While reading the victim-blaming reactions to the Steubenville case (I won’t link to anything here; if you want to read something that’ll make you throw up in your mouth, Google it), one thing stood out to me. It’s the sort of thing that should have been obvious before, after living for over 30 years in a culture of persistent double standards of sexuality. But it’s even clearer after looking at long lists of screencaps of horrible people typing disgusting things about a 16-year-old girl who was treated like a piece of meat.
The definition of “acting like a slut” can be anything and everything. It could be sleeping with multiple partners, or flirting, or suggestive dancing, or wearing revealing clothes, or just showing up at a party where teenage boys are in attendance. If you are on the receiving end of sexual assault by someone popular, then whatever you were doing at the time will be characterized as “acting like a slut.” Once the label of “slut” is applied, you are no longer worthy of protection under the law. Other people are allowed—nay, required—to do horrible things to you, and you were expected to know that before you acted like a slut. Once you are identified as a slut, you are playing foul if you report the assault to the police. If your assailants are prosecuted and convicted, then you are a slut who ruined their lives by doing whatever you were doing when they decided to treat you like the slut you clearly are.
It can’t be rape because you were acting like a slut, and you must have been acting like a slut because those guys wouldn’t dare lay a hand on any girl unless she forced their hands by acting slutty. We know they’re good guys because they’ve never hurt anyone who didn’t have it coming.