What’s Sex Got to Do With the Question: Does This Shirt Make Me Look Like a Slut?

Deborah L. Tolman discusses adolescent girls’ sexuality and the double standard surrounding it. Girls are expected to be sexy but not sexual, just as one of Hannah’s viewers commented that they wanted girls to sluts when with them but celibate elsewhere. The same binary is being reinforced in both statements. Tolman goes on to talk about “sexual socialization” which determines when it is appropriate to be sexual and to what extent.

In the video above Hannah Witton explores the idea of “dressing like a slut”. It’s a question she’s been asked time and time again, what type of clothes make a woman look like a slut? From here she then questions what does a slut even look like? In attempts to find an answer, Hannah begins by trying a whole variety of going out clothes. This led to Hannah raising a series of thought-provoking questions, about what defines a slut and how one could even tell who is a slut based on what they wear. She took to social media to determine what is a slut, asking people on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. Tumblr and Twitter users had fairly progressive definitions of what a “slut” is, acknowledging that it is a patriarchal concept and a derogatory term. Facebook users instead chose to describe a “slut” as a woman who has way too much sex or dresses like she does. Eventually she comes to the decision that there is no such thing as a slut, that every individual can decide for themselves how many people they sleep with. She furthers this statement, stating that the way a person dresses can in no way tell you how many people they sleep with.

This phenomena stating that the way a woman chooses to dress has anything to do with her sexual behavior is a very predominant ideal on college campus. While getting ready for a night out, I frequently have friends ask if the “shirt/shorts/skirt/dress” makes them look slutty; I’ve asked that question myself. As a female on a college campus, there often feels like there is a certain expectation to look attractive without looking too promiscuous. This creates a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate dress, with far different guidelines for the daytime and the nighttime. What often seems to hold the guidelines in place is the hook-up culture discussed by Bogle, females and males on college campuses seem to hold great value in who they hooked-up with (even if the definition of “hooking-up” varies greatly from person to person).

But why does what you wear have anything to do with your sexual history? For all you know, the girl in the teensy crop top and short shorts is a virgin and the girl in the turtleneck and jeans has slept with half the brothers in one fraternity. Does it even matter? Choice of dress and sexual history have no correlation or causation to connect each other, yet the impression that there is direct causation between the two seems to reign supreme. Is it that girls are told if they want to “get guys” they have to dress in skimpy, promiscuous-looking clothing, do girls who do want to have sex intentionally dress in those styles of clothing? Do you think the stereotypes reinforce the behavior or is there merit to the study?