Slut Riot: Defining ourselves

Genese Jones at Slut Walk Las Vegas, 2011

Genese Jones at Slut Walk Las Vegas, 2011

We’ve been having some passionate discussions so far during this week of Slut Riot — here and through Facebook and twitter — ignited by posts from an Asian-American high schooler’s perspective to that of a sex worker. And I can practically guarantee that the fun is just starting! (PS: Have you submitted your photos and/or videos for the Big Slut Riot Contest? Details here.)

Today’s post comes from Genese Jones. Some readers may remember that I posted a picture of her carrying a great sign at the 2011 Slut Walk in Las Vegas. Now she’s back with a thought-provoking take on slut-shaming and how it correlates to her experience as a black woman and mother. Genese is a sexual violence prevention educator and advocate serving the Las Vegas community. She is also a widowed mother of two daughters.

Defining Ourselves By Genese Jones

While preparing to write this piece for Slut Riot week I considered what I could contribute. What could I possibly say to give voice to this issue called slut-shaming? As a woman I feel I must speak out seeing as the term is most often used as a derogatory description of a woman. As a mother of two daughters, I feel I don’t have the luxury of silence. The world I send my daughters into is largely male-dominated. I try to explain to them the different ways that women are held to different standards. Although I’m raising them to be individuals in control of their own emotions, actions and sexuality, there will always be those that judge.

No one wants to be labeled a slut. We know it to be a demeaning term to describe a sexually free, expressive or promiscuous woman. Most people think of the word and cringe. She is a woman whose sexuality is her weapon. She loads it, uses it, and often abuses it. We view this person as someone unclean, unchaste, immoral, misguided, desperate, whorish, a plaything… in essence, inferior. So, this word can carry a powerful punch when hurled as an insult. “Slut” has been used to shame, humiliate, and intimidate women into behaving in socially acceptable ways.

In today’s world what is acceptable? All one has to do is turn on the television to witness a barrage of images of scantily clad women, twerking videos, and hook-up fests. Celebrities have been made from sex tapes and the most popular female artists seem to be the ones wearing the least clothes. Yet, in our intimate social circles, these are slut-like ways. The very same behaviors condemned are glamorized in American media. In a culture full of slutty activity, just what is a slut anyway?

As a Black woman who grew up immersed in the hip hop generation, the word slut doesn’t carry the same sting as it may to some. Yet I wholeheartedly understand its damaging effects and the ways in which gender labeling has been used to justify social maltreatment, oppression, and even violence. In the world of hip hop culture, the words ho, bitch, hoochie, hood rat, chickenhead and the now often quoted term “ratchet” are heard often. It is nearly impossible to listen to mainstream hip hop without the above terms being thrown around as if they are synonymous with the word woman. The meanings for each are different, but yet they allude to one in the same, SLUT: A woman not to be respected and only good for one thing, her body. At times I can’t help but to think that I am the woman they are referring to. Hip Hop is most associated with Black culture; therefore they must be talking about Black women right?

Well, I am a Black woman, and I refuse to let that define me (or my daughters).

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3 thoughts on “Slut Riot: Defining ourselves

  1. Pingback: Slut Riot: On the intersection of shaming, rape culture, and patriarchy | The Sin City Siren

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