Why Slut Shaming Makes You Look Bad, Not Other Women

I’m so tired of women using the word “slut” to describe other women, or using the word as an adjective to describe another woman’s behavior.

It reminds me about when I was going into middle school. An older friend of mine sat me down and explained the hierarchy of my new personal hell school. “There are preps and jocks, weirdos, nerds, but you definitely don’t want to hang out with the sluts,” she warned.

“What makes someone a slut?” I asked. This word was new to me, and I wasn’t even sure what it entailed.

“It’s a girl who always flirts with other guys, does things with them,” my friend explained. I didn’t quite understand how a girl who got the attention of guys was someone I didn’t want to be friends with. Or how her behavior was any different than my popular friends who turned into giggling maniacs whenever a dude entered the room. I tried to agree that yes, being flirty with boys was so not okay, and entered middle school with a sexist knowledge that would take years to erase.

It is because I learned the word “slut” in middle school that I associate it with juvenile behavior today. Not that being promiscuous is juvenile, but rather caring so much that you give it such a demeaning title makes me think you are a lot immature, and perhaps a wee bit jealous.

I never grew up in a home where words were used lightly. “Shut up!” was the equivalent of dropping the F-bomb, or maybe even less tolerable. My parents never described other women as “sluts” or “skanks”, and corrected me when I was a teenager. I remember casually calling a classmate a “whore” at the dinner table, and my dad asked calmly: “You have prostitutes in your class?”. When I immediately told him that of COURSE we didn’t (c’mon, dad), he responded “Then you shouldn’t call anyone that.” It sank in.

Throughout my young adulthood I have had friends that view sex on a varying degree, ranging from those who want to wait until marriage to those who want to wait to the end of this sentence. I can’t remember a time–as a young adult–I’ve ever truly cared about their preferences. I do not view those abstaining any less than those who are bountiful in their conquests, or visa versa. As long as it is being consensual (which sex should ALWAYS BE)…

what the hell do I care?

I feel that slut shaming is one of the biggest detriments we have to modern feminism. The classic dichotomy of virgin versus sex-crazed maniac is a double edged sword that does nothing for either side. Everyone’s personal view of sex is just that–personal–and should be viewed as such. Just because I have been in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship for the past three years does not make me better (or worse) than anyone else, and I don’t claim to know the best way to have a relationship for everyone. I know what is right for my sexual and mental health, and I want that for everyone. You should not be having to combat society’s stigmas while simultaneously trying to figure out your comfort levels with sexual behavior. Using words like “slut”, “ho”, or any variety of the word do nothing for us as women but bring us down.

There is the argument of reclaiming words like “slut” in the positive sense, and if that is your choice, by ALL MEANS, go for it. However, using that word in the negative sense is not pro-woman, and just not okay. If you are calling yourself or another woman “slutty” to bring about a negative view of a behavior or individual, you are not doing anyone any favors. Your personal view of sexuality does not need to be imposed on every woman. If you have a voice, you should use it to advocate for women’s sexual rights rather than demean them.

I understand that a lot of times, a woman’s sexuality is viewed as something that is done for the attention of men, and that in itself rips it of it’s empowerment. To that I say “poo poo”. Not all women are having sex solely with straight men, and your view of “why” a woman should have sex is just as damning as a man’s thoughts that he is owed sex. A woman should have sex because she wants to and is digging it with the partner of her choice.

So what I’m saying is this: if you identify yourself as a feminist (which everyone should, because it is 2014 and we’re not a bunch of idiotic Neanderthals), stop using the word slut negatively to describe the behavior of women. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s hurtful and sets us back about 40 years. If you have concerns about a friend’s sexual choices, find a different way to approach it. You can inquire about someone’s sexual business with different words or tones.

Or keep your damn opinion to yourself, and keep doing you. If that’s what you’re into. 😉

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