Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Slut Conversation - revisited!

Ok, folks, we've all had time to digest the conversation the other day on Facebook.

I want to thank the younger crowd, who dug in and talked this over after my dear cyber-daughter shared the post on her page.  We had some very good exchanges, and I learned a lot about how some folks view this issue.  Needless to say, it is controversial!

One thing that I learned is that the issue of - let's call it "gender-shaming" - doesn't only affect the fair sex (or men in different ways by "challenging" their sexuality in certain circumstances), but that there are completely different points of view brought to the table by people with different orientations.

I speak here of the LBGT and other communities.  Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Gay and Trans-gendered groups all have their unique issues, which I do not at all want to short-change by leaving them out of this conversation. Additionally, there are other groups not "recognized" by the main stream media such as Asexual, Cross-dressing, Polyamory and so forth, which, again, bring unique points of view, each their own.

So, please, if you happen to be part of one of those communities, feel free to step in, however anonymous you feel you must be, and say your piece.  I, for one, would be fascinated to hear from you - if we ever hope to make this society an egalitarian one or even a reasonable facsimile thereof, we will need to include you in this same conversation.

So, I think we need to start off on a different foot.  It seems that the best approach seems to be to eliminate the words for gender-shaming altogether.  To end the idea that there is a double standard for "decency", based on gender and gender identity, which is what we have when we use words like "slut" to describe a woman and words like "player" to describe a man.

The intent of using words like that for women is to express disgust, or some form of a negative value judgement on her sexual behavior, like the number and type of sexual encounters or partners they may have in a relatively short period, or their style of dress or public behavior as being overly provocative, whereas words for men involve some form of intrinsic approval and pride.

The particular standards for this are different based on a person's upbringing and background.  No surprise there.  Using words like "slut" only for women does seem to come from the patriarchal history of western civilization.  Shaming to keep the ladies in line!  (Yes, time to end that practice!)

So my question today, to continue the conversation, is this:

Since there seems to be some loose agreement that shaming people based on this idea is not a good thing (so making up a word for guys is not the solution), are there any reasons why there should be any kind of standard for socially "admonishing" someone whose behavior becomes so outrageous as to violate some community or social standard?  If there are, what should that standard be? Should we have one standard or is there room for differing standards - and what should they be?  Indeed, what would the meaning of the word "outrageous" be in this context?

Think about such things as:

Honesty vs. Dishonesty (in inter-personal relationships in general)
Privacy vs. Public Health (i.e., in disclosing multiple sexual relationships)
Short term vs. long term relationships
Historical Patriarchy vs. Egalitarianism and equality
"Traditional" sexual standards vs. "alternative" lifestyles

Bake in your own stuff here that you feel impacts the subject, and let's talk!

Ideally, the conversation should be here, on the blog.  Because the different audiences between my dear cyber-daughter and I are not all "friends" of each other or the two of us, it would be hard to "link up" on a single Facebook page.  Here, such privacy/security issues do not exist, and people who wish to be anonymous can be as unknown as they wish!

So if you wish to join in a conversation, please do so here!  Registration is NOT necessary... but make sure to identify yourself in some unique way so we can tell each other apart.



(Thanks to dear cyber-daughter SA for her significant contributions to this article!)

3 comments:

Susanne Ahrens said...

You are most welcome :)

Ash said...

I'll step into this one and get myself riddled with holes. When I lived in america, I thought that it was best to shed all these protocols, these requirements and ideals and labels and so on. Then I moved away and realized that stripping away that stuff is all BS. It is all a lie, yes, but let's think of things in a practical sense.

I now live in a very strict and narrow-minded (god how narrow-minded) society and it's 100 times better than America. So explain to me how that works???

I came to the land of structure which hates, and punishes people for being different or attempting to be different, yet these people take care of their community and their homes and their neighbors far better than americans do.

let me explain why, because breaking down all standards isn't the answer, including ones of tolerance and decency IS.

everything is about structure. hell, we wear clothes for a reason.

the word slut, I do not see this as a terrible word. sex is a very dangerous thing. if this was a world where STDs aren't mucking about, there are no unwanted pregnancies or kids without both parents, then fine, who cares how many men a woman sleeps with. but the truth is, there is a danger there and not only do you risk mucking up your life, you risk bringing an unwanted child into the mix. in the past the term 'love child' was a word of shame, as was 'bastard' etc. etc. now it's like, 'who cares'. that should not be a standard nor should we make it seem fine for kids to just 'happen' upon people as if they've just stepped into some bubblegum on the sidewalk. Don't tell people not to use the word, tell them to rise above its use and if they might fall into that category, then tell them to rise above its effects. but to tell people to not use it, a mechanism intended to keep a standard, that is unrealistic and perhaps even dangerous. yes, i said dangerous.

some people might believe in euthanizing, some might not. some believe it's alright to share their bodies freely, so do not, why can't they both be right. why can't people be taught to just find a common ground? do we need the liberals fighting the conservatives? or vice versa? nah.

instead of two sides ripping into each other for bragging rights, how about combining to make a new word.

leave slut where it is, and then introduce a new word, might I suggest the word, "sampler"

ok, that last part was tongue in cheek. :-p

Don Wharton said...

Ash has a modest point. We have two different sets of neural circuitry to articulate our moral instincts. The utilitarian measures the harm and benefit (utility) of given choices. This is analogous to the science based, critical thinking that is typical of liberals.

The other one is called deontic (meaning rule based). Jonathan Haidt did research on coservativism which I suggest maps to this deontic structure. The visible factors that are maximized with this structure are respect for authority, in-group/out-group distinction and purity. Purity is largley sexual purity but can extend to food choices and any type of ideological dogma.

To me this deontic mechanism is a result of the tribalism that was central to many millenium of human evolution. Yes members of a tribe will typically take care of their own. This caring is obviously a good thing. The bad part is the lack of critical thinking about the ethical good and the sometimes ferocious responses to out-groups and those deemed to be impure. Ideology dictated by authoritarian leaders can be accepted without question. The excessive punishments, unneeded warfare and authoritarian stupidity that result from this deontic mechanism are all negatives that detract from any net ethical good that comes from caring for members of the in-group.