There Is No Such Thing As A 'Slut' | Emily Bashforth

There Is No Such Thing As A 'Slut'


The term 'slut' is thrown around left, right and centre to label women who engage in frequent sexual activity with strangers. It's also used to refer to women who wear little clothing. It's also used to speak about women who lose their virginity at a young age. It's also used when talking about women who enjoy flirting. In fact, the word 'slut' is an umbrella term used to label and demean pretty much every woman.
But what if I told you that sluts do not exist? What if I were to say that there is no such thing as a slut? What if I were to say that the whole idea of a 'slut' is a socially constructed concept designed to make women question their own worth, seek validation from others and feel ashamed for enjoying perfectly normal and natural experiences? There is no such thing as a slut, it is a ludicrous concept concocted entirely by a patriarchal society that wishes to punish and degrade women for being openly sexual and engaging in activities which men are often praised for.

'Slut shaming' is a huge issue in our society and it will not go away until we change our perception of how women should behave. It is very much a feminist issue because the negative connotations attached to the word represent the power men have over women in society. The fact that they are able to value a woman and create an entire character profile for her, without even knowing anything about her, just by calling her one simple word, that shows the gap. The gap between a woman who is a victim of sexism, regardless of what she does, and a man who is able to inflict that upon her.

Women are slut shamed for many things and the derogatory label is hurled at them in the most bizarre of circumstances. A 14 year old girl may be called a slut because she lost her virginity to a boyfriend she loves, just as a 44 year old single mother of three may be slut shamed because she's been forced into a life of prostitution so she can feed her children. A girl who goes to nightclubs wearing short skirts and low cut tops frequently will be slut shamed, as will a girl who often dresses very conservatively but once in a blue moon decides to wear knee high socks instead of ankle socks. Young girls and women are scrutinised for everything that they do, say and wear, to the point where pretty much every one of them is a slut. The term is used to justify sexist comments, because if someone is dressed like a slut then apparently it's okay to verbally attack them. The term is even used to justify unforgivable crimes, such as rape, because, if she was being a slut then she was obviously asking for it, right? Wrong. Because, you see, no matter how much make-up a woman wears, how tight her mini-skirt is or how many men she has had sex with, she can never be a slut and you will never be able to use that word against her once we take back control of it and start to demolish it's negativity.

Words have power and, if you want to make a woman feel bad, calling her a slut is a sure fire way to do it. That's because, when it comes to women, being sexual is deemed as bad until men are gaining something from it. Women are not allowed to be in control of their own sexuality and they are not free to be open and confident because...that's a bad thing? Society has a real vendetta against women doing what the hell they like and it's time to change this.

We need to stop valuing women based on their sexual experiences. We need to stop forming judgements about women based on their appearances. We need to stop labelling women who enjoy being sexual as 'sluts' but not tarring men with the same brush. Women should be allowed to have as many sexual partners as their hearts and bodies desire without being judged for that.

But slut shaming doesn't just come from men, it comes from women too... and it's often twice as bad. Women can tear their counterparts down in ways far worse than men and, often, insults hurt more when they are woman-on-woman, probably because, sadly, women may expect sexist insults from men, however, when they come from someone in the same boat as them, someone who experiences the same oppression and is supposed to be on their side, it feels like a little stab in the back. No woman would like to be judged on her sexual experiences and should therefore never judge another woman based on her sexual experiences. As women, we should be aiming to uplift one another and say "Hey! I know you've slept with a different person every day for the past month but that's okay because I support you and your self-worth is not decrease as your amount of sexual partners increases!"

Men are slut shamed too. We often associate the term more so with women, whom it is used to frequently put down and whilst men are not held to the same standards as women when it comes to sex, they can be labelled as a 'slut' too. Gay men in particular are victims of the name-calling, probably because, stereotypically, society associates being 'gay' with being 'feminine' and to be 'feminine' means there is a set list of 'rules' you must follow. It's wrong. It's so wrong.

Honestly, the definition of 'slut' differs from person to person. What does the word 'slut' even mean? Is there a number on it or something? If you've slept with 19 people you cannot be a slut but, as soon as you've slept with 30, you are? To label someone as a slut is so degrading when, in fact, it shouldn't be. Sexual activity is a perfectly normal part of life and is something a lot of people engage in often. It isn't a bad thing nor is it a dirty thing but by calling someone a 'slut,' it's insinuating that they're doing something so criminal that their entire existence ought to be defined by it.
When someone is called a 'slut,' they, actually, probably don't care. What does bother them, however, is how that word infinitely defines them and takes away from any form of substance they have as a human being. Oh you have a degree? You're a charity worker? You've just recovered from life-threatening illness? Well sorry, but those things don't matter because...OH MY GOD! YOU'VE HAD SEX! ...See, doesn't it sound ridiculous?

People are so much more than what they wear and who they spend time with behind closed doors. People have stories to tell and experiences to share but by confining them to a tight box of shame and guilt simply because of something that, honestly, doesn't concern you, you're depriving yourself of getting to know more things about such a fascinating person. There is a lot you aren't finding out about a person when you call them a 'slut,' like their favourite movies, the names of their pets, the name of the one book they would take if stranded on a desert island, their family history, their celebrity idols, the one food they want to eat for the rest of their life... all of these are potentially interesting subjects to cover and could help you find a common interest. You lose out on these conversations, though, by caring more about someone's exterior than their heart.

Labelling someone as a 'slut' is such a high form of closed-mindedness. It's an example of not being willing to listen and it's an example of having such an archaic view on the world that you refuse to accept people for who they are. Some people slut shame because they are insecure themselves, some slut shame because they find those who are sexually expressive threatening, or sometimes, people just do it to be malicious. Whatever the reason behind it, slut shaming needs to stop being used to judge others. It's something we need to rid society of and we need to make it okay for people to do what they like with their own bodies. How someone else lives their life, unless it's for religious reasons, shouldn't have a detrimental impact on your moral compass. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but, sometimes, it's just better to keep it to yourself. 

Honestly, be a slut. Just do whatever you want.

Love, Emily :) xx

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