Of the various types of bullying– physical, verbal, cyber and social– it is sexual bullying, particularly slut-shaming, that is worst. While it is a form of bullying, slut-shaming is much more impactful in the sense that it has an additional affect to a victim’s sexuality, it also is much easier to do in a modern context. On college campuses in particular, slut shaming has become a new and hip form of bullying, especially on college campuses. It seems to be the easiest way to verbally abuse one another and does not require any factual basis. Slut-shaming is not only experienced by girls; many define this type of bullying as “shaming someone for their sexual conduct” to include victims of all genders and sexualities.
Since a victim of slut-shaming is targeted not only verbally, but sexually, he or she will suffer double the emotional implications that accompany these types of harassment. Also, “once a girl or woman is regarded as a “slut” or “ho,” she becomes a target for sexual assault.” The more difficult repercussion, that tends to stem from a victim being a sexual target, is the isolating effect slut-shaming has. In other words, if someone is labeled a “slut,” others will not want to associate with him or her to protect their reputations. It is the feeling of isolation that effectuates the most emotional difficulty. The knowledge that one is alone, and lacks any support system, is the most draining and mentally suffocating feeling of all. It very commonly leads to depression and suicide. This is not a feeling a society should promote, so slut-shaming should not be condoned. It should not be socially acceptable to call someone a “slut” or to discuss, or more so, shame another’s sexual conduct, it is only his or hers to share if so desired. Many may not realize the impact their one word shame may have, but as a collective, it is too strong for many people to overcome.
On college campuses, where so many young adults live in very close proximity, it is very easy to fall victim to slut-shaming, or be a bystander of such harassment. Rumors are much more easily spread and there are more people to victimize, so slut-shaming is more likely to happen on campus than anywhere else. The emotional consequences of are also suffered more harshly. With no support system on campus, and living away from home, it is much more likely for a victim to become isolated and feel lonely. These feelings are very difficult to experience on a college campus, because it feels as though there is no one who shares the same feeling. Most college students undergo emotional hardships but do not share with one another or a mental health professional. It is important for universities to promote mental health services as a supportive place for students to eliminate stereotypes that may linger. This is the biggest thing an institution can do to help prevent isolation. Another thing that should be promoted is on-campus organizations that advocate against harassment and provide victims a safe accepting space to meet other students. Just like Law Society and Pre-Med Society are places for undergraduate students with similar academic pursuits to meet one another and discuss their careers or choice, student organizations where students with similar emotional hardships can meet and share should also be promoted on campus.
Keren Blaunstein is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.