Why We Need To Stop Saying ‘Walk Of Shame’

Why We Need To Stop Saying ‘Walk Of Shame’

Earlier this month, a Facebook page dedicated to ‘The Maga[luf] Walk of Shame’ made headlines for the humiliating and degrading content it posted about women walking back to their hotels. In the videos, men shout degrading insults at women and push for where they’ve been the night before. But both men AND women engage in one-night stands – so why is the ‘walk of shame’ something that only really applies to women?

‘Walk of shame’ is a slang term that describes a person – usually a woman – who is making her way home after spending the night at someone else’s house for sex. The image it conjures up is one of disheveled hair, make-up sitting about two inches below where it’s meant to and party garbs glinting in the morning sunlight. But the shame part of her walk doesn’t come from the clothes she’s wearing, it refers to the fact that they show people that she’s had sex and is now heading home – something society still can’t seem to accept women do.
 
Restrictions on sex and dating have always been far harsher on women than men. Women from a young age are set a bunch of goals: they need to be pretty and smart, and go out on dates and, ultimately, find a partner. So, women go out, they date, and they have a little fun along the way. But once that fun is revealed, she is showered with shame. And the guy? Nothing. He gets away scot-free. For girls, it’s a catch-22: while it is shameful to be sexual, it’s also shameful to not have sex, and to be alone. Women are classed as Madonnas or Whores and nothing else.

Some conservative types might believe that women should be allowed to date men but should abstain from sex. But this is 2018 – how realistic is that expectation? And why is the onus always on the woman to maintain this warped sense of ‘dignity’? Sex is normal and healthy, and both women and men should be able to partake in it free of judgement.

Calling it a ‘walk of shame’ might just sound like something funny to say to a woman, but say it enough times and the two become intrinsically linked.

The ‘Maga Walk of Shame’ page is purely vitriolic. It’s men using the opportunity to project hate on women, going out of their way to publicly humiliate them. It’s hypocritical and vile. In one video, a man follows a young woman down the street with her face in full view, repeatedly asking her where she’s been all night, and ends the footage by telling her to “take a shower”. It’s not just woman-shaming, it’s woman-hating, and it needs to stop.
 
This shame that women are made to feel does end up being harmful. If women feel as though sex is shameful, it could affect the way they speak with their partners, or with their doctor about their sexual health. If any talk of sex immediately makes women bow their heads in shame, how are they going to ask about condom use, or going on birth control, or getting the morning-after pill? If we make women feel monumentally guilty about sleeping with a guy during a one-night stand, how will they pluck up the courage to seek medical help when an STD rears its ugly head? Calling it a ‘walk of shame’ might just sound like something funny to say to a woman, but say it enough times and the two become intrinsically linked. 
 
Some have tried to reclaim the walk of shame by renaming it the ‘pride of stride’. But why do we need a term to describe your walk home after a sexual encounter at all? Let’s just call it a walk, because that’s all it really is. It’s not anyone’s business where you’ve been or where you’re going.  

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