WOMEN
06/25/2014 09:18 am ET Updated Jun 25, 2014

Slut-Shaming Hurts Every Woman -- Including Mean Girls

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Slut-shaming, in which people are bullied or harassed for their supposed sexual behavior, is a pervasive part of young adult culture—and some get slammed harder by it than others. But despite its moniker, slut-shaming has little to do with actual sexual activity. Rather, it is largely a function of gossip, cliques and social control. And though it might be tempting to dismiss the topic as the stuff of pubescent drama, in reality, the practice has hefty political import.

The prevalence of slut-shaming and its effects on women would come as no surprise to most teenagers, but researchers are beginning to formally tackle the subject, too. Leora Tanenbaum, author of the forthcoming book, I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet (HarperCollins), says the attention is a welcome development.

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