Mixed Messages: Slut Shaming in Mean Girls and Easy A

Mixed Messages: Slut Shaming in Mean Girls and Easy A

Peitho Volume 20 Issue 1 Fall/Winter 2017

Author(s): Laurie McMillan

Abstract: Problems with slut shaming have received increased attention since the late 1990s, but actually changing rhetorics associated with the word “slut” is tricky. Two teen comedies that address slut shaming, Mean Girls (2004) and Easy A (2010), show how feminist conversations can become warped when translated into a mass market genre. The movies explicitly condemn slut shaming, but changing rhetoric involves addressing not simply the term “slut” but also underlying cultural narratives. The movies successfully challenge heteronormative competition and sexual double standards; however, they undo their positive messages as they rely on good girl/bad girl dichotomies that perpetuate slut shaming. These movies thus illustrate the difficulty in adopting feminist messages for commercial venues that are invested in wide public appeal.

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