Slut shames students

« previous post | next post »

Jen Chung, "CT High School Slut Shames Students Over "Inappropriate" Prom Dresses", Gothamist 5/12/2015:

Female students at a Connecticut High School are furious that dresses bought for this weekend's prom are being banned because they have exposed shoulders, backs, sides and legs. One mother—whose daughter had two dresses rejected—said, "They've suggested the girls wear T-shirts under their dresses. My daughter won't wear a T-shirt. She would be mortified."

For those readers who haven't yet merged "slut shame" into a frequent compound verb, that headline may provoke misunderstanding.

Obligatory screenshot:

[h/t Charles Lieberman]


  1. Ben Zimmer said,

    May 13, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

    A hyphen surely would help. In the Summer 2013 installment of "Among the New Words" for American Speech, we covered slut-shaming (from 2006) and slut-shame (from 2007):

    And see Arnold Zwicky's discussion of slut-shame as a back-formation here.

  2. Eric P Smith said,

    May 13, 2015 @ 9:23 pm

    Freudian slip: I first misread "prom" as "porn".

  3. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 13, 2015 @ 11:56 pm

    Writing compounds hyphenated or solid is becoming a lost art—or I'm suffering from a recency illusion.

  4. Rod Whiteley said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 6:20 am

    A style guide I have to comply with occasionally tells me:

    As an organisation, we’ve taken the decision to avoid hyphens as they tend to clutter writing.

    The examples it gives are "long term", "break up" and "wellbeing" with no explanation of the inconsistency. My impression, generally, is that solid compoundwords are becoming increasinglycommon.

  5. Sebastian Iragui said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 4:07 am

    Not to blame technology for everything, but I wonder if this isn't one instance where it's driving language change. Hyphenation is actively discouraged by the absence of hyphens from the touch keypads on our devices. Switching back and forth between the alphabet menu and the symbols menu often seems more effort than it's worth. (You might expect the same of apostrophes, but smartphone dictionaries seem to automatically supply them more reliably than hyphenated compounds.)

  6. F said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 6:42 am

    Sebastian Iragui says "Hyphenation is actively discouraged by the absence of hyphens from the touch keypads on our devices."

    That might depend on the device. My Samsung Android has the hyphen on shift-1. This is admittedly one more keypress than on my laptop keyboard (where it's unshifted) but not exactly a problem.

  7. Bean said,

    May 19, 2015 @ 6:40 am

    I agree that smartphones, etc., do make you work a little harder for hyphens.

    The second problem is the pressure for very fast turnaround times in the era of 24-7 news. I see obvious autocorrect problems all the time on news sites when a story first appears (e.g., on – not the aggregation sites – the originators), which disappear on subsequent readings – do they write their first drafts on iPads, standing right next to the burning building? I also find that the story with the same headline can actually morph quite a bit over the course of the day, then at some point they change the headline too. If you're in the habit of clicking over to the news frequently (and, ahem, Language Log) when your brain is stalled you've probably noticed this too.

RSS feed for comments on this post