I accidentally taught my little brother the word slut

I have a complex relationship with the word, because I hate that it’s used to demean women and I like that there’s an entire movement about reclaiming the word, but sometimes it just slips out as a negative thing. Like this time. We were looking at Halloween costumes, and I remembered the topic in class about how the female comic book characters are always dressed in these frilly little dresses and tutus, when though the actual comic book versions of them DO NOT look like that. So as I was flipping through the Party City catalog, I commented kind of to myself, how annoying it is that the only available girl version of the ninja turtles if a “slutty dress.” Anthony asked me what that meant, and I just said that they put the girl in a short little dress that extra tight and really does nothing to stay true to the actual character. Like the girl costume for Donatello, the only ninja turtle available in girl costume because he wears a purple mask. Really? That’s the determining factor? So anyways, I gave him the explanation and then thought damn, I maybe should not have said that.  That word is just much more complicated than that, but he’s only 11 and it was bad enough I added it to his vocabulary.

Sure enough, when my mom came home that night he gave her a speech about how ridiculous men are and that he refused to buy a costume at Party City because they think women can only be slutty super heroes and not real ones. He went on to say that he didn’t understand what their problem was but that they just needed to get over it because girls can be super heroes too. Since then, I’ve heard him give the speech to his dad, our other brother and God knows who else in school. I’m expecting a call from his teacher any day now on the topic.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Blog Post

6 responses to “I accidentally taught my little brother the word slut

  1. > I hate that it’s used to demean women

    The word slut is not used to ‘demean women’. The word only applies to those women who are sexually promiscuous and/ or women who use their sexual attractiveness in a tacky, manipulative and self-serving way to exploit men’s natural (ie physiological) attraction to women…. such as dressing and acting provocatively, as if you want to have sex with a man, but only doing it to empty a man’s wallet and give yourself a free night on the town at his expense. This treatment of men as providers of entertainment and free drinks is a form of objectification of men.

    It is the exploitation of men, and the general duplicity which is what most people find negative about sluttish behaviour. Plus the fact that they are selling themselves short, by defining their value as a woman almost exclusively in terms of sexual attractiveness rather than in terms of personality, intellect, honesty, character, integrity, compassion, imagination and individuality.

    Women as well as men define the type of woman described above as a ‘slut’. So it’s got nothing to do with women as a group, only those specific women that fit the label.

    A lot of women find sluts tiresome because they go around representing women in public as dumbed down, bimbos, who’s main asset (even in their own minds) is their bodies… and in doing so they train men to view women that way.

    • I think it’s that kind of thought process, the segregation of a woman who chooses to dress in a provacative way that is the problem. By assuming that a woman who wears a short skirt or a low cut top is looking for sex or looking for a man to “trick” into spending his money on her is wrong. Wearing something that’s deemed provocative has less to do with other people and more to do with that fact that she likes the way she looks, a feeling in which she is fully entitled to. The same applies to a woman who chooses to be promiscuous. The number of sexual partners a woman had should in no way define her, and much less earn her the label of a gold digger who uses sex to manipulate and objectify men. Is a woman who enjoys sex so shocking that her only reason to have lots of it is to take something from a man? I’ve known plenty of sexual women who are also intelligent and successful in their chosen fields, the fact that the way they dress or the number of men they sleep with can give people the wrong idea is the real problem that needs to be addressed.

    • The word slut is used to describe both women and men (for men primarily in the gay community) as being promiscuous and carries a strong negative moral connotation. It is directly used to demean the person to which it is made to apply linking the entirely unrelated issues of their promiscuity with their morality.

      To say that the word only applies to women who use their sexual attractiveness in a tacky, manipulative, or selfish way is simply incorrect because there is an entirely separate word for that specific classification of behavior: gold digger. The word slut is used daily by both men and women to attack individuals who are unashamed of their sexuality. It is used to shame individuals FOR their sexuality into obedience, into compliance.

      There is no question that it is possible to be both moral and promiscuous.

      It takes two to tango, and both men and women are complicit in the provider/receiver dynamic. To assert that women are solely to blame for this is naive and idealist to a fault, misogyny run rampant.

      To blame a woman for “defining their value as a woman almost exclusively in terms of sexual attractiveness rather than in terms of personality, intellect, honesty, character, integrity, compassion, imagination and individuality” is comparable to blaming a rape victim for dressing in a certain way. It is SOCIETY that causes women to believe they are defined by their physical attributes and it is individuals like yourself who perpetuate this.

      Sluts do not go around representing anything. They are not on TV in a coalition trying to change the world. The patriarchal male has CHOSEN to view all women as sluts because it is the most efficient way to cause women to internalize their shame, hatred, and objectification.

      Let me say it again because it bares repeating: it is possible to be both moral and promiscuous. To say otherwise simply feeds into the misogynistic story we are fighting by reclaiming the word.

      To be slutty is not something to be ashamed of. To be manipulative or to lie however, are.

      • > The word slut is used to describe both women and men (for men primarily in the gay community) as being promiscuous and carries a strong negative moral connotation. It is directly used to demean the person to which it is made to apply linking the entirely unrelated issues of their promiscuity with their morality.

        Yes I agree about the use now including gay men. However I think the morality aspect is rather outdated. Historically slutty behaviour (promiscuity) among young women was taboo and judged as immoral for the very PRACTICAL reason that there was no effective contraception or abortions or sexual health clinics and life was very harsh (no electricity, no cars, no tractors, no modern chemicals, no appliances etc). Whole communities routinely starved just from a bad harvest or a severe winter….. the VERY LAST thing they needed was one of their daughters getting knocked up by a travelling coal salesman, which would mean THEY would have to provide for her and the baby for years. Marriage was traditionally how young women got men to agree (in a legal contract) to provide her and any future children with resources and protection. Men generally had to sign this contract BEFORE even getting anywhere near the woman’s body, because without decent contraception any premarital sex was just too risky for the woman and her family and extended community.

        So in simple terms ABSTINENCE was the only reliable form of contraception available to society at that time. And abstinence was imposed onto young women by their parents, and the wider community, through the social pressure and taboo (the threat of social condemnation, and social ostracism) …. in other words the IDEA of the immorality of promiscuity was used to deter young women from having sex before marriage and getting pregnant.

        The moral judgement was a means to an end…… and this is proved by the fact that after we invented effective contraception (specifically the pill) we had a sexual revolution and the majority of moral condemnation of promiscuity and sex before marriage was abandoned.

        What is left in society today has more to do with PERSONAL PREFERENCE than actual hard ideas about morality. Nobody (except strict religious people) actually thinks sex is immoral, or enjoying sex is wrong…… and that is why the negative connotation of slut has shifted more towards the idea of using sex to manipulate and exploit, rather than simply having casual sex and enjoying it. When people ARE sluts and do not pretend otherwise, nobody really cares – and people either find that compatible with their own lives or not. I believe people should be free to make that choice.

        However, another aspect of sluttiness which is specific to women (and perhaps attractive gay men also), is that it is incredibly easy for young women to get sex, and to affect men’s emotions and even their basic physiology (heart rate, brain function, blood flow etc). So when a woman constantly dresses in a sexually alluring/ provocative way people are inevitably going to make a note of this. It sends out the message that this woman is either deliberately trying to exploit men’s sexuality and physiology (which men have no control over), which is manipulative and not very nice…. and/ or it sends out the message that this woman has such low self esteem that she feels she must put her physical assets on display all the time….. or that she has such a terrible personality that she HAS TO put those assets on display to make up for it, otherwise nobody would ever want to hang out with her. The male equivalent would be some guy who is overtly and ridiculously macho in the most inappropriate moments, and who makes a point of rattling his Ferrari keys and telling everybody what a successful businessman he is… again, the inevitable assumption here is that he is either trying to exploit women with his ‘Alpha Male sales pitch’ or that he must be over-compensating for a terrible personality.

        People who value themselves and have a well rounded personality and skill set, typically DON’T feel the need to shove their tits/ biceps/ bank account/ thighs in everyone’s face all of the time.

        So when people do do this, it naturally makes people suspect they have little else going for them.

        > To say that the word only applies to women who use their sexual attractiveness in a tacky, manipulative, or selfish way is simply incorrect

        I never said that. I gave that as a secondary usage of the word. I never said it ONLY applies to those kinds of women.

        > The word slut is used daily by both men and women to attack individuals who are unashamed of their sexuality. It is used to shame individuals FOR their sexuality into obedience, into compliance.

        I disagree. The terms slut is only shameful for those who are ashamed to be (or be seen as ) a slut. And this is the crux of the issue…. a lot of women (and presumably gay men) want to act like sluts, which is fine. But not everybody finds that behaviour attractive or desirable, and they do NOT wish to participate or have relationships with people who are sluts. That should also be fine too. But there is a strong movement of people who say they are not allowed to have or express their personal (negative) opinion on sluts. They want sluts to be able to be sluts, but without anybody judging them for what they do and deciding to reject that lifestyle. I’m sorry but that’s not how the world works. That’s called wanting to have your cake and eat it.

        The double standard is easiest to see if we swap the genders. Suppose there is a group of men who enjoy promiscuous lifestyles shagging as may women as they can. They dress and act specifically to achieve this. Now, most women will view these men as predatory, and not want to have anything to do with them. And if one of these men starts chatting up a woman she might say “I’m after a long term relationship, and not some player who will disappear after a week” At this point the man says “Stop shaming me – my sexual behaviour does not define me!!!!!! You must ignore my sluttiness and treat me just like any other regular guy, otherwise you are oppressing me”

        Do you see how ridiculous this argument is?

        You’re basically saying “You’re not allowed to have an opinion of your own, you must conform to how I want you to view me”. Sorry but that attitude reeks of pathological self entitlement and narcissism. How people judge your behaviour is THEIR business, not yours.

        > There is no question that it is possible to be both moral and promiscuous.

        I agree. But, like I said, the moral component is more of a relic of the past. Today the moral component only really comes into pay when (if) the slut is being deceptive, manipulative, exploitative etc.

        > To assert that women are solely to blame for this is naive and idealist to a fault, misogyny run rampant.

        ‘Slut’ is not blaming. It is simply categorising. If you call a man a ‘player’ are you ‘blaming’ him? No. You are just categorising him. If you view being called a slut in terms of ‘blaming’ then that suggests you view slutty behaviour as inherently wrong or immoral or negative in some way. I thought you were arguing the opposite?

        > To blame a woman for “defining their value as a woman almost exclusively in terms of sexual attractiveness rather than in terms of personality, intellect, honesty, character, integrity, compassion, imagination and individuality” is comparable to blaming a rape victim for dressing in a certain way.

        NOBODY IS BLAMING ANYBODY. Definitions (categories) and judgements are not the same as blaming. Blaming for what? If you judge a man a womaniser – or as someone who looks/ acts like he probably is a womaniser – are you blaming him for something, or are you just categorising him and presumably deciding to stay clear of any romantic involvement?

        You are using the idea of ‘blame’ to invent oppression that does not actually exist. And you are sing the idea of stopping this oppression to bully people into not forming their own opinions and judgements on others, namely sluts. This is exactly the kind of manipulative behaviour that I have been talking about. If someone wants casual sex and they spot (what appears to be) a slut across the room, then they will probably go over an start chatting them up … is THAT blaming? It seems that judging someone to be a slut is fine… but only if you judge it positively. If slutty behaviour is not your bag then making the EXACT SAME JUDGEMENT is suddenly ‘misogyny’. That’s ridiculous and hypocritical.

        > It is SOCIETY that causes women to believe they are defined by their physical attributes and it is individuals like yourself who perpetuate this.

        So two women are in a bar. One is dressed fashionably, with a style that reflects her personality. Her tits and fanny are not hanging out. She is intelligent, witty, charming, knowledgable and can certainly hold her own in any conversation. The other woman is dressed in skimpy clothing which just scream “I’m so fuckable” and do not say anything about her personality, and when you talk to her she does not appear to HAVE a personality. Instead she just flicks her hair, pushes her tits out and is incredibly boring to talk to. When the subject strays from trivialities she looks completely out of her depth.

        Now YOU TELL ME which woman is defining herself by her physical attributes? And which woman is most likely to be called a slut?

        The very thing you condemn (defining women by their sexual attributes) is the same attitude which defines those kinds of women as sluts. The only difference is that calling a woman a slut is giving her agency (she is defining herself that way) … whereas you blame society (society is defining her that way) which means you are striping her of her agency, which means you are objectifying her as an ‘acted upon’ object, and not a grown up adult.

        > Sluts do not go around representing anything.

        They represent themselves – just like the rest of us do. Women also represent women (and men represent men) … I’m afraid it’s just inevitable. And that is why slut shaming (of women) so often comes from other women. Women understand that if there are lots of women out there who define themselves primarily on their sexual power over men (their ability to excite and entice men) then this will inevitably start to influence men’s view of women, and they will be more inclined to view women as sexual objects BECAUSE THAT IS HOW THE WOMEN THEY MEET ARE MOSTLY PRESENTING THEMSELVES. That is why women are so quick to slut shame other women. Also, promiscuous women ‘give sex away’ to men, which makes other women less in demand which means they have less bargaining power. Why should a man spend money on ‘wooing’ a woman in the hope of one day getting sex, if he can just go to a nightclub and pick up a slut, or go to a prostitute? This is ANOTHER reason why a lot of women throughout history have condemned ‘sluttiness’ and prostitution….. it literally reduces their own value in the sexual marketplace. Admittedly this was more of an issue in the past when the general lack of technology meant women were more dependent on men for resources. But the same attitudes definitely do still exist in some women.

        > They are not on TV in a coalition trying to change the world.

        Are you saying slutty behaviour has not been massively promoted on TV, in movies and in pop music over the last 50 years?

        > The patriarchal male has CHOSEN to view all women as sluts because it is the most efficient way to cause women to internalize their shame, hatred, and objectification.

        Men who differentiate between sluts and non sluts are drawing a distinction between those women who chose to sexually objectify themselves and women who don’t. And generally they are also expressing their preference for those women who do NOT sexually objectify themselves. So I don’t understand how you can make that claim. It makes no sense. All you’re doing is stripping women of their agency again, and saying “It’s all men’s fault”.

        When gay men categories certain other gay men as sluts, do they do it to cause those gay men to internalize their shame, hatred, and objectification?

        When straight women categorise certain men as womanisers or philanderers, do they do it to cause those men to internalize their shame, hatred, and objectification?

        Or is it only women who are – in your opinion – so completely lacking in agency that they end up oppressed by the negative opinions of others?

        > Let me say it again because it bares repeating: it is possible to be both moral and promiscuous. To say otherwise simply feeds into the misogynistic story we are fighting by reclaiming the word.

        And in this post-contraception age, the morality of sexual promiscuity is no longer an issue. However that doesn’t mean everybody has to agree with promiscuous behaviour, or participate in promiscuous behaviour, or associate with other people who engage in that behaviour does it?

        If we live in a world of free speech and fre expression it should be as acceptable to condemn slutty behaviour as it is to promote it. But you are telling men that free speech and free expression are only OK when YOU DECIDE it is. That is not free speech. That is thought police.

        > To be slutty is not something to be ashamed of. To be manipulative or to lie however, are.

        And to cynically exploit your sexual allure and use sexual provocation to manipulate others in a deceitful way is one of the definitions of slut….. and the one which carries the most immoral connotations.

        So we are on the same page … are we not?

    • Allison

      *Steven already hit the nail on the head with his morality=/=sexuality point, so here’s a different one.

      I think it’s really interesting how you say the word isn’t used to demean women, and then explain how this word is used to demean women. Making this about specific women, but still just women, doesn’t make it any less about us. I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t been called a slut at some point in her life.

      The first time I remember being called a slut was when I was 12. I was wearing shorts that some boy thought were too short. He called me a slut. I wasn’t trying to trick some man in order to get his money. I was a child.

      My sister got called a slut for making out with her boyfriend in a public place. My best friend was called a slut for being out after midnight with a platonic, male friend. Another friend was called a slut for wearing heels that were perceived as too high to a wedding. The list goes on and on.

      I promise you that none of the women I spoke about fit into your label. My sister has two bachelors degrees. My best friend speaks 3 languages and works as an interpreter at a non-profit. My other friend is an engineer that speaks at TED events to warn about carcinogen emissions from kerosene. My point being, they don’t fit within your particular slut narrative, yet they were still called it. If someone is valuing me and my friends for our sexuality instead of our other attributes, that’s their fault. Yet, we get called sluts for their warped perceptions.

      Being labeled a slut has much more to do with policing women’s behavior, shaming them for acting in a way someone doesn’t like. It’s a broad term applied loosely. My experience as well as countless other women’s experiences speak to that. You’re unintentionally invalidating countless women’s experiences by saying only these women are labeled sluts. Lesbians are labeled sluts, effeminate men are labeled sluts, smart women, funny women, gay men, etc, etc.

      It is a problem and your myopic focus perpetuates it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s