Burned at the stake
Why being a “slut” is an outdated concept due for eradication
The entire concept of being a “slut” is trivial and outdated. Dating back to roughly 15th century English, the grotesque term has made its way from ink on a scroll of parchment to the 140 characters Twitter permits us to use as we seek to dazzle our friends and family with our insight and wit. And, unfortunately, the whole “slut” thing is still plaguing society in the very same ways it always has.
Of course, you’ve heard this argument about a million times. There’s no denying that the phrases used to describe a promiscuous woman exist in colorful abundance while the concept is only applied to our male counterparts through lame, half-assed terms like “man slut.”
But the issue at hand consists of more than just an annoying double standard that keeps women from having guilt-free fun. The problem is a unique strain of sexism that is both overt and insidious: it stares us in the face and manifests in our minds without our conscious consent.
The idea that we feel the need to specify by saying “man slut” or “manwhore” is only rendering the concept inherently unique to females. Not only does this create a nonsensical bias — as if a man who engages in too much sexual behavior is some sort of cultural anomaly — it conditions us to believe that it’s bad, or shameful, to have been born with two X chromosomes.
To that end, it truly baffles me that at such a prestigious university, where the nation’s most innovative young minds ostensibly gather, a term that was originally attributed to medieval temptresses is still being tossed around to describe girls at frat parties. How can we justify assessing a person’s value based on the frequency with which she indulges in a primal human instinct?
If you are someone who still associates a woman’s worth with her number of intimate partners, you’d be well advised to look up from your typewriter long enough to realize that your perception of “self-respect” is archaic. In fact, I would argue that a woman’s self-respect is more closely related to her audacity to do what makes her happy without acknowledging the raised brows of the medieval jousters in the room.
Even more enigmatic to me is the fact that it’s not just men that are the source of this slut-shaming that takes place. I cringe every time I hear a friend use “slut” to describe a fellow female. Girls: we need to realize that when we use this phrase, we’re also saying that we, as women, are not fit to make our own decisions regarding our sex lives. Every time you call that girl who gave your boyfriend a second glance a “slut,” you are solidifying your own subordinate position relative to men.
Ultimately, what so many people overlook is the fact that the concept of being a slut is entirely socially constructed — we created sluts.
On that note, I venture to suggest we shed our traditional Renaissance garb and move into a new era, one where calling someone a slut is as ridiculous as burning someone at the stake after accusing her of witchcraft. One where being a slut just isn’t a “thing” anymore. Because the truth is, we won’t have a shot at seeing real gender equality until we do.
Victoria’s columns run biweekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.