If You’d Sleep With Her, You Can’t Call Her a Slut

Scott Alden of dating site How About We looks at the absurdity of sexual shaming language.

 

“Slut” is a funny word. Not funny haha, but funny strange. The meaning and the power of the word change drastically depending on who’s using it and who’s being addressed. Among some women friends, “slut” has become almost a term of endearment. Some like to be called a slut in sexual situations because it turns them on. The word has even been re-purposed as a symbol of power and the freedom to have sex with who they want to, when they want to (e.g., The Ethical Slut or Toronto’s recent Slutwalk).

Now, maybe it’s the result of backlash against political correctness. Maybe it’s confusion. Possibly, it’s just straight-up douchebaggery. But it seems that men (and women, too) are still using the word “slut” as a means of shaming and judging women for their sexual practices and style of dress.

The Gloss anonymously interviewed seven men from different walks of life, asking each, “What makes a woman a slut?” and posted the results yesterday. Among the indications of sluttiness cited were:

Wha? You’d call a woman a slut because she slept with you?

Aside from the obvious double-standard, the centuries of sexual repression and shaming women for daring to have a sex drive, and the host of other reasons that a statement like this is unfair, irresponsible and cowardly, you are contributing to a hostile and fearful dating environment.

If you don’t like the choices a woman makes about whom she sleeps with and when, you are more than welcome not to sleep with her. But to continue to judge single women for having the audacity to sleep with who they want to—something that single men are generally congratulated for—is to perpetuate an antagonistic dynamic between the sexes that has seen its day.

If the ethical argument is lost on you here, think of it this way, guys: does it really benefit you to make women feel hesitant to express their sexuality?

♦◊♦

This post first appeared on The Date Report, the companion blog to dating site HowAboutWe.com. It’s a place where they even use Cyrano as a verb, as in, Vocab Lessons: Have You Ever Cyrano’d for Someone?

Scott Alden is a staff writer at HowAboutWe. He spends the majority of his time thinking about dating, writing about dating and, sometimes,actually dating. He lives in New York City.

About HowAboutWe.com

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Comments

  1. Excellent point in this article. I think when men slut-shame, it is simply coming from their inferior position in the game of sexual politics. Women like to complain about, well, everything (relax, just kidding, mostly), but when it comes to the whole game of heterosexual interaction, most men feel at a terrible disadvantage. Women are the objects of desire, and it’s up to men to put aside all their fears, develop a thick skin, and compete for them successfully, generally without any moral support from other men. Without an innately huge sense of self-confidence, or some success to keep things in perspective, it’s very easy for men to develop a sense of both low self-esteem and resentment when it comes to women. They start to see women in general as shallow and foolish, and themselves as undesirable and unlovable. Of course, most of them keep this nagging feeling buried, since it’s not socially acceptable to be either emotional or terribly honest about it. I think slut-shaming by men is an expression of both their resentment of the power women hold over them, and their own low self-esteem.

  2. ShaunMarie says:

    From “The Fall”

    Man F*cks Woman. Man, Subject: F*cks, Verb : Woman, Object.

    You’re comfortable with that.

    Woman F*cks Man. Woman, Subject: Man, Object.

    Not so comfortable, hmmm?

  3. Max Sterling says:

    Hate to break it to everyone but “slut shaming” is mostly done by other women. Men like girls that put out and don’t want to discourage them by labeling them. But it’s fashionable to blame men for every problem that women have.

  4. I think the point is being missed here..

    It’s not that the people are being called slut per se, it’s the belief that promiscuity is bad or wrong.

    This is going after the effect, rather than the cause

    • ShaunMarie says:

      Except, male promiscuity is expected, even celebrated. With female “promiscuity” – as one other poster here said – the kindest observation is that she must have “low self esteem”.

      As for me, I adore men. I slept with men before I was married, and I liked it. I married young and stayed monogamous through a long and largely sexless marriage. When I divorced, I slept with men again – either serially or while I was playing the field. Was it helpful for my divorced and battered self-esteem? Well – wouldn’t it be for any of you? After getting out of a bad relationship, does sex have healing power for men? Then certainly it is so for women. Does sex feel wonderful and pleasurable for men? Well – I’m a woman, and that is my experience as well. When I met and married my current husband, I settled back into lovely married sex again. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty about the men who came in-between.

      Would this make a man a man-slut? If so, then feel free to label me as you wish.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Best definition of a slur I ever heard was : A woman who enjoys sex with men other than the man calling her a slut.

  6. The double standards are the big problem, here. I was abstinent since my divorce in 2007. A man I had dated when I was 20, before my marriage, came back into my life in 2012. He remembered my high drive. He teased me for a month before I gave in. Then….he shamed me for sleeping with him. It devastated me. My sex drive is dead. It’s been almost 2 years. No desire whatsoever. He did a real number on me.

  7. Stacey Warren says:

    I think the point of being called a slut is being missed. It’s not that she sleeps with a lot of men, but why she sleeps with a lot of men. Basically to seek approval. It’s about a damaged ego and lack of healthy boundaries. It’s these women thinking that they have nothing to offer anyone accept their bodies as a plaything for men whom, they assume, wouldn’t otherwise be interested. It’s about having no self worth. Don’t try to make it about empowerment. That’s like putting icing on a turd and calling it cake. Still a turd anyway you slice it.

    • There are two problems with your ‘logic’. First is your assumption of her motivations; you really have no clue why a woman makes her sexual choices. It’s likely there are women who engage in casual sex due to a low self esteem, but you don’t know that. Many women engage in casual sex because they simply enjoy it. The second problem with your ‘logic’ is that you think that just because a woman is engaging in casual sex for the ‘wrong reasons’ (ie because she is trying to pump up her self esteem through what we’re assuming is male attention though it could be female), you have a right to judge that decision. You don’t. Men and women alike sometimes seek attention of the gender they’re sexually attracted to for the purposes of pumping up their ego, but it’s not your business to judge that. Why do you care?

    • So (a) you can read people’s minds and know why they choose to have sex and (b) you have the authority to judge whether or not those reasons are valid reasons? I don’t think A or B seem particularly likely; it seems a lot more likely to me that you have invented a straw man (or, in this case, straw woman) in your mind, and are projecting that image onto sexually active women in order to protect your own right to shame them.

  8. Thank you Scott for writing this. I think we (men) need to start having more thoughtful conversations about the unintended consequences of our choices.
    I took this a little further in my article http://www.forgeover.com/articles/2013/06/18/slut-shaming-from-a-mans-perspective and am curious if you would agree with my approach.

  9. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I’m with this, and I’m hardly a beta. This word disappeared for a while in the late 60s and 70s. It popped up again with the sex-negativity that came in with the 80s. Hint: much of the time, it’s women who push it…

    • Hi Hank

      What do women push?
      Do you mean they push for sex or are the ones that calls other women sluts ?

      • I think Hank has a point (not a complete one, but one nonetheless) Outside of fictional situations, in my experience, it is woman who do the ‘slut shamming’ or judging. I know I’m guilty of it, even though I’ve grown out of that attitude mostly, it can still be a default thought or opinion because reinforcement over the years has just made it easy. We jump to the conclusion of “slut” because of jealousy, righteousness, and just not having the facts about a person.

        As for men, the headline of the article says it all. Kind of disappointed there wasn’t more on how true that is, and how much of a double standard as well. I dated a guy who dubbed a few of the females in our crowd as sluts, yet it didn’t stop him from behaving in a way that indicated he felt entitled to be a specter or have a turn in their “slutty” ways.

    • So Hank, you use the term “beta” without even a hint of irony and then blame misogynist shaming on women. That tells me just about all I need to know about how in touch you are with reality. Hint: not very.

  10. Hi Howaboutwe.com

    ✺”If you don’t like the choices a woman makes about whom she sleeps with and when, you are more
    than welcome not to sleep with her. But to continue to judge single women for having the audacity to
    sleep with who they want to—something that single men are generally congratulated for—is to
    perpetuate an antagonistic dynamic between the sexes that has seen its day. If the ethical argument is lost on you here, think of it this way, guys: does it really benefit you to
    make women feel hesitant to express their sexuality?”✺

    You ask the question:
    “Does it really benefit you to make women feel hesitant to express their sexuality ?”
    Yes as a woman, I think men see this as beneficial . So much of what men do has to do with their constant competition with other men. Many men want a woman that other men can’t snatch from them. And I wonder if they think the more open and impulsive she is sexually, the more chance that an other man can seduce her or worse , make her leave you .

    In addition that they also fear that a sexually experienced woman will compare them with her former lover, and see they are not good enough not in bed.
    They compete with other men even when they make love to a woman.

    And many men think a woman that is no longer a virgin, will leave them one day if they marry her.
    Virgins however are made of better stuff, they stay with you for life, you don’t have to fear the competition from other men. And she has already proven that she can control her passions 100%.

    It is so sad.

  11. Hi La-ura
    Men that think and say thing like Garret do here knows nothing about women and women’s life. It show great ignorance about life,the society he lives in, and most of all show a total lack of education about women’s sexuality. That is the most surprising. How can any man lack basis knowledge about women like he expresses it here?
    . It also an insult to all women.

    Women’s love life and sexuality can never be understood by theories from economics. The theories does not even explain our consumer behavior.

    Men should stop whining like this:
    ✺ “women have far more power in the sexual marketplace. They
    control sex, not men. We have to work to get laid, women just have to snap their fingers”✺

  12. Peter Houlihan says:

    I’d have to say, this article isn’t very effective, anyone who agrees with it probably did before they read it. Anyone who doesn’t, isn’t likely to be swayed.

  13. Sometime ago I read (which I could find the link) as to why when a man beds 20 women in a year it is considered ‘special’ or that he has ‘talent’ , because if a women wants to bed 20 guys in a year, all she has to do is say yes, a man actually has to ‘work’ at it. There really isn’t any work for a woman to do it.

    Now, I don’t like the word slut quite frankly because I believe if a woman wants to bed a 1000 guys a night more power to her, same as if a man wants to bed a 1000 women a night.

    Kinda like child bearing for me, approx 1/2 the human beings on this planet can get pregnant and bear a child, really isn’t special now is it.

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      I know!

      When a girl sleeps with a thousand guys she’s a “Slut”

      But when a guy does it he’s “Gay!”

  14. Sorry but there is no double standard, MEN who sleep with lots of women are called dogs and that isn’t a term of endearment at all.

  15. We all make choices and must accept their consequences. Sorry, you can’t tell people wha to think or prefer. All a woman who wants to have many sexual partners has to do is find the same thing a man who has had many different jobs has to do, find someone who doesn’t mind.

  16. Come on guys the site is either pANDERING TO WOMEN OR IS ABOUT BETAHOOD… CHECK THIS OUT
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dVmwoR24rc
    THEN GOOGLE ROISSY IN DC FOR GODS SAKE

  17. Yes, it does benefit them.
    But masturbating in favour of mindless hedonism is so much more trendy these days.

  18. Garrett says:

    I’m sorry, but that is faulty logic. A woman’s willingness to sleep with me has zero bearing on whether or not she is a slut. If I am the 14th man she’s been with in the last six months, sleeping with me doesn’t make her slutty, the other 13 guys do. I don’t judge a woman based on sleeping with me on the first date or not. As far as the “double-standard” (which is a complete misnomer in my opinion) it exists because women have far more power in the sexual marketplace. They control sex, not men. We have to work to get laid, women just have to snap their fingers. A quote I read sums it up fairly well:

    “One key that opens many locks is a good key; one lock that is opened by many keys isn’t a good lock.”

    • actually I am not sure why this struck me the way it did , but I remember some years ago someone pointing out the hypocrasy of stat rape, (when someone has sex with a girl under the age of X (insert age for your area) and in some areas there has to be an age difference. The hypocrasy is this, the girl could have sex with a 1000 guys in here age range but if she sleeps with 1 guy who is 1 year outside that range he is a criminal.

    • QuantumInc says:

      Justifying anything by claiming “Women control access to sex!” is downright silly. Women could easily make the same claim about men, except with “committed relationships” instead of “sex”. Many, MANY women feel they have to “snag a man” to feel like a real woman. Meanwhile many, MANY men feel like they need to have a certain number of attractive female partners to be a real man. But these are just the irrational demands of society, however they are so thoroughly ingrained that many people feel ashamed they can’t reach these goals, and resent they opposite sex for not making it easier.

    • “One key that opens many locks is a good key; one lock that is opened by many keys isn’t a good lock.”

      May work for keys but not for people. If you flatter yourself to think that men can unlock women aka sleep around but women can’t do the same, you are wholeheartedly contributing to double standards. As for claiming women hold all the sex cards, wrong again there

    • Garrett, snapping fingers only applies to attractive women, yet there are also women who find it more difficult to have their sexual needs satisfied, as they’re less favourable in the “market”, e.g. overweight women, single mothers, mature women. Add this slut-shaming habit of the society and there you have a woman, who is single, strugles finding a comitted relationship, yet supresses her natural needs because of fear of being called a slut. Thats exactly why you have to “work” to get laid, so stop this “its easier for them, therefore they’re sluts” rant and check the reality.

  19. Your first paragraph is powerful and one of the most honest statements I’ve read – thank God for truth-telling- how can men and women have the healthy relationships with all these irrational dishonest shame based beliefs?

    Aside from the obvious double-standard, the centuries of sexual repression and shaming women for daring to have a sex drive, and the host of other reasons that a statement like this is unfair, irresponsible and cowardly, you are contributing to a hostile and fearful dating environment.

    • LMAO Lets get real !! Any man that exhibits that kind of behaviour gets frowned on if not figuratively spit on… And that goes a whole lot less nice.

  20. OK heres the perfect example of a man calling a woman a slut and her turning the tables http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dVmwoR24rc

  21. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Since I’m a sixties type culturally, both of my wives and most of the women I’ve slept with have had as many partners as I have. The slut-non_slut dichotomy is like a bad version of the 1950s returned. The term “slut” was used then too. (Very scary Claude Levi-Srauss type binary, that.) Then “slut” went away for about 20 years. I find the celebration of team sports and predatory business practices, along with sex-negative (neo-Victorian) feminism to be part of the same discourse. Bad dream.

    The interaction on this site frequently seems to be between snarfy young male MBA types who go to games in packs and hang out in pick-up bars, and SN feminists who nontheless have something like a white picket fence vision lurking behind their career plans.

    What happened to the 1960s?

  22. William says:

    Men will sleep with a slut, but they won’t marry them.
    Unless she’s unattractive, you will never get a men to speak ill of himself for having sex with a slut.

    You can be foolish, proudly call yourself a slut and watch as every high quality man runs from you OR
    you can keep your mouth shut and put your slutty past behind you.

    The double standard exist because a man who has sex with high quality woman is seen as a high quality man while a woman who has sex with a high quality man but unless to form a relationship with them is seen as a low quality woman (ie. slut)

    • And it’s men like that, that see women in terms of slut and not for their sexuality that don’t really enjoy women or their sexuality.

  23. The issue is not that she slept with you but that she slept with the rest of the football team that same night.

  24. SnakeEyez says:

    How many people she sleeps with a year
    Dressing “trashy”
    Sleeping with multiple men at one time
    Not waiting long enough to sleep with a guy
    Having sex with them on a first date

    Isn’t it kind of obvious that these attitudes reflect the beliefs of the editors, writers and audience of Gloss rather than men in general?

    • Hey SnakeEyez, I use to read alot of Cosmo. Not so much anymore because I outgrew it. I don’t ever remember them calling women sluts through their pages. But just google the word “porn”, and see how many times “slut” and other derogatory names toward women come up. Funny that. Funny how a media created mostly by men for men is covered with derogatory name calling toward the exact object (women) of their so called “affection”.

  25. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    It’s odd. During the sixties, Sweden was one of the most sexually liberal societies in the world. Then, as some (women) critics have said, it changed overnight to one of the most gender-war societies. Popenoe’s stuff on the Swedish family is interesting. He argues that the state has taken the role of “male investment” and the result is that Swedish women practice serial monogamy as a result. The idea is that if social benefits are very forthcoming, men are not then needed in the role of provider. I’d argue that women are the choosers in terms of relationships, and some EP people have said that women, as well as men, get the seven year itch. So Swedish women very frequently move on to another man. I have heard that the role of social censorship for conflict avoidance is extremely powerful in Sweden, and this extends past gender conflict into every other realm of life. So the society is almost unbearably PC.

    • You have a very odd definition of PC.

      • Henry Vandenburgh says:

        I didn’t define it. But what I mean is any “required” point of view, rather than dialog.

    • In that case isn’t it a paradise for men? No responsibility for fatherhood, and lots of variety since women frequently change partners. No need to approach women — women do all the choosing. No need to cheat on her…. She’s the one who will move on when it gets boring. Sounds like that’s exactly what some men who comment on this board would love to achieve!

  26. Funny how there are clearly two sides to all these stories but the feminists always show up and down vote the truth that is not theirs into oblivion.

    Smiley faced fascism.

    • Linguist says:

      Maybe you haven’t noticed. This is a feminist web site. It talks about men – but always in the context of cutting down traditional masculinity.

      Check out the name: “good men project”, subtext: most men are not good.

    • Mariella says:

      oh my god, get over yourself. get downvoted is not FASCISM. you can still say and do whatever you want, but others will respond to you how they see fit. #firstworldproblems

      • Henry Vandenburgh says:

        I don’t see the point of downvoting or upvoting. This is the only forum where I’ve seen it, and it’s obnoxious.

      • Mariella, I was talking about feminists and the political left in general and the totalitarian attitude towards other view points. Feminist areas are the most heavily moderated and censored areas I’ve come across on the net, the down voting here is just a symptom of that.

        • I’ve participated in comments at feminist websites and comments have to be moderated because otherwise the boards become saturated with abusive, asinine comments from anti-feminists and men’s rights activitists. This drives away everyone who is truly interested in having a discussion. Valid, well reasoned alternative points of view are welcomed at most sites. But for example I responded to a comment from a man on a feminist site recently disagreeing respectfully with his statements, and his response to me was “you must be a c$&t like the women I’m talking about.”. That got him banned. Unfortunately comments like that seem to be the rule rather than the exception from male commenters unless there is strict moderation in place.

          • No Jill.

            A reasonable position and posting facts and logic that contradicts feminist dogma is enough to be attacked and banned in most feminist areas.

            I know because I’ve been posting with feminists for years.

            • I disagree. Well articulated, non abusive posts with a different POV will not get you banned on most sites. Talking about gender relations from a male perspective may inspire heated discussion but will not get you banned unless you do it in a trolling or abusive way. Maybe you need to think about why you are posting comments on sites that do not welcome your POv. If you are just doing it to be a sh&t disturber and to rile people up, well that is probably evident in your posts and you will be rightfully considered a troll.

              • That’s exactly what I mean Jill. If you disagree with feminists, you are labelled and insulted. You demonstrate the mentality perfectly.

        • Mariella says:

          But in the age of the internet I think everyone is too quick to cry censorship. Ever heard of the platform argument? You have the right to say whatever you want but other private citizens have the right to not provide you with a platform if they don’t want to. If you can’t get past moderation on a blog, you can just go write your own blogpost anywhere else. Fascism is where you literally cannot speak freely and are subject to violence, imprisonment, or other government intervention to prevent you from doing so. So all spoiled Westerners need to stop complaining about censorship on things as trivial as the blogs of private citizens. Again, #firstworldproblems

          • “Fascism is where you literally cannot speak freely and are subject to violence”.

            In feminist areas, people of a different POV aren’t permitted to speak freely without being subjected to verbal aggression (a form of violence) and censorship, so going by your own definition most feminist areas are fascist.

            • LOL @ verbal aggression being violence… Aren’t you being ‘violent’ right now? Should we call the cops. Jesus, get a life.

              Seriously, this MRA crap is more shallow than a kiddie pool and about as engaging.

              • Yes Sara verbal aggression is a form of violence. You are being verbally violent, in lieu of a rational response. This is what feminists do when faced with differing POVs, they make personal attacks.

          • Mariella

            Feminism is a fairly powerful political organisation, look at Sweden and the documentary “gender war”. There is censorship, book burning, extreme anti male propaganda (satanism and child sacrifices) the introduction of a legal system that favours women and discriminates against men,

            And that fact that something is worse somewhere else, doesn’t make it ok in the west. We are correct to pull feminists up on their censorship and silencing tactics. If they cant handle the other side of the story in less controlled environments like this one, perhaps they should stay in their heavily policed areas.

            • Sweden beats the U.S. in virtually every category of quality of life standards. Not buying the ‘satanism’ thing… Sorry. You can file that in the ‘crazy theories’ bin.

              • Not sure whether you don’t believe in the ‘satanism’ thing itself or if you don’t believe feminists pushed the theory of massive child sacrifice (hundreds) by males in Sweden? If it’s the latter, then you’re wrong: http://www.thelocal.se/2692/20051215/
                Eva Lundgren is not a woman without any influences, this from her Wikipedia page: “Lundgren’s research has had considerable influence on public policy in Sweden, particularly under the social democratic governments in the 1990s and early 2000s. One of her supporters is Margareta Winberg, the former deputy PM and Minister for Gender Equality, who once described Lundgren as “cool”. The 1998 Violence Against Women Act (Kvinnofridslagen) is said to be based on Lundgren’s research.”

                The Gender Wars documentary had some fall-out as Ireen von Wachenfeldt the leader of Sweden’s largest and most influental feminist organization (ROKS) with 8000 members said this on camera when asked if the organization believed that men are animals:
                “Yes, men are animal, don’t you think so too?”
                She also said that the world is at a civil war and that war is a gender war and that they (ROKS) is probably the largest combat movement in Sweden today.

    • Anonymous Man says:

      What’s the evidence that the downvotes are coming from angry, totalitarian feminists? Does anyone here have access to the identities of the downvoters, and if so, how can I get the same access? I’m curious how these conclusions are arrived at.

  27. This article crack me up

    Slut is a feminine term and therefore should only be use toward women who sleep around..

    If a woman is a slut then I will call her a slut..

  28. Slut: (noun) Someone who is having the sort of sex that you want others to believe you wouldn’t, or that you would find morally questionable for YOURSELF.

    Fortunately, the religious right has failed so far to bring us all to heel with their definitions of morally acceptable behaviour. So for now, we still get to define our OWN sexuality, and laugh derisively at those who use pejoritives to induce shame for things most wish they had the cojones to attempt themselves.

  29. sultana says:

    Rafael Baptista makes what at first blush seems to be a very smart evolutionary argument that at closer inspection is just dressed up low-brow misogyny with some jargon slapped onto it.

    “High status men,” “low status men” “invest”? if you want to use evolutionary terms, you need to also use evolutionary currency — which is number of progeny who make it to their own reproductive success. That is what ‘fitness’ — the pay-off for all of that investment — means. But he completely leaves that out, since it does not suit his poorly reasoned evolutionary argument.

    If your currency is “sexual gratification” evolutionary arguments are moot since there is no fitness for selection to act on.

    Humans are weird mammals in that men invest more in their progeny than most any other large-bodied mammals (some marmosets and similar species are notable exceptions). Biologically it is simply not true that it is always the benefit of the male to have as many sexual partners as possible. Nor is it true that it is never a good idea for females to have multiple sexual partners. But that is biology at large. I think there are a lot of philosophers and theologians out there who would take umbrage at the notion that morality is completely derived from biology and natural selection.

    And how many sexual partners a woman has and how long she takes to get to know them first; what is considered appropriate dress, these are matters mostly of morality, not of natural selection.

    • I wish the idiots who are always using poorly reasoned, internally inconsistent evo-psych arguments to justify their attitudes about men & women would actually READ some books on evolution and evolutionary psychology and maybe try to UNDERSTAND it, instead of spouting a lot of nonsense they probably read on other blogs. I see people citing “The Selfish Gene” for example, like it is the evo-psych Bible, and, well, I’ve read that book and I wonder, “Have we read the same book?”. it’s not even a book about evolutionary psychology! Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, not a psychologist. But I digress. I really like your point that evolution cares nothing for sexual gratification because that is so true. The issue is having offspring that can survive and reproduce successfully. Human beings have evolved complex social systems with a great deal of male investment in children. We aren’t like chimps where males have no involvement in raising offspring and where, BTW, females are extremely promiscuous, mating freely with every male in the group. Even chimp society is not based on the alpha male-harem model which the pop evo-psych theories seem to focus on as an explanation for every aspect of human sexual behavior. (Male chimps do not compete with each other for mates, instead the compete on a cellular level by having huge testicles that produce a lot of sperm. True,look it up.).

      • Evo psych should be renamed evo psycho for about how credible most of it is.

        Very little of it is thoroughly tested or even testable, especially when given through the filter of pop news sites.

  30. The term “slut” was thrown around so often when I was in college that I’m a bit jaded. But I look at the term now more as a state of mind rather than the number of sexual partners a woman sleeps with. There are many women I know, and I consider myself one of them, that have a lot of sexual prowess and desires. I’m very confident in my personality and have never lowered my standards to sleep with a man just because I wanted him to “love me” and that’s what a slut is in my eyes. Someone who has no self-confidence that they convince themselves that by sleeping with a guy, she’ll get him to fall for her. Desperation is a terrible thing.

    I like sex. Most people do. But don’t mistake every woman who does to be a slut. And don’t be fooled into thinking all sluts are women.

    • Linguist says:

      The word slut has meant “a sexually promiscuous woman” since 1450. Good luck changing its meaning.

      • See, that’s the funny thing about language. It evolves. As does society and accepted norms. “Gay” means happy, but American society also sees it to mean homosexuality as well.

        In all honesty, who really cares who sleeps with whom as long as one of the parties isn’t in a committed relationship with you? We only get to live life once.

        • Good point about linguistic evolution.

          And really, its all relative anyway — promiscuity is open for interpretation. A fundie Xtian might say that 2 partners is slutty, someone else may say that 15 slutty or that 100 is slutty…who cares?

          My slut level is no one’s business but mine and my partners, but Im certainly not going to be all pissy and “Victimized” if some narrow minded shit tells me Im a slut. I’ll probably just say thank you and grin 🙂

          • Well here we have the difference between the independent adult woman and the super sensitive feminist cry-babies that crumple up and dissolve at the threat of offense or criticism from a minority of people whose opinion shouldn’t even matter to them in the first place.

      • SnakeEyez says:

        I guess you never heard of a ‘rope slut’ or a ‘pain slut.’ They are gender neutral terms. Google them…

    • Mariella says:

      I used to use a similar definition. But then I realized – if there are women (or people in general) who have low self-esteem/little self-respect, why does that make me entitled to label them with abusive, hurtful, derogatory words like “slut”? By doing so, we’re only making their situation worse. Instead of casting such judgment, maybe have some compassion for them. Rather than thinking of them as sluts, think of them as people who don’t have enough love in their lives or who have been wounded in some way.

      • SnakeEyez says:

        “I used to use a similar definition. But then I realized – if there are women (or people in general) who have low self-esteem/little self-respect, why does that make me entitled to label them with abusive, hurtful, derogatory words like “slut”? By doing so, we’re only making their situation worse. Instead of casting such judgment, maybe have some compassion for them. Rather than thinking of them as sluts, think of them as people who don’t have enough love in their lives or who have been wounded in some way.”

        Or maybe as people who are having a rocking good time! Just because a man or a woman actively pursues the sex that they like with multiple partners doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with them.

  31. Sara: Many women also subscribe to the whore/madonna stereotype, even those who strongly critizise men for doing so. I’ve heard plenty of women and feminists say that male clients of prositutes do so exactly because of the whore/madonna stereotype – they need their wife’s to be the madonna and go seek the whore elsewhere. Quite often the same women will proclaim that the prosititutes themselves are victims and _must_ be damaged somehow as no “normal” woman would be a prostitute – thus perpetuating the same bloody stereotype that they criticised men for having.

    I tend to speak up against slut-shaming when I encounter it first hand. I have experienced more often that female friends and acquaintances have adviced me against dating someone because they’ve had too many partners in their view or in other direct ways talked negatively about some other woman because of her sexual past.

    Sure, I know some of my male friends had preferences (most are married or in a long term relationship now) when it came to how promiscuous they preferred that their dates were. None of them tried to apply their standards to my choice in love interests/dating partners.

    Could of course be that my female friends are worse people than average while my male friends are better, but I doubt that.

    • OK, I think I know what is going on.

      You are combing the use of the word ‘slut’ as a hateful invective and the use of the word ‘slut’ in a way that warns against doing action x that would make a third party use the hateful invective.

      Not the same thing.

      Let me break this down.

      The reason I said I’ve never heard a woman call another woman a slut needs to be clarified. I’ve never heard a woman call another woman a slut in the form of a hateful invective. I’ve heard women warn each other that wearing X dress might give *others* the wrong impression, but usually that is prefaced in a question. Like my roommate will walk in a room and ask if her dress is too revealing? She knows if I say yes, I am not commenting on her character but rather I am commenting on how men might reach to her.

      But notice how this always turns on others… by others… we mean men. When a mother tells her daughter not to have sex on a first date or whatnot… she is not hatefully calling her daughter a slut. She is saying… if you do x… y will happen. If you sleep with Guy… Guy will think you are slut. The main nexus here… it’s the guy who does the slut judging.

      Your women friends, in order to relate TO WHAT THEY THINK YOU WANT… which is a ‘pure’ or more virginal type woman… are telling you to stay away from X woman because you might later know that she’s slept with so and so and that would make you mad. So are they right about you? Did you in fact, take their advice? If so, you only confirm what they know about you… that a woman’s number counts a lot to you. They probably don’t have anything against that woman (unless she slept with their boyfriend.) They framed that conversation on what they PERCEIVED your standards to be…

      Now, if you did not heed their advice then went on to have a long and fulfilling marriage with said, ‘promiscuous’ woman… then you’d have some credibility as to ‘men’ not being caught up in this slut/whore thing.

      Also, did any of you men read The Gloss questionnaire linked in the article above? All the but one of the seven men interviewed spouted off exactly the type of slut shaming I am talking about here. Obviously something is fuzzy about your math if 6/7 of the guys interviewed had exactly in mind what a slut was and they in fact they considered a woman can be a slut. You are seriously misrepresenting other men as these angels who never, ever would think to denigrate a woman, even with EVIDENCE of it linked above.

      Christ Almighty. Not sure what else can be said. It’s like explaining round earth to someone who is determined the horizon is flat therefore the world is flat.

      • I don’t read mind so I won’t assume to know whether my female friends thought I wanted a ‘pure’ and more virginal type of woman or not when they warned me against dating this woman. But I would expect them to know what I wanted when I said to them that whatever number of people this person has slept with before is of no concern for me and that it doesn’t factor in in my decision to date her or not. They still pressed on regardless of me getting rather argumentative about how ridiculous I think the whole slut idea is. But still they though she was slut for sleeping with x number of people the last year. I remember I found the whole situation confounding because here I was arguing against a woman that another woman wasn’t a slut. And I thought that this women really ought to know better and why are she doing this? In some ways she are doing it to herself.

        In my view sex is something wonderful and someone enjoying sex and taking their opportunities to enjoy sex is a healthy non-repressed person in my view as long as they take care that their partners are consenting.

        Th**k you very much for not taking my word for it when I said I tend to argue against slut-shaming when I encounter it and for implying that I was stupid enough to listen to my slut-shaming (oh, sorry; concerned) female friends and dump my date. Th**k you for setting me having a long and fullfilling marriage to this date as a criteria for my credibility. This being the internet it would be easy to claim that we did, but we went out for a couple of months and then she dumped me. So I guess my credibility is shot.

        I shouldn’t have implied a generalization based on my friends in my previous comment as I see it can be interpreted to say that I don’t think men slut shame. I don’t know whether my female friends are more prone to slut shaming than women in general and neither whether my male friends are less prone than men in general. None of my male friends did so within my earshot at least – that I know, while several female friends did.

        I did wonder based on my experience whether women or men slut shame more, but I don’t know and I haven’t claimed that men don’t slut shame. You, however have claimed that women don’t slut shame and if they seem to be it’s only because they want to protect the promiscuous, revealingly dressed and oterwise sexually assertive women from the evils of men. As insulting and wrong as that is in itself it is also wrong. Most women who “seem” to slut shame other women don’t use “…men will think you’re a slut.” at the end of their sentences. My grandmother certainly didn’t when she called my then 9-year old sister a slut and a whore when she found string panties in my sister’s closet. There was no concern there, just pure venom.

        I see you also carved a small loophole for women to slut-shame: “They probably don’t have anything against that woman (unless she slept with their boyfriend.)”. So I guess that would make this: answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100508215941AAMWJvA not slut-shaming or excusable?

  32. My experience is as a woman that mostly slut shaming comes from men, not other women. Not by a long shot. The Madonna/whore/mother stereotype is present in virtually every male dominated form of entertainment. Men reinforce this is their dating and courting patterns, not always explicitly but sometimes explicitly. Sometimes even nonsensically, ex. guy catcalls or hits on you or solicits sex and you reject him, and he angrily retorts with a sexual slur. Yeah, someone is a whore for NOT sleeping with you? Wha…

    I find it funny virtually every guy thinks it’s mostly women doing slut shaming. They don’t want to cop to the fact that men made these ridiculous double standards. Men benefit from these double standards. And men vehemently defend these double standards, and their first way to defend these is to deflect responsibility for the ‘slut’ phenomena to women. Wrong.

    In my entire life, I’ve never heard another woman call a woman a slut. Never once. Now how about that? How can that be explained if ‘women are the main ones doing it’? Yeah, because that is a pack of lies.

    • Sara, I totally agree with you.

      I have heard other women call women a slut, and I think it’s wrong. But I have heard men do it more. There are some very vile names men use to refer to women. Even much more vile then slut, even though that’s bad enough. And I bet almost every man here will think of a couple after reading that sentence and you all know where they come from. By refusing to acknowledge that men partake in this and add to it; and once again, trying to blame women for everything, even their own debasement, you are not helping anybody. Whenever these kind of gender issues come up there is such a big portion of male responses about how it’s all women’s fault anyway and why we are always to blame for everything. Apparently all female and male debasement in the world is purely all women’s fault. Isn’t that amazing. There is no room for self relfection about one’s gender when your busy pointing your finger at the other.

      Thanks for the thoughtout article Scott.

    • Sara

      Feminist women have to start learning to take responsibly for what women do. Having a bad man to blame for every little thing and having sexual double standards is fine I suppose but when you try to force it all on the rest of us it gets very irritation.

      As a friend of mine recently said to another woman “women are professional slut shamers, as a woman you know that”.

      Feminist women need to start being as honest as my friend.

      • Women sexually shame both men and women. Most sexual shaming and harsh sexual judgement and gossip comes from women.

      • Professional?They get paid for it?

        And are you really trying to persuade us that men do not disparage women as sluts, whores, loose, and so on?

        • Mythago

          She used “professional” as a figure of speech to mean that, as you well know, women are more likley to be sexual shaming than men are.

          I’m not, as you well know “really trying to persuade us that men do not disparage women as sluts, whores, loose, and so on?”.

          What I’m doing to asking the feminists here to be honest and admit that most sexual shaming and gossiping of both men and women comes from women.

          I’m very bored with feminists constantly and inaccurately stereotyping bad behavior as male and victimhood as female, its time for feminists to collectively develop a more adult psychology. If the ideological beliefs and the cult of victimhood arrest the development of things like personal responsibility and self awareness, perhaps its time to lose the ideology.

          If you have a psychological need to always place women as victims and men as the sole carriers of bad behavior, you need to be looking into that instead of trying to force your truth on others that know better on the internet.

          • Merely saying your opposition is not ‘adult’ without actually proving so, is not an argument. It’s patronizing. Pretty much everything you say after that is irrelevant as most people will write you off.

          • So your issue is not so much with the cult of victimhood, as that you want men to be in the victim seat and women in the oppressor seat?

            Because really, the notion that women do all the sexual shaming of everybody is hilarious.

            • mythago

              I don’t think anyone here has suggested that women do all the sexual shaming, the fact that women sexually shame in a variety of circumstances was stated. Its not a zero sum game where on gender has to be oppressor and the other victim, its just a statement of fact.

    • Natasha says:

      @Sara who said —

      “In my entire life, I’ve never heard another woman call a woman a slut. Never once. Now how about that? How can that be explained if ‘women are the main ones doing it’? Yeah, because that is a pack of lies.”

      The only way it CAN be explained is that you are either lying, deaf, or live on man island….because its total bullshit.
      Women are the worst slut shamers of them all, and Ive heard plenty of it. When my girlfriends and I go out, you can bet your ass that at least one of them is going to comment about how another woman is a slut, skank, trollop or whore….and I have some of the most even minded, truly nice, open hearted friends you’d ever want to find. We are all in our 30’s, most of us mothers, all of us involved in LTR’s, some are SAHM’s, some are professionals, all of us college educated…slut shaming is not an activity that is relegated to a certain education or socio-economic group, but, at least in my experience, it DEFINITELY breaks down along gender lines. Just because it doesnt work for your agenda Sara is no reason to be intellectually dishonest.

      • Well, all it says is that you don’t have a very nice group of friends, Natasha. I can go out with a group of women of similar professional composition and I won’t hear the word mentioned once. We will, of course, openly talk of coveting something that someone is wearing, or express amazement that they’re not absolutely freezing, but there’s nothing inherently shaming in any of that.

        • Natasha is not a woman. Natasha is a pen-name for a Spearhead/VFM lunatic dude.

          • Natasha says:

            Actually, I am a woman. And Ive never posted at the Spearhead. And why does my gender matter to you at all?

            this is me btw
            http://www.blogger.com/profile/10855253008194082608

            • You’re about as real as a long distance ‘girlfriend’ from summer camp in ‘Canada’. Or Gay Girl in Damascus.

              Blogs you follow both happen to be MRA creations…. hrm. Puh-leese. That you snatched up some poor unwitting woman’s photo is defamation.

              • Natasha says:

                So because Im a woman, I have to be a feminist?

                Or at least NOT an MRA?

                I think you’ll find that Ive been consistently posting along these lines for the last 3 years or so under the same name or obvious variations of.

                And one poster here knows for a fact Im a woman.

                Your narrow mindedness would be cute and amusing if it wasnt so painfully fucking moronic

    • Mariella says:

      Totally agree with you, except that women do it too. But you’re absolutely right about how men actively perpetuate this culture and then deny responsibility and blame it solely on women.

      • Mariella

        Women sexually shame other women because of competition and dropping the price, women sexually shame older men with younger women and younger women with older men because they feel threatened, the women’s movement sexually shames all men with rape and pedophilia because its politically useful, women sexually shame men that they are not attracted to for approaching them “creeps”.

        Teh evilz menz dont force the poor wimminz into doing any of these things.

        • Mariella says:

          Not sure why you’re so defensive here. The entire purpose of my comment was to say that I believe that women participate in slut-shaming. I also said I think it’s wrong for men to blame slut-shaming SOLELY on women.

          Read carefully, drop the defensiveness and try again.

          On second thought, not sure why I’m even responding you since you think the purpose of the anti-rape movement is to sexually shame all men for political purposes. Actually, it’s to end rape. As the name would suggest.

          • Marielle

            I don’t know what the “anti-rape movement is I never mentioned it. I referred to the women’s movement which uses rape of females by males (while ignoring all other configurations) as a political and rhetorical tool.

            And nobody here blamed slut shaming solely on women, the women here were blaming it solely on men and needed to be reminded that women use sexual shaming more often and in a number of different ways.

  33. Sexual shaming is generally a thing that’s done by females creep, loser who cant get a date, penis size, older man with younger woman – pervert, pathetic. younger woman with older man – hussy, whore. To a woman that is supposedly “giving it away” too easily there slut, whore and other relational violence..

    Myself I will only use the word slut as a term of play and endearment.

    • How right you are – the “invisible” elephant in the living room – so PC that it must not be allowed to be addressed by anyone.

  34. What’s the point of comments if you hide the ones you don’t like? I was all hyped to join the conversation but the censorship just killed the vibe. Wack.

  35. Rafael Baptista says:

    High status men have always been willing to sleep with slutty women – but they don’t invest in such women ( e.g. LTR or Marriage). Such women are left behind for lower status men to pick up after they have been used better men. Which is why investment in a loose woman is a bad idea for any but the lowest status men.

    Men generally stay away from openly shaming slutty women for the very simple self serving reason you cite at the end of your article – because they like easy access to uncommitted sex with women they have no intention of taking seriously.

    Slut shaming traditionally comes from 2 places: other women – because sluts lower the value of sex as a bargaining chip for male investment, and from the families of young women – because they want to discourage their sisters and daughters from letting themselves be used and discarded.

    All good comments on this web site get modded down. Act accordingly.

    • You are a good example why many women feel fearful and ashamed about expressing their sexuality.

    • Mariella says:

      I agreed with most of your comment as a description of how things tend to work (not how things *should* work, of course), until I got to the end. Women and their families do indeed engage in slut-shaming. However, I don’t understand why you’re letting men (non-family members) off so easy.

      To be honest, I’m not even sure how to approach this, because I’m not sure how anyone could miss how prevalent it is for men to slut-shame women. I’ve heard men openly call women sluts (both their own ex- or prospective partners, or other women) on many occasions. This takes place both to women’s faces and behind their backs. Also, you don’t have to actually CALL a woman a slut to make it very obvious that that’s how you see her. Treating her in a certain way gets the job done very easily, sometimes even more effectively (if someone calls you a slut, it’s easier to dismiss them as misogynistic than if they just treat you terribly and you have to guess at why). All of these things are so prevalent that I am honestly just in shock that you don’t seem to be recognizing it.

    • You assume that “slutty” or “loose” women actually want long-term relationships or marriage. Why?

      You also contradict yourself with your claim about women shaming “sluts”. If high-status men do not invest in “sluts”, then “non-sluts” should actually encourage “slutty” behavior in their sisters. Less competition, you see. If I want to marry a high-status guy, then it serves my interest to persuade my competition to be “slutty”, so that High-Status Guy will be less likely to marry them and more likely to marry me.

      • Linguist says:

        It is a race to the bottom then with all the women encouraging each other to be slutty.

        High status guy would then impregnate a bunch of women who make relatively small demands on him – and marry no one.

        Women realize that is what would happen so they resent women who break the cartel.

        • Lingirst, I’ve seen that argument many times, and honearly, it’s sexist towards men because it assumes men have no interest in their children, and that if men had their druthers, they would all choose fatherhood without responsibility. That is manifestly not true. If you look around the world, at all types of cultures, going back to hunter gatherers, men everywhere make a substantial investment in their children. If you believe in Evo-psych then you must conclude these systems evolve because they benefit men as well as women.

          The truth is, both men and women have an interest in regulating female sexuality. Men may want to “spread their seed” with slutty women, but at the same time, they don’t want their wives, daughters or sisters to be “slutty” because men have an interest in how their own genetic relatives fare, and male investment in offspring improves the chances of survival. Hence, the institution of marriage. Also, in small communities, one slutty woman in a family will damage marriage prospects of all the other daughters. So enforcing social systems that restrict female sexuality benefits men in many ways. In some societies, women who act out sexually, or are accused of it, or are even raped, may be killed by their father or brother to restore family honor.

          Of course our society is a bit more enlightened, thankfully, but social attitudes persist from the past. Women engage in slut shaming, I don’t deny that, but men do not sit by passively while social attitudes are created and continue. Men are equal participants in the society we have.

          Hard to see how this is part of a female sexual cartel.

          • Linguist says:

            I could not agree with you more. These are all reasons why “sluttiness” is discouraged in societies throughout history.

        • The previous poster was claiming that high-status men only marry women who aren’t “sluts”. You appear to be contradicting him and saying that high-status men don’t marry anyone at all, although they will have sex.

          If *you’re* correct, then there is no downside of being a slut. HSM won’t marry men anyway, so why not get a roll in the hay with him plus all his successful-man sperm to pass on to my offspring?

    • Erm, your comment itself is slut-shaming, so I’d say your two points are invalid really.

      “Which is why investment in a loose woman is a bad idea for any but the lowest status men.” – What the hell are you talking about?? There is no such thing as a loose woman.

      Also, I’d be interesting to see what you think of these men who supposedly use these supposedly loose women. Are they not also loose for sleeping with a whole bunch of women?

      • Linguist says:

        Promiscuous men are “studs” or “players”. Most people do not consider those terms pejorative – unlike the term “slut”.

  36. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    The culture of doing this originated with women.

    • I don’t believe that to be the case at all. But please feel free to point to some real facts that back that up.

      Further, for the sake of argument, lets just say t did begin with women. *This* woman right here typying to you, and countless others I know, hate the word and find it derogatory when men or women use it. Making a flip little comment about where it orginated from really does nothing to address the real issue.

      • Henry Vandenburgh says:

        Erin, you need to get over some of your anger. You’re frequently insulting. I never use the term “slut.” I experience much of what you say on this site as browbeating. Specifically, you go on too long and never offer much evidence either. I’m actually kind of mystified how this men’s site has all these female critics who show up and express endless anger and criticism. Some of the ad hominems and attempts to analyze males who disclose personal information (as data or as argument – see for example RC’s stuff) are outrageous.

        The truth about extreme gender roles is that they victimize both men and women. I tend to think the EP point of view is correct very generally and very tendentially. But that global idea doesn’t dictate what individual men and women do in their individual lives.

        By the way, men don’t just “oppress” women; the process is symbiotic, recursive, and joint.

        • Henry, I do tend to be wordy. And the fact that your trying to shame me for it says something more about you then it does me. Further, I don’t sit around looking up facts everytime I want to respond. And if you are honest, you don’t either. Responses tend to be a mixture of fact and personal opinion for everyone and you’ve admitted to agreeing to some of my comments yourself. You’re preference to act like I’m pulling stuff out of my ass for the sake of it, when we both know you know better, is wrong.

          There was nothing in any of my posts that was insulting at all. Infact, you’ve strangely managed to personally insult me and my posting style while trying to claim I said anything personal about you.

          When people can intellectually discuss the topic, they don’t refer to personal cheap shots like you’ve just done.

  37. Anonymous Male says:

    If I called someone who slept with me a slut, then I’m really insulting myself. It’s admitting that I was nothing special and having sex with me was nothing special. A sign of self-loathing, perhaps?

    • Insightful point Anonymous Male. I always thought that there was a fair amount of self loathing in it myself.

  38. Lindsey says:

    No joke, I actually overheard a conversation at my work (they weren’t talking softly) during which one guy said something like, “I’ve slept with her, so now I don’t want to talk to the slut.” It was one of most misogynistic things I’ve ever heard in my life

    Scott, I was right with you until the last sentence. It was really not necessary. If they ethics are lost on a reader, dangling “but you’ll get laid more!” in front of them is not helping the problem. It’s not the word that’s the problem, it’s the mindset. Encouraging these unethical men to avoid ‘slut’ for their own purposes isn’t going to change anything.

  39. JMartinCox says:

    Perhaps the problem is not the shaming use of the word slut. Perhaps the problem is the lack of an equally damning term to describe men with questionable sexual morals.

    • I don’t think two wrongs make a right. Plus, it’s never gunna happen. They call each other manwhores now but everyone knows it’s said with a wink and a nudge.

      People should be free. End of story.

  40. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Snarfy boy language. Small dick indicator.

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  1. […] another great perspective on sluts, check out this post by Scott Alden of HowAboutWe.com “If You’d Sleep With Her, You Can’t Call Her a Slut” in which he brings up the fantastic point: If you don’t like the choices a woman makes […]

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