LIPS works to empower words used in victim blaming


The Appalachian Online

Chamian Cruz

In correlation to Rape Culture Awareness Week, LIPS: Expressions of Female Sexuality coordinated the Ask A Slut tabling event Nov. 19 to create awareness on using the word “slut” and how people can reclaim the word as empowerment.

LIPS seeks to provide a space for female-identified people to discuss sensitive topics on sexuality and to raise awareness of related issues on campus. They set up a table in the International Hallway of Plemmons Student Union from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to welcome students for discussion.

“Feminism is the belief in the social, political and economic equality of all genders and sexes, and I think it’s as simple as that,” said Elizabeth Tate, junior sociology major and coordinator of the event. “It’s the belief that everyone should have the same opportunity to advance in every way they want to.”

The event focused on discussing the word and how it’s used in victim-blaming and rape culture, as well as to discuss reclaiming it as a term of empowerment.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, there is an average of 237,868 victims, ages 12 and older, of rape and sexual assault each year.

Many times, victims of rape and sexual assault are shamed and blamed by being made to believe it was their fault for dressing a certain way, Tate explained.

“When I use the word slut on myself, I’m talking about myself as a woman who isn’t afraid to make her own decisions regarding her sexuality,” Tate said.

LIPS aims to show that by taking away the power of the word slut as an insult, the word can instead become an identity to show strength in terms of sexuality.

“Slut is a word that you use for yourself, but you can’t put that identity on another person,” said Amelia Thomas, junior sociology major. “Like, [when] men using it or even other women using it to call someone else – that is wrong.”

LIPS also encourages men to get involved in the action by stopping their friends from saying rude comments or jokes concerning the word. Once men get involved it creates a much more feminist movement, which is equality for all.

“I think the biggest way is just for men to talk to other men about it,” said Tate. “So if a guy is coming to our meetings and he knows how these words are used to victim blame and if he hears his friend make a joke like that just say, ‘Hey, that’s not cool. That’s hurting a lot of people when you say that.’”

Reclaiming the word is a personal choice and should be used with understanding what the word means to each individual. Though it has helped many as empowerment, it can also be uncomfortable, especially for survivors and victims who have heard the word used against them, Thomas explained.

“If we want to use those words we have to be careful with why and how we’re using them,” Tate said.

Story: Chamian Cruz, Intern News Reporter