By: Melanie | May 9, 2014 | (57) Comments

discussing through midnight

This meme was created for YA Midnight Reads as a discussion post of all things bookish.

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I’ve been on my toes, excited to write this post in ages so here we go. Please note that these are just my thoughts and beliefs, and I am not intending to force my opinion on other people. I’ll be mentioning a certain novel frequently throughout this post but it applies to many other novels out there.

After reading Tease by Amanda Maciel, it really got me thinking about how readers responded to slut shaming in books. Sure, it’s not something you want to promote in YA novels that teenagers, whom are easily manipulated, will be picking up–but is avoiding slut shaming in books the good way to go? Teens might even think that since they’re never in books, that means that it’s not a big problem, and will continue to slut-sham their peers at school. Now that, is not what society wants on teenagers either.

I do not support slut-shaming, especially when it’s not even used correctly. For those who do not know what slut-shaming is, here’s a definition:

Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior”
Alon Levy, Slut Shaming.

In Tease, a girl dies because she was bullied. They called her slut, cunt, skank. The girl wasn’t even a slut, she just wanted to fit in and wanted to make friends.

“Skank.” I think it’s Brielle hissing the word for a minute, and then I realise it was me who just said it. It feels good. I say it again. “What a total skank!”
— Tease by Amanda Maciel

And I get why readers reacted negatively towards that. Those words were on almost every single page. Tease is a controversial novel, and the ratings ranged from 1 star all the way to 5 stars. However, I liked how Tease tackled this issue. I liked the fact that there was slut-shaming in Tease. Slut-shaming is a serious issue in schools these days, and this was a perfect representation of the extent of how big the blow can be towards the victim. Books like Tease draw awareness to these issues, and it makes it important for teens to read it.

HOWEVER. I am not suggesting that slut-shaming should be in every book. I am not okay with slut-shaming to be used for no purpose. And by that I mean calling a girl a slut in an adventure story to save the world because the main character was jealous of her. That is pointless since the book isn’t even about that. That promotes to teens that slut-shaming is okay and there are no consequences. Tease had slut-shaming because it was dealing with the issue and why it wasn’t good. It used the issue as one of the main purposes of the novel. That, in my belief, is okay. 

To sum up, I believe that slut-shaming is okay, if it used as a main topic in the novel. It’s not fine when it is used pointlessly, which suggests to teens that slut-shaming is allowed and has no consequences.

What do you think of slut-shaming in books?

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Melanie

Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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57 Responses to Discussing Through Midnight (32): Slut Shaming

  1. Very topical conversation here Mel and I feel so torn about it personally. I didn’t like Tease, I don’t know exactly why; it could have been the writing, the feel, the premise or the characters, or the slut-shaming, I don’t know but I couldn’t get through it, but I know I do cringe a little when slut-shaming happens in novels and I think it bothers me because it was the type of bullying I received in school when it wasn’t true. It hits nerves with me and therefore I think I dislike it a lot on a personal level, but you’re very right, if it’s used to effect and work with the plot, fair game, but if it’s used to create some sort of hatred and authority between two characters for no reason whatsoever then it’s wrong. Well said Mel, well said.
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  2. YESSSS. This post. YES. You’ve summed it up so, so well. And I think that basically goes for every single book out there. Like, I when books (particularly epic fantasy books totally detached from our world) use sexism….just because. I mean, why use plot devices that don’t add to the story? Like you said: putting slut-shaming in books where it’s not even a big deal. *sigh* So I totally agree with this post. Horrible things NEED to have consequences.
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…The Book Blogger TestMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks! It frustrates me to no end when authors throw in the word slut but have no real purpose of the word. That’s only just encouraging the readers to use these words in their own life just because someone else has in a book

  3. I feel like no topic/concept should be taboo for books. Not everyone has to read the book, so why hate? Just don’t read it if you don’t like the concept. So slut-shaming in books is just fine, but I would hope that the author makes a point to make readers aware that the practice is horrible and disgusting. I would hope all authors deter teens and people in general from bad behavior.
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    • Melanie says:

      Agreed, Jennifer. There should be more books about the consequences of slut-shaming and show that it’s not okay. People at my old school threw the word around rudely to other peers, and I can see that it hurt them

  4. For me bullying in general is a hard topic to read about. I don’t mind that there are books with topics that are considered taboo, it’s good that there are authors who have the guts to do that. I don’t mind slut-shaming, as long as the message the book gives out is that it’s wrong to do that.
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    • Melanie says:

      Yes, exactly. I just feel like authors don’t get that because there aren’t many books dealing with the bad side of slut shaming, yet there are buckets of books with the word just thrown around for no actual purpose

  5. This whole time, I thought Tease was about a slut in general. I read a few negative reviews about it slut-shaming and then only a few positive ones so I never really gave much attention to the synopsis. But wow, I’m kind of pissed at myself now because Tease is something that I would really like. Like, I can imagine myself falling in love with it. Teenage issues like slut-shaming might be controversial but it’s something that can become an amazing story. As long as the book isn’t promoting slut-shaming, I have no idea why people wouldn’t like it. :/ Thank you so much for sharing Mel!
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  6. Ella says:

    Actually I am torn about this topic, just like bullying. Yes it would be nice to show readers what’s really happening behind the eyes of those who are being bullied or those who bullies, but at the same time it doesn’t sound really good. And as a book blogger sometimes it’s hard to write objective reviews about this kind of sensitive topics because there will be times when separating what you felt and experienced is impossible. If you were bullied before, of course you won’t consider siding on those characters who bullies, but if you were a bully before you would think that there might be something that triggered that bully’s behavior that’s why he/she turned out like that. Very insightful post Melanie 🙂
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    • Melanie says:

      I have been bullied before the point where I was rather depressed–it was during the time before I started book blogging. I mean, it did punch a few buttons but I still found it to be interesting to see things from a bully’s perspective. Thank you!

  7. Candace says:

    I think you covered it well! I think it needs to be in books as a negative thing so that people see how bad it is. It’s hard to read but it’s an important subject because it’s such a big problem.
    I’ve noticed that teens just throw words around sometimes without thinking about it. Like a girl will say to her friends that she kissed so and so and they respond with “Shut up! You Slut!” Like using it in a good way. And then a few minutes later they’ll walk by a girl they don’t like and will call her a slut and all those other ugly words and it’s obviously in a mean way. I just don’t get it. They don’t think about what they are really saying.
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  8. I’m a bit torn when it comes to this subject.. after reading Tease, I think I realize that I don’t like it when it’s over-used and I don’t like it in other genres then contemporary. Words as ‘slut/skank’ don’t fit genres like fantasy and fairy tales in my opinion 🙂 But in a modern setting as a contemporary, I think it could make the whole vibe more realistic. Teenagers do talk that way, but I don’t want to see it every other page like in Tease.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 258. Sarah Raugley – Feather bound.My Profile

  9. Lexa Cain says:

    I’m pro slut shaming, but I think there should be equal time for bastard shaming. There’s a huge number of bastards out there who sleep around and get high-fived by their peers. Women aren’t proving their equality by mimicking the selfish behavior of men, but men’s arrogant sexualization of everything and pride in their “conquests” should be shamed on TV, literature, and by society.
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  10. I do agree with you. If it’s being used, it needs to be commented on in some way…otherwise it does seem like slut shaming is an okay thing to do and people will continue to do it. I just finished This One Summer, a graphic novel, and the two girls were young but calling an older teen a “slut.” I liked that the moms heard them and told them not to use that word, etc.
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    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, that’s also a good way to promote that slut shaming should not be used. this reminds me, I read The Sound by Sarah Alderson and there was a little girl who called her friends sluts. Like how does she even know that word? It just does not give the right message to readers

  11. Yes, exactly, slut shaming or any other type of bullying is okay in books if it is used to send a message. If readers don’t see the consequences of the behavior and it is just in there for kicks then I have a problem with it. I get really irritated with slut shaming and mean girls in YA books. I am glad the author tackled this touchy topic.
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    • Melanie says:

      I’m glad as well, she was really gutsy to write about this topic and did it pretty well

      • Lidia says:

        Hi Nahhnta,Taasks for these words, they have brought a few little tears to my eyes. I have always gone after the buzz of the next achievement, and yes, they’ve often felt empty at times of low self-esteem. I remember once at school, when the principal praised my academic achievement in front of the whole assembly, I burst into tears. Nobody could understand why – including me. This helps me to understand.

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      • If time is money you’ve made me a wealthier woman.

  12. Zoe N. says:

    I completely agree Mel. I think this is a topic that needs to be discussed more, and I feel you did an amazing job bringing it up. I feel that slut-shaming is fine in books, but, like you said, it should only be used if absolutely necessary. It shouldn’t be used as a plot device or as a way to make the story progress, because that just doesn’t seem right. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, and great post Mel! <3
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    • Melanie says:

      thank you Zoe! Oh I actually do like it if it was used as a plot device to show that slut shaming is bad and has consequences that people will regret. I absolutely hate it when it’s just being used for no reason at all apart from to make conversation or to bitch about a character

  13. Pili says:

    I agree Melanie that is important to reflect the slut-shaming in books and show it as the wrong thing it is. I’m sure that as hard to read as Tease might be, it’s actually a book that has a strong message that will make us uncomfortable and make us think, and that’s important!
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  14. I agree with the point you’ve made here. If slut-shaming is condemned in a novel and used to further the point that it is BAD and shouldn’t happen, then I am all for it. When it merely exists for the main character to look better by comparison, however, is when I hate it the most as it perpetuates the truth that it is WOMEN who slut shame other women the most, which is just plain horrible. Wonderful, thought-provoking post!
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    • Melanie says:

      yes, well said, Keertana. I remember reading many novels when the character called a pretty girl a slut just because she was prettier than her.

  15. Alise says:

    I definitely agree. When it’s used as a plot device or a main issue, I think it’s okay too. It happens in real life so it would almost be unrealistic to expect it not to show up in books. Great post!
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    • Melanie says:

      yeah. I feel like either the authors use it too scarcely where it’s just unrealistic or just too much to the point where it’s annoying as hell and makes me want to throw the book across the room

  16. Brea Johnson says:

    Oh gee, YES. A big, fat YES to this post. I’m tired of books that throw around the S word with no consequences. To naming and shaming someone who acknowledges sexual feelings,who may ‘get around’ or god forbid, wears something short.
    I have not read Tease, nor have I actually heard of it. But if it is using slut shamming as the issue, then I also think that is perfectly okay. It’s being demonstrated as an issue, with serious consequences. It’s not being shown as the “OK” thing to do.
    Great discussion, Mel!
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    • Melanie says:

      thank you! Yes, the premise of Tease is basically of a girl who suicided because she was bullied (slut shamed) at school. It’s told in the POV of the bully. It’s pretty interesting it perfectly portrays why it’s such a bad thing but also captures the realism of the situation as well

  17. I’d have to agree with you Melanie – but personally I think slut-shaming tends to be used a lot… which sort of annoys me. I mean, I get the bullying part, but does it really have to be calling someone a slut or skank? Pfft, someone use cyberbullying one day. I’ll give them cookies for breaking away from traditionalness.
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    • Melanie says:

      hahaa! I haven’t read a lot of books with cyberbullying, so yeah, that would be a good idea especially since pretty much everyone has social media

  18. Oooh interesting topic to discuss Mel! I think slut shaming is fine if it is used in the correct term as you said, they were illustrating that it was a real issue in Tease. But I hate it when characters we are supposed to like and are perceived as strong, respectable slut shame others. That’s when it really annoys us. I personally dnf’d tease not only because of the slut shaming on every page but because the writing was really hard for me to read without rolling my eyes. I wish I was able to persevere for the story but alas, cannot. Thank you for your thoughts lovely <3
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    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, the main character of Tease was really irritating and cold at the start but it got so much easier to read after a while as she grows and realises her faults

  19. I think you have made a very good point here. I think it is so terrible how girls can be so mean to each other, and if an author uses it in their books to show how horrible it is, then it’s fine. Great discussion, thanks for bringing it up.
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    • Melanie says:

      thank you! i find the topic of bulling in books to be really interesting when it’s written well. very controversial and thought provoking

  20. Tanja says:

    I think I’m standing on the same ground as you here. I do not approve of any kind of slut-shaming but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. I don’t approve of bullying of any kind or racism and it’s still very presented and discussed in books as well. So why not put issue of slut-shaming in YA books too? I mean it’s educational. Great post, Mel 🙂
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    • Melanie says:

      ugh. rasism is a whole other topic that i do not approve of at all. But yeah, books that deal with these topics and show the consequences are educational. I remember wanting to shove Tease in front of some of my ex-classmate’s faces because they slut sham all the time and god it annoys me to no end

  21. I definitely agree with you there. When there’s slut-shaming in books, I usually get angry and post about how I hate it, but sadly. It is reality that many girls in schools nowadays are being slut-shamed. I haven’t read Tease yet, but I am definitely going to check this out now. Great post Melanie 😀
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  22. Kelly says:

    It’s practically a taboo to even disagree that it has a place in books, but hands up who never called another girl one as a teen. Guarantee that we all have at one point, so why wouldn’t it happen in our books? I think the bigger picture is that books are becoming too politically correct. Teens fight, gossip and yes, even swear. Couldn’t agree more, it does have a place in books, how else can we ensure that our contemporaries have that realism we all crave. I think the difference is how it’s portrayed and if the characters learn from the behaviour. Awesome and very gutsy post Mel.
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    • Melanie says:

      I have certainly called girls sluts before and you are correct. Either books are not including it at all–which just isn’t realistic or they are throwing it on every page with no real purpose. Thank you <33

  23. Jaz says:

    Oh Mel great controversial post you’ve got here.

    Slut shaming is SUCH a touchy topic I usually don’t breach it at all. I agree with you though! If it’s to be used, it should be the main theme and actually needs to be tackled – the reader must be alerted to the fact that the character being called a “slut” is potentially wrong.

    I hate it when characters call each other sluts in passing in books i.e. “she’s such a slut” and it’s a statement in a chapter, rather than being something that can be dealt with. Basically, I don’t like when the term is misused. I can definitely say though that I AM guilty of having using the ‘s’ word before. If I’m reading a book and girl sleeps around I have been guilty of calling her a slut – House of Night for example.

    I’ve yet to get around to Tease but I have heard it’s a great book that tackles bullying in a very unique way – a very powerful book, so I will definitely read it and tell you what I think of this issue.
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    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, so have I. I am sure that everyone has used the word at least one time in their life at high school. And that’s exactly the problem. Everyone is because everyone doesn’t think it’s such a big deal.

  24. Glass says:

    Melanie, you picked a perfect topic!
    I am among those who liked Tease and I agree with you – that is a something that we should talk more about. But talking about this – in general – I’ve noticed a trend between young girls to call each other all this degrading names but they do it “proudly”. That is not okay too.
    Slut-shaming is a product of double standards when it comes to sexuality. Only way to ever change that is to talk, talk, talk and talk some more. With your children, with students, with your nephews, friends, cousins, siblings… One something stop being a taboo, there is no right or wrong, more and less valuable.
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    • Melanie says:

      Yeah. At my old school, they’d be like “you’re such a slut” in a good way like I’m so proud of you for being slutty etc. which is just completely wrong. Thanks!

  25. I don’t like to see it used with no negative consequences, if there’s a mean character and she gets away with it, it sets a bad example. If it’s used to highlight that a girl is mean/insecure and she learns from it, then that’s ok and sends a message to readers

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist
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  26. I haven’t read Tease yet, but if it calls for slut-shaming, then I am all for it. I do agree that when it is done for a proper purpose in books, then it is okay. I’ve been called a ‘bitch’ before (and I don’t know what else behind my back when I was in college), so I know that it is necessary for people to know that this happens. I am really glad you talked about this 🙂
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  27. Excellent points, Melanie! I agree with you about both slut-shaming and Tease. I haven’t written my review for it yet, but I’m still thinking about it really often. And I think it is very important that there are some books that talk about slut-shaming, especially to show how disturbingly dangerous it can be.
    There are some books, though, that seem to ‘promote’ slut-shaming, and I hate that. But in my opinion, that was not the case at all for Tease.
    Have a great weekend, Melanie.
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