I, Slut: Girl-on-Girl Name-Calling

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Ladies, gentlemen: I am a slut.

No two ways around it: I like sex. I like sex with lots of different people. I like sex in lots of different ways. I like talking about sex. I like writing about sex. So I go out, and I hook up, and I do not always stick around to cuddle. This doesn’t mean that I’m all messed up inside, or that I need men’s approval (if you look at my “to do” list, you’ll see that “caring about men’s approval” is on the bottom, directly beneath “personally oversee the freezing-over of Hell”), or that I can’t be faithful or intimate when I fall in looooove.

It’s tough to define my motives for sleeping around, but, if I had to make a guess, I think it might have something to do with the fact that I have a huge freaking pleasure center in my crotch, and it feels good when people touch it. So yeah: I’m a slut. I call myself a slut. I let my friends call me a slut. I even let my dude call me a slut, although that happens exclusively in bed.

When a stranger calls me a slut, though, well…that hurts. Especially if that stranger is a girl.

“Slut” used to be a boy’s word. It originally meant a woman who didn’t keep house – as in Shakespeare’s immortal lines, “Where fires thou find’st unrak’d, and hearths unswept, there pinch the Maids… our radiant Queene, hates Sluts, and Sluttery.” (Ah, literature.) Now, of course, it pertains to a different sort of dirty girl. That haven for sophisticated discourse, Urban Dictionary, defines a slut as “a girl that’s f*cked so many guys she can’t keep her legs shut any more.” This pretty much captures our culture’s overall level of respect for sexually experienced women.

The idea that sexual women are worthless derives, pretty clearly, from a time when women were property; yes, ye olden days. Days when your father could trade your virginity for a goat. In that time, if you had the gall to bone someone before marriage, you damaged Dad’s goods, and might therefore cause him to get a low-quality goat, or no goat at all. It wasn’t really a moral question so much as a question of ownership; your body belonged to Dad or Husband, not to you, so using it for your own pleasure was equivalent to borrowing someone’s car and bringing it back with a broken headlight and a big dent in the hood.

One problem with this line of thought: women are not cars, and, though I am no historian, I think we’ve pretty conclusively decided that owning people is bad. Yet, in today’s relatively goat-free economy, people have managed to hold onto the idea that sexy girl = bad person. (If you wonder why there’s no corresponding stigma for guys who get around, it’s simple: there were no price tags on dudes’ cherries.) Hell, we still have events where Dads proclaim ownership of their daughters’ virginity. As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more your Dad owns your vagina. Oh, and also: barf.

I’ve gotten into the habit of automatically ditching or dismissing dudes who engage in slut-bashing; if they’re too insecure or childish to deal with an assertive, confident, sexual woman, I honestly don’t have it in me to care about their opinions. Girls who slut-bash, though, are more complicated. Their words actually sting, because, silly feminist that I am, I believe in sisterhood, and I want to know why they can’t be sisters of mine.

It’s sad to say this, but women can be bitterly competitive amongst each other – and our bones of contention, so to speak, are usually attached to dudes. The active reasoning behind most girl-on-girl name-calling seems to go like this: I am a perfectly fine cow, and no-one will buy me, because they’re all getting free milk from you, you big dairy whore.

We all want love, or sex, and we’re all scared at times that we’re not going to get it. Therefore, if a girl flirts more than you do, she’s a slut. If a girl sleeps with more guys than you do, she’s a slut. If a girl does things in bed that you don’t want to do, she’s a slut. If you worry that a girl is more attractive than you, she’s a slut. And it all comes back to that basic insecurity: the fear that she might steal, or keep you from meeting, your man.

Look; you are pretty. You are sexy. There are people in this world who want you, exactly as you are, and exactly in the way that you want to be wanted. I don’t care who you are – I know this to be fact. If it can work out for me, I’m pretty confident that it can work out for anyone. Everyone has a match, or several, and you are going to meet yours. Another woman’s success, or beauty, or charm, does not detract from yours. So, stop calling girls names because you’re scared. Just go out into the world, and ask for what you want.

You know, like us sluts.

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