• Fri, May 7 2010

Didn’t We All Outgrow The ‘Slut’ Label In High School?

I think the last time I called someone a slut I was 13. There was a rumor that Jamie Rhodes had slept with some guy. Now, Jamie Rhodes had once told me that I would always be a loser, so was I on that slut shaming bandwagon? Fuck yeah, I was on the slut shaming bandwagon. There was a lot of pointing and whispering and saying “oh my God, can you believe that anyone could ever be such a slut” in the way that only 13 year old girls can say it. Anyhow, it all ended with Jamie in tears in the cafeteria, which taught one or two of us valuable lessons about not being assholes.

Obviously, that didn’t happen because Jamie Rhodes was actually a slut. She was a 13 year old girl who someone made up a rumor about. It happened because lots of young girls are morons about sex. They have no history, they have minimal understanding of how it even works, and yet we’re all supposed to run around with sweatpants that say “jail bait” on their asses. I mean, at least that was my school. When something is that confusing it’s not entirely surprising that some people are apt to make sex into something shameful.

But then we grew up. And we started having sex. Maybe we even discovered that we liked sex that wasn’t completely vanilla. And presumably, we stopped judging anyone else for doing the same.

Which is why the recently held Slut Panel gave me a little bit of pause. To be perfectly honest, I almost never hear the term. I live in New York and most of my friends believe that Sex and the City’s Samantha wasn’t slutty so much as “she just liked to have fun! She was a fun person!” But, obviously, given Feministing coverage the term is pretty much alive and well:

“It’s based on what people assume about you just by looking at you – at your body, your clothes and the way you move through the world. Once you realize that, it becomes obvious that the slut label isn’t just about controlling how much sex women have: It’s about controlling how we dress, how we walk, how we talk, how we dance, how much we drink, who we talk to, how we feel about our own desires and so on and so on. And crossing the invisible, culturally-determined “slut line” in any of these arenas is enough to earn you a label that, no matter how much we denounce and detest it.”

And that is terrifying. I hope something as stupid as the term slut doesn’t stop anyone from doing what they feel like in ANY of those areas. Because it’s pretty much meaningless. To me, it doesn’t say much of anything about the person it’s being applied to. It says more about the speaker and the fact that they clearly don’t really feel comfortable with their own sexuality or female sexuality. Obviously it’s not a “oh, they hate you because they’re jealous that you’re so hot” thing, it’s actually a “they hate you because they have a lot of issues with sex and are idiots” thing. That, or they’re still 13 years old.

Share This Post: