*Yes, that title is meant to be sensational, in case you're wondering.
So, imagine my surprise when I check my RSS and found out that Kody Keplinger blogged about slut shaming today. Well, technically it was yesterday.
Slut shaming is a really popular topic. Ceilidh has blogged about it on the Sparkle-Project.
You can get an in-depth discussion on it here.
In YA, there's a lot of slut shaming going on. I didn't even know what the word meant until I read The Purity Myth.
So that leads me to my topic of the day. What is a slut?
Here's what Merriam Webster says:
chiefly British : a slovenly woman— slut·tish adjective— slut·tish·ly adverb— slut·tish·ness noun
If slut means a promiscuous woman, what does promiscuous mean?
— slut·ty adjective
Here's the Latin if any of you are interested,: composed of all sorts of persons or things2: not restricted to one class, sort, or person : indiscriminate <education … cheapened through the promiscuous distribution of diplomas — Norman Cousins>3: not restricted to one sexual partner
So, we have promiscuous which really only means to mix a lot of things. Somehow that got translated to meaning slut and the definition changed so that it applied to having a lot of sexual partners.
Now, the connotations are negative. Calling someone a slut means that they're dirty, skanky, and for all purposes a whore.
Do you know what whore means?
So, we've got whore being synonymous with prostitute. From my understanding, a whore is naturally a slut, but a slut doesn't have to be a prostitute. That's not my opinion--but rather the popular opinion. A better example: If you work at McDonalds, you work in the Fast Food industry, but if you work in the Fast Food industry, you don't necessarily work at McDonalds.: a male who engages in sexual acts for money: a venal or unscrupulous person
Now that we've go the definitions sorted out, I want to ask why these words apply to teenage girls. In fact, why do they apply to any girl outside of an actual prostitute?
We have definitions. Kody was arguing for a complete removal of the word slut from our casual vocabulary. Why? What is a slut? How can you dress like a slut?
I think sluts exist. Oh yes, sluts exist. But not in the way that people use the word. A woman that has more than one sexual partner is not a slut. A woman that sleeps with a different guy every other day, well, that isn't exactly healthy behavior is it? A guy that sleeps around is praised, but a woman is called a slut.
I'm under the opinion that they're both sluts. It's a word with a meaning that applies here for both of them. Don't shy away from using it. It's applicable for both sexes.
As for whore, I'm lost at why anyone who isn't a prostitute would be called a whore. Perhaps I should use the more PC term. Sex worker. It still means someone who has sex for money. If you don't, well you aren't a whore.
We have the same problem with fag. A fag is actually a bundle of sticks. In the early twentieth century, a fag was a long cigarette that well off women smoked. It was so long, it often needed something to support it's weight. When I watch old Australian tv, they actually use fag in the place of cigarette. Like, "Can you bum me a fag?"
How this got to be a negative connotation of a gay man is beyond me. Why gay is even an insult further astounds me. Gay doesn't just mean homosexual. It means happy. Why being called a homosexual would hurt a guys feelings further astounds me. Don't even ask about dyke. It's actually a trench filled with water, or something like that.
Words are just words. You shouldn't let them control you. The meaning behind the word is what's important.
Do you know what nigger* means? It's a Spanish word that means black object. The word itself can apply to any object that's black. But, because of the negative connotation surrounding it, it became associated with black people--ie, they weren't people, they were objects. Now you'll hear the word in just about any rap song. My parents use it freely.
But when a white person says it--low and behold, the world cries racism. And yes, if used with negative meaning behind it--you know, actual racism--it's not appropriate.
*I don't like comparing the Gay Rights Movement to the Civil Rights Movement. They're totally different and doing so is a disservice to both.
In all actuality, I've seen a lot of slut shaming in YA. Any girl that dresses in a provocative way is apparently a slut.
Hold up, let's define provocative. Lets put my knowledge of Latin to the test. Pro means for or many. Voca means vocally, or to speak. So in a literal sense, to dress provocatively means to dress for attention. Hmm....so let's think about this again.
If you dress in a way that attracts attention, is it your fault that you garner said attention? Remember, even a woman dresses like Beyonce--no, I don't think Beyonce is a strong symbol of feminism. The very idea of that is laughable--and walks into a shady neighborhood in the middle of the night, she isn't looking for rape. Sex maybe, but rape, no. And if she is looking for rape, well that's not really rape is it?
Is anyone really looking for negative attention when they dress in clothes that are meant to attract members of the opposite sex? Who knows. That all depends on the person. Dressing in a way that's meant to illicit a response from a member of the opposite sex certainly isn't a good thing. Remember, personality over body. But does a word as strong as slut really apply here?
I remember watching a BBC documentary on black music a couple of days ago. At the very end, it featured a concert video of Beyonce dancing with a skirt so short she might as well have not been wearing it. Yet, people call her a strong woman. Is this really strong?
I don't think so. Note that this isn't even as bad as the picture I'm talking about. She sings about strength and being her own woman, yet in her videos it's clear that she's dancing for men. She certainly isn't doing it for me. She isn't doing it for herself either. Yet she's marketed to teenage girls as something that they should aspire to be. Same with Rhianna. A few years ago, I read the most hilarious interview in the Albuquerque Journal. Rhianna actually wanted to be a positive image for teen girls. Then this album came out:
Um...Rhianna, what happened?
Do these women deserve the title of slut? It depends. What's their motive? What's the real meaning behind dressing like this and telling teen girls to look up to them?
That belongs in a strip-club.
Yet, when Erika Badu does this video, people shout cries of indecency. This is the video:
Why do we demonize this woman for nudity, but praise the Beyonces and the Rhiannas? Nudity isn't the problem. It's the way you present said nudity. Now, I don't exactly want to see naked people running down the street, but you get the point.
Teenage girls that dress for sexual attention aren't sluts. Teenage girls that have sex once or twice with different people aren't sluts. Now, women that actually dress that way and force it onto teenagers as being right...well, I don't know about them. I don't think sex should be used as a way to manipulate anyone.
In fact, slut should be redefined to mean a man or woman that uses sex as a means to manipulate members of the opposite sex. Cause right now, it doesn't really have a meaning. Dirty, ok what makes you sexually dirty? How far do you have to go, or how many partners do you have to have before you're a slut? And why do some men get positive props for being sluts? If you sleep around that much, you shouldn't be bragging. You should be getting help.
I'm going to use the word slut because it has a meaning. It's just being used wrong. I'll always call cigarettes fags because it sounds cool. I don't really get why calling a gay guy a fag is supposed to be an insult. And yes, I'll continue to listen to R&B and hip-hop that uses nigger and niggah--and I don't care if anyone has a problem with that. They're just words. They don't really mean anything. It's the emotion behind them that matters. Same for bitch. It means female dog--so technically it's not a positive word. I'm not going to call anyone a bitch because they aren't a dog. Now, if they actually act like a dog--that's entirely different.
Yeah, I rambled.
Anyway, I'm done. I only have a few questions for you.
Do you think Beyonce deserves to be called a slut?
Do you think Olive, in easy A, deserves to be called a slut?
Do you think women--and men-- should be called sluts?