VICTIM BLAMING, SLUT SHAMING AND OBJECTIFICATION MUST COME TO AN END 

POSTED JULY 28TH, 2017 | BY MICHAELA SHELTON

When I first got to college, I dressed very conservative. I always thought about venturing out and wearing articles of clothing such as high waist shorts and crop tops, but I wanted to avoid judgment. I would hear people make comments like “She’s such a hoe with her stomach out” and “She shouldn’t of wore those tight ass shorts if she didn’t want guys grabbing her butt.” I didn’t want anyone making comments like this about me so I would just refrain from wearing certain outfits. My last year of college I came to the realization that people were going to make comments and talk about me regardless, so why should I let them dictate what I wear? I started showing a little more skin and taking more fashion risks and I felt liberated. Me showing my legs or my stomach did not mean I was hoe or that I wanted to be objectified. That’s what people need to understand when victim blaming rape victims.

At the end of last year I wrote an article about Ariana Grande being objectified by a fan. Ariana was out with her boyfriend Mac Miller and a fan allegedly yelled out “Ariana is sexy as hell man. I see you, I see you hitting that!!!” Ariana was so disturbed that she felt compelled to tweet about the incident. Ariana tweeted “Hitting that? The f**k?? This may not seem like a big deal to some of you but I felt sick and objectified. I was also sitting right there when he said it.” To summarize what I said in my article, I feel that objectification is getting out of hand. Men continue to sexualize women and some people try to blame us for it. I am sick and tired of people victim blaming women who have been disrespected by men or even worse raped. A woman dressing in a sexually provocative manner or a woman perceived to violate traditional expectations for sexual behaviors is not an open invitation for men to abuse or objectify them under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. I respect Ariana and other artists who continue to speak up and advocate for woman’s rights.

Just when we thought there was hope for women, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton and became the 45th President of the United States. Yes, our president is a man who was clearly recorded saying “Grab them by the pussy.” If America would have elected its first female president feminists would have had more of a platform to fight for women’s rights. However, with Trump in office we are doomed. The day after Trump's inauguration, thousands of women participated in a march on Washington in support of women's rights and affordable healthcare. This was the first action implemented by the women’s movement to combat Trump who was elected regardless of accusations of serial sexual assault. Honestly this makes me sick.

Another movement is the SlutWalk, which is a protest of marches calling for an end to rape culture, including victim blaming and slut shaming of sexual assault victims.  During these protests, participants speak out against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman's appearance. The first rally was held on April 3, 2011, in Toronto, Canada, after a Toronto Police officer suggested that "women should avoid dressing like sluts:” as a precaution against sexual assault. The organizers, Co-founders Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis expected around 200 people to show up, but there ended up being over 3,000.

"We want Police Services to truly get behind the idea that victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and sexual profiling are never acceptable.The idea that a slut is a lesser person and deserving of sexual assault isn’t exclusive to the police. Media also has to get behind this idea," Sonya Barnett explained.

The protest takes the form of a march with women dressing in sexy clothing such as skirts, fish net stockings and bras. At many of the rallies women give speeches about their experiences being objectified or sexually assaulted.

In support of this movement, rallies have occurred all over the world. The Amber Rose SlutWalk Festival is currently held in Los Angeles, California and includes many activities such as free breast cancer exams and HIV testing. The SlutWalk is open to volunteers, but staff and attendees must be at least 18 years of age. The 2016 Amber Rose SlutWalk had celebrity attendees including Perez Hilton, Nicki Minaj, and Blac Chyna.

The BET original series The Quad starring Anika Noni Rose aired last Fall and did not get as much attention as it deserved. The plot centered around the rape of an HBCU President’s daughter, who was known for being promiscuous ever since her arrival to the university. Therefore, students and even staff members were making comments like “It wasn’t rape she wanted it,” regardless of the surveillance tape footage showing a clear struggle. Throughout the show we see the star football player Terrence, who was eventually identified as the rapist, make excuses and try to justify his actions. He denies raping Sydney and claims that she is making these allegations because she was embarrassed that she had sex outside in the grass and it was recorded. The entire school is confused and doesn’t know what to believe, until another student comes forward and says she was also raped by Terrence. At the end of the season Terrence is kicked off the football team and everyone turns their back on him. He ends up committing suicide and the season ends. This show illustrates a perfect example of victim blaming. Sydney was clearly raped by Terrance, but everyone factors in her promiscuity, her attire and her party girl nature. Regardless of any of that or any other factors there is NEVER an excuse for rape.

The only way victim blaming and slut shaming will decrease and eventually come to an end is if everyone joins the movement and speaks out against it. Women constantly deal with this BS and we are sick of it! Women and men please take a stand and intervene whenever you witness objectification, slut shaming and sexual assault. Letting this behavior slide will make these monsters think that what they are doing is okay and it is absolutely sick and unacceptable. Sexual violence can have long lasting effects so If you have been raped or know someone who has make sure they seek help immediately. On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States, so you are not alone. A lot of people are unaware that there is a National Sexual Assault Hotline. This Hotline is available 24 hours a day so if you or anyone you know is assaulted make sure you make use of this resource : 1-800-656-4673. For more information and other resources, visit www.rainn.org.

Michaela P. Shelton is Managing Editor of CSUITEMUSIC.com

Read more from Michaela at darealmichaela1.com

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