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Why Women So Often Go Along With Slut-Shaming

Teen Vogue, March 19, 2019


The Academy Awards categorize actors according to their gender. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, cheerleading awards categorized girlsaccording to their body parts. Coaches awarded mock prizes to high school students for having the biggest breasts (the "Big Boobie" award) and possessing a desirable behind (the "Big Booty" award). One cheerleader, a brunette, was given a blonde wig for being "a ditzy girl."


When parents and the American Civil Liberties Union called out the coaches for enabling sexual harassment, one of the coaches— all of whom were women—countered to the school administrators, through records obtained by the ACLU, that the girls hadn't complained. (The coaches have apologized to the students for the awards, according to the New York Times, and told school administrators the awards were in the spirit of fun and that they thought the cheerleaders enjoyed them.) The coaches reportedly said the awards were invented in 2017 by a group of students. One cheerleader explained that the girls went along with the jokes, according to the New York Times. "What else were they supposed to do?" she asked.


What else, indeed. When a girl learns that being sexually humiliated is normal and typical, and that complaining is a risky move, she may accept her objectification with a smile. More troubling, she may become primed to accept this state of affairs for many years to come. Later on, if she is assaulted or harassed by a Larry Nassar or a Harvey Weinstein, this aspect, compounded with the shame and fear many people feel around sexual misconduct, it would be logical and understandable if she kept quiet. Going along with it often becomes the coping mechanism of choice.


Continue reading at Teen Vogue.