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.

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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

Trackbacks

  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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