Woman holding sign at Slutwalk Chicago: My Short Skirt is Not An Invitation

A new study suggests slut shaming is used for class-based oppression, in addition to sexist oppression.

Tonight’s video is “The Silk Road: History’s First World Wide Web” from TED-Ed.

With modern technology, a global exchange of goods and ideas can happen at the click of a button. But what about 2,000 years ago? Shannon Harris Castelo unfolds the history of the 5,000-mile Silk Road, a network of multiple routes that used the common language of commerce to connect the world’s major settlements, thread by thread.

Lesson by Shannon Harris Castelo, animation by Steff Lee.

A common thread in modern feminist thought is to critique “slut-shaming” — devaluing women for their sexual choices, or the idea that they “deserve” assault or abuse for how they dress or act (this is the inspiration behind slut walks). Al Jazeera reports on a sociology study which suggests slut shaming is often a tool of class oppression, too.

Sociologists from the University of Michigan and the University of California at Merced occupied a dorm room in a large Midwestern university, regularly interacting with and interviewing 53 women about their attitudes on school, friends, partying and sexuality from the time they moved in as freshman and following up for the next five years.

The researchers discovered that definitions of ‘slutty’ behavior and the act of slut-shaming was largely determined along class lines rather than based on actual sexual behavior. What’s more, they found the more affluent women were able to engage in more sexual experimentation without being slut-shamed, while the less-affluent women were ridiculed as sluts for being ‘trashy’ or ‘not classy,’ even though they engaged in less sexual behavior.

‘Viewing women only as victims of men’s sexual dominance fails to hold women accountable for the roles they play in reproducing social inequalities,’ Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociology and organizational studies professor at the University of Michigan, said in a release. ‘By engaging in “slut-shaming” — the practice of maligning women for presumed sexual activity — women at the top create more space for their own sexual experimentation, at the cost of women at the bottom of social hierarchies.’

Armstrong and then-graduate student Laura Hamilton, who is now a sociology professor at the UC-Merced, used the findings from their five-year longitudinal study in their book Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality. The authors say they hope their study, which was published in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly, will shed light on the fact that slut-shaming is in fact a form of bullying.

Thanks to @bullhorngirl & @valenmck for this link.

Bonus: Too long to excerpt, linguist Gretchen McCulloch explains Why We Have Gendered Pronouns on The Toast.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and Occupy.com.