Emma Davies

#NationalCleavageDay and the incessant problem of Slut-Shaming

Scrolling through my twitter feed a few days ago, I noticed a tweet in which a friend of mine lamented the fact that #NationalCleavageDay was, at that moment, the second most popular ‘trending topic’ on the site. Instantly repulsed by what appeared to be such an inherently chauvinistic concept, I began to look at some of the tweets that included the hashtag, and was shocked by what I saw; I was greeted, to my horror, not only with the usual LADLADLAD  tweets about the idea being the best thing that’s happened in months, but also with a deeply disturbing string of tweets, from males and females alike, vilifying the women who were (consensually) posting pictures of their cleavages online, labelling them as ‘sluts’ and ‘slags.’ When a (brilliant, clever feminist) friend of mine tweeted  “safe to say I never, ever, ever want to meet the chauvinist behind #NationalCleavageDay” – fair enough, to be honest – she received a reply not only dismissing the whole thing as a bit of a laugh, (is it just me who fails to see the funny side of the sexualisation and objectification of young women?) but also placing the blame solely on the “slutty” women posting the pictures, without seeming to acknowledge the role that certain men were playing by commenting on the pictures and objectifying the women to the point that they seemed to have forgotten to think of them as anything more than just a pair of tits. (Oh, by the way, according to an image posted under the hashtag, those tits should preferably be circular, sit exactly 15cm from the chin, and the cleavage line should be approximately 5cm long. Thanks, lads! I’ll bear that in mind!)

An alternative pair of tits  (joke stolen from the Huffington Post, we can claim no credit)

An alternative pair of tits
(joke stolen from the Huffington Post, we can claim no credit)

Unlike those labelling the females in these pictures as ‘slutty,’ I have absolutely no problem with a woman choosing to embrace her body and sexuality by taking and sharing pictures of her cleavage. A woman’s body is hers to do with it what she will, and if you’re confident enough with your body to do that, then good for you! Go for it! God knows I wish more women and girls didn’t hate their bodies to the extent that, according to a survey undertaken by The Representation Project, the number one ‘magic wish’ for girls aged between 11 and 17 is to be thinner, and research conducted by Central YMCA and the Centre for Appearance Research has shown one in four adults to feel depressed about their bodies.

What I do have a problem with, however, is twitter ‘campaigns’ such as this one, thanks to which women and young girls may feel pressured to post a picture, ‘for the banter,’ and then might be exposed to shaming and humiliating by her peers if she eventually does so. What I do have a problem with is the young men commenting on these pictures, rating the girls out of ten as if they’re nothing more than objects, immediately dismissing girls who aren’t quite perfect – that is, girls that are, um, normal – as ‘fat slags,’ ridiculing anyone who doesn’t measure up to their curvy-but-by-some-miracle-also-skinny ideal woman and thus feeding into the incredibly damaging view that a woman’s worth is inextricably linked to how attractive (read, fuckable) a man deems her to be. And most of all, what I do have a problem with is the blame for #NoCleavageDay and other similar fads being placed on the women themselves, rather than on the patriarchal, inherently misogynistic society that has normalised this kind of insulting, pervasive and damaging objectification. We are worth more than a pair of tits, and we are worth more than this.

2 thoughts on “#NationalCleavageDay and the incessant problem of Slut-Shaming

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