Feminist Issues: Is modesty-shaming the new slut-shaming? What do you think?

If you are currently alive (I’m assuming you are, since you’re reading this) you’ve probably heard the phrase “slut-shaming.” It is defined as “the act of making any person feel guilty or inferior for certain sexual behaviors or desires that deviate from traditional or orthodox gender expectations.”

In an article by Jordan Ecarma posted on mic.com, Ecarma writes that “culture is a pendulum.” We are continuously swinging from one mindset to the other, never failing to skip right past the moderate middle-ground.

As twenty-somethings in this new millennium, we are some of the first to live in a time when race, class and gender have less effect on our lives than ever. We’re fighting against rape culture, slut-shaming and fighting for gender equality and equal rights.

“Ironically,” Ecarma continues, “the pressure to be more and more open with sexuality can actually be constraining for some who align with more traditional behavior – resulting in what I’m going to term ‘modesty-shaming.’” She goes on to reference celebrities such as Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and Zooey Deschanel, all of whom are known for their “clean-cut” and relatively modest images. And, while plenty of people have the utmost respect for this, there are many who are shaming them for portraying a more family-friendly image.

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“I don’t care about her personal choices,” says Jezebel’s Dodai Stewart, “but her image of being good and pure plays right into how much the patriarchy fetishes virginity, loves purity and celebrates women who know their place as delicate flowers.” She made this comment about Taylor Swift. And Zooey Deschanel, an activist for feminism, has long been lambasted for embracing her own femininity… as if a feminist can’t also be feminine.

I think Ecarma hits the nail on the head when she says “Modesty shaming is a serious problem; women didn’t fight for equality to be forced into another corner. If they have to choose to flaunt their sexuality, they have no choice at all.”

Our culture tends to think in extremes – black and white. Either you’re a feminist who embraces her sexuality and flaunts it or you’re a modest goody-goody who is destroying everything feminists are fighting for.

Where is the logic in that?

What progress are we making if we exclude the feminine, “modest” females from the feminist movement? Those very women – Swift, Gomez, Deschanel – can take a stand for equality just as much as Beyoncé can.

Ultimately, the feminist movement needs both women who flaunt their sexuality and women who don’t. We need diversity in the movement so that it touches the hearts of all kinds of women. And men! 

 

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Forcing people to act and dress a certain way in order to fight for equality is not encouraging equality at all. It shoves people like Deschanel into a corner and they end up having to fight against the very people they want to support. Feminism is about letting women be who they are whether that be a CEO or a stay-at-home mom, a professor or a truck driver. It’s about realizing that all these roles need to be filled and they can be filled by strong, independent women.

We need stay-at-home moms just as much as we need CEOs. We can admire Taylor Swift’s modesty just as much as we can admire Beyoncé’s sexuality. So why not fight for the freedom to choose without getting lambasted for the choices we make?