Slut is a four letter word.

Three weeks ago, Kim Kardashian West posted the featured image on to her personal instagram account with the caption; “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL”. It garnered 1.6 million likes and sent the whole world into a social media meltdown, causing many people, including those of a high profile to jump behind their keyboards and criticise the reality star/entrepreneur to no end. Kim later released an essay on international women’s day, hitting back at the critics and speaking out on the issue of ‘slut-shaming’, using herself and the backlash she has received over the past 13 years as a leading example of the problem.

I found the debate and discussion which occurred in the aftermath of Ms Kardashian-West’s selfie interesting as it seemed to demonstrate the hugely varying stances people held in regards to this topic and so, I felt it would be only natural to base my research project around the prominent issue of ‘Slut-shaming.’ My only problem being, which exact angle or approach to take.

What are the social impacts of slut-shaming upon females in Australia.

The hardest part about discovering the right approach to take in regards to this project was figuring out what was more important for me to investigate. Questions such as; ‘How prevalent is slut-shaming in today’s society’, and ‘How does slut-shaming impact on female empowerment’, sat with me for a while but these thoughts didn’t seem to capture specifically what I wished to unearth in terms of the research I would conduct. I didn’t want my leading question to unethically induce biased results or skew my research in any way and so I have chosen to lead with a broad question which will hopefully allow for me to explore the concept in further detail through my research methods; (survey questions, case studies etc.) I feel that my target question will allow me to delve into all of the aspects of the problem. I will be able to ask questions concerning the sexual double standard in regards to male sexuality vs. female sexuality; The idea that slut-shaming promotes sexual violence, The notion that it is women, who in fact perpetrate much of the ‘slut-shaming’, questions about the exact words and terms which are used to degrade women as well as a whole array of other pressing issues regarding the topic at hand.

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Tina Fey in the movie ‘Mean Girls’.

In terms of secondary sources which I have looked over in preparation for this task, I have found that this particular issue seems to be one of hot debate. Recently, there have been countless investigations carried out by universities as well as independent social justice movements such as; the ‘UnSlut Project‘ and Amber Rose‘s ‘Slutwalk‘, revolving around this topic.  A piece of Research conducted by the University of Kingsville, Texas; published in the Higher Education Journal  during May 2015, outlines findings concerning the ‘College students’ perceptions of slut-shaming discourse on campus’. An article posted on a Gender Society blog in 2014, titled ‘The link between Slut-shaming, Bullying and Femininity’, which was endorsed by the University of Massachusetts, identifies the different impacts slut-shaming connotations can have upon women of different economical calibres. An interview published by Complex Magazine with American Rapper ‘A$AP Rocky‘, titled “Jewels from A$AP Rocky” involves him speaking about the sexual double standard that applies to women which men seem to be immune to. This interview is quite interesting as it perfectly sums up a lot of the elements which make up and fuel the culture of slut shaming. These are just some of the dozens of sources I consulted when deciding on a worthwhile research topic.

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An image taken from Amber Rose’s SlutWalk campaign.

In regards to my Research Methodology, I intend to conduct an online survey which will feature a number of questions concerning many aspects of the slut-shaming issue, in order to gain a fuller understanding as to What are the social impacts of slut-shaming upon females in Australia. The survey will be distributed through social media platforms such as facebook and tumblr, making sure that I take care to ensure that the subjects fit the demographic (i.e Australian). I also plan to conduct interviews with a randomly selected few people in order to delve further into personal experiences concerning the topic. I will endeavour to ensure that my work will remain ethical at all times, by disclosing to all subjects the exact nature of my research and gaining their full permission to use any information obtained in my final project.

In conclusion, by conducting my own primary investigation into the social impacts of slut-shaming in Australia, I hope to shed some light on to the many elements which contribute to this largely contemporary issue.

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