Slut Shaming as a Form of Public Shaming

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In modern society, slut shaming has skyrocketed more and more, commonly through rumors, and it continues to be an issue. Slut shaming is the act of criticizing a woman for her presumed sexual activity or, in other words, for behaving in ways that someone thinks are associated with sexual activity. The movie “Easy A” references the book “The Scarlet Letter” and it analyzes the audiences feelings of concern with the idea of slut shaming a woman, which is a social issue in today’s society that influences promiscuity in a harmful way, continuing to be a problem in public high schools today. In addition, a comparison between Easy A and “The Scarlet Letter” reveal several social issues that we, as the audience can relate to modern society today. Another important factor to consider in reference to slut shaming is that gender identity plays a role in how it affects women who are being alienated and shamed. Although, before watching the movie Easy A and knowing about the comparison between the movie and the book The Scarlet Letter, the audience already knows that slut shaming is already a big issue in today’s society.

The movie Easy A and “The Scarlet Letter,” confirm that alienating and shaming women for promiscuous acts is common in modern society. In reference to “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester Prynne wore the letter “A” on her chest as a way of shame for her acts of adultery. Hester was alienated from everyone and the community shamed her. In Easy A, Olive suffers some, but not all, similar consequences for her promiscuous acts that Hester was given. However, in modern society, women wear a different type of scarlet letter that lasts for a long time and in most times is harder to handle. The movie Easy A is portrayed as an example of “slut shaming” that happens both in the hallways at school and in local communities too.

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In the movie “Easy A”, Olive Penderghast, played by Emma Stone, sees herself as the victim of a high school rumor when she lies to her best friend Rhiannon, played by Alyson Michalka. Her best friend invited her to spend the weekend with her and her family and Olive lies and says that she has a date with an imaginary college freshman. At school, the next day, Rhiannon and Olive talking in the bathroom where she asks her how her date was and Olive decides to lie saying that she lost her virginity with her “boyfriend.” Their conversation is overheard and the rumor is quickly spread around the halls of the high school and Olive welcomes the attention. She agrees to help one of her friends who gets bullied a lot by pretending to sleep with him, however, her reputation degrades, and she begins to spin out of control. By continuing to help more and more people at her school her lies only escalate further and she must find a way to fix her tarnished reputation. A religious student at the school, Marianne, played by Amanda Bynes; tries to find ways of getting Olive expelled. Olive decides to come out, identifying herself in the halls by wearing a red letter “A” across her chest (Kane).

Throughout the movie, it revolves around the stereotype of the term “slut” itself and those who are being slut shamed. In our society today, slut shaming is very common between teens in high school and occurs more than we know. In “Easy A” Olive becomes known as a “slut” at her high school and she embraces this new image. There are a few things that can be analyzed in “Easy A”, such as how common slut shaming is in public high schools, contrast +between male and female pertaining to sex, and gender identity. The movie primarily focuses on slut shaming between males and females in regards to their sexual activity. The movie reveals that one of the main reasons women are slut shamed is reasoned with their personal, sexual interactions. “Easy A” also emphasizes how its expected for women to feel embarrassed by their choices, instead of looking at it as their own free right to do what they want. Olive’s classmates pay her money to say that they slept with her only to gain attention at school, however; Olive feels ashamed and is mocked by her actions. Many people who watch this movie come to an understanding that the teaching behind this movie is that women should be able to take pleasure in sexual activities rather than be shamed for it by their peers (Kane).

Some perspectives that some people take away from “Easy A” is the perspective that teens are trying to fit the topic of gender identities that is created by society. Gender identity is someone's perception of being a particular gender (Human Rights Campaign). In “Easy A” Olive’s friend Brandon, who is gay, feels like he needs to lie in order to be accepted and liked by his classmates. He persuades Olive to go into one of the bedrooms at a party and pretend to have sex, making sounds to make it convinceable. After this intended humorous scene, it reveals the reality of how teens want to fit into society. Throughout this comedy, Olive’s story of her experience at a public high school highlights several social issues that also exist in today’s modern society.

Aside from the movie Easy A and the comparison between it and “The Scarlet Letter” it is important to look at other perspectives and different interpretations of slut shaming based on status in relation to self esteem and respect. Those with higher status result in experiencing self esteem and approval. Those with low status result in experiencing disregard and stigma. Stigma refers to a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others. Research and studies on American peer cultures show that traits such as looks, social skills, popularity as a whole, and athleticism are loosely linked to social class (Armstrong). From a social psychological study approach, sexual labeling is mainly about distancing oneself from being stigmatized in society (Armstrong).

It is a well known factor that slut shaming is a pressing issue in modern society that harshly affects women who are being alienated and shamed. The audience is well aware of the factors of slut shaming and how it is harmful to society, however, it continues to increase as a problem. It is also a known factor that gender identity does play a role in reference to slut shaming and that women should have the right to be who they want to be. In modern society, we, as the audience; can try to prevent this act of public humiliation towards women based on their promiscuous actions. However, it is also commonly known that what the majority agreement towards the act of alienating and shaming women are not likely to be gone against in terms of what is morally right. The majority will continue to do these acts towards women even if they do not agree with it themselves. Slut shaming is an act that goes against women and their right to privacy to do what they choose in their own time.

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Slut Shaming as a Form of Public Shaming. (2020, December 14). WritingBros. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/slut-shaming-as-a-form-of-public-shaming/
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Slut Shaming as a Form of Public Shaming. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/slut-shaming-as-a-form-of-public-shaming/> [Accessed 23 Feb. 2024].
Slut Shaming as a Form of Public Shaming [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 14 [cited 2024 Feb 23]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/slut-shaming-as-a-form-of-public-shaming/
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