5 Subtle Ways You Might Be Slut-Shaming Other Women

All too often, we often slut-shame ourselves for daring to enjoy our sexuality, or society slut-shames us from girlhood and beyond. But while those forms of slut-shaming are painful and completely uncalled for, it seems to me that one of the saddest ways slut-shaming stays alive and well in our culture is when women slut-shame other women. Unfortunately, slut-shaming is so common in our culture that we sometimes don't even realize when we're the ones doing the slut-shaming.

I know I've been guilty of slut-shaming other women without even knowing what I was doing, and I'm not proud of that. Unintentional slut-shaming is easier to do than you probably think it is. In fact, you might be guilty of slut-shaming, too.

If you've ever caught yourself mentally or verbally judging a woman for her outfit, her language, her promiscuity, her flirty personality, or anything else relating to her sexuality or "sense of propriety," then you might have been slut-shaming her without meaning to. Hey, none of us are perfect, and all of us are constantly growing as human beings. So, don't beat yourself up, but do make an effort to avoid slut-shaming women in the following five ways. Because if we don't stop slut-shaming each other, society isn't going to stop slut-shaming us, either.

Here are five subtle ways you might be slut-shaming.

1. Judging Women For Dressing "Tacky"

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If you've ever seen a woman and thought, "that's way too tight/sexy/low-cut/tacky/slutty," then you were slut-shaming her — even if you didn't say a word.

I love wearing revealing clothing sometimes, and I enjoy seeing sexy clothes on other women, too. But I'll be the first to admit that, in the past, I've seen women in revealing clothes or really tight outfits and immediately thought, "she shouldn't be wearing that" or "I'd never wear that." I hate to own up to that, but it's true. The sad thing is, these thoughts are essentially programmed into our brains by rape culture, so slut-shaming a woman based on her outfit can be a really hard habit to break. That said, you have got to break it. Because it's mean, and also because it is a habit you're capable of breaking if you keep working on it.

2. Demonizing Women Who Have Cheated On Their Partners

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Sometimes people who cheat do so for really complicated reasons that we simply aren't privy to. Other times, people just f*ck up super hard. Either way, women who have cheated do not deserve to be slut-shamed or demonized, whether it's verbally, mentally, or via gossip chains. Judging women who have cheated on their partners (or who are the "other woman") isn't acceptable, and we have to stop doing it. Period. We have no idea why they did what they did, and even if they really were just being thoughtless jerks when they decided to cheat, it's literally none of our business.

3. Fetishizing Your More Sexually Active Friends

I will always love hearing about other people's sexual adventures, and I don't think there's anything wrong with celebrating your friends' active sex lives or wanting to listen to their sexy stories. However, I do think it's important to set boundaries with them and then pay attention to those boundaries.

Sex is fun, so it makes sense to enjoy listening to sex stories, but if you're overly enthralled with your friends' dalliances, it can look a lot like you're fetishizing them and slut-shaming them simultaneously. Make sure you're not accidentally treating their sexual experiences like your own personal entertainment, and don't speak about their sexual partners disrespectfully, either. If you do those things, you're basically slut-shaming both your friend and their sex partners, and that's just not cool.

I know how easy it is to get carried way when you're curious, but try to be self-aware when you're discussing your friends' sex lives. You should definitely keep listening to their sex stories, just be sensitive and non-judgemental about it, OK?

4. Thinking Monogamy Is The Only "Right Way" To Be In A Relationship

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When I'm in a committed relationship, I like for that relationship to be monogamous, but monogamy isn't right for everyone — and that's OK. What's not OK is looking at polyamorous women like they're crazy. I won't lie, I used to think women who could dig polyamory were nuts, but now I realize I was slut-shaming them for not being monogamous, and I was doing it just because I couldn't quite understand where they were coming from. Now, I applaud women for pursuing the kind of sex lives and relationships they want, and that includes women who are non-monogamous.

If you've found yourself shaking your head whenever polyamory is brought up, or you find yourself judging polyamorous women, then I would encourage you to work on that. Monogamy may be perfect for you, but it isn't some magical, moral high ground, and polyamory does work for certain couples.

5. Telling Other Women They're Being Inappropriate For Swearing Or Talking About Sex

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Obviously, there are times when it's not such a bad thing to politely ask someone to watch their mouth. If you're at your goddaughter's first communion or your grandmother's funeral and some lady won't stop loudly dropping F-bombs, then I think it's fine to ask her to be respectful of the situation.

But in average, everyday life situations, you should not be telling other women (or just other people in general) how to speak. If you're at a restaurant and the woman in the booth next to you wants to talk about sex with her buddies or cuss like a motherf*cker, you should not slut-shame her by asking her to talk about something more, "appropriate." Get up and sit in a different booth if it bothers you that much. Or, just do what I would do, and eavesdrop the hell out of her conversation.

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