A theory of “slut shaming”

I know nothing about this topic.

Why do men revile women that have many sexual partners? This is particularly interesting because, based on my own unscientific observation, these same men tend to enjoy watching pornography with rough sex, rape fantasies, BDSM, young-looking girls, etc.The dual pattern seems particularly strong among teens and 20-somethings, and its strength seems inversely related to social immersion and aptitude. Just take a look on Reddit if you don’t believe me.

What do all of those forms of pornography have in common? Strong dominance-submission themes. Because of mirror neurons or what-have-you, this kind of porn — and more broadly, this kind of fantasy — makes a certain type of man feel powerful, which can be fleeting in day-to-day life. Yet the same man who gets rock hard at the thought of a gang bang might well be averse to dating a girl who actually likes them. He could even be a slut-shamer.

My theory is that slut-shaming is rooted in jealousy and low self esteem. Porn is more often than not designed to make a man feel like he is in fact the male talent, with six-pack abs and a big dick. The flipside of this is that he probably isn’t. That’s an extremely discouraging realization to come to, in an evolutionary biology-psychology sense, and I claim that this feeling is displaced (or whatever the right psychoanalysis term is) onto the girls. This has two reasons: 1) men feel threatened by the men that so-called sluts are thought to like, and 2) men feel hopeless knowing that these “sluts” are therefore out of their league.

As a corollary, this forms a loop of “reaction formation” (I got that one from Wikipedia) with seclusion that culminates in reprehensibly sexist behavior among nerds on the Internet.

My evidence for this is limited, but comes partly from observing my own thoughts and reactions. I don’t claim it’s uniquely causal, but it seems plausible to me and I can’t think of any glaring counterexamples. As always, I’d love to discuss this with someone who actually knows something about it.

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