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Why you should stop saying the word “slut”

Michaela Jarrett
Michaela Jarrett

There is no doubt in my mind that anyone reading this has heard the word “slut” being thrown around casually. Most of us who identify as women have been called a slut at least once in our lives and many have used it to describe someone else. I admit that I have used the word, not even knowing how problematic it was.

If you Google the definition of slut you will find that it refers to, “a woman who has many casual sexual partners.” Just to be clear, if you type “a man who has many casual sexual partners” into Google, no definition comes up. Most people realize that it is more socially acceptable for men to have sex in general, while each different partner a woman has seems to make her less and less valuable as a person.

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I know that there is a movement to reclaim the word and many women identify as sluts. I have no problem with this. However, I do have a problem with the general idea most people have of what a slut is, looks like or gets to be treated as. This is just like the problem I have with what “queer” means to many people, how they laugh at the word and use it to bash the LGBTQ+ community. While I identify as queer, a reclaimed word, I have a problem with peoples’ general idea of what it means to be queer.

Whenever I hear someone call a woman a slut, I want to know what “slut” means to that person. Why do you care how many people she has sex with? I honestly don’t even think most of the women who use this word know why they are saying it. Usually I get answers like, “She has sex with every guy she meets,” “I don’t care what she does, I’m just worried about her” or “It’s just gross, I’m not saying it to be mean.”

If you’re worried about someone who has a lot of sex, you’re crazy because their life sounds awesome. And why is it gross for a woman to have a lot of sex? Who cares? Why are we still pushing this societal standard of purity onto women? Women have the right to have sex with as many people as they want, as much as they want. I hate to hear women bashing other women.

This idea that women shouldn’t have multiple sex partners is ingrained into us from childhood. Even if you believe the same for men, it is still degrading. This social standard we have for women’s sexuality is just another way to divide women and keep us from fighting for something that really matters. When more than half of us are too busy calling each other sluts, it’s kind of hard to work together for something like, I don’t know, equality. Not only are women constantly comparing our appearances, we are comparing our sex lives.

My biggest problem with the word “slut” is that many people seem to think that “sluttiness” causes rape. In rape trials across the country and the world we see defendants’ lawyers talking about the sexual history of the victim. If she has had “a lot” of sexual partners, that is used against her. As if having a lot of sex means that you can’t say no and want to have sex with anyone. Rape is illegitimized for women who are considered “slutty.” This is a huge part of rape culture and a reason why less than 1 of reported sexual assaults results in a conviction for the perpetrator. We are literally telling women that if they have what society says is “a lot” of sex, anyone is allowed to have sex with them regardless of if they want to or not. This is dehumanizing, we are taking body sovereignty from women by calling them sluts.

No matter why you use the word slut, please rethink it when you’re about to say it. And don’t start saying, “it’s a reclaimed word, I’m just using it to empower her.” Only that person can identify themseves proudly as a slut. If you didn’t think the word “slut” is a big deal, I hope you do now. We can stop humiliating women for their sex lives and stop blaming women for sexual assaults perpetrated against them. At the very least we can be just as accepting of women having sex as we are of straight men.

Michaela is a second year Ethnic Studies student who doesn’t care how many people you have sex with, as long as you always ask for consent. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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    Nick RiddickJun 5, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Old fashioned is a good word for you.

    Reply