February 28, 2015

Slut - Declaring War On a Dirty Word


Why is the quintessential word for promiscuity gender specific? 

I was discussing the double standard with my boyfriend on the phone back in December, and I remember him trying to explain it to me, as though it somehow made sense.

Now, this won't be precisely verbatim, but the conversation went something like this...

"When a man is dating a woman and thinking about making her his girlfriend," he told me, with the utmost sincerity, not a trace of misogyny in his innocent, if na├»ve, tone, "it's kind of like when you're buying a car. You want to know how many previous owners the car has had. You want to know how many miles are on the car. You want to know the accident history. You know - to see if it's in good condition. You have to get an overall sense of the car's value, otherwise how do you know if you're paying too much or even if you want to buy it at all?" 

You could hear his pride in having illustrated his point in the silence that lingered immediately after.

"The problem with that," I said, dryly and disgusted, "is that cars are inanimate objects that are for sale. Women are not. And unlike a car, a women's value cannot be determined by 'number of previous owners'".  

He was insistent at first, that actually, a woman's value could be determined by the number of sexual partners she'd had. That it told you something about who the woman was, coming back to the car analogy. "I don't want a car that's had four of five owners. That means it's been through a lot and may not be in good condition."

"Which makes sense for a car, but not a woman. It's not the same thing." I explained, my blood growing hotter by the minute. "A car is an object. It has one purpose - to perform a task. To get you from point A to point B and, depending on the person, to look good doing it. The criteria you're describing - the number of owners a car has had, the number of miles on a car, the accident history - these things all directly impact the car’s ability to perform said purpose and therefore effects the car’s worth. After all, if the car can’t do what you want it to do, then what’s the point?”

"Exactly."

"It's almost like you're saying if a woman can’t do what you want her to do - which in this case would mean approaching the relationship with as close to a clean slate as possible - then what's the point."

“Well, yeah.”

“What’s the point of a woman who’s had a lot of sex? That’s what you’re saying?”

“I mean…I’m not saying that. Not like there’s anything against the woman. Just that if you’re looking to be in a relationship you don’t really want to be with a woman like that?”

“A woman like what?” I challenged.

“Someone who just let’s any guy - ”

“First, who said it’s any guy, and if it’s something they’re doing together why is she letting him?”

“Listen, you can take it however you want to take it. All I’m saying is it’s something that I look at when I’m dating a woman.”

"And you don't see a problem with that?"

“No. I think it's important. And I think it matters a lot in a relationship. It says a lot about the woman."

Needless to say - we broke up. 

But seriously? How many partners a woman has had, or how much sex she's had says a lot about a woman? 

Really? It says a lot? Because actually, it addresses one part of the woman - her sexuality. It doesn't tell you anything about who the woman actually is. What she thinks, how she feels, whether she's educated or not, opinionated or not, a civil rights advocate or not, whether she recycles or not - nothing. Just how many people she's been with before you, which again, isn't really about her. We’re not even talking about sexual preferences that might indicate something about the person’s character or dispositions. Only how many people have seen her naked, etc. How many people have "had" her - and that way of putting it alone is sexist because it implies that the woman didn't actually enjoy sex or get anything out of it. No one ever describes a man as having been "had" by a woman. After the fact people like to talk about sex almost as thought it was rape. Like the woman submitted to something that was for a man’s pleasure alone. Like something happened to her. Like she gave something up and some man took it.

But I digress...

Point is,  when you determine a woman’s value using only her sexuality as criteria (and by the way, since when is it anyone’s right to determine anyone else’s value, regardless of what criteria is being used…?) you’re saying that a woman's worth lies solely in what she can offer sexually. If you believe that having a quality that men desire (i.e.: a limited number of partners) makes a woman more valuable, and not having similar qualities depreciates her value, you’re now saying that a woman’s worth is determined by how desirable or not she is to a man. 

The last time I checked, women were human beings, not goods or services, the value of which could be determined by supply and demand. But that’s exactly what a claim like this suggests, as well as that if for whatever reason she isn't desirable to a man that her value has gone down, similar to the car, because she can no longer serve her purpose.

But that’s the problem. Because a woman's "purpose" has nothing to do with men! 

Ours is also not the predicament of the Kleenex - use until sullied and throw away. That’s not the reason we're here! Not to avoid sexual contact so as to be considered fresh out-of-the-box. Not to sit inside the proverbial shop window being stared at and admired until someone finally walks inside and chooses us. We are not cars. We are not just a means to an end. Just a vehicle to one’s pleasure, just a pretty accessory to look good on your arm. 

And need I remind you that, unlike a car, a woman has opinions about you and can decide that she doesn't want you whether you find her up to par or not?! 

::takes deep breath::

So why have I gone off on this tirade about the double standard, anyway? What started this whole thing?

I’ve done it because it is this double standard that created a very dirty word. A word that I’m officially declaring war on. 

Slut.

Google the word, and you’ll find that the definition is as follows: 

Slut:
A woman who has many casual sex partners.
Synonyms: promiscuous woman; prostitute; whore

A slut is not defined as a person who has many casual sex partners. A slut is defined as a woman who has many causal sex partners. A woman, specifically. 

I typed the words “definition man who has many causal sex partners” into Google and got bupkis. 

I then typed the words “a promiscuous man” into Google and the first hit was Urban Dictionary (because it was the only hit that mentioned men at all). Here’s what I found:



Among the many definitions Urban Dictionary had to offer, I even found:

Promiscuous: A fancy word for slut

Urban Dictionary actually did point out the inequality and injustice of the word, pointing out that promiscuous women are often labeled as harlots, sluts or whores whereas promiscuous men are labeled as studs, lechers, or dirty old men (depending on their age). 



I took the liberty then and there of defining the word lecher. The first two synonyms that followed? Libertine. Womanizer.

What are you writing about?” A very sexy man asked me this afternoon as I sat in my negligee working on this piece. 

“About the word slut, and how it’s bullshit. The definition of slut has the word ‘woman’ built in. And I’m trying to find the word for a promiscuous man - it doesn’t exist.”

“There’s a word for it,” he said, teasing. “It’s called a playboy. Or a rockstar.”

He isn’t wrong.

But why is that the case? Why do we have a word for a promiscuous woman and not one for a man? 

Or, to put it another way:

Why do we condemn women for having sex lives, but not men?

Notice again the synonyms for slut. They were promiscuous woman, prostitute and whore

Promiscuous is derogatory in and of itself, and is based in this idea of someone who is sexually indiscriminate. As in: I don’t discriminate, I’ll have sex with anyone! I’m not even going to bother defining prostitute and whore. 

So now looking at these synonyms for slut, looking at this criteria: someone who trades sex for money, someone who has sex indiscriminately, let us think about how many times the word slut is used to define - no, that’s not the word. Let us think about how many times the word slut is used to label or brand a woman who actually meets none of the above criteria.

Urban Dictionary, which seemed to be playing on Team Femme, posed a very interesting question.

How many men does a woman have to sleep with to be considered a slut?

Answer: One

As a woman you need only to have slept with one man that people know about for them to feel like they have some kind of power over you. Like they know something about you or what kind of woman you are. Even without acquiring any specific details into the act itself, the knowledge that a woman has had sex, especially when her partner can be identified, seems to inspire people to give themselves license to judge.

It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were, either. They don’t care. It doesn’t matter if he was a long term boyfriend, a summer love, a weekend fling, a deliberate one night stand or the guy who swore it was love at first sight at the bar, promised he’d call and then never did. 

It’s all fueled by this idea that if any man has experienced carnal knowledge of that woman, that she has somehow lost something of value that can never been returned. That she is damaged goods. 

And thus the disrespect begins, based on a woman’s sexuality. 

This is hypocritical because a man still wants to have sex and will have sex (if he can - which often isn’t the case!) with the very woman he labels a slut!

Men say disrespectful things like, “No, I wouldn’t date that girl. I’d still fuck her, though” and think they’re making some statement about the character of the woman, when really the only character they’re revealing is their own

To be attracted to a woman and give yourself license to take sexual advantage of her whilst simultaneously disrespecting her, and marking down your level of respect for her even more by engaging in this sexual act with you - this is hypocrisy! It’s absolute bullshit! 

The reason that the word slut exists is that we live in a world that men control, but women naturally have the upper hand in sex. Women are the more physically attractive gender (it’s okay to admit it - almost every species has this) which means men experience more constant desire. That puts them at a natural disadvantage, and god forbid they feel weak in any way.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - a woman’s ignorance to her sexuality serves one purpose, and that’s to serve men. A woman with no sexual experience has no way of knowing if you’re bad in bed. She has no way of knowing that she’s not having orgasms, not because she can’t, but because you’re a selfish lover who doesn’t know what a G-Spot is and, even if you did, couldn’t find it because you’re in and out in under three minutes.

The purpose of slut shaming women away from sex lives is to maintain their ignorance and gain control in an area where, naturally, women are in control.

Even in a sexual environment that is respectful, generous and reciprocal, women still naturally have the upper hand. The male orgasm usually happens once during sex. If he can finish again during the second round it’s usually considered a stroke of luck (wink). An anomaly. And when he does, his orgasm is powerful, but quick, the high lasting only a few seconds.

A woman’s orgasm is different. First, there are different types. It depends on where and even how the pleasure is being focused. They come in different levels of intensity as well as from different places, and in different waves if you will. Have you ever noticed a woman shake or shiver ten to fifteen minutes after the sex ended?

Yeah. That would be an aftershock.

And that’s just after. During, an orgasm can last for minutes, not seconds. Several, several minutes. 

And here’s the kicker. With the right lover, we don’t get just one. We get to have three, four. Five. Seven. 

Sometimes they all come together, one wave in, the other out, and it feels like you’re coming the whole time.

No wonder men are jealous.

And that’s why the word slut exists. That’s why people slut shame. To make women feel bad for enjoying what our bodies were made to enjoy; what we are perfectly entitled to enjoying.

It’s funny because if I think about it, throughout my life the men who have most diligently pursued trying to make me ashamed of my sexuality were men who I did not and would not have sex with. Could it be any more clear that the word slut is not meant to accurately describe the so called indiscriminate nature of a woman’s sexuality, but rather to even the playing field and give men a sense of power when he’s debased by his sexual desire for a woman who does have sex, but will not have sex with him?

So yes, I’m declaring war on this stupid, dirty word. And even if you don’t stop saying it, at least understand that when you do, I know what it means. That you and your wounded little ego are jealous and upset and that you can’t have a piece of little ole me.

Well sorry, honey. That doesn’t make me a slut.

I’m a woman with a sex life. And yes, I do discriminate. 





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