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I have never been afraid to call myself a feminist. I believe that women should be given the same economic, educational, and social rights as men. Yet, I still find myself occasionally slut-shaming my girlfriends — and even myself — for hooking up as freely as men.

Slut-shaming is so prevalent that a majority of us don't even realize when we do it. A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that women, even those who have had multiple partners, are still quick to judge women they perceive as promiscuous

We slut-shame all the time, whether it's telling our girlfriends to hold out on sex, judging women who have casual sex, victim-blaming women who have been raped or sexually assaulted, or even telling women that certain clothes make them look "slutty."

Related From Vivala: Celebs Who Have Spoken Out Against Slut-Shaming

The sad thing is even the most progressive women may be guilty of shaming other women because of the way we've been conditioned to perceive female sexuality. 

I'm even guilty of this: Recentlymy girlfriend began seeing a great guy. My first words to her were, "Don't put out right away. Wait at least four to five dates before you sleep with him." My intentions were good, but the message wasn't: I conveyed that he would consider her "easy" if she slept with him right away.

There's a famous scene in "Mean Girls" where Tina Fey perfectly explains why slut-shaming is particularly harmful when it's done by other women.

"You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores," Fey’s character tells a room filled with teenage girls. "It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores."

"Slut-shaming by member's of one's own gender doesn't only damage self-esteem, but also creates excessive self-doubt," Veronica Stutz, a marriage and family therapist, told Vivala. "This self-doubt could translate into other areas of her life, bringing up an inner dialogue of questioning the validity of her impulses and choices."
photo: Giphy
Women also don't realize the impact words like slut, whore, or even bitch can have on self-esteem, as well as society.

 "When we call someone a whore, the implication is that they are less than, inferior, or even dirty," Tracee Dunblazierspiritual empath and author of the "Demon Slay’s Handbook" series, told Vivala. "When any part of our culture allows for the casual and continual disempowerment of others, it creates a society of citizens that do less because they feel less than."

"It also results in the regression of gender equality," added Stutz. "If we as women desire to be regarded as equals, we must own the assertive aspects of our personality in all areas of life, including sexual behavior."

Slut-shaming is especially brutal on social media.  A 2014 British study found that women slut-shame each other on Twitter almost as frequently as men. Women were found to be tweeting misogynistic insults and derogatory words like "whore," and "slut" just as much, if not more often than men.

Related From Vivala: Woman Says She Was Slut-Shamed on a JetBlue Flight 

Fortunately, there are ways for women to change this. We must stop buying into the lie that women should be ashamed of their sexuality. 

 "This [slut-shaming] represents the hard truth that adult women and young girls have bought into the brainwashing of the culture and have lost their divinity," relationship expert, Audrey Hope, told Vivala. "We can stop this dangerous mentality by letting women know that to hurt another woman in any way is just hurting ourselves."