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The ‘Slut’ in SlutWalk

by July 4, 2012
filed under Activism
Topics , ,

‘Nigger’ is tied to the slave movement – an offensive term for a black or dark-skinned person. But it is also used by the black community in a way of taking back the word.

‘Bitch’ is linked to female dogs. It is a derogatory word for “a woman whom one dislikes or considers to be malicious or unpleasant.”It is also the title of a feminist magazine.

‘Queer’ is another word which was taken back. It is used within the LGBT community and popular media.

Still, those not familiar with ‘queers’ give weird looks when the word is used. ‘Nigger’ hasn’t entirely lost its sting. And ‘bitch’ continues to be mean.

My question is: What do we wish to achieve in calling each other sluts? We already use it as an insult while passing judgment on appearance. In fact, women’s attitudes towards each other is a huge problem in the feminist movement.

A ‘slut’ is a woman who sleeps with lots of men. She is “a slovenly of promiscuous woman.” No mention of offense or derogation here. But it seems like we get called sluts no matter what we do. I’ve been called it in heels and a dress. I’ve been called it by my ex boyfriend, while in my pajamas. Not only was I a ‘slut,’ but I was an ‘unlovable slut that no one would ever care about because I wasn’t worth caring about.’

Ouch, right?

The arguments used in favor of taking the word back do not convince me. I don’t want that word back. What I do want is the ability to wear what I want and take as many lovers as I choose while being free of the label.

The biggest problem in the argument with my ex was my reaction to the words. I left in a crying and hysterical panic, more upset than angry because a part of me believed him. In my early twenties, in a relationship that was stressful and unhealthy, I thought often of other men and I didn’t want to be in an exclusive relationship – really I didn’t want to be in that relationship at all, but could not admit it to myself because I wanted to be loved. I thought the problem was me – a young twenty year old with sexual desires outside the scope of her relationship. I thought I was, in some way, broken. I thought he must be right: I was a ‘slut’ and deserved his scorn. I should have known better.

What if I had been a man leaving a relationship because I wanted to sleep with other women? I don’t think I would have been looked at as such a jezebel.

Take Back the Night marches are rallies by women who feel afraid to walk alone at night. I do not see how strolling through the sunshine in fishnets with the word “slut” written across our chests is going to help our safety.

So why this movement? It seems the peak of feminism is now – so is walking around scantily clad the right thing to do? Where are my ‘sluts,’ ‘bitches’ and ‘ho’s’ when women’s civil liberties are being taken away? What about when women are subjected to unnecessary ultrasounds or are fired for continuing to take birth control if their employer does not agree with it?

Nevertheless, I agreed to volunteer for Flurt! and Hollaback! This weekend at my local SlutWalk Edmonton. We’ll see if this cynical feminist can learn some new perspective.

This post was taken from Danielle’s blog, Dispatches from Paradis.


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