Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why Calling a Woman a Slut is Bad

I feel a rant coming on. Actually, I have had several rants bubbling inside me since some strange occurrences have presented themselves. For one, I see more and more how people's online behavior doesn't match their true-life identities. You know the types: the girl who posts a million images with quotes about compassion who is anything but considerate, or the guy who posts about how to be a great friend when he is too obsessed with posting to actually be one. Well, this rant is unrelated to that. It's also unrelated to the disgusting behavior of Warren Jeffs that was recently explored in a made-for-TV movie, nor does it relate to Erykah Badu's foolish attempt to be funny by trying to "steal" a kiss from a reporter, though these two events could make interesting blog post topics. For example, imagine if it had been a man trying to sneak a kiss from a female reporter instead of Erykah acting like a twit. That would have ruffled some feathers. I find it odd that many are claiming it was cute or funny when the reporter was clearly annoyed, upset even, with her antics, as he should have been.

I'll skip or save those issues for another time. Right now I'm fired up about something else.

Maggie in a fashion-forward outfit.

The other day, someone mentioned Maggie Vessey on facebook. Sadly, the talk that followed was focused more on her running attire than her performance at the USATF National Outdoor Championships, and someone even implied she's an attention seeker and said that she looked slutty. I assume that athletes who get some attention are more likely to be invited to races, but that's not really the issue. The derogatory comment is.

Here's an example of one of the many outfits Maggie has worn on the track:

Maggy in colorful but appropriate attire with bun huggers that are made from as much material as those of her competitors. The big difference is that hers are something other than boring. 

To me it looks like what she wears might be on the eccentric side, but I don't see a problem with it. I'm not sure why wearing something flashy or eye catching or different translates into her being immoral or sleazy. Athletes spend a lot of time in workout clothing, so what's so horrible about adding a little fashion? If it's not to your liking, why not simply say you don't like her outfit or admit it's something you wouldn't wear instead of going one step further by attacking her character and making assumptions about who she is? Does this outfit that she wears on the track make you think she's lurking around, waiting to do something shady? Please tell me how wearing colorful, sometimes odd costumes that often have more material than her competitors' makes her look slutty. Does anyone think what she wears is offensive? I just can't understand the fuss.

When I was at BYU, our team was one of the first to wear those one-piece uniforms. As far as I know, people didn't call us sluts, because, you know, we were on the BYU team. Instead they stared, pointed and maybe even laughed, but nobody called us names. That's rare in these kinds of situations.

There's a double standard when it comes to men and what they choose to wear. You could see two men in a race, one wearing one of those awful one-sided thongs and the other wearing running shorts, but it's highly unlikely anyone would call the one in the thong a slut or man-whore. Sure, people might scratch their heads or laugh, but they probably wouldn't call the guy a slut. I should add that a man being called a man-whore doesn't have quite the negative connotation that a woman being called a slut does.

Yikes.

Probably one of the most upsetting comments came from a woman who said that with people like Maggie dressing the way she does, it's no wonder why MEN don't respect her. Well, that's a stretch. So far, I haven't seen or heard about any men commenting in ways that suggest they disrespect her or any other woman for their choice in running attire, not in my circle of friends at least, though I'm sure it happens. Why a person is treated with respect shouldn't depend on what that person chooses to wear. That's just shy of claiming women deserve what they get for wearing what they want.

I get that we are all products of our messed up society, and cutting down others has sort of become the norm. Still, it's unkind to call someone a slut based solely on how she dresses, especially when what the person is wearing is no more revealing than the people around her. What Maggie's competitors wear doesn't automatically make them more moral simply because they are not as loud.

What ends up happening with these kinds of ridiculous comments is that they reinforce an idea that women can never get it right. If they don't fit an extremely narrow definition of beauty and what's acceptable, they are up for attack. If they slip a little bit outside the norm, all hell breaks loose, so rein them in at every corner. If a lady is too showy she's a slut. If she's too pretty she's a bitch. When she's too good at something she's a snob, and when she's too smart she's ugly or a nerd.

We can't win, because someone always has to attempt to take us down a notch. We can't celebrate the beauty (inner or outer) and success of a woman, because our society has brainwashed us into thinking a woman can only be a certain way, and that way is limited. You have to keep it down and not attract attention while still being pretty and successful without being a slut, overly sexual or more successful than a man. Shit. Just try to figure all that out. Fuck it all that this is 2014, and we are still living like we just put one foot back in the 50s. And for fuck's sake, SMILE!

Some men claim that because women cut down and criticize other women, none of this is their problem. Sure, women make comments about other women, but who set the standard? Does anyone think it was actually other women? Did women insist all women be subservient to men in their religion? Did women drive the fashion and beauty trends in years past? With no women board members in the largest media companies, in big corporations or in the fashion industry in the very recent past, it's pretty impressive that we supposedly had such power. Wow. We exert way more influence than I ever realized. No, the reality is that, as much as some people want to blame women for everything, even their own inequality, women are definitely a product of this society and have only recently started to do something about it. Well, some have. In the end, we need to realize that putting women down for what they wear doesn't help anyone or accomplish anything.

Maggie Vessey outfit
The start line of the 800.

BTW, Maggie finished fourth in her 800-meter race. She was wearing a fun one piece, but who cares? She ran a fucking 2:00! 

2 comments:

  1. I am in shock that people would call someone wearing flashy clothing at a sporting event a "slut". Really?? I don't remember Flo Jo or the Williams sisters being attacked for their wild but eye catching attire. Maggie looks fabulous. I honestly think double standards have gotten worse over time and girls/women are our own harshest critics.

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    1. I was surprised too, and I wonder if the first comment I saw came from a place of jealousy or something. Sadly, the more I looked into the matter, the more I saw that people can be very unkind. It's sad that people can't support each other more and feel the need to criticize for something so minor. I think Maggie looks great too and definitely didn't deserve to be called something so negative.

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