says, “If I hang out with guys they always thought that I was having sex with them. So now I take the bullying, the derogatory labeling and I refer to myself as a slut.” Slut: (noun) \ˈslət \ a lewd, dissolute, or promiscuous woman. Otherwise known as a derogatory term for a woman who is sexually active. Slut, a four-letter word that is used to make women feel inferior. The term “slut” is thrown around carelessly and daily. Women and men alike chase the band wagon to let women know that a women’s sexual activity is somehow dirty and bad. But women, like Amber Rose, are taking back the name. Reappropriation is the next step for many women participating in the fight to end the misogynistic use of language.
Reappropriation is a relatively new concept is claiming a derogatory term so the term loses its rhetorical effect as a weapon. The word “slut” is used against women to make them feel guilty for expressing sexual desires and needs. When people do this, it can be referred to as “slut-shaming.” I’ve witnessed it, you’ve probably witnessed it, and so have your friends and family. It’s an epidemic!
Feminism is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” The simplest definition of feminism is truly just the idea of equality. If that is what feminism is, why is it controversial? Why do so many people find the idea of feminism inherently discriminatory? There are two main reasons that seem to stand out.
Many assume that the 21st century is a time where women are not discriminated against. That feminism has already done its job and is no longer necessary. Many do not consider what women face in America to be sexism.
Others find no issue with feminism, but with “radical feminism.” They don’t agree with man-hating and violence. Some still mention the notorious bra-burning that characterized second wave feminism as a descriptor of “radical feminism.”
To address the first issue, it is important to consider the treatment of women across the globe, not just in the United States. There are women suffering from extreme discrimination in all walks of life. For example, the World Health Organization conducted a study about violence against women that concluded that around 15% of women in Japan and a staggering 71% of women in Ethiopia reported some sort of violence by an intimate partner. They also found that worldwide, almost one third of women who have been in a relationship experienced either physical or sexual violence by their intimate partner. Women around the globe residing in countries such as India, Africa, Pakistan, and even some Eastern European Countries also experience discrimination in the form of honor killings, acid attacks, child marriage and forced prostitution. In 155 countries, it is still legal to discriminate based on sex, according to a recent World Bank survey. Within the US, violence such as mutilation and honor killings are less common, but women experience discrimination in many other ways. Women still are subjected to harassment, rape and pay discrimination.
Last year this video in which YouTuber Nikkie puts makeup on half of her face to show the power of makeup became viral. Nikkie originally created this video to show why she loves to wear makeup and why women shouldn’t be shamed for wearing makeup.
I loved this video and still do because anytime I tell someone how much time I spend doing my makeup every day, I always get comments like, “Why would you do that?” or “You look fine without it.” It’s irritating because I wear it for myself and not the opinions of others. I wear makeup because I enjoy applying it, finding my favorite products, and trying new beauty trends.
However, I also know that I feel terrible about myself when I don’t wear makeup and get told that I look tired. I have an immense amount of respect for women who regularly don’t wear makeup. When I go without makeup I’m constantly worried about the criticisms of other people whether they voice them or not. Take For example Alicia Keys is now going without makeup as a rejection of our society’s beauty standards. It’s a beautiful and empowering act of rebellion but with all the backlash she’s received, it’s not welcoming territory to wander into if you’re thinking about not wearing makeup.
I started becoming dependent on makeup around the age of 13 when I had severe acne. I now have a decent amount of scaring that I still prefer to cover up. Given that, I spend an average of 30 minutes every morning applying makeup and I still feel pretty dependent upon it. Realizing my dependence on external beauty, I took it upon myself to challenge my ideas about my own beauty and go one week without makeup.
At the top of a hill on the south side of Florence, Piazza Michelangelo is covered in cigarette butts and empty wine bottles rolled into corners. No matter its cracked pavement or endless uphill climb, tourists gather here, lean over the cement railing like they could almost touch the big, wide beauty of this orange-roofed city. Continue reading “On Beauty”→
Would you ever be willing to let strangers cut or shave your hair to support the message that beauty is more than a person’s external appearance? I’m not sure if I could. In this video from The Liberators International, co-founder Jae West does just that.
This video was particularly powerful to me simply because I realized that I, like many women, have a strong attachment to my hair. Most of my confidence comes from feeling beautiful and feminine and my hair is a huge part of that. I spend time washing, cutting, dying, straightening, drying, and curling my hair to make it look just right. As much as I hate to say it, if I didn’t have my hair, I don’t know how I would carry myself with the same confidence I have today. As much as I hate that my confidence comes from my external appearance, it should be acknowledged that for many women, hair is a form of expression.
Sex crimes are unique because they are extremely private yet prevalent. Every sexual assault is unique to the victim; yet so many women, and sometimes men, have had similar experiences. Falling victim to a sex crime is an experience that makes the victim feel ashamed of something that happened to their own body.
Media is often a mirror of our society. Ideally, it is a conscious platform for creators to express their concerns about what is going on in the world around us. Whether their material is motivated by concern over the status quo or something else, it’s no secret that the goal is to relate to the largest population possible in order to gain an audience. This often results in stereotypes and tropes about minorities being played out on screen.