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January 30, 2008

SLUT

Someone asked this question on a message board not too long ago and it stuck with me. So I thought I'd share it with you all and my response below it:

After overhearing a conversation at work between two very young girls I have one burning question....When did we become a society where it is more acceptable to considered be a "slut" than it is to be considered a "prude?"

I think it depends on how you actually define those words.
I don't define "prude" as someone who chooses to not have sex or who only has sex infrequently or who only has sex with one person or with someone they love or only after marriage or any of that. I define "prude" as someone who is uptight about sex, who thinks sex is dirty or naughty or taboo, who is overly concerned with what is "appropriate" or "normal", who doesn't have sex (or do anything else they might actually secretly want to do) because of what other people might think/say about them.

On the other hand, I define "slut" not just as someone who may or may not be "promiscuous" (whatever that is)... but as someone who is free, who is their own person, who realizes that sex can be pleasurable and fun and there's nothing wrong with wanting to have as much of it as possible, who makes choices not based on what other people have told them is "right" or based on what other people might think/say, but based on what they want... that includes sleeping with whomever they choose (even if that is many people, just one person, or no one at all) and as long as they're not hurting anyone there's nothing wrong with that.

The way most people use "slut" and "prude" (especially women against each other) I strongly disagree with... but in the terms I laid out above, I think with those definitions it IS better to be a slut than a prude. If only because being a "slut" implies more of an open minded attitude and being a "prude" implies being closed minded and judgmental (or on the other hand, fearful and self-loathing and resistant to their own desires). But again, I think a "slut" can be celibate or even a virgin... to me it's not about sex, it's about attitude.

To some people, the things we write on here or the way we behave or the fact that we proudly use the word "slut"might seem anti-feminist... but we believe that freedom to be who you are is one of the most important tenets of feminism. (We've already touched on this topic a bit before, while discussing a woman's right to choose and of course who can forget our guest blogger Adam's ode to sluts: Sluts Rock My World).

I like to think of it as an expression of choice. I will sleep with whomever I choose and as long as I'm not hurting anyone in the process, no one can make me feel bad about that. If that makes me a "slut" in someone else's eyes, that's fine because it stops being derogatory when I think of it in those terms. If being who I am and sleeping with who I want to, makes me a slut in your eyes, then fine. I'd rather be a slut in your eyes than a fraud in my own.

From The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities:

...a slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.

Calling ourselves sluts (regardless of our actual level of "promiscuity") takes the power away from those who would use that word against us. Kind of like how the gay community has reclaimed "queer" and turned it around. (Similarly to what we've previously written about the word cunt) I do believe in the ability to refuel words with other intentions. Things are what you make them and I think by embracing the word "slut" in my own way, it gives it the power I want it to have. Basically, it's only offensive, if you choose to be offended by it.

One problem with our using this word, is that so many other people refuse to let go of it's derogatory origins. Another problem is that no one can decide on a clear-cut definition of what a "slut" is.

From Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation:
Today there is no general consensus about what qualifies a girl as a "slut". Instead there are multiple, shifting distinctions between "good" and "slutty". In the 1950s, the bottom-line definition, everyone agreed, was a girl who had premarital intercourse (though, to be sure, there were subtle nuances to the categorization process). Today, when having intercourse with a steady boyfriend does not raise an eyebrow, the definition has broadened; it changes from community to community and from school to school. To some it's a girl who has intercourse with many different boys. To others it's a girl who "fools around" with different boys even without having intercourse. To some it's a girl who has intercourse with one boy too soon. To others it's a girl who "messes around" with one boy too soon. But who is to judge how many boys are "too many"? Or what it means to fool around with someone "too soon"? Everything is subjective and open to interpretation. In today's climate "slut" refers to any girl who appears open and carefree about her sexuality.
It's about choice. If being (or even just appearing) open and carefree about sexuality makes me a slut... then I'm a slut and I'm proud!

From Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood
...The fear of being out of control - in relation to food and money as well as sex - is characteristic of contemporary women. We understand loss of control to be inappropriate - and that it could turn a woman into a monster. We understand from books and movies that something terrible must happen to the slut. Where do we get our sense that our past must be immaculate, that our "promiscuity", our being in any way out of control, can lead us, if discovered, into symbolic or actual annihilation? It is neither natural nor inevitable that women's lust should be punished.

This split - "Feminist or Slut?" - has antecedents. Feminists of the past contributed to the debate about female desire, in two contradictory ways. Most Victorian feminists believed that the feminist was the archenemy of the slut in herself and the rescuer of the slut in the street. This, for instance, was anti prostitution activist Josephine Butler's crusade. The early feminists campaigned not for women to have more sexual expression, but for a single sexual standard in which men had less. Many feminists of the time opposed birth control on the grounds that it would make pure women even more vulnerable to male sexuality. Feminists with a more retiring view of female sexuality highlighted male sexual brutality, which was, realistically enough, associated with exhausting pregnancies, disease, forced prostitution, and debility.

But others, a minority, believed that the feminist must integrate the slut. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, referring to a Whitman poem wrote, "He speaks as if the female must be forced to the creative act, apparently ignorant of the fact that a healthy woman has as much passion as a man, that she needs nothing stronger than the law of attraction to draw her to the male."


A while ago, we asked some strong sexy women (and a few men) what their thoughts were on being "slutty", the meaning of the word, and when other people (particularly women against women) try to use the term in a bad way. The results were awesome so instead of leaving with our own thoughts, we thought we'd leave you with some of their wisdom:

Sex is on my mind a lot. Sex is something I think about a lot and something I WANT A LOT... and if I'm lucky, it's something I get a lot as well. So I guess I'm a "slut" but I don't have a problem with that.


Things that I love:

1. Women who own their sexuality and love themselves.
2. Women who make their own choices without worrying about what society thinks or what labels ignorant people might slap on them.
3. Women who stand up for themselves.
4. Women who stand up for other women.
5. Women who are true bad girls in every sense of the term.

Things that I don't love:

1. People who judge.
2. Women who call other women sluts.
3. People who try to encourage women to shut up about things that are totally okay to talk about, especially with friends.
4. People who assume that if your morality differs from theirs, you must not have morals at all.
5. People who believe that women all have to conform to the same mold when it comes to sexuality.



My parents raised me to be very very lady like, respectful of myself and my body, blah blah blah. Although my mom completely understood when she found out my ex boyfriend were sexually active, we were in a committed relationship, but her feelings about sexual activity outside of one were very apparent. That guy and I aren't together anymore, hence my term "ex", so I am not getting that much action.

My point being this: Because of the way my mother constantly reiterated those values, which I respect, no matter who I'm with or what I'm doing with him, she is sitting on my shoulder telling me "Wait! He won't respect you! Blah blah blah!" I hate it. The thing is, I respect others for being comfortable doing what makes you feel good! I'm 20 and am still having a hard time getting past the things my mother believes, and acting on what I believe is appropriate and good for me.

Trying not to sound cheesy, but you do inspire others. You can't make everyone else agree with you or make them happy, but you sure as hell can make yourself happy. Only you can decide whether you're slutty or not. It's how you feel about yourself, not what others feel.


I am not going to judge someone who lives her life to the fullest and has fun. I believe that makes you 100% sexy.


I feel this way about it, you have a life, just because you are an open minded person, and these other people that feel it is their important job to condemn you for your life and choices..... it is obvious to me, they are either on such a straight and narrow life style, they could actually be nuns or they are wishing they could have a life like you have.

I am not in the same age group as many of you. However, I can still relate. I have daughters that enjoyed an active sexual life. I really was not pleased about it, as they did not have protected sex, thus families were started before partners were ready or possibly the intention was there, and I had not been informed. I know I did not always share with my parents all of my actions either.


I have thought a lot about what being a slut means. Sluttiness is a personality trait; it has nothing to do with how many people one has slept with. It has everything to do with how you present yourself. You present yourself as a confident, intelligent, secure woman who is not afraid to speak her mind and get what she wants...

Why are women taught that sexuality is shameful? Sex is a verb; it does not reflect the whole person. To quote from the play, Shadow of a Man by Cherrie Moraga: Leticia says she gave away her virginity because "I wanted it to be worthless. Not for me to be worthless, but to know that my worth had nothing to do with it."


I think if more women had that attitude, there would be much less cattiness in the world. Sex is great thing; it should be celebrated, not hidden.


Society has taught us to continuously be at odds with our fellow females, because if we unite then we become too powerful and men would run away from us crying. Therefore, we are conditioned to get jealous of other women who are stronger, smarter, sexier, or more successful than we are. However, it takes a truly strong woman to embrace her sexuality and feel comfortable with it. Our foremothers did too much work for us to not take advantage of our opportunities.



I just had a convo about slut vs. whore with my 'friend'. His take: whores get paid, sluts love to have sex. His opinion: I'm his dirty slut.

Words like slut are weird. If you have a certain dynamic with your friends, you can call each other whatever you want. My friends and I go back and forth tossing "insults" at each other every time we talk... slut, whore, bitch, dickface, etc. And like I said, the other day my 'friend' called me his dirty slut, and I'm fine with that.

However, if I'm out and I don't know you and you say something like that to me, things will not end well for you. There's really no need for women to call other women these names, but 90% of women are guilty of it.



I don't feel this great sisterhood with women that says we shouldn't call each other sluts or bitches. There are women that I would say fit into the negative meaning of both slut and bitch.

Like someone else said it is one of those words that people take ownership of and use in jest. I prefer the use of the word 'whore' for this because I just like the sound of it better.

To me the negative use of slut isn't someone that enjoys sex and seeks it out. A slut is someone that seeks out sex and doesn't care who she hurts in the process to get what she wants...even if she is the one she is hurting. A slut has no respect for herself or others.

It is all in the way it is said.




Personally, my offense with the word "slut" comes from people who use it to intentionally hurt me. It's in the way THEY mean "slut" that the offense arises, because although I feel there's no shame in being a slut or acting slutty, a lot of people aren't as open-minded about it, and they think a woman shouldn't enjoy sex or seek it out. I also haven't developed a thick enough skin to shrug off the comments. But I love the word "slut" and I love it for what it means to me: a human who isn't ashamed of sex, loves sex, and seeks out sex, intelligently and empathetically, without shame and without worry for others' opinions.



I'm not quite sure how I feel about when other people use the word, because I don't think it's cut and dry insult or non-insult. There are a lot of degrees in between, and not necessarily something the person using the word is consciously thinking about. I think it's always a matter of context, and by using it less as an insult, it is slowly making it's way into a word to be proud of.

8 comments:

THE EVIL SLUT CLIQUE said...

Obviously we have strong opinions on the word slut and what it means to us, but we'd love to hear your thoughts on what it means to you. So tell us, and if we really like your comment we'll totally have sex with you. No, we won't. (We totally will.) Maybe.

ruthellis said...

Great Post!

We, you & I have the same definition and meaning of Slut. I never once thought you meant it any differently, that's why I am a Honorary Member of the Evil Slut Clique.

And, for those who don't get it and/or for those who can't even begin to fathom it -- I feel sorry for them...

They are missing out on a freedom from chains, bondage and a self imposed restriction to an empowerment, an enjoyment in all aspects of life.

Can you image the comments/hate I get for naming myspage site 'God is a Dyke'. I feel sorry for people that can't comprehend the true meaning.

Have a Blessed Day!
God is a Dyke and I'm an Evil Slut

May said...

Next to the blowjob I gave my boyfriend this morning, this blog is the best thing that's happened all day. ^__^ I love you guys.

Tabitha said...

This made me think of something; the word 'virgin' was first used by the ancient Greeks to describe the goddess Artemis, and it's original meaning was someone who didn't let others boss them around. It wasn't until the 13th century that any sexual meaning was attached to it. Both the words 'virgin' and 'slut' describe self-assured, confident people. Odd that these two words seem totally opposed in our current culture, isn't it?

susi_slut said...

I define a slut as a female player who enjoys using or being used by men or women for sex on a regular basis with no intentions of hooking up with them other than for sex. She desires the physical pleasure without the hassles of a relationship. A slut is a woman who is sexually promiscuous and enjoys it. She is able to have sex with no emotional attachment. She screws around with multiple partners at the same time, some of whom she hardly knows, and might not even know their name and doesn’t care.
I am a slut and I enjoy being a slut. I use the term of slut as an expression of pride in my status and sexual explorations. I know that sex is pleasurable and fun and feel that there is nothing wrong with wanting as much of it as possible. I am not concerned with what others define as appropriate or normal. I will not live the rest of my life repressing my desires and needs because of what other people might think or say about my choices.
Also, the term slut is not interchangeable with whore or prostitute as those terms denote a person who engages in sex for money. I, like anyone, appreciate being given gifts but I am sexually active because I like fucking. It is about enjoying the sensuality of my body and the pleasures I receive having others enjoy it, not just because someone is willing to pay to have sex with me. I am a slut not a whore.
I always knew that I was a slut. I had right from the start of my sexual awareness separated sex from the need to be loved. I enjoyed fucking for the sake of pleasure and not as a bribe to achieve commitment. When in relationships I would still want more and those desires burned inside until they could no longer be ignored. When not involved those same desires drove me to seek anyone I could find to satisfy my need. I would find myself going out to pick up guys, have sex with them, then after them leaving, me beating myself up by imposing on myself all the judgments and moral standards that I felt should abide by, and then feeling alone and abandoned. Then as a result of these feelings the need to be with someone would return and this whole abusive cycle would repeat itself. This caused me to despise and hate myself and withdraw ever further into myself and away from society. This is the person my owner first found. With His help and patience, a lot of soul searching and tears I stopped condemning myself for not being a product of the moral majority. Now I am my own person [an oxymoron for any slave to say] who is happy with herself and only concerned about her own beliefs of what is right and wrong instead of adopting a negative self-image based upon the perceived judgments and standards of unknown people.
Now I like myself. I acknowledge who and what I am and I am happy with it. I am a slut with a healthy sexual appetite. I am also loved and the owned property of a man who accepts and incorporates into His ownership of me my slutty needs and desires. He is happy with this slut as His property. He understands and supports His slut’s needs and desires to enjoy physical pleasures outside of the “appropriate” boundaries of a normal relationship.
To me, slut is not a derogatory term. There is no shame attached to being identified as one. Slut is a state of being, a harmonious blending of ones body, mind, and sexual desires. A slut is a woman that has developed the confidence and freedom to explore the many facets of her sexuality. She is a woman who is not burdened by out dated Elizabethan rules set to govern her appearance or actions. A slut is a woman who has claimed the right to be herself.

susi_slut

Mariaah. said...

I'm all for reclaiming of words that society/man/etc. has made offensive to us. I love it.

There is a piece in the Vagina Monologues titled "Reclaiming Cunt." It's great; it feels so good to hear it performed.

However, just in this part of your definition, I was turned off: "...but as someone who is free, who is their own person..."

I don't mean to take this out of context or anything like that at all. It's just that this implies that being free and being your own person is defined through your views of sex. I don't know if this is entirely your belief, but I feel that it's limiting for a woman to place so much emphasis on a single aspect of her womanhood.

I feel that we should all embrace our sexuality and learn as a society to revel in it. But I don't feel that we should gauge our freedom of person based on our degree of sexual liberation.

By no means am I saying that sexual liberation is not an important part of the movement, but it is neither the only part nor the most important.

Define slut however you want; I just wanted to share that I feel amounting freedom to sex is both narrow and oppressive. Like it feeds into the dialog of women as non-sexual beings that is created by sexist douchebags.

Lilith said...

See, it's exactly the opposite. A slut is free and is their own person, in relation to how they perceive sex, not because of how they perceive sex.

We are not amounting freedom to sexuality, but rather we are considering sexuality one aspect of personal freedom.

But being a slut doesn't have to be related to sexuality or sexual liberation at all. As we already said, a slut can be celibate or a virgin. It is about attitude, about open mindedness, about choice, about living your life the way you want to, not the way you've been told you should.

Mariaah. said...

I guess the only thing that bothers me is that the term has sexual connotation at all when it's used to represent freedom.

But in trying to argue with myself, I usually come to the conclusion that it's one of those things that, in an ideal world, wouldn't be so, but because society is orchestrated in the way that it is, it is important to seize a term that is negative and sexually connotated and make it liberating.

I just don't like the idea of having to do that at all. We shouldn't have to define that we are sexually free because it should just be known, but I guess that becomes a moot point if we're in the context of today.

It's just one of things that bother me. ugh.