Why Is ‘Slut’ A Bad Word?

DamonYoung wonders how, in a society that claims to be accepting of women’s sexuality, the term “slut” is still so damaging.

This piece originally appeared at VerySmartBrothas.com

In the past few days, as I read about Rush Limbaugh being publicly rebuked by President Obama, learned of dozens of sponsors dropping their support of his radio show, and clicked on several different articles written by several very serious people accusing him of “slut shaming” — all in response to him referring to Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke as a ”slut” last week — one question kept popping up in my head: Why is “slut” a bad word?

Now, this question is (obviously) rhetorical. I know exactly why slut is considered to be such a pejorative term. I also don’t mean in any way to suggest that Fluke shouldn’t have been offended, angered, hurt, and saddened by Limbaugh using a word like that to describe her.

Thing is, my question isn’t about Limbaugh or Fluke or the contraceptive controversy. It’s not even about the term itself as much as what it’s used to describe: a person (woman or man…but usually woman) who has (or had) many sexual partners.

If, as many progressive, open-minded and liberal people say they believe, having numerous sexual partners isn’t a thing that a person needs to be ashamed of, why is there still such a negative connotation attached to the words commonly used to describe people who fit that definition?

I know that words like slut and ho and skank are used to shame, but if the acts themselves aren’t shameful, how are those words still given that power, and why haven’t we thought of any replacements?

You can argue that the mere act of creating a word to describe a person’s sexual activity is judgmental in itself. That argument breaks down, though, when you realize that not only do we have words to describe all human activity, we have also have considerate (and occasionally condescending) euphemisms for any terms that may have any type of negative connotation. We all know that “seasoned” means “old” and “plus-sized” means “fat,” but we still regularly incorporate the code words because they just sound less derisive.

Promiscuity, though, has no such euphemism. There’s no generally accepted “kind” way of saying “slutty.” Perhaps someone reading this can, but I can’t think of a way a person can reference someone having a much larger than usual amount of sexual partners¹ and it not come across as potentially (and likely) incendiary. I’ve heard people ironically refer to themselves or their friends as “slut” or “ho,” but once you remove the irony and the tongue-in-cheekness, it always stings (or is meant to sting).²

I wonder if this is because, despite what we might publicly say, we — men, women, liberals, conservatives, feminists, womanists, and bigamists alike — all still kind of feel that there is something off with a person who sleeps around. Aside from some sense of complete coital autonomy, there doesn’t seem to be an upside to being promiscuous. Regardless of how safe and/or empowered a person might be, all the physical, mental, and emotional risks associated with sex increase with the number of partners you have, and it does take a bit of cognitive dissonance to vehemently argue for someone’s right to be completely free of judgment while they engage in risky behavior. Perhaps “slut” still has pejorative power because our dissonance has its limitations.

I don’t know. I do know, though, that it looks like I have no answers to that rhetorical question.

 
¹”Much larger than usual amount of sexual partners” is definitely relative. 

²There’s an obvious parallel here between “slut/ho” and “nigger.” No further thoughts, just pointing that out.

 

Photo courtesy of d.loop 

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About Damon Young

Pittsburgh native Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) is the co-founder of VerySmartBrothas.com. Their first book Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide To Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime is available at Amazon.com

Comments

  1. You were asking about a generally accepted, less perjorative way of describing someone who has a larger than usual number of sexual partners? You used it several times. I would say “promiscuous” is much kinder, or at the very least less emotionally charged than “slut”.

    • Eric M. says:

      “Slut” carries a connotation that goes beyond that of promiscuous since it is generally used to refer women who, historically, have been more selective in who they have sex with than similarly highly promiscuous men – the type of men that will do it with anyone that is willing, anywhere, anytime, and anyhow, without regard for pretty much anything. Such men are often referred to as “dogs.” (Of course feminists who complain about the use of slut have never in their lives complained abou the gender-specific use of “dog” for men because they don’t care about male gender-specific prejoratives)

      On the other hand, the SlutWalk people contend that there’s nothing wrong with that, which Ms. Fluke is very likely to have participated in. So, she’s being hypocritical by pretending to be as offended by the use of the word as a conservative would be. She planned out and is playing this thing like a master politician, who hide their real motives and true selves for political gain.

      • You’re not the only gentleman for whom logic fails you when attempting to deconstruct the impact slut-shaming has on women. You are correct that it takes fewer sex partners for a woman to be called a slut than for a man to be called a dog. But when a man is called a dog, does he cringe in shame, does his body go still, arms hugging his torso and leaning over in an unconscious attempt to protect the body?
        I doubt it. Correct me if I’m wrong: the experience of shame does not compare.
        For women to reclaim “slut” as a declaration of sexual power does not remove the offensiveness when ignorant others sling the word. Ms. Fluke is NOT hypocritical.
        Here is my definition of “slut:”
        A slut is EITHER a female comfortable enough in her body to freely express her sexuality, OR a female so out of touch with her sexuality that she fails to assert ownership of her body.
        I am very glad, however, to see so many people participating in this national conversation, including Eric. M and well-meaning men everywhere. If we can talk about slut-shaming with respect, it helps us treat each other with respect.

    • “I would say “promiscuous” is much kinder, or at the very least less emotionally charged than “slut”.”

      it’s a tad kinder, but still has a decidedly negative connotation.

  2. “Slut” is a bad word because society considers that women who had large number of sexual partners are bad. Society has not more open-minded and accepted women’s sexuality, but it has become more hypocritical and pretends to accept it on the surface and despise it reality.

  3. William says:

    The term “slut” is only used by woman on men in a futile attempt to hold both genders to the same standard.
    The only situation where a man is seen in a negative for having multiple sexual partners is by a woman who is hesitant to get involved with him for fear of being seen as a slut herself.

    The word is shameful because people see the act itself as shameful, changing the term won’t do anything seeing as how we have multiple terms for it already.

    You can never be free of judgment.
    We are human, we judge the things around us to better understand the world and make our lives better.

    • “You can never be free of judgment.
      We are human, we judge the things around us to better understand the world and make our lives better.”

      that’s an issue I’ve always had with the “slut-shaming” push back. whether it’s cigarette smoking, texting while driving, or being a laker fan, we judge all risky behavior. why should sex be the only thing impervious to judgment?

      • Because sex is not inherently risky and it is something everyone engages in, unless you are celibate or asexual. We would have to shame everyone then.

        It’s only risky if your sexual behavior is risky, like not using condoms and never getting tested. But people don’t wait to hear how responsible your sexual practices are, they assume that more partners = more risks taken, which is not always the case.

        Not to mention, someone who is called a slut is only rarely called so due to actual behavior. More often, it is applied to women wearing certain types of clothing, or who act flirtatious. Very rarely have I heard the word “slut” used for someone after learning about their number of partners.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    It depends on the political context. See Maher, Olberman, Letterman et al.
    Women are strong, empowered, can take it. Unless it is useful to pretend they can’t. Worked, years ago, with a tough young woman, now a tough woman my age, who led the march to the fainting couch when Summers asked a question at Harvard about women and STEM.
    The got a $50 million women’s center out of it.
    So “slut” and any other word you can to mention is AWFUL, or not, depending on if there’s any money in pretending to be ruined by it.

    • “Women are strong, empowered, can take it. Unless it is useful to pretend they can’t.”

      Um, no. I have never had anyone call me a slut, fortunately, but I had one person call me a bitch, once, and I was so upset I was shaking when I was home alone.

      But yes, I suppose that was all an act, for the cats also in the house, I guess. Women just pretend to be upset when people call them derogatory slurs.

    • Hard for me to be respectful of your comments, Richard Aubrey. Christ. You think women “pretend to be ruined by it?”
      I hope your next lifetime is spent as a teenaged girl dealing with all the factors I dealt with, including being called a slut by her boyfriend after acquaintances of both raped her.
      I am empowered now, thanks to 20 years of healing, activism and a whole lot of money spent on therapy and other healing modalities. I’m lucky I had those resources to spend.
      And yet, empowered as I now am, the word still causes me an emotional reaction.

  5. Slut is a bad word because “bad” is implicit in the definition.

    Slut calls out the negative aspects of a woman’s particular sexual behavior/motives/choices. It is more than just a reference to her partner count. Partner count is simply the numerical identifier just like a woman’s SAT score is used as an identifier of intelligence, or FICO for her financial management skills.

    • It is more than just a reference to her partner count. Partner count is simply the numerical identifier just like a woman’s SAT score is used as an identifier of intelligence, or FICO for her financial management skills.

      I see what you’re saying, but I think those two things — number count and behavior — are thought to be too closely related to make a clear distinction.

  6. This is where it gets complicated. Communication is not an easy thing and we shouldn’t pretend it is. A word can have many meanings, and that meaning can change depending on who says it and how they say it. I think this is where we get stuck. We can never make the word mean something to someone else. We only have the power to make that word mean something to ourselves. For example, women who have multiple partners, or men who have multiple partners and are respectful and honest should not be ashamed of owning the word “slut.” They are making conscious choices that give them something beneficial at that moment in their lives. You can judge them, but judgement does little to explore why they are doing it or trying to understand another person. This is where Limbaugh goes so awry. He is pushing his own agenda and not trying to understand what choices and pressures women face today. And, men aren’t immune to those pressures either. Limbaugh is saying the word “slut” to disempower and not empower those he is referring to. If you are not saying these words to lift and improve others’ thoughts about themselves and peers, then you shouldn’t be saying them.

    • If you are not saying these words to lift and improve others’ thoughts about themselves and peers, then you shouldn’t be saying them.

      does this apply to all words/terms, or just “slut?”

  7. “I wonder if this is because, despite what we might publicly say, we — men, women, liberals, conservatives, feminists, womanists, and bigamists alike — all still kind of feel that there is something off with a person who sleeps around.”

    I’d sort of point to what Molly said, in that a word has different meanings depending on who is using it and who is listening to it. So I don’t think the problem is that we all still think that promiscuity is somehow bad…but rather that there are some groups of people who do old that opinion, and they use words like ‘slut’ to not only describe promiscuity but give voice to their disapproval and intolerance toward promiscuous people (particularly women). And no one likes to hear someone give voice to what they consider an insult.

    I’ll provide a parallel (Yeah that’s right, I’m bringing LGBT issues into this conversation too. Sue me)…So, if I totally and completely have no problem with being gay, why do I still get insulted when someone calls me a dyke? It’s not because I have some subconscious belief that being gay is actually wrong. It’s because if someone calls me a dyke, it tells me what their opinion of that word is.

    Hope that made sense.

    • “It’s not because I have some subconscious belief that being gay is actually wrong. It’s because if someone calls me a dyke, it tells me what their opinion of that word is.”

      That was much more eloquent than how I could have phrased it and it’s completely true.

    • “So, if I totally and completely have no problem with being gay, why do I still get insulted when someone calls me a dyke? It’s not because I have some subconscious belief that being gay is actually wrong. It’s because if someone calls me a dyke, it tells me what their opinion of that word is.

      Hope that made sense.”

      it did.

  8. A word can have many meanings, and that meaning can change depending on who says it and how they say it. I think this is where we get stuck. We can never make the word mean something to someone else. We only have the power to make that word mean something to ourselves.

    Limbaugh is saying the word “slut” to disempower and not empower those he is referring to. If you are not saying these words to lift and improve others’ thoughts about themselves and peers, then you shouldn’t be saying them.”

    You say we can never make a word mean something different to someone else, but then go on to say that they shouldn’t say it unless it’s in a positive say.
    You do not and can not control other people’s beliefs, opinions and lifestyle.

  9. “Slut” is not just a term used to describe a person with many sexual partners. (Although in the case of men being called sluts, that may be the case. Any time men are called sluts (which is RARE), it is usually as a joke…haha he’s such a slut! AKA he’s had sex with so many people!)

    Implicit in the term “slut”, when used against a woman, is a negative and derogatory opinion of a woman who perhaps has had many sexual partners, or maybe has not! As in the case of Sandra Fluke, the word “slut” is used often as an argument-ender of sorts…the last word. How do you respond to someone calling you a slut? The word is used not only to shame, but to put a woman “in her place”, to put a woman in a position of lesser power than the person using the word against her.

    So YES. “Slut” is still a bad word. Nice try though.

    • Ever heard of QED?
      Fluke got called a slut because she tried to typify contraceptive cost as astronomical (3000 dollars). The term was not used to silence her, but to make fun of her obvious political tall tale. Of course rather than deal with her hyperbolic bad math, she simply pulled out the tired “silenced women” meme… while on national TV.

      • I will honestly say I don’t know what the cost of birth control is for many women, with or without insurance. But that’s hardly the point. Politicians — Obama, Romney, Santorum, et al. — make gross exaggerations everyday about any number of subjects–healthcare, budget deficits, national defense, etc–, without being vilified as “sluts”. Even if she was flat-out lying, it seems irrelevant and kind of baffling to call her a slut. How does using a derogatory term relating to her [apparent] sexual behavior have anything to do with her creating a “political tall tale”? Even if the term was NOT used to silence or insult her, and was used to make fun of her, how is that term relevant? As Molly said, what does he gain by saying that?

        • What he gains is logical framing.

          His position is simply this. If Fluke truly spends so much on contraception ($3k) then she ought to examine her sexual behavior rather than trying to mandate others pay for her sexual lifestyle. The slut/prostitute moniker therefore was very relevant and Fluke opened that can of worms when she quoted such an absurd cost and whined about affordability and mandates.

          As for leniency on exaggerations, Fluke was testifying as a citizen. She was not campaigning as a politician.

          • Correlating contraception expenditure with sexual activity suggests that female contraception is used each and every time it is purchased. That is incorrect. Birth control pills have to be taken every day to be effective, even when you do not have sex every day. Unused condoms that are kept in the drawer must be replenished after they expire. Birth control shots have to be administered every three months. Frequency of sex is not correlated to sexual activity. Anyone making that argument is uninformed at best, an idiot at worst. This is why Rush’s comment is a baseless attack.

            • *typo = frequency of sex is not correlated with female contraceptive use.

            • Lol.
              Nope and Nope!

              When the cost concerned have chosen the bulk rate method over the ala carte rate method and still come out broke, then it is because they are doing “X” a whole lot. This is true if we are talking about mass transit (taking the bus), mass mailing (sending packages) or mass pregnancy prevention (having sex). Please really think about what the declaration “I can’t afford my bus pass” really means. Correlation, smorrelation!

              And the FDA just issued two highly publicized BCP recalls due to sequencing .The media knows how the pill works. There is no way they could not!

            • Royale W. Cheese says:

              No, you cannot buy a legitimate BCP in “bulk”. It is a prescription. You have to take it every single day in order for it to work even just once. You have to take it for an entire month before you even expect to have sex. You have to constantly get the prescription refilled by a doctor or pharmacy. The educated media may know how the BCP works, but apparently Rush and maybe a few idiots posting here do not. The only birth control medication that can be directly correlated with sexual activity is Plan B.

              How is being prepared equal to being promiscuous? Is a woman with a fresh condom in her purse a slut or just smart?

            • Thank you, Royale. :) And this goes back to what you said below. The same men who claim that men should want sex and spread their seed (and are probably complaining about having to use condoms) are the ones trying to have women ‘re-examine their lifestyles,’ have less sex, and who don’t support easy access to effective birth control. What?

              Good point on the Plan B being the only form of birth control that could possibly be correlated with frequency of sex. The rest of birth control has to be in place, whether you’re having sex with a different guy every night, every day with your partner, or going through a dry spell. It’s called being prepared.

              And even if you are promiscuous…that’s your thing. Rush doesn’t have to have anything to do it. Why be cruel and use terms that could be seen as offensive?

            • Fluke testified to support a mandate that OTHERS pay for her contraception. The point is that whether you are promiscuous or not, if you want others to foot the bill for your lifestyle choices it’s no longer “your thing”. Your emotional comments are intellectually dishonest.

            • Henry Vandenburgh says:

              IDBY is correct. By making the employer pay the whole bill, the law loses its moral grounding. (I’m in favor of this law in a modified way.) Standard co-pays should apply. Then the purchase is made by both the employer and the employee. Thus the employer loses his/her sole “right” to pass judgement on the law.

            • Wow. Just wow!

              1. You struggled with such a simple conceptualization. Land lines are “bulk” telephony. BCPs are “bulk” contraception and so is the IUD. Pharmacy Smarmacy.

              2. Complaining about name calling from a talking head while flinging around “idiot”??

              3.Not only are there other birth Control medications correlated with sexual activity, but Plan B isn’t even the only BCP med applied ala carte style.

              4. You closed with questions that are both rhetorical and tangential???

      • Fluke didn’t bring up anything about her sexual history. She has not said whether she has used birth control, she has not indicated if she has even had sex. So Rush was just calling her a slut because he didn’t agree with her, not because of her sexual history, because he had NO IDEA what her sexual history was.

    • Maybe someone needs to tell the SlutWalk people that.

      • SlutWalk people are taking the word back for themselves, as the gay community as done with the word “queer.”

        I can call myself a slut all I want, you can’t call me a slut, no one can. It’s about being in control of labels and words.

        • If you insist in using the word in reference to yourself, you are thereby arguing that there is no harm in you being referred to as a slut.

          Call yourself whatever youwant as long as you understand that that action gives others license to refer to you as a slut as well.

          • No, Heather is explained this better up above, if you care to look. The difference is if someone else is calling me that as a slur, it tells me they think less of me as a person, they think I’m a bad person, they are judging me. If I call myself a slut, it’s a joke to myself, but I don’t actually consider myself a slut (because the word slut means absolutely nothing).

            “Call yourself whatever youwant as long as you understand that that action gives others license to refer to you as a slut as well.”
            Um, no. I know lesbian friends who refer to themselves as dykes, but I would never actually call them that, because I don’t have the right, unless they give their permission (even then, I would be uncomfortable). The intention of the person saying it makes a big difference. If a person refers to themself as a slur, then it is a source of pride, a source of ownership of the word. Someone else using that word as a slur against them is still a derogatory slur. When used as a slur, it is still hurtful.

            I don’t know why you are surprised by this concept. The gay community took back the word queer, but it can still be used as a slur. The black community took back the n-word, but it can still be used as a slur. The lesbian community took back the word dyke, but it can still be used as a slur. Now women want to take back the word slut and you’re saying that means we can’t complain about it when it’s used as a slur?

  10. @ William. Absolutely. I cannot control what other people say, or do. But, I can recognize if they are doing or saying something harmful and quite blatantly Limbaugh was attacking women. I don’t approve and I can’t change him, but I can call him out. I just don’t understand what he gains by using the word “slut” in the way he did (Nevermind. Jamie just answered that one) and I guess I’m asking others to ask what they gain by using the word in an insulting way. Like Heather said, no one likes to be insulted even if they are proud of what they are and own it. Insulting to me, shuts down the conversation and prevents us from asking more interesting questions. I mean asking promiscuous people what the “upsides” are is a start?

    • William says:

      @Molly

      The word is insulting only because of the person using it, a woman feels insulted because she knows the attitude of the person using the word to describe her is negative.
      Slut, Whore, Hoe & Promiscuous, all have the same meaning but are different terms.

  11. Ugh. It’s not logical framing. It’s unfairly targeting a certain demographic of the population and making them bear the cost of a decision that should be mutual. Men are not forced to examine their sexual behavior. Maybe we should reverse the standard and if a man wants to have sex with a woman then he must pay for the contraception.

    • You’re showing your true colors.
      What do the popular words douchebag, womanizer, player, cheat, etc. etc. do if not force men to examine their sexual behaviors. You’re assessment is plain wrong and borders on a lie. And men already pay for contraception. This type of contraception is called a condom.

      • What do the popular words douchebag, womanizer, player, cheat, etc. etc. do if not force men to examine their sexual behaviors.
        And let’s not forget going in the direction as well. Loser, pathetic, not a real men, etc…. shaming a man that doesn’t have “enough” sex. (Which btw also happens to women.)

        Men are not forced to examine their sexual behavior.
        What? Not forced to examine it? Goodness gracious men are indeed forced to examine our sexual behaviors in many ways like women just as I said above. Its mostly in the opposite direction but it can certainly go either way. I know you’re trying to make a point about how women are treated when it comes to sex but you are not going to gain much traction trying to claim that men are treated just fine when it comes to sex.

    • “Men are not forced to examine their sexual behavior. Maybe we should reverse the standard and if a man wants to have sex with a woman then he must pay for the contraception.”

      yeah, i don’t know if I can agree with this. we’re judged just as harshly, but for different things (“lack of sexual activity” being one of the most prominent). also, in every relationship i’ve been in, condom-buying/providing burden has rested on me. obviously can’t speak for every man, but i’m going to assume that most men reading this would say the same thing.

      • “also, in every relationship i’ve been in, condom-buying/providing burden has rested on me. obviously can’t speak for every man, but i’m going to assume that most men reading this would say the same thing.”

        Just saw this. And all the burden of buying, going to the doctor for, and keeping up with birth control in every relationship has rested on me, the woman. I can’t speak for all women either, but I assume most women reading would say the same thing. I’m also the one who brings up testing and keeps up with it. By the way, if you’re tested and on effective birth control in a relationship, why use condoms?

        • In all my relationships (since the late 80’s) I’d say it’s been pretty much 50/50. I’ve had exams, bought pills, bought condoms, been tested. My partners have bought condoms, been tested, and in the case of my marriage, I have no idea how funding would work in terms of who pays for what, it’s all one account.

  12. The word ” slut” is used to dehumanize and degrade women who challenge the status quo, who dare to speak up, who work in male dominated arenas, and fight for their rights…obviously, Rush Limbaugh uses Viagra and is considered a macho man (but never a “slut”, because a man who is sexually active is more acceptable than a woman who is sexually active)….

    The bad word is used to shame the woman, but instead it should shame the person who would dare to insult someone with such a bad term….

    My husband’s alcoholic, narcissistic friend insinuated as much when I went to workout at the gym Thursday and Friday nights so that my husband would have to stay home with our son (5yo at the time)…..I was getting in the way of him going out with his drinking buddy (ie., my husband) and he was mad at me for opposing his will, so he chose to say the most derogatory term he could think of….suffice it to say, I broke off all contact with his drunk English friend and his wife (who are now divorced) and my husband finally came to his senses and broke off his friendship with him, too….

    People who use that term should look in the mirror….maybe they hate women…maybe they hate everybody…maybe they hate themselves…

    • @Leia everything you said about Rush is infact true.

      Just an observation but Please don’t take offense at this comment…

      Definition of Slut: 
      Female= What’s between your legs has so little value, that you’ll give it out to every man you know.

      Male=What’s between your legs has so much value it’s your duty to share Your “GIFT” with all the women you know…you stud!

      Definition of Virgin:
      Male=What’s between your legs has such little value, NO women want’s it.

      Female= What’s between your legs has such a great value that it’s your duty to make sure that only the best man ever gets to share it….You paragon of grace and virtue.
       
      So uhm…yeah, double standards suck. 

      • weird how we put so much value on what’s going on between people’s legs.

      • That’s not a double standard anymore than a urinal is.
        What you described is dimorphism.
        Women get to choose what characteristics are important to them in men and men get to choose what characteristics are important to them in women. The consensus results do not need to match or we would be seeing lots of broad shoulder lingerie models.

        • We’ll have to agree to disagree, IDBY. The double standard completely takes away the concept of female (and even male pleasure). Sex shouldn’t be about economy, it should be about feeling good. What about gays, lesbians, bis, and asexuals? Does what’s in between the legs of two gay men less because they chose monogamy or to raise a family? What about the Shane stereotype in ‘L-Word?’ It’s still a bunch of women she’s having one night stands with (I know it’s a tv show, but there are plenty lesbians who go to bars to pick up women).

          You’re right on the second part, though, but it’s individuals who get to chose what’s important to them, not their gender. Maybe there’s a trend, but not every women is looking for a man who just goes around spreading his seed everywhere and wants to feel like she received a ‘gift’ if she gets some it. My female friends and I have fawned over and fallen for guys on the ‘virgin’ side just as much as guys on the ‘stud’ side. And it’s not black and white, either. And it changes over the course of a lifetime.

          • Why shouldn’t sex be about economy? I thought you were tolerant. Sex workers hate comments like this… especially from women.

            As for individuality, you cherry picked the feel good part. Yup individuals decide for themselves, but that also means men will have a collective preference, and women will have a collect preference also. The result is that often times there will a difference between those two preferences.
            Do you like your men with hips or are you guilty of a double standard? Because the male preference is for women with hips. Just sayin’

            • It CAN be about economy, if that’s your PERSONAL CHOICE. There are some wonderful sex workers, strippers, porn stars, and dancers out there who do use sex to make money. For many others, though, it’s just about pleasure and intimacy, and that comes in many different flavors. And I’ve had men with some amazing hips. :)

            • Like clockwork…

              First you declare that “sex shouldn’t be about economy” then in the next comment you switch, but only after being called out of course.

              … amazing hips to go along with their boobs right?

            • There’s a HUGE difference between treating sex that’s a JOB as economy, and treating it as economy when it’s in your personal life and for the sake of pleasure and intimacy. A sex worker goes to work, does her/his job, and gets paid. That’s economy. A person or couple just has sex because they want to.

            • “Why shouldn’t sex be about economy? I thought you were tolerant. Sex workers hate comments like this… especially from women.”

              Sex work is economic, a relationship shouldn’t be, otherwise that’s just economic. If you are treating a sexual relationship like a business transaction, you’re destined for some serious failings. That’s a sign of a pretty unhealthy viewpoint.

              “Because the male preference is for women with hips. Just sayin’”
              Nice to know there is a universal “male preference” for women. And universally, women only like men who don’t act like IDBY? Wait, maybe that’s just me.

  13. “Aside from some sense of complete coital autonomy, there doesn’t seem to be an upside to being promiscuous”

    Except that you get to have more sex. Which feels really good. And eases frustration, sexual and otherwise. If you’re not ready for a long-term relationship or unable to find a suitable partner, and there’s only so much your vibrator and porn can do. Even a week long thrill provides some great material for masturbation and relief. It is risky, though, I won’t deny. Even the best of physical precautions will not cure a broken heart or an unintended attachment.

    • Great article, though. It really makes you think. Wasn’t the picture used for another article at some point?

      • Promiscuity gives your more partners and risk than it does sex. If you want more sex then go friend with benefits.

        • That’s true, and it can be more fulfilling. The problem is that emotions can get in the way there, and if something bad does happen (jealousy, unrequited feelings), you end up losing a really good friend. It can also get incredibly awkward if not done properly. There are ups and downs to both.

          • Nothing is without risk/negatives, but those associated with FWB pale in comparison to those that accompany promiscuity… especially for women.

            • That is very true. If my wife chooses to have other lovers, I would much rather her have a few good FWB relationships than out sleeping with a lot of strangers simply because of the risk factor. And it is not just STIs; the nice guy she just met could be a serial killer.

              And there is always going to be a certain amount of attachment and love in any long-term FWB relationship. Even though you can have great sex without love and deep love without sex, in any interaction between two people that lasts for any length of time, the line between sex and love is going to get blurred. The problem if you are in an open marriage is keeping the FWBs secondary so as to not damage your primary relationship. But of course, there is risk in everything; just crossing the street. Your spouse can just as easily meet someone else, fall in love and leave you in a monogamous relationship as in an open one.

            • What do you mean, especially for women? Like STD rates? Or like, crazy serial killers?

            • Both those gendered risks of course, but also as the OP refuses to believe, there’s reputation too. And the most critical one (the way I see it)… crappy sex. The walk of shame AND no orgasm! WTF?? Us guys do not nave that problem. Our good time happens even when the women we pair up with are low skilled strangers.

              Let’s keep it real. The typical promiscuous sex…late night and drunk … is not likely to have a woman experience a man’s A game, even in the rare case that’s what he intends.

              Promiscuous sex is implicitly gendered.

            • First of all…didn’t we have many discussions on this forum where many women made it clear that orgasm wasn’t all there was to sex or a man? And fun sexual encounters make for great masturbation material.

              Since I was just talking about SNL and Lonely Island, if I ever anticipate having to do the ‘Walk of Shame’ you discussed, I’m going to bring a boombox and play “I Just Had Sex” really loudly. Look it up if you haven’t seen it.

            • I find the notion that orgasms aren’t very important to women or that a popular reason to have sex is for better masturbation impossible to believe.

              Yup. I’ve seen it. And I’m surprise you mentioned it. Sandberg’s musical production about sex is as gendered as it gets.

            • You’re right, it is, and it’s awesome and hilarious, but it also goes for how many women feel, and my idea is a funny way to turn it around. But have you ever been a woman with desires? A mind blowing orgasm on the spot isn’t everything there is to it. It’s also being filled and touched and fulfilling a fantasy. I can’t speak for every woman though, but plenty on this forum have agreed with me. I can make myself orgasm 10 times within an hour if I’m not tired or drunk or self conscious. That’s not the point, at all. I like having a man. I’m past my promiscuous days (goodbye college), but I still understand the impulse.

            • @Aya

              Lol.

              Ya know. It’s not just women who have superior orgasmic response via DIY methods. So even us dudes understand what being with another person brings to the table over masturbation. But there is a big difference between sex and promiscuous sex. And promiscuous sex has way more upside and less downside for men than women. And that’s very consistent with women speaking of it as a “phase”.

              PS. Promiscuity is only characterized by partner count, not defined by it. You misunderstand the term and so your viewpoints suffer accordingly.

            • And about the reputation suffering thing and walk of shame. There are many women who are getting to the point where they just aren’t caring any more in this generation. A select few are loud about it through things like SlutWalks, but many have just stopped caring or are starting to. Girls I know joke about doing the walk of shame gleefully. In a small town or conservative state, it would be a much bigger deal. Name calling and gossip are usless. What you do (and don’t do) in your bedroom or bedrooms is none of my business. This also goes for men who are called ‘creeps’ if they desire sex in the ‘wrong’ way or watch ‘too much’ porn or don’t approach women in way that makes them feel comfortable.

    • “Except that you get to have more sex. Which feels really good. And eases frustration, sexual and otherwise. If you’re not ready for a long-term relationship or unable to find a suitable partner, and there’s only so much your vibrator and porn can do”

      This statement seems to contradict. Perhaps I’m missing something, but if a person’s unable to find a suitable partner, how are they having enough sex to be considered promiscuous? And being promiscuous doesn’t necessarily correlate to having more sex. just means you either have more people inside of you or you’re inside of more people.

      • By ‘suitable partner,’ I meant suitable long-term partner–someone with whom you can see yourself in a relationship for a long time, not someone you’ll bang for a week or a ‘friends with benefits’ situation. Where you’ll get along, be able to hold conversations and also be silent while together, be sexy to each other, and keep the drama to a minimum. And you’re right, being promiscuous ABSOLUTELY means less sex and more effort put into it. Who wants to constantly be trying to pick up people from bars, finding safe people on the internet, dealing with the awkwardness of asking people out, and risking ruining friendships by trying to have sex? Sex is generally better when you don’t have to put in all of the effort and you’re with someone who knows your body and with whom you can be comfortable (although there IS more of a ‘thrill’ early on, but ideally, you work to keep it interesting). The point was that, during certain parts of life, it’s not as easy to find a man or woman who fits you–or maybe you’re just not in a state where you’re ready for or have time to build a relationship–or are too immature. But you’ll still get horny and want a warm body. Or you’ll get so sexually and emotionally frustrated that you rack up a few partners. Having some casual relationships is promiscuous, whether it’s FWB or relatively random people. It happens. No reason for name calling. Just make sure to get tested.

        • The word promiscuous does not mean what you think it does. Not all non married sex is promiscuous. There is nothing indiscriminate about friend with benefits. Whereas banging strangers…

          • You can still rack up partner count without banging strangers. Having several friends with benefits relationships (as you keep mentioning), hooking up with men/women you think it might go somewhere with but it ends up fizzling out, and having several failed relationships will do it, especially as you get older.

            • ‘ Add to that experimentation. Does having a threesome add to the partner count?

              I’m sorry that I haven’t been too clear on the term ‘promiscuous’ and have used it improperly. Words like it get tossed around a LOT. I guess what I said above then doesn’t make too much sense, then, since I’ve just seen it as ‘this number of partners, whatever that number might be’.

  14. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    “Slut” almost disappeared in the 1970s. Now it’s back. It’s a stupid word. Another word I’d like to see disappear is “creep.” Similar to slut against women, it’s used almost exclusively against men.

    • Good call, Henry on the creep/slut continuum. I don’t recall “slut” ever going away. Most of the instances in my experience, the word “slut” was been synonymous with “easy” or someone who has little forethought in the selection of partners, little regard for her own emotional safety or with self-esteem exclusively derived from the people who want to launch semen into her one way or the other. I can’t remember many personal instances when I heard the term used in anything other than a jocular manner. I understand that’s small comfort, especially to someone with hurt feelings.
      While I’d pass on going rawdog with someone who likely had many, many sexual partners, I’m not sure I’d think much differently of her unless it was a compulsion (in which case I’d pity her) or if she used it to manipulate people (in which case I’d likely not have much respect for her).
      Good article, Damon. I really appreciate the acknowledgement that our culture has such a schizophrenic relationship with sex and the tangled vines that trail behind it.

    • An"Entitled"Man says:

      Agreed. ‘Creep’ and ‘Slut’ are just words that can only be used to hurt. Its working too if the number of rock songs named creep or with creep in the title are any indication.

      • Screw the rock songs. Lonely Island ft. Nicki Minaj’s version of ” Do the Creep” is my personal favorite (SNL). Followed closely, by TLC’s version. :p

        • Henry Vandenburgh says:

          I do like the way that “queer” has been reappropriated in a positive way. Maybe us randy guys can appropriate “creep-theory.”

          “I want to f___ you but I’m makin’ conversation
          I want to do you, but my face shows hesitation
          I’m drinkin my tea
          Thinkin you and me
          But discussin bad TV”

          …and so on…

          • Yeah, I don’t think a guy wanting sex should be called a creep anymore a girl wanting sex should be called a slut. I think they should all act in ways that are respectful though, in terms personal boundaries and not being an asshole (a term that goes for both sexes). I remember a guy on this forum calling an older woman (around 40, I assume) out for hitting on him in a bar and directly asking for sex. Women do this all the time, too. Older and very unattractive (I actually mean this more mentally than physically) men I’m not into have hit on me plenty of times, but I just say no, move on, and try not to be cruel. I might be a little skeeved out and completely uninterested, but it’s no reason for name calling.

            I also hear the ‘stalker’ thing used for both men and women. Stalking is a terrible crime, but both sexes use the term casually when someone who they don’t find terribly attractive wants sex or a relationship from them and they don’t reciprocate the feelings.

        • “Screw the rock songs. Lonely Island ft. Nicki Minaj’s version of ” Do the Creep” is my personal favorite (SNL). Followed closely, by TLC’s version. :p”

          i prefer the scala choir’s version myself.

  15. It will be a good day when the word “slut” finally disappears from our vocabulary and “stud” only mean a 2x stick of lumber used in framing, part of an earring or a type of post or bolt. When people can be the sexual beings they are naturally without judgment or derogatory remarks. When we can get over our insecurities and accept each other as equals in our sexuality no matter if we are straight, GLBT, monogamous, non-monogamous, poly or whatever. We are all similar yet unique individuals whether we’ve had three lovers or hundreds. It is not the quantity but the quality of interactions in life that counts.

    • Is “stud” a negative term? I had only heard it in complimentary terms, as in a man who is attractive/good in bed. Did I totally miss the other meaning to this?

      • I think stud has more than one meaning. I meant that a guy who is promiscuous and sleeps with a lot of women is referred to as a stud (irregardless of how good he is in the sack) and a woman who sleeps with a lot of men is a slut. Double standard.

    • “When people can be the sexual beings they are naturally without judgment or derogatory remarks. ”

      does this absence of judgment apply to all high-risk behaviors or just sex with dozens of partners?

  16. “I’ll provide a parallel (Yeah that’s right, I’m bringing LGBT issues into this conversation too. Sue me)…So, if I totally and completely have no problem with being gay, why do I still get insulted when someone calls me a dyke? It’s not because I have some subconscious belief that being gay is actually wrong. It’s because if someone calls me a dyke, it tells me what their opinion of that word is.”

    Good explanation. This goes for so many words, from unimportant to important (from being called a nerd to having racial, sexist, homophobic, or ethnic slurs used against you). When used maliciously, it shows you what kind of person THEY are, and you get sick knowing that there are people still out there who are that closed-minded–not that you think there’s something innately wrong with you.

    • Close-minded ? there’s a difference between thinking something’s wrong and thinking something’s wrong & trying to put a stop to the person doing the action.
      While i wouldn’t form a relationship with a promiscuous woman, i wouldn’t interfere in what she’s doing.

      To many people have a unreal expectation of everyone opening their doors to them with a smile based on their lifestyle.

  17. For most women, running up a big notch count is not a difficult thing to accomplish. It may or may not be shame-worthy but it sure does not confer bragging rights.

    • you know, i’ve actually heard from a few female friends that having sex with guys — at least guys they actually want to have sex with — isn’t as easy as we (men) generally think it would be for them

  18. Hunter85 says:

    Makes me wonder what ever happened to “Sticks and stones may break my bones…”

    As earlier mentioned to which I agree with, not shame-worthy but not praise-worthy either.
    Unless the methods involved being of an unethical nature (subjective of course), then it might be considered shame-worthy.

  19. Royale W. Cheese says:

    Someone mentioned “double standards” vs. “gender differences” up-thread. (Disclaimer: I skimmed the thread quickly…it isn’t my intent to mis-quote anyone). I’ll never fight for the right to use a urinal, and I don’t expect men to think that high heels that don’t come in size 15 is unfair, but the very important nuance concerning sexual double standards is the fact that sex between a man and a woman is not an autonomous isolated activity (like using a urinal or wearing high heels).

    The fact that sexual standards are in opposition creates an impossible situation. How can guys enjoy lots of sex (like they are expected to) without women having more sex (which we are expected not to do)? In order for it to work, either men have to be discouraged from having lots of sex, or women have to be encouraged to have more sex.

    • There is actually a device out there that you can attach to yourself easily and mess free so that you can pee standing up, and it’s getting more and more popular. While rare, urinals have actually started popping for females. And the gets-more-popular-every-day Drag culture has made it so that you can definitely find high heels for men, if you know where to look.

      You’re right on with the last sentence. The whole situation makes no sense. I mean sure, in a ideal situation for many men, he’ll have a woman who’ll always be available for sex, faithful, few partners before him so that she won’t compare, but let him ‘spread his seed’ at his discretion. I think that’s what a lot of men are trying to get by bringing up double standards. Isn’t that the ideal situation for a lot of women, too? Doesn’t mean that it’s the best, healthy, or fair. We have to compromise, get rid of double standards, and stop with the name-calling and shame of both men and women.

      • More likely that the female focused promiscuity stigma keeps men from being at a disadvantage to women. Women control sex and limits on female behavior lessen that control. The ideal situation for women is to have sex with men out of her league and hope one of the falls in love with her. If that does not happen and she gets old then she can always settle for a plan B guy. And maybe even have a baby by another man and pretend that its plan B guy’s so he will help her raise it. Taboos on women’s behavior may actually keep sex more fair and democratic. Just like taboos on men being creepy/pushy may actually make consent more fair and democratic

        • Henry Vandenburgh says:

          Actually, this stigma keeps marriage markets tight for women, and is to some women’s benefit. Trangulation here provided by Barry Dank’s (CSULB) study of older man – younger woman relationships. Older women want these stigmatized (see the unfortunate Hugo thread for more) because doing so increases older women’s chances of marriage. Same with slut calling, except the threat isn’t necessarily aged based. It’s another demonstration that evo psych is likely true, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

          I’m always amazed (not really) when feminism is congruent with sexual restriction. It really shouldn’t be, you know. But the halcyon days of Emma Goldman and Germaine Greer are over, and yuppie feminism is suburban and conservative. We often see that here.

          • What constitutes a man being out of one’s league? Money? Looks? A good sense of humor? Being good in bed? Having a lot of talent? Being popular? Different women look for different things in men. Some want a man with money, some want one who’s a beefcake, some want someone who jokes with them for hours, some want the guy every other girl wants, some want security, some want a a really sexual man who’s willing to keep things interesting in the bedroom, and others someone who just compliments them and makes them feel like a woman–many want someone who some want a different combination of all the above. I don’t think I’ve ever met a man who I would have considered out of my league, but certain traits have been more attractive at certain times than others. And you don’t have sex with a man out of hope that he falls for you–that just sounds like a terrible idea, and if he doesn’t you’ll get hurt. It also seems like the woman would be taking advantage of the man to try and get something from him. You have sex with a man because you’re horny or passionate or respect him or are bored or love him.

            • “Just like taboos on men being creepy/pushy may actually make consent more fair and democratic”

              Yet, a lot of really good men out there are called creeps because they’re socially awkward, don’t know how to approach women, or have kinks. These men aren’t coming up and groping women on the streets, raping, or crossing personal boundaries, but they’re still considered ‘creeps’ because they don’t fit into certain standards set by society. They’re not ‘bad’ men unless they start to cause harm or spew hatred. Most men who are called ‘creeps’ don’t ever do that. Ideally: Maybe they’ll find the correct avenues for their kinks. Maybe they’ll learn to just not give a crap when someone calls them a creep. Maybe they’ll pick up the positive parts of PUA and become more skilled at picking up women. Maybe they’ll find a good woman who’s willing to get to know them instead of labeling them immediately. Lack of consent is rape and rape is a crime–it has nothing to do with the word ‘creep,’ which, just like ‘slut,’ is used to control sexuality.

    • Not so fast with the “impossible situation”. If guys only date blondes then they may lose opportunities OR women may being coloring their hair.

      And you’ve conflating more sex with more partners.

  20. The following originally appeared on the blog Very Smart Borthas on Mar 5, 2012:

    “if you fail to grasp the fundamental truths of evolutionary psychology, everything else will only serve to confuse you.”
    – Obsidian

    Good morning champ, everyone,
    I was hoping that somebody in the afrosphere would broach the whole sandra fluke issue, because it has much deeper implications for black folk than it would appear on the surface; after all, black women get more abortions than any other group of women in the usa, and so on. So, it is my hope that at some point, we’ll have a much needed discussion on just how “reproductive rights” impacts the african american community, and where we go from here.

    In the meantime though, i see that not much has changed in my absence, with all due respect; your question is easily answered (and informed) by evolutionary psychology; “slut shaming” is not only old as humanity itself, it is both highly useful and…wait for it…

    Women engage in this practice to a much higher degree than do men.

    Thats right, women deride each other much more along these lines than do men, and theres a very good reason for it: intrasexual competition. David buss covers all this in his recently updated textbook “evolutionary psychology”, third edition. It repays close study for a very smart brotha such as yourself.

    The term “slut”, of course, refers exclusively to women; there is no male analog, try as we might in a post-feminist world. And again, there is very good reason for this: sex is very hard for men to get; sex is very easy for women to get. A man with many lovers has achieved something laudable; a woman who has done the same has actually signalled that shes compromised in many ways.

    Again, please review the now considerable degree of literature on evopsych. Its all there, and fairly unassailable at this point.

    As one of your commenters mentioned above, a woman who has had too many sex parters is a red flag to most men; aside from what said commenter noted, what a woman suggests is a severe paternity uncertainty risk; men have evolved to assiduously avoid such women. A man who is cuckolded is basically “raising another mans seed”, which is directly against both his survival/reproductive interests.

    Wrt the limbaugh aspect of this issue, it could be argued, from an evopsych standpoint, that the mere suggestion on flukes part that she was interested in procuring birth control signalled that she was sexually active, and which setoff those hindbrain “switches” in limbaughs head, that led him to labelling her, among other things, a “slut”. Oh, and before the howling starts, let me make it clear that i am not defending or condoning limbaughs actions; merely attempting to explain them in the light of a burgeoning scientific discipline, for the purposes of better understanding why we do what we do.

    Before i close out, it is worth mentioning that another evopsych type, steven pinker, has done extensive research into language, how it evolved and why certain words have the force of power they do. As you noted above, despite the fact that formerly derisive terms for totally fallen out of favor and others have been “sanitized”, it is notable that others, like “slut” remains unretouched. I think pinker would say this is due to our evolutionary hardwiring along reproductive lines. Its a lot messier than we could ever imagine.

    Ill hold here. Vsb would do well to consider forming a book club.:)

    O.

    • Henry Vandenburgh says:

      I do need to add that a pig like Limbaugh can probably only get laid by prostitutes and gold diggers. Generally agree with Buss.

      • And then he can throw money at the problem if there’s an ‘accident.’ I would say that a man who’s on his 4th wife, uses someone else’s prescription for his Viagra, and is still spitting vitriol against women is a ‘red flag’…Also, I’m not against prostitution, but I do need to say that say gold diggers are just better disguised prostitutes. They have sex with men they don’t find attractive in exchange for money and gifts. I guess this is the ‘economy’ we were talking about. :)

  21. ““slut shaming” is not only old as humanity itself, it is both highly useful and…wait for it…
    Women engage in this practice to a much higher degree than do men.”

    I don’t think anyone has ever denied this. Except that it doesn’t always have to do with promiscuity. Women slut-shame other women because of their fashion sense, because their breasts or butt are too big, because they’re dating a guy some other girls like, because they wear their makeup incorrectly, because they talk about sex or have kinks, because they work at strip club or pose for pictures–a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with going out and have sex with a bunch of random men.

    And about raising another man’s seed–luckily there’s birth control now. :) A woman would have to be a terrible person to lie about paternity. There are ultrasounds that can pinpoint dates, paternity testing, etc. The woman has the responsibility to be informed and to inform her partner if she plans on raising a child.

    “A man with many lovers has achieved something laudable”

    Writing a novel, finishing a thesis, getting through a crappy workday, figuring out a difficult math problem and being a good friend to someone in need are something laudable. Picking up a bunch of drunk chicks at a bar or club and taking them home is not.

  22. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    I think the idea of “slut” goes in and out. It’s certainly more under patriarchy (yes, there is pre-patriarchy.)

    Wilson has noted that around 10 percent of babies are not related to their ostensible father. Women may be with one man for security and tap another for his genes (seen as sexiness.) This is more likely around ovulation. Few people will ever check this out by genetic testing, etc.

    • That’s sad, about the 10 percent. I believe that a woman who chooses to have a child has no right to trick someone else into raising him/her. She can have sex with whomever she wants, but once she decides to bring a child into this world, she has a responsibility to everyone involved (her child, the people raising it, and the father), just like the father does. If her partner chooses to raise a child that’s not his, that’s fine, and very admirable. If two people enter into a relationship where there’s a child already there, that’s fine. Paternity testing should be covered.

      • Agreed Aya. I think we should have nationwide paternity testing at birth.
        If for no other reason, the child has a right to know his medical heritage, and what pitfalls this may make for him.

  23. Valter Viglietti says:

    “Why is “slut” a bad word?”

    I think the easiest and most effective answer is: “Because (or when) sex is seen as negative”.
    If you see sexuality as positive (as it is for me), the most sex you have, the better your life is (well, of course you can have “bad sex”, but that’s a different scenario).
    Instead, many people (even “progressive” ones), still think sexuality is not good “per se”, but only if it’s within a committed monogamous relationship. There’s still this heavy stigma and suspicion on sexuality in itself.
    And especially on female sexuality.

    The author wrote “all the physical, mental, and emotional risks associated with sex increase with the number of partners you have”.
    But risks increase with most activities: the more you drive, the more you travel, the more you work, the more people know you… the more you risk. Yet, nobody think this is a good reason to drive less, travel less, work less (well, maybe this one ;) ), or having less friends.
    Life is a dangerous enterprise, and the more you live, the more you risk. This is not a reason to stay shut in your cave.

    And yet, you seem suggesting that having more sex-related risks is unwise.
    Something around the “sex is dangerous and you have to approach it cautiosly” meme…

    So, in the end, this issue seems about really having a sex-positive attitude… or just talking about having one. :roll:

    • Thank you so much for joining the conversation, Valter, and for bringing up some great points. Now if only you’d be as open minded about women who say they don’t care about penis size…

      • Valter Viglietti says:

        You’re welcome. :)
        And I forgot to mention, in “my world” slut is a positive word (because it’s me who decides what meaning I attach to words). :)

        Regarding penis size, I try to be open minded toward those ladies; and I’m sure some of them are sincere. But I also think some of them might be lying. ;)
        After all, if no woman ever cared for penis size, that issue wouldn’t simply exist. :D

        • “After all, if no woman ever cared for penis size, that issue wouldn’t simply exist.”

          When men define their masculinity based on their penis size, the issue of penis size will still exist. If the obsession with penis size was rooted in women’s desires, all measurements of the penis would be by girth rather than length.

          Penis size may matter to some women, but it is by no means going to be the same for every woman, because every woman’s vagina is different. Hence why some women prefer shorter, some prefer thicker, some prefer longer. Because their own bodies are different.

  24. Mmm, I don’t think “God, that girl is such a smoker,” has quite the same impact. Similarly, “Did you see what she was wearing? Wow, what a reckless driver.” Your theory about cognitive dissonance and risk has a ways to go, I think.

    Some of it, I suspect, may be tied up in the ‘women as gatekeepers of sex’ model of gender relations, and the related tendency of some men to use sexual conquests or the ability to get laid as a foundation of their self-esteem- or at least to bolster it. If women are active participants rather than prizes to be won, there is no -personal- triumph in bedding one. This gatekeeper/prize model makes women(or sex with them) into a kind of currency- and by that view, sluts are flooding the market and thus devaluing that currency. Hence the slut-shaming by other women- their value goes down when other women have sex, and having been fed this message their entire lives, that their main source of value is as a sex object (see: comments on boobs/fuckability of Australian Prime Minister), they are justifiably upset that they have gone down in value because of someone else’s actions.

    The problem being that women aren’t prizes or objects or interchangeable units of currency, sex isn’t something that changes anyone’s worth or value(in either direction), and women are people, not commodities- to be judged on their merits, not on the relative abundance or scarcity of vaginae ‘on the market’.

    Putting the derogative nature of the word ‘slut’ down to sluts’ “risky behavior” is just a sneaky kind of victim-blaming. The risks go both ways while the word is primarily used against women. Does that seem right to you?

  25. Perhaps it helps to look at other words used to degrade people and why those words continue to hold the power they do in what you call a “progressive” society.

    Most intelligent, progressive people will naturally say that racial slurs are degrading, immoral, and are used to promote ideologies that have set our society back for hundreds of years. And they’d be right. These words all mean “person of _____ race” — using them does mean that “person of ____ race” is bad and therefore the word is bad, it’s used the other way around isn’t it? People in a place of privilege use these terms to shame and humiliate the Other, and emphasize their Otherness in a negative and hurtful way. These words aren’t viewed as bad because being of another race is bad – these words are bad because they are used to hurt and judge other people, usually by people trying to exercise power over others.

    Words like “slut” work the same way. Having sex is not the problem – judging people for having sex is. When you call someone a slut there is a negative connotation there – not just “I’m acknowledging that you have a lot of sex” but “I acknowledge that you have sex and I think that makes you a bad person.” It’s insinuating that there is a character flaw in that person for having sex, just as racial slurs insinuate that someone is inferior due to their race – that insinuation is what makes that word problematic. The other big problem with this word is that it’s really only typically used to describe women. There are no real words that carry this insinuation for men. There ARE words for men who have a lot of sex – but none of them carry the same shame-insinuating tone as “slut” because as a society it’s considered natural for a man to have many sexual partners (are we seeing what’s wrong with this yet?)… Therefore using this word is just a continuation of the myth that a woman is less than human unless she is pure and virginal – setting us back hundreds of years. Are we seeing a pattern here? Men, coming from a place of patriarchal privilege, use this term to insinuate that female sexual pleasure or desire is shameful.

    You also ask if there’s a “friendly” way to say it. I don’t think there really will be unless and until we progress as a society… because in a society of true equality there shouldn’t be a need to distinguish things like sexual purity or promiscuity. If sex really is just sex then we can all assume that people are getting as much or as little as they need – and not as much or as little as everyone else thinks they should have.

  26. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    A friend and I were discussing this issue this weekend, and during the discussion, I decided that I was going to appropriate the word “slut,” at least for myself. She had complained that there’s no way for sex positive people to claim their identities in an outré way, contrasting this with the gay appropriation of “queer.” Now I’ve always been psychologically picky (psychological energy is much more risky than STDs, as far as I’m concerned,) but I’ve never really been monogamous for long. So I think I’m a slut; being a slut is good; and that there are a lot of us out there.

    • Valter V says:

      @Hank Vandenburgh: “So I think I’m a slut; being a slut is good; and that there are a lot of us out there.”

      Yes, yes, and yes! :)

      Since words have the meaning we give them, I totally agree with positively empowering the word “slut”.
      Thus I’m a pig :o) and a slut, and I’m proud of it! My GF is a slut as well, and I often tell her that I love her being slutty. ;)
      Long live the sluts! :lol:

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