Any Value?: Slut Slamming

Slut Slamming.

It’s one of the tropes I hate the most right now in YA.  I think it’s because it’s just so degrading to women in general and it sort of preaches at archaic messages.  However, it seems like it’s a mainstream in YA.  I could write an essay going into the nitty gritty of slut slamming and why it’s wrong.  But I thought I’d do something different, analyze how it is used as a plot device in five books (some of these books I like, some I’m indifferent to, and some I just downright despise) and try to come to some conclusions.

1)

The Storyline: An unpopular girl finds out she’s a princess and low and behold she becomes popular.

The Victim:  Lana is the original mean girl and honestly she’s a horrible person.  Mia keeps reminding us of this throughout the series and it works.  But if you take away the fact that she’s sort of a bitch, Mia’s real hate for her resides in the fact that Lana has the BMOC and is pretty.  You could say Lana hates Mia because she’s a princess.  It’s sort of a mutual thing.  And it comes off realistic enough, save for the end where the two become besties-no, I’m not joking.  They are besties.

Efficient Use: Unfortunately, yes.  Mainly because Mia and Lana act like teenage girls.  Their hatred is mostly based off of jealousy and boys.  Cabot doesn’t degrade Lana for being sexually active like many YA books do and the two become friends.  As much as it pains me, I think it’s what saves this one is the fact that both characters admit they were petty and childish in the end.  Also, it helps that the boy they were fighting over-total douche.  Though still not used to them being besties.

2)

The storyline: A do gooder angel, that makes those idiots on 7th Heaven look bad, comes down to Earth to fight the forces of darkness but instead falls in love.

The Victim: Molly, but really everyone.  Molly is the human best friend that epitomizes what is wrong with this world-makeup and tight jeans.  Seriously, wearing make up, flirting with a boy, and tight jeans are what’s wrong with the world.  Adornetto.  Seriously.  Watch CNN.  One episode of Anderson Cooper 360 should tell you that tight jeans are the least of our problems right now.

Efficient Use: Um, no.  How about offensive use.  I really feel for the character Molly.  She doesn’t get a happy ending.  Instead she gets shitted on, put in an abusive relationship, then learns the so called “right” of her ways.  Oh, and the guy she’s really in love with total douche and ditches her (well, I assume he ditched her Adornetto never solved that plot thread).  Bethie though gets everything handed to her on a plater like the little princess that she apparently was when the forbidden romance angle in her relationship was the same damn thing that was going on in the Molly and Gabriel relationship.  But who gets the short end of the stick: Molly.

3)

The Storyline: A mermaid kisses the wrong boy and OMG has to go get her bond broken.

The Victim: Lily, our MC, mainly because she’s treated like she committed the ultimate sin.  By not kissing the right boy.  Like you can only kiss one boy.  Hasn’t Childs ever heard of that old saying you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince-I did enjoy the book at the time though, I should mention that.  Still though, that whole message is annoying and reminds me something I’d see out of a Disney movie. Oh, and did I mention Lily totally hates this one girl because she’s with the BMOC and-oh, yeah-she’s a total bitch.

Efficient Use: Um, I get the kiss thing was used for a plot device.  But man, such an annoying plot device.  When I read the book I was okay with it, but now I really don’t know.  How can one expect you just to kiss one guy?  That’s really not fair.  And any Mean Girl slut slamming has me rolling my eyes unless the Mean Girl is a really awesome psychotic bitch and that rarely ever happens

4)

The Storyline: Think The Bachelor in a world  based on conspiracy theories that think China will  blow up the US if the US defaults on their loans and you get The Selection.  I’m not even going to discuss the stupidity of this world building other than if you’re trying to get someone to pay back a debt you don’t blow them and their resources up.
The Victim: Every girl who’s not America, but particularly Celeste.  Seriously, we’re told how naturally pretty America is throughout the book while everyone else wears to much make up and is over dressed and how the prince doesn’t love them because.  Cue music….
Yeah, I had to resort to using the “Zoey Redbird Theme”.
 
Efficient Use: I hated it.  But it did fit the book.  There’s a reason I don’t watch The Bachelor and that’s because it’s like this book.  Cass needs to cut the Mary Sue crap a lot though.  And I really wish we didn’t get the whole natural is pretty, make up makes you a whore message.  But really, could you expect anything else with this book?

5)

The Storyline:  This twerp gets sent to summer camp for acting out when in reality her shrink is bonkers and claims to be a fae (she might really be one, but I prefer to think she’s bonkers).
The Victim: The MC’s best friend and girl who is sexually active.  This book really takes the whole you have sex you get pregnant and die concept.  I gave up at the halfway mark it was that heinous.  So yeah, lots of victims.
Efficient Use: Um, no.  I marked this one DNF because of the slut slamming.
Conclusions:
 
Slut slamming is one of those tropes I don’t think is really necessary.  I think a lot of people use it because they think their reader can identify with a character ridiculed by a Regina George wannabe, but this is hardly the case.  Mean Girls was an exaggeration on how Girl World works.  It’s a lot more covert than that–i.e. someone won’t just call you a slut to your face because you don’t wear the right clothes and aren’t in cheerleading (instead, they’ll torment you behind your back).  It’s just stupid to have characters act like this with little to no motivation.  While I had some issues with the Mia/Lana relationship in Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series, it’s probably the most realistic popular/unpopular encounter I’ve seen because there are actually reasons these characters hate each other.
Unfortunately, it seems like slut slamming has grown out of this “Mean Girl” idea to becoming intricate parts of the plot, see The Selection and Forgive My Fins.  Both of these pieces rely on archaic ideas to support their plots.  Forgive My Fins is a little bit more indiscreet than The Selection.  When I first read it, I really didn’t even occur to me how God awful the message was. And yes, I know the kissing plot was merely tooled for getting Lilly and Quince underwater.  But God.  God.  Is it really wrong for a girl to kiss more than one guy?  Seriously, most people have more than one boyfriend.  And what are these books trying to say?  If you breakup with a guy there’s obviously something wrong with you.  There’s only one true love’s kiss?
Honestly, to me all of this goes back to the purity myth at the root of it.  Which makes me wonder why go back to these ideas… Yes, I get the values of waiting and all that jazz, but why condemn those teens who are sexually active or for that matter who have had more than one significant other.  It’s really disturbing.  And it’s one of those issues, I just think I’m going to have to explore more.
 
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4 thoughts on “Any Value?: Slut Slamming

  1. They didn't put "Happy" in the 7th Heaven intro!!! which I totes only watched in solidarity so now I got the song stuck in my head too. I like your analysis, not sure I agree with all (mostly because I haven't read some of the books you mention and don't think I ever really will), but of Meg Cabot's PD, I think you're right. Both Mia and Lana and Lily and everyone were really childish, but then, they were 14 year olds and whatever comments were made, it wasn't really about Lana being sexually active or not, but because she was with Josh and Mia like him at first. For me the good part about Mia's slight slut shamming (which kind of comes up again about Judith Greschner) is that it speaks more about her own insecurities over being ready or not for sex than because she really believe sex is bad. And, at least with Lana in particular, they work past it and become friendly.

  2. You know I'm actually shocked 7th Heaven isn't as syndicated as other WB/CW shows. I really could see ABC Family eating it up-Secret Life one of their biggest shows was created by the same creator.I totally forgot about the Judith Greschner thing. But I'm really glad you mentioned it. I hate slut slamming, but Cabot knew how to use it without it being offensive. It just fit the characters they were immature and they had reasons not to like their adversaries and insult them. I feel like with a lot of these books they think they're obligated to have a Regina George which so isn't the case.

  3. Think The Bachelor in a world conspiracy theorist who think China decides to blow up the US because the US defaulted on their loans and you get The Selection.I choked on my tea. That is PERFECT.Anyway, slut-shaming needs to die a horrible death. I think there should be panels at YA book publishing conventions about it, describing internalised misogyny and/or misandry, and introducing better ways to include drama into a plot, rather than bringing in some promiscuous girl who's jealous of the relationship or just a plot device to show what happens when you rush into loving someone (ohai Molly from Halo).

  4. I think that's one of the reasons I'm not reading The Elite. The world building was just so laughable, I really doubt it will improve.Agree about the horrible death. My main theory regarding why they use it is because I think they believe that slamming a popular girl for promiscuity, etc. will appeal to the average girl. It's stupid, I know, but then again slut slamming in general is stupid.

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