If you’ve read my post on being sex-positive, you know that I don’t have any qualms with sexuality. I’ve also mentioned a couple of times on my blog that I don’t tolerate slut-shaming, and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see lots of Tweets and re-Tweets on the topic. It’s something I feel very strongly about.
The word slut is very problematic. It’s been used against us, as women and as girls. We were probably taught growing up that it’s a catch-all insult, because no one wants to be a slut. You didn’t even have to have a reason to call someone a slut, or to be called a slut yourself; but if the rumor spread, it stuck.
Lately, I’ve been wondering what people actually think a slut is. Does a slut sleep around? Does she talk about sex? Does she have sex without romance, or without expectation of feelings? Can you dress like a slut? If you’re called a slut and someone comes to your defense to say that you’re not, because you’re monogamous or because you’re responsible, what does that say?
I’ve been seeing this posting around the internet recently. It says, “Too many girls want attention, not enough want respect.” Excuse me? I was unaware that you were so apt to read my mind, to decode my intentions, and to police my behavior. How does a person claim to know what another wants? This is a very thinly veiled, very dangerous form of slut-shaming.
I actually asked one of the people who posted it – a 22 year old guy – what he thought it meant. The basic idea of his answer (I will not post it verbatim because I do not have permission to do so) was that it’s easy to tell when a girl wants attention, because she acts and dresses like it. Happily, another woman of similar feminist leanings stepped in, and together we tried to have a legitimate discourse on the idea of attentions vs respect. (This of course ended with me being blocked, because I’m rabid, obviously.)
Quite frankly, if I am unable to earn or keep your respect based on my intellect, my diction, my drive, or my respect for you, I have no interest in your respect. If my job, my blog, my toy collection, my short shorts, or my tattoo are going to damn me in your eyes, then your respect is not worth earning. The idea that we have to chase the respect of people who have already decided against us is a powerful idea that keeps us running on this hamster wheel of patriarchy.
Maybe I am a slut. I like sex, and I like talking about sex so that I can learn more (about sex). I have my own reasons for the choices I make, and they usually have nothing to do with outside attention or respect. In fact, the respect that I’m so concerned about maintaining is my own. If I can’t look myself in the eye every morning and every night, then I’ve failed. If I called someone a slut, if I tried to place another woman into a simplified box so that I could categorize her and break her down, I would not be able to respect myself.
So you can call me a slut. You can also call me a feminist, a free thinker, and a woman with more to worry about than what anyone thinks about her choices.