#FastTailedGirls, Rashida Jones, And The Latest in the Slut-Shaming Debate

This week in feminist in-fighting: Are we slut-shaming too much? Not enough? Is the sexuality of girls and women being discussed correctly on Twitter? Which hashtag wore it better? WHO'S DOING IT WRONG? NPR got into the conversation yesterday with a segment called "Twitter Battle Over Sexy Stars."

The root of all this is ostensibly actress Rashida Jones, who in October tweeted “This week’s celeb news takeaway: she who comes closest to showing the actual inside of her vagina is most popular. #stopactinglikewhores." Some people thought the remark was slut-shaming, some thought it was poignant. Jones followed with an article in Glamour , explaining how Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna's body-baring ways are somehow less "healthy" performances of sexuality than those from the days of Madonna and Janet Jackson.

Then, earlier this month, Hood Feminism's Mikki Kendall and Jamie Nesbitt Golden started the hashtag #FastTailedGirls. "Fast-tailed girl is, at least in the African-American community, often used to refer to a girl who is theoretically sexually promiscuous," Kendall told NPR yesterday. Young girls are called fast-tailed "and what it really means is they are asking for it, they are seeking sex in an inappropriate way." With the hashtag, Kendall said she hopes to "blow up the idea that ... boys can do whatever they want but girls are dirty if they explore their sexuality."

As far as I can tell, #FastTailedGirls is only tangentially related to Jones' point about pop stars and their vaginas. Both concern perceptions about young women's sexuality. But Jones (and her critics) are talking specifically about young women in pop music/media; Kendall and Golden call out something more grounded in real-world interactions and specific largely to black communities. The "fast-tailed girls" phenomenon isn't just slut-shaming, it's a specific (and historically based) type of slut-shaming. It seems wrong to frame these two issues as counterpoints in the same argument, as NPR does.

And, more broadly, it seems wrong to frame differing viewpoints on women's sexuality, healthy expressions of it, and how we talk about as a "battle" that needs a victor. As Jezebel's Callie Beusman asked last week: "Just why do we need to come up with a coherent conclusion about the State of Sexuality anyway? What do we gain from summing up something so complicated and nuanced up in broad, easily digestible terms?" In other words: Bring on the hashtags! Discussing these issues is good. Seeing them as a fight to be won, not as much.