From Slate, an interesting tidbit about what is often called 'slut-shaming':
New research into the science of slut-shaming has found that promiscuous women can’t get a break—even from other promiscuous women. For a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers from Cornell University asked college women to read a vignette describing a hypothetical female peer, “Joan,” then rate their feelings about her personality. To one group of women, Joan was described as having two lifetime sexual partners; to another group, she’d bedded 20. The study found that women—even women who were more promiscuous themselves—rated the Joan with 20 partners as less competent, emotionally stable, warm, and dominant than the Joan who’d only boasted two.
Apparently there's an international movement to combat what's called 'slut-shaming', with so-called 'slut walks' happening all over the developed world, even in Berlin, although the website looks pretty moribund right about now.
Now, I hold mainstream views on most of these issues. Discrimination is wrong, no means no, etc. But the crusade to end 'slut-shaming' strikes me as silly for a few reasons. First, this is a quintessential first-world problem. In most parts of the world, young, sexually-promiscuous women are going to face a fate much worse than mere social disapproval. Second, this seems to be a classic case of a social movement launching a frontal assault on an immutable component of human nature.
Note that most of the disapproval of sexually-promiscuous women comes from other women. The study quoted above shows, for what it's worth, that even women who bed-hop themselves attribute negative personality characteristics to their fellow, er, sluts. I myself have heard many women engage in 'slut-shaming' almost reflexively, seemingly unaware that this behavior is supposed to be considered anti-feminist.
It's all a matter of your station in life. If you're an attractive 20-year-old college student (note how the discussion so often focuses on the 25% of women who attend college, not the 75% who don't), you may well be interested in a an argument for social change that promises to allow you to experiment sexually without repercussions.
Now add 22 years to that same woman. She now has a husband, and two kids. Let's say the husband hires a young, attractive 20-year-old female intern with a slutty reputation. Will the wife and mother -- fondly remembering her younger, wilder days -- stand up for the young woman's right to sleep around and discover her sexual identity? Of course not. She will perceive her husband's daily exposure to an attractive, sexually available young woman as a potential threat to the stability of her family, and she'll be right. If you want to hear slut-shaming at its most vitriolic, listen to a 43-year-old divorcée discuss her ex-husband's new 23-year-old girlfriend.
Disapproval of sexually-promiscuous behavior by young women is as close to a cultural universal as you're going to get. And there are reasons for this, since young, attractive, sexually promiscuous women pose a threat to monogamy. Now, this isn't so much the case if the woman limits her partners solely to unattached males her own age. But the very idea of promiscuity implies reduced selectivity and impulse control. A woman who enjoys having a variety of lovers and being desired is likely, at some point, to sleep with all sorts of men (and women), including married ones. And since discovered infidelity generally leads to a serious marital crisis in Northern Europe and the U.S., one 'slut' could theoretically endanger many unions during her career of promiscuity.
Of course, this is a glaring double standard, since sexually-promiscuous males aren't subject to the same stigma. But thousands of double standards utterly permeate our social reality, so merely acknowledging something as a double standard doesn't argue for its elimination. And besides, a young, attractive man won't pose as much danger to these settled unions, because young, attractive men are interested primarily in mating with young, attractive women who are less likely to have settled down. The cougars might be out there, but they're the exception that proves the rule, and they're not catching many cubs:
After examining the age preferences expressed in 22,400 singles ads on popular dating websites in North America, Europe, Australia and Japan, he found no sizable cohort of women seeking younger men. To the contrary, almost all of them wanted men their own age or older. Nor did he find evidence for the proliferation of cubs: the overwhelming majority of men displayed their eons-old preference for younger women. "I do believe the cougar phenomenon is a myth and, yes, a media construct," [psychology prof Michael] Dunn, who specializes in human evolutionary psychology and mating behavior, told the Australian Associated Press.
Except in a few urban enclaves or perhaps remote tribes, it will never be possible to remove the social stigma attached to female promiscuity. To ask whether this is good or bad strikes me as pointless. Is it good or bad that the sky is blue, or that deciduous trees drop their leaves each year?
If you ask me, the focus shouldn't be on a futile attempt to eliminate stigma in the Western World, but to address the dozens of societies in which a mere allegation of female promiscuity can lead to fates far darker and bloodier than social shaming.