Being sex positive, I have taken a lot of flack for supporting the sexual rights of women as an adult; but being a female, I have been hearing words like slut, whore, skank and hooch most of my life- at this point, they have simply become synonymous with being a sexually empowered female. As a feminist I believe it is my purpose to fight for the rights of all women, including sex workers, provocative women and those who challenge the idea of morality. To pick and choose which women or groups deserve equality is both counter productive and flat out bullshit. All women, including those who choose to engage in sexuality, deserve respect. So to those out there slut shaming I say this, if she is a slut, so am I. 

I have known about horizontal hostility for a long time now- and while I can understand it, it is a difficult concept for many other women to recognize. Simply put, it is when women believe, act on, or enforce the dominant system of discrimination and oppression (see- slut shaming). Let me give you an example- you go out to a bar and see another woman dressed in a tight dress, cheeks hanging out and titties about to burst from her top…what do you call her? Slut. Whore. Skank. Don’t deny it, I’ve done it and I know damn well you have to. So let me ask you, why?

I can guarantee you don’t have a valid reason- you might say things like “she doesn’t respect her self” or “she’s doing it for attention” or my personal favorite “she’s asking for it”. If you ever want to see me thoroughly pissed off, say that last phrase to me. Those words have been used to justify rape, sexual assault and violence for years, including my own- to even utter those words is an offense I take personally. To say those words, to believe them, is to support and enforce rape culture. Bet you didn’t even think of it that way, did you?

As women, we are taught to belittle and attack other women. We are taught to keep them in a little confined box of what is acceptable, and if they dare to be different, we are taught to punish her. If she is loud, call her a bitch. If she shows to much leg, call her a slut. If she is sexual, call her a whore. Women have done just as much damage to each other as men have done to us. While men have done some awful things to me, women have been far more cruel and creative in their methods…and not a single one of them can tell me why.

So now I ask you, what has this woman done to offend you? How have her personal decisions prompted you to think she is any less deserving of respect? Is it that she is dressed provocatively? Is that you believe she is sexually active? Is it that she is somehow infringing on your ability to live your own life? How?!? Why should she be any less deserving of common decency than you? I am beginning to realize that you cannot slut shame women and claim to be a feminist- because at the end of the day, you are now contributing to the very misogyny that we are trying to end.

When you justify judging women by their appearance, you are giving men permission to not only judge, but to act on that judgement. Think about it, how many times have you heard of a survivor being asked what she was wearing- or heard a rapist say “look at what she was wearing, she asked for it”.  As a survivor of rape, I am telling you now- my clothes are not my fucking consent. How we dress does not mean “yes”. Stop asking why am I (or she) dressed like a slut, and start asking yourself, why are you thinking like a rapist?

I have friends who are sex workers, who have been threatened, raped, assaulted; and the same women who fought for me when I was in pain, are the women who are now calling them whores. How does that make any sense? How as feminists can we say that these women asked for it, simply because they choose to live a different lifestyle than some of us. Why is it that we think sex workers deserve our desire but not our humanity?

Modesty, respectability and conservatism are determined by the lens of the person who is judging. What is sexy to you, may be vulgar to others. Just as what is conservative to me, may be obscene to you. We cannot use flexible ideas like “modesty” to determine who should be treated like a person. I could be stark naked, in Times Square doing the fucking hokey pokey and not be “asking for it”. When you, as a woman, slut shame, you do more damage than good…when you attack another woman for being different than you, when you say that she means less than you for how she dresses, you are showing men that we are all less than them.

Bottom line, what you wear, who you screw and why you do it are none of my business. So why should my life choices be any concern of yours? My body belongs to me and is not the source of anyone’s imagined honor. The next time you look at a woman and have the urge to rip her down for what she is wearing or how she chooses to live, stop for a moment and give her the respect and common decency she deserves. Not because she is someone’s sister. Not because she is someone’s daughter. Not because she is someone’s mother. But because she is a god damn person.

I will stand for any woman, regardless of her choice of clothing or lifestyle. That is what it means to be a feminist. I’ve had people use me as a justification for slut shaming other women, because I was risque but not a skank, because I was articulate but not lewd… because I was easier for the public to swallow. Other women put me above someone else all for the sake of public acceptability. For the record, I am vulgar as fuck when I want to be. I own clothing that would put Madonna, Gaga and Lil Kim to shame. I fuck whoever the hell I want to when I damn well choose. And just because I have an extensive vocabulary does not mean I won’t use simplistic terms to adequately convey just how and where you can shove your judgement. The second you decide to tell someone that they are worth less than you, simply because they are different, you have chosen the side of misogyny. So I will say it again, if she is a slut, so am I.