Slut Is Not A Word

Written by on 11/27/2013 in Inspiration

Slut-shamingAs far as I’m concerned the word slut does not exist.

I was once called a cunt by another woman and found it terribly ironic that I’d never slept with any of the men whose names she sputtered–but I didn’t tell her that because as far as I was concerned there wouldn’t have been any harm if I had. My usually open-minded mother once asked me if I was worried people would think I was a slut and I stared at her in confusion, finally asking, “What does that mean?” A coworker today asked the room at large why women who sleep around are perceived as a “slut” or “whore,” as though this would be an interesting workplace debate. A writer recently submitted an article defending someone because she “didn’t go through men like Taylor Swift.” When I asked her to revisit the statement, she changed the wording but not the sentiment, perhaps not even aware that she was constructing an argument based on a judgment of Swift’s sexual activity.

I don’t care if Taylor Swift fucks a man a day or is saving herself for marriage. If it harms none, people, do what you will.

I also do not consider a woman who only has sex when in a longterm monogamous relationship as being morally superior then anyone else. I enjoyed reading Dead Until Dark, the book that birthed the True Blood TV series, except for the scene in which Sookie defends herself to another character by saying “I am not a slut.” I still wonder what the writer, Charlaine Harris, meant. Did she mean casual sex is bad and those who engage in it are morally weak?

Well I guess you don’t need me to tell you, since you’re on this site reading this article, that I don’t get that equation.

I judge dishonesty and unkindness: sex under false pretenses, not respecting the person you’re with, withdrawing afterward. I have been guilty of being less than forthright with myself or my partner about my feelings and I have unintentionally hurt people because of this. Intent is definitely worth examining.

Numbers are not.

The word slut confuses me in a way I have no intention of ever clarifying because the basis of the word is bullshit. It is for women what the word “nigger” is for African Americans, born from prejudice and utterly irrelevant except as a historical artifact. Men have always had a free pass in almost every society in the world to engage in as much sexual activity as they liked as long as no one overtly knew about it. Up until only a few decades ago, however, woman were supposed to preserve their virginity. Always raising the question, Who are these men having sex with?

Like many other forms of prejudice this one is still present, if quiet. Male celebrities are glamorized for wild love lives but if a woman dates a lot she’s presumed to be pitiful (Swift) or out of control (Cyrus).

Cosmo recently ran an article arguing that it is now officially and truly okay to sleep with someone on the first date. Men, they assured their readers, will not think you are easy if you hop in the sack right away. I read it feeling depressed that a leading women’s magazine felt this was a message that needed to be delivered.

But I agree with them that many young women still struggle with how they’ll be perceived, sometimes presenting themselves as squeaky-clean or rebelliously fast so they don’t have to deal with a much more difficult gray zone. Our culture is still not very comfortable with a gray zone when it comes to female sexuality. Growing up the “smart girl” in glasses, I was usually assumed to be a “good girl.” If I didn’t find a joke funny it was because I was a prude, not that maybe I just didn’t find it funny. If I was annoyed by the sight of girls flouncing around in tiny skirts at a trade show, I was “not fun.” Now, when a man finds out I’ve written erotica or studied burlesque, he’s just as likely to assume I’m ready to hop in the sack with him. I was a prude and now I’m easy. Are either of these extremes true? Sure–depending on the day, my mood, who’s handy, whether I’ve read the news that day, what shoes I’m wearing, the weather…

The hubbub about Anne Hathaway’s accidental flashing, Miley Cyrus’s performance at the VMA’s, the fact that you still have to choose “Mrs” or “Miss” when filling out a form–all of it just makes me so tired.

I am a woman and a sexual creature but I am also just a human being. Enough with the roles. Do you have to be a slut or a “good girl?” Why can’t you be both? Why can’t you have fun when you want to, and if you meet someone awesome, ask him to wine and dine you?

Men have sex. Women have sex. Some like to have sex with a committed partner they know well. Others like to spend the night with a stranger. Others prefer sex with several people at a time, or in front of other people, or in the kitchen, or the car, or at a club. Some would like to never have sex again, or wait until they sort some shit out. Some want tenderness, others, a good smack on the bum. Some prefer lovers of the same gender and some never know what they’ll be attracted to next.

Some of us want one of those extremes today and will want the other extreme tomorrow.

I have had sex to blow off steam, to compliment talent, to rejoin the living, to comfort, to hide, to love, and often, simply to accept. To accept myself, accept the other person, accept the moment. I like having sex, I don’t necessarily like being in a relationship, therefore I tend to have sex with different people rather then the same person. Is it hurting anyone? No. Is it anyone’s damn business? No. Does it make me weak, stupid, careless, or a harm to society and moral women worldwide?

If you think it does then we can take this outside.

At its best sex is an act of appreciation, of surrender, of play, of love. At its worst it is hurtful, cold, a substitute or a small fraction of what is really wanted. Imagine what life would be like if instead of judging people for having too much sex we judged them for not having good sex. If we held each other accountable, not by brittle antiquated assumptions, but by how present, honest, skilled and generous we were as lovers.

Imagine a world that didn’t care how many partners you’ve had, or why, but at whether you and those partners enjoyed any of it.

That strikes me as a more meaningful preoccupation.


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