Opinion: The walk of shame shouldn't be shameful

By using the terms 'walk of shame' and 'shackers' people are giving in to slut-shaming culture

When a college woman is seen walking into her apartment in the early hours of the morning with shoes in hand, hair in a ponytail and wearing an extra large “Rush Sigma Apple Pie” frat shirt, a gaze is immediately cast on her. 

The walk of shame is just one of the terms college students coin to cast judgment on college women in a romantic culture dominated by hookups. Shacker, another popular phrase, is used to describe the shirts snagged from drawers to prevent returning home in the same clothes as the night before. 

And though these terms may not be unique to women, negative judgment against women is more intense than with other genders.

Both terms are used light-heartedly to describe a woman’s sexcapades and are meant to degrade a woman for taking part in college hookup culture. But this should stop, as it normalizes the slut shaming of college women. 

“Women across the world are generally taught from birth, implicitly or explicitly, that their sexual behavior defines their worth in the world," writes J.R. Thorpe in an article for Bustle. "And women who violate, or are simply thought to violate, expectations of female sexual behavior.”  

This double standard is centuries old. Men are expected or even celebrated for engaging in risky behavior while women are shamed for it. 

This double standard is even apparent in academia. An American Medical Association study from 2006 titled "Sex and Intoxication More Common Among Women on Spring Break" focused on the “reckless behavior” that ensues when girls get drunk but pays no mind to the behavior of their counterparts. 

“From a psychoanalytical perspective we can see that frequently men project their fear of desire onto women and then blame women for their desire, which I believe is part of this slut shaming that we see in contemporary society," said Cynthia Gaffney, a senior lecturer at the New College's School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at ASU.

Women can internalize this behavior as well.

“Because both women and men are intimidated by erotic female energy, women might be jealous that someone got sexual attention from a man or wished that they were as pretty or as sexy as someone else,” said sex therapist Ashley Grinonneau-Denton in an interview with Ediva Zanker for ShareCare, a personalized healthcare service. “They make the girl feel bad for an aspect of her femininity because they just want to take her down a notch."

Regardless of their situation, college students should not feel like their so-called 'walk of shame' is something to be ashamed about. 

Even if they have a drawer filled with shacker shirts, it should mean nothing about their character and everything about getting free pajamas.

Reach the columnist at psaso@asu.edu and follow @paytonsaso on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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