The Effects of Slut Shaming on Teen Girls

Slut shaming is one of the fastest growing forms of cyberbullying

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” Hester wore the letter “A” on her chest for the world to see. It was a way for the community to shame her for her adultery. The new scarlet letter that teens are dealing with is much more permanent and much harder to handle. Their scarlet letter is in the form of “slut shaming” on the Internet.

“Slut shaming” is a form of cyberbullying where girls are targeted on social media and bullied through degradation or humiliation for their sexuality.

What this means is that girls are often ridiculed for the way they look, the way they dress and their presumed level of sexual activity.

Types of Slut Shaming

While the methods vary, bullies often utilize social media sites to share explicit photos and videos. For instance, bullies and mean girls may take photos of the girls they are targeting and post rude or sexually explicit comments about their bodies. They also might engage in name-calling and sexual bullying. Many times, these photos and videos are taken without the target’s knowledge.

Sometimes a student might create an image of another teen that brands her a slut or shames her body in some way. For instance, in one situation teens created a series of multi-pane images accompanied by captions and posted these to Instagram. One example included a picture of a girl with cleavage exposed and a caption that says: “Hey girls did you know that your boobs go inside your shirt?”

Additionally, some students across the country have created lists online such as “smut lists,” “slut lists” or as in the case of a 16-year-old Texas girl “2014 Klein Hoes.” Meanwhile, boys have been known to have sex with a girl and record the act on their phone without her knowledge. They then share these videos with friends or even online.

But what they often do not realize is that this form of sexual bullying is against the law. It also could result in child pornography charges.

Sexting also can lead to slut shaming. For instance, when a boy and girl are dating they might share images. Then, when they break up, the upset boyfriend shames the girlfriend by sharing her nude or partially images online. This type of activity also is against the law and could result in child pornography charges. In other instances, a girl might really like a boy and send him sexy images. He then responds by sharing them and shaming her.

Effects of Slut Shaming

For many people, the double standard is frustrating. Boys usually receive praise and adoration for proof of their sexual conquests while girls are branded as loose, easy, a slut, a skank or a whore.

As a result, girls are often left with a sense of deep humiliation, shame, embarrassment, worthlessness and pain. They also may resort to self-bullying and eating disorders to cope with pain. And many have body-image issues.

Even depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide are linked to slut shaming.

In fact, there are numerous reports of young girls who were sexually shamed that later took their own lives. These include Amanda Todd, Jesse Logan, Hope Witsell, Sarah Lynn Butler, Phoebe Prince, Felicia Garcia and more. Each girls was sexually shamed in some way, and in some cases for things they did not even do, leaving them feeling like suicide was their only option.

Parents can prevent slut shaming in their daughters’ lives by talking about the risks of sexting and sexual bullying. It’s also important to remind teens that regardless of how they feel about the sexual behaviors of others, slut shaming is unacceptable. And if a child is caught engaging in sexual bullying or slut shaming they need to be disciplined and learn how to take responsibility for their bullying choices.

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