Slut Shaming: My Story

In June 2011, I took part in the first Slut Walk after hearing of it through certain friends in the sex positive community. Earlier that year in February, female university students in Toronto were warned by a police officer not to ” dress like sluts,” so they wouldn’t be sexually assaulted on campus. In response, I met up with a fairly large group of women – and some men – in West Hollywood, California, and walked proudly among them along Santa Monica Blvd. dressed in high heels, tight black leggings, and a tiny shirt, all in protest of the misuse of the word slut.

You’ll notice I say misuse, not use.

I don’t think the issue is using words like slut or whore. It’s the shame we attach to them. It’s the ever-present double standard – if a male sleeps with a number of women, it’s an accomplishment, but if a woman does it, it’s shameful. She’s easy—a slut. Unfortunately, it’s not limited to the male perspective – women are guilty of it as well.

While in high school, I had my first experience with love. J was my first boyfriend. Tall, athletic, tan, and blonde. In an instant, hormones raged between us, and I lost all sense of control. We wanted to be together everywhere, all the time. Attending separate schools and parental intervention made this tough, so we both snuck out at every opportunity. We kissed, we made out, pet heavily, and dry humped until we were raw. We clumsily fumbled through awkward phone sex. We “borrowed” cars; we skipped school. We were uncontrollable. Eventually, between his begging and pleading, and hormones setting my pants on fire, one night after a dance, we had ferocious sex up against a wall behind my school.

My sex education growing up was really limited. I never recall my father acknowledging sex at all, and my mother explained the words PENIS and VAGINA in a way that was clinical at best. That being said, I was always very curious and cautious, even at 14 and 15. I read about sex in bookstores and encyclopedias. I knew about safe sex, so when I lost the battle of willpower versus raging hormones up against the red brick wall, it was with a condom. I wasn’t so smart about concealing the evidence, however, and not long after, my mother discovered poorly hidden shorts and panties stained with blood, which could only have attested to one thing. I was thrown into the car, and driven immediately to her doctor, where, in between her screaming at me and interrogating me, I was tested for every sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, and even HIV. I was humiliated. She said I was stupid, called me a slut, and though I didn’t know the meaning it of it or the implications it would have on me, I was shamed.

Please don’t take that to mean I stopped having sex. I didn’t.  I became sneakier about it, and at the same time, I grew a deep resentment for my mother. Though I did view sex as slightly shameful for a short time afterward, I decided its risk was well worth the reward. Becoming an adult, I quickly grew to learn there was no shame in sex or my body or the pleasure derived from it. I was very headstrong and determined as a child (not that this surprises anyone who knows me today), and I made it my business to understand sex more… and now it’s my business to make sure other people are able to understand sex a little better and to know there’s no shame in it. No shame in our bodies, what they do, how they feel, what we like to do or have done to them.

The only way we can alter the course of slut or sex shaming is to STOP doing it.

This means mothers and daughters, strangers, friends, enemies, frenemies, and everyone in between needs to step back and remember a time they have felt it in their lives, and then actively choose not to repeat it.

–jd

Slut Shaming Discussion at CatalystCon East

As I previously mentioned, I will be participating in the inaugural CatalystCon East sexuality conference in Washington D.C., March 15-17.

One of the sessions I will be presenting is titled, Slut Shaming in Sex Positive Communities.  I’ll be speaking alongside 4 amazing women: Carol Queen, Femcar, Serpent Libertine, and Crysta Heart.

Here’s a description of the session from CatalystCon’s website (www.CatalystCon.com):

Does “sex positive” always mean acceptance of the sexual appetites of others or other communities we’re not involved in? Why is it acceptable for sex-positive individuals to bash or criticize the sexual proclivities of others while claiming to be supportive allies? Based on our collective experiences within the sex worker, BDSM, swinger, poly, and queer communities, our panel will lead a discussion that examines some of the ways we’ve witnessed slut-shaming from those we’ve expected it least. Additionally, we’ll discuss why initiating conversations about these incidents can be even more challenging than speaking with folks in the vanilla world. By confronting this issue, we hope to find better ways to stimulate conversations among sex-positive individuals and learn how our words and actions can have an impact on others who lack understanding of our communities.

I believe this is an extremely important issue to discuss, and I am looking forward to the conversations it helps inspire.

xo,
jd

Speaking at CatalystCon East in Washington D.C.

I’m excited to say CatalystCon East is only 5 weeks away!

Back in September 2012, I was on a panel for Catalyst Con West (www.CatalystCon.com), a conference devoted to “inspiring exceptional conversations about sexuality.”  As I wrote about here, I had an amazing time meeting and speaking with many of my idols in the field of sexuality.  The conference helped me grow as an educator and a woman.

I’m pleased to announce I will be participating in the inaugural CatalystCon East in the Washington D.C. area, March 15-17.  I am extremely honored to participate as a panel member for the Opening Keynote Plenary Address: Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism, and Acceptance.  I will also present at sessions titled The Facts About Measure B, and How It Impacts Us All and Slut Shaming in Sex Positive Communities.

As we get closer to the conference, I’ll write posts about the various sessions I’m speaking at and let you know what sessions I’m most eager to attend.  If you live anywhere near Washington D.C. or are able to travel, I urge you to look into attending CatalystCon East.

xo,

jd