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Lauren Rosewarne is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne and the author of nine books on gender, sexuality, politics and pop culture. You are free to republish this article both online and in print. We ask that you follow some simple guidelines. Please do not edit the piece, ensure that you attribute the author, their institute, and mention that the article was originally published on BroadAgenda.
Earlier this year, senator David Leynhjolm caused national outrage when during a senate debate, he told Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young to "stop shagging men". Sexism in politics is not exactly new. In recent years, however, the situation seems to have gotten a lot worse in Australia. And unsurprisingly, it impacts women more than men. Today on BroadAgenda, Dr Lauren Rosewarne tackles the insidious practice of 'slut-shaming', and its impact on women's lives and careers.
Just this week, Labor MP Emma Husar has decided to quit politics based on the slut-shaming that has haunted her throughout her short tenure. To the uninitiated, slut-shaming is a reputational assault disproportionately inflicted on women. Politics is an industry dominated by men. For a woman to reach a position of power, slut-shaming is a technique used to undermine her.
That rather than being deserving, instead, she just lay back and parted her legs. The enduring slut-stud paradox explains the way that the sex lives of men and women are differently appraised.
Slut-shaming impacts women in ways that men are largely immune from because men who have — or are thought to have — a lot of sex benefit from a social cachet boast. For women, conversely, her value diminishes. This results in male-dominated work places staying male-dominated and keeping women ever further from full equality. Anyone who enjoys any kind of sex that deviates from the narrowest notion of 'normal' can similarly be a victim. For the label to become more than an accusation however, we need to agree that such attacks are an actual problem.