• Sun, Apr 29 2012

Poll: Is The Term ‘Slut’ Only OK When Referring To Ourselves?

Because sluts like to bite their fingers and shit...

“It’s called a slutty phase. It basically means I’ll do what I want at night then slut-shame myself in the morning: ‘Chatel! You slut!’”

When I tweeted that a couple weeks ago, I watched 14 Twitter followers drop off. As someone who doesn’t have many to begin with, I noticed it almost right away. The same thing also seems to happen when I bring up anything that confirms the fact that I don’t believe in god. But since it’s my Twitter account and basically an intimate look into my ultra fascinating life, I’ll tweet whatever slutty, atheistic shit I please.

As we’ve seen, especially over the last few months thanks to Rush Limbaugh and his (fruitless) attempts to shame women (Sandra Fluke in particular), as Tallulah Kidd so eloquently wrote about for us just a few weeks back, the term “slut” is up for some major debate. While there are those who are adamantly against the word, going so far as to make these somewhat ridiculous YouTube videos as a means to educate just how “negative” the word is, there are women (and men) on the other side of the spectrum, like Kidd, who want us to “take back” the word. Her revolution is in the same vein as Dan Savage and his attack on the word “fag;” yet another term that evokes strong feelings on both sides.

After that tweet a few weeks ago, I shrugged it off. I believe whole-heartedly with Kidd on her stance on the word, the fact that labels in general suck but since they’re a part of life, you might as well embrace it. I didn’t think about it again until a couple days ago when I was spouting off to a gay male friend (who never ceases to remind the world around him that he is indeed a “cock-sucking fag”) about my “slutty” phase. The conversation wasn’t offensive, in either one of our minds, and covered all the usual gory details about our sex lives as well as the horrors of the world, and the latest New Yorker. Yes, we talk about things other than sex.

During our dinner, he probably called me a “slut” easily two dozens times, and each time I laughed harder than the last. But what I wondered when I walked away from that evening was is it ever OK to call someone else a slut? Sure, we can embrace a revolution, take back the term and make it our own, but if I were to call someone, whom I know to be promiscuous a “slut,” am I doing an injustice to my gender and being offensive? Are we only allowed to use the word on our terms?

I, personally, don’t have an answer, but as I continue along, thoroughly enjoying my slutty phase (or maybe it will end up being an “until-I-die” phase), I can’t help but be compelled to contemplate just how far we can take the term in regards to others before we become no different than fucking Rush Limbaugh. Should we get a hand-written permission slip before we’re allowed to toss it around amongst certain company?

Sorry! This poll is now closed.

 

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  • Cee

    Hm. Im sorta on the fence on this. While I loved Kidd’s article, this whole “taking back” words becomes a very slippery slope and then everyone starts taking out their own dictionary of the word means to them. As a lesbian, I hate, HATE the words fag and dyke. Some members of “the community” don’t and use it to call each other that at the club or amongst their friends. That’s when THEIR straight friends get the idea that it is okay until they meet a lgbt person that is not okay with it. Then the whole “I have lots of gay friends” excuse comes out and blah blah blah.
    Slut..is a very interesting word, but again, when you start getting nitpicky about when and where and who…well you pretty much confuse everyone and have everyone using it however way they want and accordingly to their dictionary (ie..as a term of endearment, empowerment, to describe Halloween costumes, to describe your friends outfit, to describe what that bitch (whip out your dictionary of what THAT word means to you) is wearing..and so on, and then somewhere down the line it gets insulting again and you have people going WTF?

    • Amanda Chatel

      Like you, I’m on the fence and you do make some very valid points. I would NEVER refer to any of my lesbian friends as “dykes.” Honestly, I put that in the “N-word” category as suggesting such a level of hate and ignorance that it has no place in any conversation… unless, of course you’re totally trying to be a racist, homophone… and if you are, then I hate you and you suck.

      However, “fag” is different for me. Granted, I don’t use it often AT ALL, but within my community of gay male friends it’s so over-used and embraced that I’ve pretty much become numb to it. You won’t find me running down the street calling every gay man I see a “fag,” but I’ve stopped wincing when my, well, “fags” use it (somewhere right now my Mattie is very proud I just put that out there.)

      But it’s all a slippery slope… if there’s a room full of black guys, is it OK to say oh, the one white guy over there, or vice versa? Or if you’re having a party and everyone happens to be gay except for that one straight friend, is it OK to be like: “Well, Katie is the straight one in the bunch tonight.” Can’t Katie be just the girl in the red dress? Or are we getting too sensitive and too PC?

      Like I said, I personally don’t have an exact answer, because I don’t feel there is one. There’s always a percentage of people you’re going to offend no matter what you say or what word you use… hence the reason I threw this poll out there today.

      To quote The Little Prince: “I shall watch you out of the corner of my eye and you will say nothing; words are the source of misunderstandings.”

      This is a painfully true statement from a book that was geared toward children, and yet a lesson that most of us forget as we get older. I have a friend who majored in Women Studies who, to this day, asserts that “cunt” (at least in the mind of Goethe) was once a term of endearment for a woman. I’ve yet to find proof of such a thing, but despite this, she still gets up on her soapbox about it every chance she gets… and more fucking power to her.

      I guess the point to all this babbling is that it will always be debatable no matter what side you’re on. Again, I stand by my “slutty” phase. And if any reader of The Gloss called me a slut, I’d high-five them (well, at least the frequent commenters we recognize and think of as our buddies) because you’re all intelligent enough to fucking get it… and I guess that alone is reason for high-fives all around!

      Merci, Cee! As always, your input is awesome!
      xo.

    • Cee

      Very good insights Amanda! Thank you for the reply.

      I do not flinch as much when I hear fag as I do when I hear dyke. I suppose because it is used more loosely. Not to mention I hear it float around the gay bars so much.

      Yea there is no right or wrong answer. I suppose I lie somewhere in the middle between the Outrage Police and They’re Just Words, depending on the word.

      That is a very powerful quote, I may steal it!

      And lastly, enjoy your slutty phase!
      :)

  • Quin

    Well, it depends a lot more on the intent behind it and the situation than who’s calling who a slut.
    In some cases, I don’t think it’s okay to call yourself a slut – I’m sure a lot of women call themselves sluts in a derogatory manner, like when they’re feeling down, it’s kind of like calling yourself fat and ugly and stupid when you’re having a bad day. And I don’t think, in that situation, it’s okay to call yourself a slut. But then, some women call themselves sluts in a completely loving way. So, it depends.

    • Amanda Chatel

      I totally agree.

      Calling myself a “slut” is actually coming from a place of freedom, a relationship I needed to escape and a world I need to explore. But like Cee, you make a really great point!

      Thanks, Quin!

  • MR

    I think it was mid September, sometime after Irene hit. Anyway there were these two guys, at a party my friend holds ever year, as a start up after summer break. They were 24 and had both started work the previous December and were trashing this women who had also started that December. She had just broken up with her third boyfriend and they said she would be moving onto the fourth soon and called her a slut. I thought man, the ball has clearly moved way back too the right since I was their age. This woman is clearly not a slut. I think I averaged three lovers a year when I was in college.

  • Kj

    I mean, I get having a slutty phase and don’t think there’s a better label to describe it (I also went through such a phase), but there are two issues at hand here:

    I think that calling it a “slutty phase” is probably not ideal because it implies that there’s intrinsically something bad/unnatural about such a phase. I mean, I guess the point of reclaiming the word is to take away the negative connotations, but for now it still rings negatively.

    Secondly, I think that as your theoretical Twitter follower what would have bothered me about your tweet is the “slut shame myself” part. Why should you be ashamed? I understand that you meant it as a joke, but it doesn’t ring true. If you are going to be open about your slutty phase, you damn well shouldn’t feel like you have to apologize, IMHO.

    • Amanda Chatel

      The “slut-shame” comment was completely sarcastic… did you see the YouTube video I linked?

      I think anyone who reads me enough or follows me on Twitter is well aware that I’m candid, sarcastic, laid-back and relatively don’t give a fuck. If someone follows me and reads that I’m “going through a GG Allin phase” and assumes I want to cover myself in poop, kinda misses the point (although I fully expect many to look up his name.)

      I don’t feel ashamed… I’m currently slutty! Next year I might be married with babies…

      Haha… my married sister with babies says “no” to this idea…

  • RogueThinker

    “embraces her sexuality” Do men embrace their sexuality? What does that mean?
    .
    Here is poll that cuts much closer to reality -
    .
    If a man considers a woman’s sexual past [and most do] as one of many factors when deciding to dedicate his life to her he is:

    A – slut shaming
    B – insane
    C – confused
    D – un-american
    E – hypocritical
    F – insecure
    G – unrealistic
    H – embracing his mentality

    • Amanda Chatel

      I’m sorry, but I’m confused by the tone of this. Any modern man probably would NOT consider a woman’s sexual past — unless they wear pleats to work or whatever. Although you claim that “most do,” than fuck them… and I’m sure many agree with me.

      If you don’t want to marry me because I’ve fucked 200091919191 men, then fuck you. I, however, would not take that into consideration in regards to the long run or more importantly, with whom I will love endlessly.

      I’ve never dated a man who cared one way or the other, and if I did… well, we already covered how I would handle it…

    • RogueThinker

      What is a “modern man” and where do they live? Do they exist in large numbers or is the supply limited, globally speaking? Do they like being “modern” or are they merely unaware of other options?

      Have you seem this?

      http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2010/08/11/hookinguprealities/the-essential-truth-about-female-promiscuity/

    • Tania

      That article is extremely biased and poorly reasoned out. It’s not a good argument for anything, because I can’t even find the real reason the writer things female “promiscuity” is a bad thing other than it’s bad because it’s bad.

      Which is circular reasoning, and not logic.

  • GentleMatt

    There are some terms, I just find impossible to understand in a serious way. Slut is one of them. Whenever someone sais that, I’m thinking he is making a joke. Imagine my shock when I noticed that this is not always the case.

    In general, I try not to use these kind of words, because I’m usually intent on sounding like a 19th century gentleman, but since they are no more than a joke to me, at times they have unsolicitously passed my lips. And personally, I don’t think single buzz-words should be able to offend anybody, and bleeping out curses on TV is a joke (in my country they don’t do that). But using these words gives an impression of the speaker, of their style and refinement, that is rather unfavourable.

    So in conclusion, these words tell more about those who use them, than about those who are indicated by them. And that is a rather helpful realisation when being called a slut by someone.