Sluts. They're the worst, right? Always having sex for pleasure and walking around with visible ankles. Thank god we came up with this foolproof slut eradication technique, where we treat women like garbage for doing totally normal (but gross!) stuff that everyone on earth does all the time! Remember how we used to slut-shame Madonna? That totally worked out. Nobody ever had sex ever again. UNTIL RIHANNA.
Curses! Rihanna (and her vaganna) must be stopped! Fortunately, Drake and Chris Brown are on the case. Michael Arceneaux has a great piece in Ebony this month (somewhat in response to a Russell Simmons piece titled "Get Off Rihanna's Dick") detailing the latest wave of Rihanna-shaming, in which the aforementioned famous men, who have famously put their penises in Rihanna, rap about how gross it is that Rihanna lets men put their penises in her. Cool story, bros! (Brown's lyrics have the tasty bonus of alluding, it seems, to that time he savagely smashed the shit out of her face: "Don't f—k with my old bitch, it's like a bad fur/ Every industry n—— done had her/ Shook the tree like a pumpkin just to smash her/ B*tch is breaking codes, but I'm the password.")
Meanwhile, as for everyone else so fixated on this notion that there's a problem with the way Rihanna carries herself and brought this attention on herself: grow up. She could have Mother Teresa's sex life and would bring about the "starlet or streetwalker" debate from any man with a certain attitude about women and sex.
To "slut shame" is to perpetuate the idea that sex is dirty, and in particular, dirty and dangerous for a woman. That rigid mindset is problematic as it is unrealistic and does little in the way of advancing the way we discuss consensual sex between adults. You know, any day now.
Weirdly, men manage to stick their penises into stuff all the time without slut-shaming themselves into oblivion. Drake isn't releasing a track about how many chicks Colin Farrell has dropped his panties for (although I WISH HE WOULD BECAUSE HAHAHAHAH). But the problem with slut-shaming goes way beyond the problem of a double-standard. It's not just that men and women both engage in slutty behavior and therefore no one has a right to throw stones—it's that there is nothing wrong with slutty behavior (or, as I like to call it, behavior) in the first place.
So why do we target Rihanna's sex life so aggressively? Well, first of all, she seems to be truly having an awesome time—and women owning their sexual pleasure veers dangerously close to women wanting to own their bodies. And we can't have that! The more sexual agency you possess, the less of an object you become. That's threatening to a lot of people. Rihanna's not even some delinquent heiress with a sex tape whose only job is commodifying her sexuality (although that's fine too)—she's an incredibly successful artist who works hard on her craft and in her free time does whatever-the-snatch she wants without apology. And isn't that exactly what we want women to do? Whatever-the-snatch? It's almost like there's a right kind of slut (Kim Kardashian?) and a wrong kind of slut (our dear RiRi), and the difference lies in exactly how many fucks you give. Kim Kardashian's entire job is giving fucks (it's called maintaining her brand). Rihanna is just whoever Rihanna happens to be that day.
But more importantly, Rihanna is very famous, kind of bonkers, and completely unfiltered. She behaves exactly like any average 24-year-old does (plus a million billion dollars) and she has the nerve and the platform to do it right where we can see it. Most celebrities are so buttoned-up and micromanaged that as far as we know they're all smooth as a Ken doll down there. Not RiRi! And shouldn't we be happy about that? There's an entire INDUSTRY devoted to prying open the dirty little corners of celebrity life and digging out the nuggets that prove the stars are human, Just Like Us. Rihanna just hands it all over, shame-free, and now you're mad? Is it just the cycle of illusion/hunt/exposure that we like? Gross, you guys.
Whatever the reason, here is my rallying cry: CUT IT OUT. We need to stop shaming celebrities for having sex when celebrities having sex is obviously our favorite thing. Freaking out about Rihanna every time she Tweets some crazy shit about fucking a leprechaun or whatever doesn't make you hilarious or grounded or moral. It makes you just a couple of clicks above Chris Brown. Because what you're saying, essentially, is that women's sexual behavior is shameful and should be hidden and/or mocked.
No. Women's sexual behavior needs to be accepted so that women's sexual health can be protected. So slut it up, Rihanna.