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Slut Shaming

The other night as I waited at the bar to be served, I noticed this girl was looking at me. No, not looking, growling. Not in an aggressive way, but more ‘you’re my pray’ kind of vibe. As though she was a lioness and I was the lamb. Keep in mind I am in a gay bar, so the odds of a heterosexual girl hitting on me were even lower than normal. She edged closer to me, grunting in a seductive, almost predatory kind of way (like a farm yard animal, or Serena Williams when she serves) and eventually reached my side, executed a flirty half-smile and said “Hey.”

I looked at her for a moment, my mind boggling, my brain stuttering trying to recall how you’re meant to act in social situations like this. But before I had a chance to answer, she looked me up and down as if she were taking biological field notes on a specimen she was studying and said: “Oh! You’re a guy!”

“You’re a guy?” Really, bitch? It is debatable at times and maybe in some dim lighting you could make that mistake, but come on, you were inches away from me. But yes, a tiny lesbian mistook me for a slightly less-tiny lesbian. I exude of all the masculinity of a butch queer. In the future I will rehash this tale to my grand-kids and friends fondly, telling them about this catastrophe I’ve decided to title ‘Lemon Drizzle.’

To try and distance myself from the humiliation I started looking around the room pretending I wasn’t mortified and trying to hide that my face was a sun-burnt shade of beetroot. As I was doing this a noticed a guy I follow on Twitter and Instagram. He was dancing with a couple of guys, just enjoying himself, but I noticed that a gaggle of other gays were giving him really dirty looks. This guy posts a lot of semi-nudes. You know, topless photos, underwear shots and so on. So it was clear that this was their topic of conversation. And it clicked: They were slut shaming him.

As someone that isn’t overtly shy about posting the odd picture that would be classed as slutty, I got pretty annoyed at this. I hate slut shaming. I hate anybody getting down on someone for doing something that makes them feel good. When I do it (post a photo) I’m not doing it to try and lure someone in, I do it to have my ego boosted. I have a lot of body confidence issues; I still struggle with the eating disorder I had years ago. So in the rare moments I am not repulsed by my body I want to show it off, because for years I couldn’t even look at it in the mirror let alone show it to the world.

A lot of people think slut-shaming only applies to girls; and true, it is an overt and social illustration of misogyny, but it’s not just a burden only feminists/woman have to bare. It isn’t gender specific. There’s a vast array of snide remarks made about both guys and girls for how they dress, the photos they post, the people they sleep with, particularly on the gay scene, and that is not right. Why should anyone be embarrassed about their real or extrapolated sexuality? Sex is sex. As long as it’s safe, legal and consensual then it really isn’t anyone’s business what that person gets up to.

People take risks and experiment with clothes, alcohol and drugs. They make mistakes, I’ve made mistakes; I still do. I was slut shamed last night because I danced with three different guys. I didn’t kiss them, nor was I hands on, but someone felt the need to comment on seemingly floozy behaviour.  Why is it that when someone sees any signs of incipient ‘sluttiness’ they automatically feel the need to comment? Please climb down from your moral high ground. Your comments are coming from a place of deeply blatant insecurity, not one of moral objection or ‘concern.’

The phrase ‘slut shaming’ is a subtle and powerful social tool. It can trigger years of knock on effects and also is the basis for many rumours about someone. “He/she sleeps about”, “He is probably riddled!” Just because you have a lot of sexual partners doesn’t meant you’re a petri dish of STI’s and STD’s. It doesn’t devalue you your moral character. It doesn’t mean anything other than you’re doing what makes you feel good. The only damage that emerges from this behaviour is done to your reputation and that isn’t the person’s fault, but rather the third-parties that can’t keep their opinions to themselves so partake in idle gossip.

I spent a large portion of my life feeling like an absolute mutant. There was a period where I looked like a drowned rat that had been booted through Topman. I got zero attention. I got no date offers, or compliments, but now it seems to be changing (a bit) for me. So we can’t I celebrate the fact I’m not longer considered a leper in the gay community?I’ll be honest, I’ve had a few one night stands this year. Each time I’ve been safe and only one time it ended badly. My point: I do this because it makes me feel good. Yes, it is a quick fix solution to the loneliness I feel and yes, I would prefer to have a boyfriend. The attention I got last night helped shield me from the realisation that I’m hurting over someone; but ultimately it doesn’t seem as though it’ll happen the now, so why can’t I enjoy myself whilst I’m young enough to do so? It’s widely known that the older you get the harder it is to find someone, for commitment or fun, so I sure as hell will enjoy myself whilst I can.

We live in a world full of double standards and contradictions. It hands out massively conflicting messages to boys and girls. Corporations can use your sexuality as a tool to make money and sell it, but you can’t use it on a night out to have fun or have your ego stroked? So, if you think that you are, in fact, a slut shamer, then do what Tiny Fey  says in Mean Girls and just ‘stop.’

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