Home > other > Tales From The Road: “Slut” Shaming and Catcalling

Tales From The Road: “Slut” Shaming and Catcalling

“I am still as stupid as anyone, but I know my mistakes.” – Propagandhi

play bass and sing vocal harmonies in a rock band, which involves extensive travel and puts me in contact with all sorts of people from every possible walk of life across the country. One observation from my travels that rings true, regardless of which locality I happen to be in, is that sexism and misogyny are very real.

Thanks to my punk rock upbringing, I’ve been acutely aware of the individualist feminist struggle against things like slut” shamingstreet harassment, and rape culture from a young age. Institutionalized and indoctrinated sexism and misogyny run so deep that it requires confrontation through direct, individual action. None of the following anecdotes are horrific or even overt, but I often feel that the subtle incidents require more attention because it’s easier to sweep them under the rug and/or shrug them off as random, isolated incidents.

“Slut” Shaming

“Slut” shaming is normalized to the degree that people are often completely unaware that they’re engaging in it. After one particular show we were hanging by our van when some young women made their way over to us. There had definitely been some alcohol consumption going on that night. After a few minutes of jovial, semi-slurred banter one of the girls referred to her “skanky shirt” in an underhanded manner, which I can only guess stemmed from a prior experience(s) being shamed for dressing a certain way.

That triggered my serious face. I looked her square in the eyes and said, “HEY. Don’t slut shame yourself, it’s enough of an uphill battle as it is!” To which her friend promptly perked up, pointed right at me, and said, “See?! This guy knows what the fuck he’s talking about!” All I could really do at that point was smile, put my fist in the air and triumphantly say, “Solidarity.” But there was a genuine appreciation and mood change from that moment on. Perhaps it helped alleviate the stigma of “girls approaching band boys after shows must be sluts… and sluts are bad!”

Catcalling

One night we were hanging outside of the venue prior to the show. It was a busy section of the city, so it made for some interesting people watching. At one point a car parallel parked up the street and three well dressed girls got out. For some reason the night’s first performer decided it would be a good idea to shout, “HEY BABY! You wanna come in here and watch me perform for ya?!” I was pretty well steamed, not to mention embarrassed. As much as I wanted to confront this guy I knew I needed a different route.

The girls were walking down the sidewalk towards us, and I decided to start walking towards them. As we approached each other I looked up and quickly and quietly said, “I’m really sorry about that jerk back there yelling at you like that. It’s totally uncalled for. I don’t know what you’re up to tonight, but if you’re planning on attending the show then I’m especially sorry and hope you can still enjoy yourselves.”

They smiled, thanked me, and kept walking. Not only were they there to attend the show, they stayed until the bitter end and bought our shirts, cd’s, and posters. They even stuck around for a bit to hang and chat. I’d like to think that’s mostly due to the fact that we don’t suck. I’d also like to think, at least, a small part had to be associated with how I apologized to them for the catcall.

Male on Male Harassment

I’ve fought against sexism and all that stems from it for years, especially slut shaming. But I wanted to wrap this all up with a more personal episode due to its absurdity. The only thing that’s relevant is that a fellow male performer slut shamed me for engaging in certain consensual behaviors with a young woman after our show one night.

The presumption that I was doing something unethical with a woman made me beyond irate. All I could really do without losing my cool was laugh at him, ultimately knowing that others would unintentionally throw it back in his face a few days later, which they did. And making him look and feel like an ignorant ass without having to move a muscle or utter another word was a magnificently cathartic moment.

This post originally appeared at The UnSlut Project.

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