A Convenient Excuse for Slut Shaming

One of the most popular excuses I come across for slut shaming judgmental concern over one’s sexual promiscuity is the idea that sex is dangerous and you can’t possibly erase all the risks.  The only way to do that is with abstinence, or, if you MUST have sex (you slut!), in the confines of a monogamous relationship.  If you make the choice to do anything else, it doesn’t matter how responsible or safe you are being;  if something bad happens, you deserve it, and if it doesn’t, you shouldn’t have done it anyway, because it’s risky.  I shall illustrate failures of this logic through the use of A Clever Metaphor.  In this case, the metaphor is rock climbing.

Okay so rock climbing?  Kind of dangerous if you don’t use safety measures.  Kind of like sex!  When you rock climb, if you stay pretty close to the ground, it’s like touching or kissing or other “first base” things; the risk of injury isn’t all that high.  The higher you go, the more risk of injury, and the more there is need for safety precautions, just like the more risky sexual behaviors you engage in, the more you need to take precautions.  If you’re scaling a cliff hundreds of feet up, and you’re not using any safety measures, there’s no room for error.  There’s nothing to catch you if you slip.  If you fall from 200 ft up a cliff wall, and you haven’t been using safety measures, or you’ve been lax with them, well.  You’re not in great shape buddy.

That’s why, when we rock climb, we use safety measures.  We have the harness and rope and cams (condoms and barriers! various methods of birth control!).  We go over every inch of our gear and our climbing partner’s gear, making sure knots are tied properly and carabiners are locked (STD screening and communication).  And before anyone even THINKS of climbing, we make this short, simple, yet essential exchange; “On belay?”  “Belay on.” “Climbing!” “Climb on.” (consent and, once again, communication).

All of those things greatly minimize the risks, enough so that when I was ten my mother had no problem taking me on a climbing trip, though I had a few more reservations (no, I’m not saying ten year olds should have sex, I’m making the point about risk reduction).  My mother, not the most adventurous type, isn’t really known for taking risks, but she does and enjoys doing all kinds of rock climbing.  However, just like with safe sex practices, the risks are not erased.  Shit still happens.  Anyone ever see Vertical Limit (god I love tha movie)?  That’s a prime example of shit happening despite taking all necessary precautions.  Does the presence of risk mean that you shouldn’t rock climb?  Well, that’s up to you, really.  I, for one, am of the school of thought that living life not taking risks is living a boring life, and I know many people think the same.  We much each decide for ourselves what are acceptable risks for us to take.

But when people (especially women) rock climb, it’s fun and adventurous and kind of cool, while when people (especially women) are polyamorous or have casual sex, they’re irresponsible, immoral, dirty, and degrading themselves.  During a climb, when the safety measures fail despite taking all precautions, it’s a cool story about how you got that scar, or a tragic accident, but not the fault of the people participating.  With sex, if all parties are being diligent and responsible and safe, and something happens, well, the bitch should have kept her legs shut and she had it coming to her.

The risks themselves aren’t a legitimate reason for slut shaming, they’re just a convenient excuse.  Risks are a part of life, and if we all just shamed everyone who ever took risks ever, this would be a rather boring and depressing world.

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Filed under Feminism, Ranty McRant Rant, Today in Slut Shaming

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