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11 Ways Feminist Moms Raise Kids Who Won't Slut-Shame (That Have Nothing To Do With Sex)

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Growing up can be rough. By “can be,” I mean "most definitely is." Most of us experienced our fair share of teasing and bullying and, if you’re a woman, you have most likely experienced some form of slut-shaming. Slut-shaming can be devastating to girls and women. Whether it’s happening in the middle school cafeteria or Twitter, the classroom or the break room, the soccer field or the job interview, slut-shaming creates a dangerously negative identity for the person its thrust upon. A woman who has multiple sexual partners is labeled as a “slut” while male counterparts are congratulated for their sexual experience. But did you know that a great deal of slut-shaming, most often and at its core, has nothing to do with sexual behavior?

Too frequently, a woman who speaks out with authority or challenges the status quo is called a "slut" and threatened with sexual violence. This happens (to simplify a bit) because a woman exhibiting power can only be interpreted sexual since, from a broad social standpoint, women are inherently viewed as sexual objects. And when a woman makes a display of sexual power (which, again, can literally be any gesture of power or authority, no matter how empirically desexualized it is; it will read as unspokenly sexual because it's being executed by a woman, who is a sex object), she is called a "slut." That's what it comes down to: You can't be a woman without every moment of your life being interpreted sexually, which means you can't be powerful in any regard without being viewed as subsequently sexually aggressive, and you can't be that when you're a woman without being a slut. Phew. What a shitshow.

It’s not uncommon for a girl to be labeled as a slut without ever having a sexual experience. The nature of this epidemic disproportionately targets women but also makes them more likely to become victims of sexual violence – often dismissed and blamed on the victim because they have been labeled as sluts. What can we do to stop slut-shaming? Here are some ways feminist moms raise kids who won’t slut shame others (and they have nothing to do with sex):

Valuing The Freedom Of Expression

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Teaching children early on that they are free to express themselves will help to foster a more accepting adult. When we have a firmer grasp on ourselves, we're more comfortable with the differences between us and others.

Focusing On Equality

When boys are taught that girls are equal and girls are taught that they are equal with boys, a lot of things about life improve. If children view themselves as equals and grow up to believe this, the slut-shaming that's driven by a double standard between men and women will cease to apply.

Ignoring Conventional Gender Roles Wherever Possible

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Along the lines of equality, minimizing gender roles in the way we raise our children helps to eliminated double standards. When each person is allowed to choose what they like, it's less of a surprise when women choose to enjoy sex or be assertive.

Praising Our Kid's Character

By focusing on the character of a child, it minimizes the likelihood that they would slut-shame someone else. When we take the time to really develop our children, teach acceptance, and guide them to be compassionate people, slut-shaming doesn't have a chance to raise its ugly head.

Teaching The Strength Of Words

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The old adage of "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" has been proven wrong again and again. With rising numbers of teen suicide linked to bullying and slut-shaming, there's really no question about what words can do. By teaching our children the importance of the words they choose, we keep them from using words that will harm others. By teaching them to value every word, we force them to choose wisely.

Leading By Example

Being careful with our own words is just as important as teaching the lesson to our kids. When we slut-shame or degrade someone based on their appearance, our kids are likely to do the same. So, feminist moms just don't do it.

Placing Someone's Actions Over Their Appearance

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Feminist moms don't care how you're dressed — we care who you are. And we make sure our kids know that's what we value in other people. Again, with the emphasis on character and behavior, on making your own choices, on becoming a strong individual, children are less likely to slut-shame someone for their appearance or sexual choices.

Teaching Personal Accountability

When you teach a child that they are accountable for their own actions and no one else's, you reduce the chance they will feel free to judge someone else. By teaching children to be strong, independent, and choose their own path, we teach them to encourage others who choose their own path.

Teaching Body Positivity And Acceptance

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Every single one of us has something we don't like about ourselves. Even the most body-positive people out there don't enjoy endless strings of days wherein they flawlessly and wholly escape the internalized pressure to look a certain way. Everyone has moments where they hate the parts of themselves that don't fit the mold of what we're told we're supposed to be. So if we know what it's like to struggle with that, why would we cause hardship for others? We teach our children to accept their own bodies and to accept the bodies of others, and to be forgiving of themselves and others when that attempt doesn't always go flawlessly.

Choices Are A Big Deal In Our Houses

We give our children choices. Early on, we establish that they get to choose who they become, whether that means picking what to eat for breakfast or what outfit to wear or what extracurriculars to sign up for. As feminist moms, we make sure our kids know that they are in control of their bodies and lives, and we are simply here to guide them to staying safe and exploring their options as they figure out how to steer their little ships. When we give our children this power of self-determination, they're more likely to extend it to those around them.

Love

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I know, it seems simple. We love our children. Just like moms who aren't feminists, we show our children how to love and demonstrate kindness. We praise them and show affection, we encourage and challenge them; we show them exactly how words should be used and give them the strength to love others. If we raise children who see the value in others enough to love them, we've got a much better shot at having successfully raised children who won't slut-shame.