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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Stop Acting Like 'Sluts' - Clean This S**t up!

By: Violet Paradox
*Trigger warning for slut-shaming, aggression, and assault.*

 
This video was posted on a friend's timeline today and I happened upon it while scrolling through my Facebook news feed.  Now I cannot count the amount of times I have bitten my tongue, uttered a few choice words, taken a deep breath and kept scrolling when coming across problematic posts from friends.  It would be mentally exhausting to call out every single bit of sexism, racism, homophobia etc. that I came across on Facebook or any other social media forum. Exhaustion that could threaten my physical health ultimately. So generally I am selective of the potential battles in which I engage with Facebook friends and choose ones that might actually get people to think about issues rather than just retort back defensively.  This was one of those times.

 The video captures two young women in a McDonald's restaurant who appear to be a drunk after a night out.  They are a little loud, and one of them, for reasons the video does not make clear, lays on the counter in an attempt to peer over the other side.   A man appears, whom I assumed at first was the manager of the store but who is then identified as just another patron, and the first thing he says to them is, "Behave yourself, get off there!"  Ok.  Not an unreasonable thing to say considering one of the women is on the counter.   He drags her off the counter and shoves her to the floor and then proceeds to put his hands on the other woman, who shrugs him off.  The next thing he says, hence the title of this video is, "Stop acting like sluts, clean this shit up."   The women protest that they did not make the mess on the floor that he was pointing to and that they, in fact, had eaten their food.  The whole time he is arguing with them he is using his body to intimidate them, continuously putting his hands on their shoulders. (which can only be seen as aggressive as they were not threatening him physically in any way), and trying to make them leave the restaurant.

 The Oxford Dictionary defines slut as;

noun  
derogatory

1 a woman who has many casual sexual partners.
2 dated a woman with low standards of cleanliness.

 Firstly I have to add  if you are a woman, the chances that you have been called a slut at least once in your life are extremely high.  Women get called sluts every day for little or no reason and more often than not it is a tool used to intimidate and silence.  Its shaming quality is enormous and it's not an exaggeration to say women go out of their way to avoid that label. Women get called sluts for voicing opinions, for turning down men's advances, for just being attractive, for being successful, for just being.   So these young women, for seeming to not care about how their behaviour was impacting those around them are deemed to be acting like 'sluts'.  And a lot of the people watching and sharing this video are seemingly nodding their heads with enthusiastic approval. I guess it is possible this man was referring to the second dated definition of the word.  Even with the remote possibility he was, and he genuinely believed that these women had made the mess he was accusing them of making, (and that everyone listening and watching this spectacle understood it to mean the same), it is still a gendered slur.  It is used only to describe a woman with low standards of cleanliness and, therefore, still misogynistic in nature.

The fact that these were young women, who were slightly inebriated and dressed for a night out in short skirts was all this man needed to inject the word 'slut' into his diatribe.  He couldn't possibly have known how many sexual partners these women have had.  Acting like inconsiderate assholes does not equate to being a slut, (by the dictionary definition or any other), so we can only assume that his use of the word was based on observations that supported his already established prejudice.

I have no problem with people who make a mess being told to clean it up in whatever tone is appropriate if they did indeed make the mess.  I do, however, take issue with this man thinking that it was necessary to tell them to stop acting like 'sluts' and using unnecessary body contact in an attempt to intimidate and scare.  They were hardly a physical threat to themselves or anyone else.  Considering he wasn't even the manager or a member of staff, maybe he should have been bringing it to the attention of staff rather than taking matters into his own hands.  He had no right or authority to be putting his hands on these women.  Since he had already verbalised that they were acting like 'sluts', then his treatment of them was probably already justified in his mind.  Also, considering how many people are agreeing and supporting his actions, it seems like almost everyone agrees that 'sluts' or women acting like 'sluts' deserve whatever treatment anyone wishes to impose on them.

My comment on my friend's Facebook post was only a couple of sentences.  I have only received one notification of an additional comment and haven't been back to check.  I wrote this post to get my own arguments clear in my head if I felt the need to comment further.  Maybe I will, maybe I won't.  We'll see.

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