People...I’m a slut. I’m an emotional slut, I’m a comedy slut, I’m a comic book slut. I’m also a slut in the way that most people conventionally think about the term. I have sex with people. Wantonly. I have sex with people other than my partner. I have sex with people on the first date. I have sex with people I’m not in love with. I have sex with more than one person at a time. I know. It’s disgraceful. Shameful. I’m the worst.
Some of you may have heard the term “slut shaming” before. Some of you may not. For those of you who haven’t and who don’t have time to read entire wiki articles I link out to, allow me to paraphrase the whole situation for you.
In our society we have a well developed sense of propriety. We know what is and isn’t acceptable. This is particularly true when applied to women. There are unspoken (and loudly spoken) rules about what women are allowed to wear and say in public and what we think about women who don’t conform to these rules. You know the women I’m talking about too. The ones who wear fishnets to work. The ones who carry condoms in their handbag. The ones who put out on the first date. Those women. Sluts.
These days women are allowed to want sex, at least compared to previous generations anyway. We’re allowed to talk about our wants and our desires, we’re allowed to own sex toys (probably one of the few areas in which we’re more sexually liberated than men), we’re even allowed to enjoy sex. But there is a line. At some point, we can enjoy sex too much. We can sleep with too many people. We can become sluts. This isn’t acceptable.
Some of you might be saying that there’s always a line, there’s always an excess. I am inclined to agree with you. If what you’re doing is harming you or others, then it’s time to stop. But let me ask you this, how many partners is too many for a man? When you hear about famous rock stars or basketball players whose sexual partners number in the triple, sometimes quadruple digits, where does your mind go? Because most people (myself included) are inclined to think “Wow. If it makes him happy, that’s awesome!” When it comes to women though, we’re more inclined to think it’s pathetic, sad or just disgusting. And it’s here that we run into some problematic language. There are some truly shitty metaphors trying to explain this double standard. The most famous being 'A key that can open many locks is called a master key, but a lock that can be opened by many keys is a shitty lock.' Sure, your logic holds up if genitals were disembodied, inanimate objects with singular purposes. They’re not though, so a better way of phrasing that would be “I’m a shitty person who disapproves of female sexual empowerment. My penis is roughly the dimensions of a key.”
There is an overwhelming dichotomy in the standard for women’s sexuality. Women are expected to be both saints and sinners. They’re taught that they should be coy and demure about what they want. They should never come outright and say that they want sex (which I would argue has led to a lot of the problematic behaviour around rape culture, but that’s an argument for another day). They’re taught that they should be taken, never that they should take others. They’re taught that men (because lesbians are mythological creatures that exist solely to fuel male fantasies) want them to be experienced enough to provide a good time, but not so experienced that they’re all used up.
The world tells us that women have a finite amount of fucks in them. Too many fucks and they’ll be all loose and gross (because vaginas are a cheaply made novelty balloon, not a dynamic and responsive part of human anatomy). So they encounter a problem similar to one experienced by every university graduate; applicants must be experienced...but not overqualified. If a woman has too many sexual partners, at best she can hope to be called intimidating, if not flaky and emotionally unstable. But more likely she’ll be called a slut, and worse. But if she does what society has told her and refrains from pursuing what she wants then she’s frigid, dowdy, stunted and puritanical. So, society it’s here that I have to stop and ask, what the actual fuck do you want? And then I have to stop again and remind myself that no one should give a fuck what you want from women, and instead women should be asking what they want from society.
So how do we combat this culture of slut shaming? Well for a start we need to stop tearing women down! Stop judging women for the amount of sex they do or don’t have. And sadly I’m looking at you, ladies, when I say this. Woman on woman aggression is something that’s ingrained in us from an early age. Society encourages us to compete against each other, maybe so we’re too distracted to be competing with men, I don’t know. But it has to stop. Other women aren’t your enemy. They’re just like you. They’re just as crippled by self-doubt, insecurities and fear of judgment as you are. Women need to teach each other that they’ve got each other’s backs! When you see a woman wearing something revealing or promiscuous, don’t tear her down, not even if it’s just in your own head. Look at her and know that she’s wearing that because it makes her feel good. Smile at her and confirm that she’s right, she looks damn good. When a woman tells you that she slept with a guy on the first date, the only words out of your mouth should be “Well? How was he?” We all need to remember that as long as everyone is consenting and being safe, then there’s no issues with a woman having sex with as many people as she pleases, dressing how she pleases, doing as she pleases. I wish I could tell you that it’s an easy pattern of behaviour to break, but it’s not. Judging women is something so ingrained in us that we need to constantly check our behaviour and mental patterns to break out of it. I still catch myself doing it. Whenever I’m being particularly harsh on a woman, I mentally change her gender to see how I’d be reacting if she were a man. A lot of the time I realise that I’m being a judgemental a-hole and I need to remember that this woman has a lot of the same issues I do and that I need to be her ally not her enemy.
Another way that we can help to break down the slut shaming we come across in society is to start to take ownership of our own sexuality. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be afraid. Talk openly and with courage about what you want and what you’ve done. If someone tries to hurt you by talking about your sex life pejoratively, fucking own that! A guy tells someone he slept with you and he didn’t? Don’t deny it, because let’s be honest people are dicks and probably won’t believe you. Instead realise that this guy has just given you total ownership over his sex life. Nod as though you thought everyone knew about your encounter and then tell them about how he has a My Little Pony fetish and insisted that you call him Twilight Sparkle the whole time. Better still, don’t even kink-shame when you say it! Be matter of fact. “I haven’t watched many episodes, so I kind of had to wing it a bit, but I think I got him well on the road to Canter-lot, if you know what I mean.” Remember that your sexuality is yours, it doesn’t matter what you do with it and if other people want to use it to tear you down, take it back. It’s fucking yours! No one gets to use it against you!
If any of this has you riled up against the injustice of it all (and it should) then I recommend that you look into supporting the SlutWalk in your city. It’s a great way to meet like minded people and step out to remind people that they’re being fucksticks if they’re trying to dictate what women can and can’t do with their bodies.
I’ve been called a slut more times than I can count. I’ve been called a slut for having sex before marriage, for having sex with women, for having sex outside of my relationship. I’ve also been called a slut for wearing long boots with a dress, for talking about my sex toy collection and for working in the sex industry.
What all of this has taught me is that slut is a term reserved only for the MOST awesome of all women. It refers to women who are passionate and vocal about the things they enjoy. It refers to women who take what they want. A slut is a woman who is formidable and unstoppable. I am a slut! You’re all sluts too!
So slut on my dear, dear readers! Be the sluttiest version of yourselves that you can possibly be. Encourage sluttiness in all the people whose lives you touch.
That is all.
You may go now.