Opinion

Grazia 'slut' tweet gets shamed

M&G Reporters

Where was the missing link that allowed for the publishing of the contentious Grazia tweet? Some of our colleagues at the M&G weighed in.

Grazia's Twitter page. (Screenshot)

Grazia magazine faced outrage on social media when it asked its Twitter followers “what is it that makes a girl a slut?”.

Reactions on social media were incensed with many people opposed to the nature of the tweet and its content:

The tweet was sent out, Grazia says, as research for a bigger piece on women shaming. Grazia says it published the tweet to garner reaction, and gather thoughts from its readers on the use of the word “slut”, and what kinds of women fit into that category, even though the magazine itself is against any kind of shaming. The initial tweet was explained with this one, 17 hours later:

The magazine has since apologised on Facebook, stating: “We do apologise for any offence caused, but we’re also pleased (thrilled even) to know that so many of our readers are defensive of women and their right to behave in whichever way they please.”

While it’s refreshing to know that Grazia is opposed to shaming, we’re not sure how they can be opposed to something they clearly accept as a real thing. That is: If you are asking “what makes a girl a slut?”, you are stating that such a thing (sluts) exists. Is that not shaming in itself? This led us to a bigger question, who is behind that tweet? And what kinds of conversations and processes are occurring in Grazia office that lends to the publication of such tweets? Did any employee who works for the women’s magazine share their thoughts, opinions or criticisms before they let this one fly?

We don’t know. What we do know is that these conversations are necessary. They are necessary because they influence what makes content responsible, and they are necessary because they can assist publications when it comes to the constructive use of social media. So we put Grazia‘s tweet to our own newsroom, and had five colleagues weigh in on it. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Zodwa Kumalo-Valentine

        

    So instead of addressing the issue that Grazia was obviously trying to canvas its opinion on, we all leap to moral outrage over an awkwardly phrased tweet. Why? The real question at hand is: what makes a woman a slut? The answer: nothing. As products of a misogynistic society, we attach that label to pregnant teens, women in music videos, the ones that “steal your man”, the ones who have one night stands or date rich old men … the list goes on … And in Grazia‘s failed attempt to tap into those tropes, they unveiled exactly those perceptions. Why automatically assume the magazine was slut-shaming? Because, well, it’s much easier to jump on that train rather than talk honestly about these labels and stereotypes.

  • Garreth van Niekerk

    I was going to write something ironic, but there’s a danger that it may be lost on a young, impressionable, aspiring world leader. I asked my sister, Marissa, now in university, who at the time was sitting with a group of her old classmates from Parktown Girls High School in Johannesburg. Their combined response: “No one deserves to be called a slut because nobody deserves to live by society’s irrational and stifling standards. No group of people should have the right to dictate what women may and may not do with their own bodies. Whether its dress code, or sexuality or whatever other preference, women deserve autonomy over their own lives without being judged or labelled. For it’s derogatory nature and it’s many assumptions, the word slut is no way to address any woman, regardless of her choices”.

  • Deshnee Subramany

        

        

    According to its stats, Grazia holds the ideas of beauty and lifestyle of about 73 000 people in its hands. If a tweet could be written in such an irresponsible way, what does that tell you about how much debate and thought is put into the perception it creates and perpetuates around women and their bodies with its content?

    This is not the way to address the issue of slut-shaming. The phrasing of the tweet qualifies the noun “slut”. And when you attach that word to the noun “girl”, you’re describing children with an adjective created by entitled men and perpetuated by disempowered people, setting said girls back. “Is there such a thing as a slut?” might have been the simplest way to ask the question.

  • Rhodé Marshall

    We are all guilty of perpetuating these labels by calling women sluts, hoes, bitches et cetera. through criticism of other women or just by calling a friend one loosely in a conversation but where and when will it stop? Still today it is the biggest crime in the world for a woman to decide what she wants to do with her body be it shave her legs or decide whether she wants to have a one-night stand or not. Men don’t have to shave their legs and they can definitely have sex with someone they met 10 minutes ago and be called a legend. For a magazine aimed at “a globally savvy, 30-something urban professional woman” to disparage the choices that women make is disgusting. Nothing a woman does or wears makes her a slut.

  • Victoria John

    Grazia apologised for “any offence caused”, saying it’s only doing research for a feature on women shaming but then it retweets someone else who said women just have “internalised crap”. I take it then, Grazia, that you are not actually sorry for using the word “slut” as if it is one that should be in our national vocabulary, a word used by bigots to shame women for exercising their right to sexual freedom at the same time keeping women “in their place”. It appears that the magazine is only sorry it offended people, is actually really insulted that we are so offended, and has not acknowledged why their tweet was so wrong. Try harder next time, Grazia, to consider just how dangerous the words you use are when tens of thousands of people are reading them.

    Grazia later released a statement, saying: “We value our readers’ views and opinions and we accept that the posts should have been phrased differently and contextualised more clearly.”

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