Keeping with last week’s theme of feminism and equality, I thought it was time to address an issue that either affects us, or people we’re close to – slut-shaming. The process by which one girl has sex (or sexual relations with) one or more boys who she isn’t in a relationship with (or has been in a relationship with a few boys) and is condemned by people for it. Why? Because how dare she express her sexuality and be with whoever she wants in a way that boys are perfectly okay to do.

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Slut-shaming is a disease of both boys and girls, in all honesty. Girls slut-shame each other and boys slut-shame girls. Obviously, not all girls or all boys do it (just a disclaimer for anyone who thinks I’m being intolerant or generalising), but enough do to make many girls feel utterly worthless. A lot of us try (myself included) and tell our friends who are slut-shamed that they aren’t what this horrible word connotes. We tell them they aren’t sluts for being manipulated and used by boys, or for having free and no-strings-attached safe sex with other consenting adults. But maybe that’s the wrong thing to do. Maybe we should help our friends own this pejorative label and show that, actually, there’s nothing wrong with being what some ignorant – and, truthfully, jealous – boys and girls around us call a ‘slut’.

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The definition of the word means “a woman who has many casual sexual partners”. What’s up with that? To someone who, for many personal reasons, does not desire to have many casual sexual partners (or serious ones either, for that matter), I do sometimes marvel at girls who do. Not because I think they’re ‘sluts’ or bad people, but because I think it takes a certain kind of strength and a very refreshing attitude to do so and do it respectively to oneself and the partners involved. There is absolutely nothing wrong with women having many casual sexual partners, but people act as though there is.

Yet, when a boy does it, there are obvious differences in attitudes. We don’t use the word ‘stud’ anymore – it’s ‘lad’. And to be one of ‘the lads’ a checkbox requirement is to have many casual sexual partners. Not because they really want to, but because they think it makes them look great. News flash: it only looks great when you’re not doing it for your reputation but for yours, and the partners’, pleasure.

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Anyway, whenever a boy has many sexual partners, everything is different. They’re applauded, included and not excluded like girls and, generally, have a much easier time of it all. And it’s yet another gender stereotype reinforced in our lives. One that is very real, and one that permeates a lot of people’s existence, particularly in Year 13.

So, let’s leave the slut-shaming in the past. It’s a subtle form of sexism at heart – and one that everyone needs to check themselves for now and again.