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That whole 'sticks and stones' verse that is tossed around so frequently on school playgrounds (at least it was when I was a kid) is just the most perplexing thing ever to me. That parents and teachers were and perhaps still are advocating it's use for children as a defense against hurt feelings as a result of somebody’s unkind words is destructive. We can start with the fact that it places the burden on the victim to stop the abuse when it is the perpetrator and the use of the unkind words that should be addressed. In addition and unfortunately the message that gets sent to kids when being instructed to use this retort is that words are not SUPPOSED to hurt and when they do it can leave a child berating him/herself internally for allowing them to hurt. Words, verbal abuse is one of those silent killers, as in killer of souls. Verbal abuse is every bit as destructive as physical abuse, maybe even more so because of the insidiousness of it.

Sorry, I’m on my soapbox, this topic makes me very angry.

Hi Jss,

Please stay on your soapbox. These are words which need to be spoken and I couldnt agree with you more. I thought of that very saying when I was writing the article. How funny that you thought of it too. You made two very good points I hadnt thought of: 1) it puts the burden on the victim and 2) it communicates that words should not hurt.Both of which areso wrong. Thank you for pointing that out.



I had a blog on this, a short while ago (I've put things on hiatus for now). I was more focused on the word "slut" and how I have seen girls use it against other girls, to automatically lash out at potential rivals, and not so much because of their clothes, or behavior.

I also had my abuser use these words to incite physical abuse against me, from an older sibling. That abuser was female, and my mother. So it was like I grew up with a vicious competitor.

One girl in high school would sort of see my vulnerable side and start lashing out at me in the same way. As if my experiences pointed out her behavior as being wrong and vicious, and not normal.

The thing is words like whore, and slut are common place, and more acceptable. We laud whore bashing. We like to go after the slut. In my experience of the word there was an awful underside of physical and sexual abuse to it. As if the word, and label gave an excuse to abuse.

If you type up the word "whore bashing" you will find people making jokes about torturing and killing women. It's a more accepted form of verbal abuse, even though I think it can potentially lead to physical and sexual abuse, moreso than other types of name calling.

I hadnt heard the words whore bashing but Ive seen the results and you are right, they are awful. Imagine saying this to a man. It would never fly. The only male equivalent I can think of is player and, it has a playful sound to it, like cheating on your partner is a game or sport. The words slut and whore, in my humble opinion, are an attempt to villainize women and to control our sexuality.Unfortunately, as youpoint out, women often internalize these values, then turn them on other women and even their own children. I think it is the worst when it is turned on children. Ive seen people call children as young as3 or 4slut andIm absolutely appalled.

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