So let’s talk about The Game’s recent Instagram pic that had the web buzzing.
The Game posted a pic of himself in some skin tight blue shorts flaunting his dick print and there were some interesting responses. There quite a large number of women who responded negatively calling him a “thot” and a “whore” and discussing how unimpressed they were that he would be so attention hungry. On the one hand I felt no sympathy for the comments that they made towards him because they had some very valid points, but on the other hand isn’t what they were doing to The Game the same kind of slut-shaming actions that so many women denigrate men for? Is tit-for-tat really the way to champion equal treatment of women or does it make women the same species of monster that they seek to destroy?
Slut shaming, at its very core, is about the assumption that a person’s external expression of sexuality is about external consumption. Such a notion strips a person of ownership of their sexuality and their right to express their sexual identity purely for their own gratification. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is obsessed with external validation and expects for sexuality to be completely extraneous. To some degree it is because sexuality is a tool that we use for luring potential partners as well as obtaining the attention and attraction of potential partners influences our sexual choices and expressions. However, when a person is vilified for their choices under the assumption that their sexuality was meant to be subject to the judgments of any one person outside of themselves, well then it is slut-shaming.
When I saw The Game’s pic I admit that the first thing that came to mind was “thirst trap.” And I did, indeed, assume that he posted the pic in order to gain attention. But then as I read the comments that the women were making I thought about all of the women who I have seen scantily clad with their various parts exposed and/or silhouetted and I thought, well what if he posted it for himself? What if he has been working out and finds himself sexually appealing and is embracing his own sexuality. In truth, he is man, and men do have dicks so is it lewd that he had his blatantly exposed or is it simply a declaration not to be ashamed of his own natural body? I thought about the recent slut walk that was hosted by Amber Rose. Where she spoke about being slut shamed by both Kanye West and her baby’s father, Wiz Khalifa, after their relationships were over. She even went back as far as recalling having been slut shamed at the age of 14. Rose is a former exotic dancer and frequently posts sexy pics on social media. Yet for the most part she has been embraced for her recent efforts to speak out against slut shaming. Is that because she is a woman and we expect slut shaming to be a woman’s issue? Why can she embraced and.or excused but The Game?
The problem is that when it comes to efforts to tear down systems of oppression we often allow the dialogue to become superficial, stale and over-simplified. We settle for coin phrases instead of critical analysis. And we rely on perspectives we are familiar with instead of exploring new intellectual territory. The result is that those who have been oppressed lose sight of their true goal, which would be the liberation of all, and instead resign to be satisfied with the destruction of their oppressors. This devalues the purpose of the battle that they are waging. For women who abhor slut shaming to resort to slut shaming a man when the opportunity presents itself does nothing for their cause. If anything it says that they do not truly denounce slut shaming; they just don’t want it to happen to them. Paulo Freire stated it best when he said:
In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity, become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both
– Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Champions of the oppressed cannot allow themselves to be pulled into the gutter with the oppressors ends will never justify the means. We have to be cognizant not to attack individuals but attack the systems and structures that use individuals to keep others in an oppressive state. So if we can readily admit that both men and women can be promiscuous or – for consistency of terminology – sluts. Why then can’t both men and women be the victims of slut shaming? And if justice and equality is what we’re serving, then let’s do so with an even handed spoon.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man