6 Ways Overprotective Parents Reinforce Slut-Shaming

No adult ever said the word "slut" in front of me when I was a kid. My mom and dad wouldn't dare give voice to it, and there were certainly no parents at church who uttered it in my presence. But I didn't need to hear the word outright in order to know what being a "slut" implied, and to know that it was something I should strive not to be as a young woman. The dirty looks they gave to women wearing short skirts were enough, as was the monthly lecture on what it meant to "dress like a lady." Additionally, they were quick to tell me that the girls who were dating a lot were bad examples.

Of course, our entire society is slightly obsessed with slut-shaming; people are always trying to find a "slutty" woman in the public eye so they can police what she wears and openly disgrace her for her sexual expressions. Back in 2011, nude photos of Vanessa Hudgens were leaked by someone without her consent; yet Disney released a horrible statement of apology on her behalf, insisting that she had "learned a valuable lesson." More recently, Kim Kardashian got some heat for posting a photo of herself on Twitter; many accused her of being a bad mother and an even worse role model.

However, it's important to understand that there are more ways to slut-shame than just calling a woman offensive names on social media. Sometimes, the very people who make it their priority to love and protect us are the ones who incidentally make us feel guilty for being sexual. Strict parents fall into this category pretty often, and the way they shelter their daughters is actually a lot more harmful than you might think.

Here are six ways overprotective parents reinforce slut-shaming.

1. They Make Us Believe In The "Good Girl" & "Bad Girl" Tropes

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Overprotective parents are usually the first people young women learn about the qualities that make up a "good girl" from, and they use that image to teach their daughters what's acceptable and what's inappropriate behavior. We're made to believe that the "good girl" doesn't stay out late or break the rules, and she definitely isn't chasing boys for attention. Think of Lindsay Lohan's character Cady in Mean Girls. At the beginning, she was considered a "good girl" because she got good grades, obeyed her parents, and had an innocent mindset.

As soon as a woman doesn't follow the guidelines of a "good girl," though, they are immediately slut-shamed by overprotective moms and dads, who teach their daughters to do the same. They may not realize this is what they're doing, but it has a lasting impact on the way young women relate to their own bodies, as well as to other women. It's time for this dichotomy to make a swift retirement.

2. They Reinforce The Idea That We Will Be Judged Mainly On Our Appearance

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Many of the stricter parents out there teach their daughters to choose an outfit based on how it will make them look to other people. My mom would always use words like "classy" or "appropriate" when she talked about which fashion choices I should be making, implying that the clothes on my back correlated with how much respect I would receive as a young woman. My mom used to use the term "boy crazy" to describe my friend in middle school who wore a water-filled Wonder Bra, insisting that she was trying to enlarge her breasts just so she could get all the boys to like her.

These are the first waves of slut-shaming a girl will ever experience, which will influence the way she thinks about fashion for the rest of her life. The bottom line is you should wear what you want to wear because you want to wear it. The sooner daughters learn that from their mom and dad, the better off they'll be in the long-run.

3. They Encourage Us To Police What Other Women Wear

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When I was in middle school, I remember all the parents at school getting upset because a girl in my history class wore a strapless top to an after-school event (I think it was a football game). After the moms spent time whining about it with one another, they explained to us why it was inappropriate and then instructed us to "speak up" if we saw a friend who dressed like that, as if showing your shoulders was a disease that needed to be reported.

As a result, we learned at a young age how to examine what our classmates wore on the daily. No wonder so many people still look at a picture of Amber Rose rocking a strappy, lacy getup and try to guilt her into thinking she's not being a good example. It's been programmed in us since we were little girls.

4. They Teach Us That Our Sexuality Is Something To Be Ashamed Of

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Parents are often terrified of their daughter coming off as a promiscuous young woman, like my dad was when I was a kid. Hollywood plays on this, and they make joke after joke of that strict dad who won't let his daughter make her own choices. Remember Kevin Hart in the Super Bowl Hyundai commercial, where he creepily followed his daughter around on a date and robbed her of the agency to make her own decisions? Well, my father thought it was hilarious.

This overprotective daddy trope reinforces the idea that having sex as a young woman is wrong, and any outrageously strict parent who insists that their daughter stay a virgin until her wedding night insinuates that a woman's self-worth diminishes the more she engages in sexual interactions. Moms and dads think they are protecting their children by encouraging abstinence, but they're actually failing to teach their kids about healthy sexuality. Not only does this skew their perception of themselves, it pressures them to judge other women on how they conduct their own sex lives.

It's tough to admit, but overprotective parents are some of the biggest proponents of the double standard that society has put on us. A concerned father hardly ever monitors his son's flirtations with girls (in fact, he might egg him on), and a worried mother probably wouldn't demand he wear one outfit over the other because he's showing off his arms too much.

5. They Promote The Idea That Women Should Never Make The First Move

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My parents taught me that a boy should approach me first, and that I should wait to be kissed by said boy. I'm sure they weren't the only ones passing down this life lesson. Telling a young woman that making the first move is unbecoming may not sound like slut-shaming right off the bat, but it is. You are perpetuating the notion that a girl who takes a romantic situation into her own hands, rather than waiting around for the dude to do it, is floozy, and therefore a "slut."

When I was sixteen and I told my mom that I really liked Sean from my Calculus class, her advice was not to outwardly flirt with him. She asked, "You don't want to give the wrong idea, right?" She was trying to be helpful, but it instilled in me at a young age that putting myself out that there wasn't something a respectable girl does.

There is nothing unladylike about making the first move; in fact, it's a healthy way to assert your own agency in a relationship, instead of letting a guy take control of everything.

6. They Pressure Women To Settle Down By A Certain Age

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As soon as a parent starts to imply that their 30-something, online-dating daughter is embarrassing, they're implying that morality in a woman is directly linked to whether she has a nuclear family. That's slut shaming, plain and simple, and it's also a horrible way to show support for someone you love.

Sadly, overprotective parents are guilty of this time and time again, and they start instilling this idea at a very young age. Instead of asking us if we want to get married, they just assume we will. For as long as I can remember, my parents have always started off sentences with, "One day, when you're married..."

By the time their little girl grows up into an adult, she has these societal conventions stuck in her head that prevent her from living freely, exactly how she pleases. The majority of the time, we know that these parents have our best interest in mind, but there are better ways to act out their unconditional love for us.

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