What does it mean to be a “slut”? By Merriam-Webster’s definition it’s an “especially promiscuous woman,” and often synonymous with being called a prostitute. This term, of course, applies only only to the female gender and is highly subjective across many known dictionaries. There are also words specifically for those of the male gender using this definition, but more often than not, the words do not share the same connotation, meaning that they don’t share the same level of shame by association. The word “slut” is utilized as an offensive term of disparagement, singularly directed at those of the female gender.
But who is to decide what an excess level of promiscuity may be? How many is too many partners? And most importantly, is this even a word we should even attribute value to?
Sexual promiscuity has always been an issue that concerns reputation and self-esteem for women. Men have generally viewed female promiscuity as how many people someone has slept with.
A woman who openly enjoys sex and is as casual about it in the same way that many men are should not have her worth demeaned and assessed by the general public just because of her gender. “Slut” has become a common term for women who enjoy casual sex. Calling someone a slut does not only sort them into a sexist perspective of thought, but it also lessens the worth of women by attaching a stigma to their actions but not to the same actions being carried out by men. You can’t have two people of the opposite gender performing the same set of actions, but attach a negatively contorted label of “slut” to only one of those genders. It just doesn’t make sense.
When people begin assessing fewer sex partners with being more respectable, people whose desires are outside those boundaries have to either trade in their desires in order to be accepted and respected within society, or simply face the backlash of having those desires fulfilled. Labeling someone a slut based on their sexual expression does not only label someone based on the outward expression, but it also takes away from what might be causing this type of outward expression, such as how the person is being prompted. How we perceive people coined with the term slut really conceals the character within the person in question.
Image courtesy of Olivia Harris/Reuters
As blogger Charlie Glickman put it best:
Slut-shaming collapses the complexity of another person onto a single dimension. But even more so, given how slut-shaming is used to control and shame all women regardless of their sexual practices or desires, it conflicts directly with respecting them. If you say that you respect women, then you need to respect all women, no matter how many sexual partners she has, her relationship choices, or how she enjoys sex. Otherwise, you’re saying that your respect is something that someone has to buy. I don’t think that that’s really respect at all.
Slut-shaming the female gender also empowers the hypocritical notion that when men behave in a promiscuous manner with no stigma or negativity attached, they are just trying to enjoy their own sexuality. Allowing men to behave in a similar manner without all of the societal implications degrades a woman for her sexual liberation. Degrading someone’s confidence in their sexuality as well as their expression of sexuality by slut-shaming them degrades the female gender as a whole.
Next time you hear about the girl next door sleeping around with one “too many” men, you might want to rethink judging her on her outward expression and instead try to connect with the inward expression of what prompted her to do so. Perhaps she was having a summer fling, or maybe it was at attempt at failed romance, or perhaps it was done in or out of love; all the same, these are choices made out of sexual expression and personal choice and not ones that should be seen as shameful.
Written by Angelica Alvarez
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Opinions stated in our editorials do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Feminspire and it’s staff as a whole, but instead reflect the opinions of the writer.