Women Perpetuate Unfair Judgement

Alexandra Reinecke, Editor-in-Chief

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If men created the sexual double standard that vilifies female sexuality while celebrating its counterpart in men, it’s women who uphold it. And slut-shaming, or the judgement of women for their choice of clothing or sexual behavior–usually by other women–is a practice all too common on campus.

“Often when I wear sexy clothing it is because it makes me feel good about myself and my body and my sexuality,” said a Campolindo senior I will call Taylor for the sake of anonymity. She explained that it is usually her female, not male peers who choose to spin this sex-positivity into a negative, shameful behavior. 

“I didn’t really get boobs until sophomore year when suddenly I went from an A cup to a C cup. I used to be teased for not having boobs so when they came in I really enjoyed having them. . . [but] I realized it [slut-shaming] was making me insecure and I stopped wearing some of my favorite tops because I didn’t want other girls making comments,” said Taylor.

“I felt as if I was being alienated by my peers for expressing my sexuality,” agreed senior Isabella Jacobi of her own experience.

“I was at a Halloween party this year and wearing a ‘more revealing’ costume than the clothes I would normally wear to school. I think a certain individual saw this as an invitation to touch me when I made no sort of indication to him that this was okay,” said another Campolindo senior I’ll refer to as Elaine. 

While this reality is all too familiar to many girls, the reality of other girls using such situations to criticize their female peers is as prevalent as sexualization of girls by their male peers. “I’ve heard girls make degrading comments about other girls using this same justification [used by men],” said a 3rd Campolindo senior I will call Alyssa, who added that women also play a key role in the perpetuation of sexism and the gender binary. 

“If women possess traits that are not what is expected by society, they are heavily scrutinized. Whenever I am in Japan, I am expected to be quiet, polite, and well dressed. I wear kimonos that are restricting and stifling,” said Elaine. “Here it’s the same but a little different. I’m also expected to act a certain way. I can’t act certain ways without facing judgment.”

Though socioeconomic situation and community are surely factors, it’s no coincidence that, like Taylor and Elaine, most of the sexism I’ve experienced has come not from men but from women. Sure, I’ve been catcalled in Oakland or San Francisco and been objectified by male peers. But those experiences account for a small portion of my experience with sexism compared to the countless times I’ve had my choices scrutinized by female classmates.

Wearing leggings. Having sex. Penning strongly-worded editorials. Asserting my political opinions in the classroom.  All of this has been harshly judged by my female peers.

Feminists are fast to crucify men for sexist behavior but slow to recognize and correct its existence in our own ranks. Earlier this year, it was girls, not guys on campus who commented on the blue-black hickey their classmate had failed to cover. Well-educated, usually civil suburban girls. Girls who watch the news. Girls who attend marches. Girls who call and believe themselves progressive champions.

“I think girls are honestly worse than men because they think that since they are also women it makes it okay for them to judge other women’s bodies. It’s a weird double standard that has developed where women will talk smack about other women being sluts, but then the minute they hear a man say it, they turn around and attack men for being sexist,” said Taylor. “[Girls] don’t always see how backwards and contradictory it is to want women’s rights but then shame their fellow women.”

“There is a lot of hypocrisy,” agreed an Acalanes senior girl.

“Not all women champion female rights . . . [or] prioritize women’s rights, and [among some] there is a strong negative perception of feminists,” explained Wesleyan University sophomore Sophie Townsend of girls who slut-shame other girls. “Playing into our culture’s sexist norms can help one find acceptance and comfort.”

“When I used to stop by my locker I’d pick up on conversations, and usually it was saying someone’s outfit looked bad or whatever. Girls are weird. They do this thing where they say I love your outfit, or I love your shoes, and as soon as they turn around they say I actually hate this person,” said Campolindo senior James Lyon. “I’ve definitely heard people say ‘She should not be wearing that.’”

“[It’s] comments and assumptions, transmitted in whispers and nods — she has big boobs so you know why he’s dating her, she wears those clothes so of course she’s asking for it,” explained a recent female Miramonte graduate.

It’s also the problem that occurs when we don’t take responsibility for our actions. That occurs when we call ourselves feminists and forget that feminism means fairness, kindness, equality. It’s the fact that our equity chants remain not only empty, but cavernous until we correct our predisposition to call every confident girl a bitch, every scantily-clad girl a whore.

“I’ve seen so many posts on Instagram about girls and guys I know going to the Women’s March, which I am all for, but the troubling part is that these are the girls and guys who I have heard verbally tearing apart and slut-shaming their peers,” said a current Miramonte senior. “They may be for female rights as a concept but besides a very surface level Instagram post are unable to adequately practice what they want to preach.”

“I don’t know [why girls shame other girls],” said Pheonix-native and Torrey Pines High School senior Zachary Zheng. “I do know that I’ve championed female rights and progress and yet put down or shamed girls. No one considers themselves racist or sexist or whatever.”

“When I was growing up I definitely made lots of little comments which I would now categorize as slut-shaming. Now though I make a concerted effort to notice my culture and not participate in the parts of it I feel are destructive,” said Townsend of female culture’s inclination towards hurting its own.

Much of slut-shaming derives from and complements the tradition of female sexual repression, or the silencing of discussion or behavior outside of the norm that says men are expected to initiate and revere sex; women, to accept though dislike it.

“Many discussions of female pleasure are tabooed in a way which hurts many women,” said Townsend, of female sexual repression. “Girls are often not taught that they should advocate for their own pleasure, that they should stand up for what they want.”

“Women are taught that sex is a shameful act and that having sex reduces their value,” said another student.

“Sex is definitely not a guy thing and women enjoy it just as much. . . but there is a stigma around women who masturbate and have sex because girls are expected to have more restraint,” said Taylor, adding that while men praise each other for “hooking up with lots of girls and for having sex,” women judge one another harshly for the same behavior.

“I’d call it ironic. I’d call it just plain rude,” said Lyon of female-on-female sexism. “It’s so ingrained in our media now that everyone’s supposed to be happy-go-lucky, helping each other. . . You see people on the news praising the women’s march. Talking about working together, you know, to fight inequity. But you go to any high school hallway at Campo and that’s just not how it works.”

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Women Perpetuate Unfair Judgement