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See, The Thing About The Word Slut,

This article may make me sound like a female, but I’m a boy alright. There are a lot of changes in perspectives, so it might get slightly confusing. I’ll appreciate greatly if you can stay till the end. There are a few overlooked points that I’ve included, and looking through the whole piece will give you a better general gist of the topic at hand. Thank-you.

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The Oxford American Dictionary defines the word slut as “a slovenly and promiscuous woman”. The definition given is rather vague. Back in the Middle Ages, it was used to describe a sexually promiscuous woman in a negative way. It was an insult for woman who took initiative for their sexuality, who were more open and less conservative than what society deems as expected or acceptable back then. In present day, the meaning of the word slut has expanded and grown, similarly in comparison to the number of North Koreans dying due to overfeeding of non-existent food.

Some girls call each other sluts because they’re interacting, and seemingly flirting with a lot of boys. This is laughable, because trying to be a slut just by flirting is like trying to get a PhD while sitting for your O-Level examinations. Besides, as puberty hits us and all, it is only natural that girls are gradually more attracted to the male sex. Flirting itself is not a crime, you don’t get to enjoy scrumptious and delicious prison food by consistently laughing at boys’ jokes, or enjoying the company of them. Plus, talking to boys frequently doesn’t qualify a girl to be a slut. The girl actually needs to have sexual intercourse. And the sexual intercourse needs to happen so often that that the frequency is almost comparable to the opening hours of 7-11. And, even so, a 16 year-old girl who had sex three times doesn’t equate to a slut. If you add “a 16-year old girl” with “having sex three times” you get “a 16 year-old girl who has had sex three times and it’s none of your business what other people decide to do with their bodies”. I’m not condoning such actions, or encouraging similar behaviors, but that is a problem that’s different in its entirety. Just like how food isn’t related to the northern neighbors of South Korea, it is not right to label someone something that is irrelevant in the first place, worse still, the reason for doing so being your own prejudice.

There is also a thing I refer to as the “over and below effect”. It’s called the “over and below effect” because the name wasn’t taken. This effect isn’t a real thing, I just made it up a couple of secs ago, I’m not a psychologist, and these are my general observations I’ve done over time. Basically, the over and below effect refers to “different mindsets and attitudes towards an activity when done with varying intensity”. A common example would be how we label someone who does a lot of homework as a nerd, and at the same time we label someone who does very little work as a rebel, or an unruly kid. Like what Cornell University’s Ritch Savin-Williams said,

Recent research is showing that it’s not their sexuality that’s getting them bullied, but their gender expressions. It’s that they transgress those gender roles that we have established. … It’s not like they’re saying, ‘Oh, you’re having sex with another girl.’ That’s not what they’re picking up on. What they’re picking up on is, “You’re not acting like a girl is supposed to act.”

This brings me to my next point: Double standards. A girl who doesn’t flirt much, who doesn’t show signs of her sexuality are thought to be reclusive, boring, not sociable, and majority of them ends up getting rejected, or fall into the “not-so-popular” group in a school. But, a girl who flirts a lot, either cause of unforced reasons or cause she doesn’t want to be left out, is now considered to be, a slut? What do they say in their speech for accepting this elusive award? That there’s actually a way to win? The thing is, there’s no way we can outsmart society. Forget what Charlie Sheen says, there’s simply no… winning.

What do I mean by no winning? Other than the example I’ve given above, another would be how girls are often branded as sluts just by wearing short skirts, low cut shirts, heels etc. Anything that is considered revealing in essence. The funny thing is, society has been telling us all sorts of “inspiring stuff” like how we should “step out of our comfort zones”, “reveal more of our bodies” and “flaunt yourselves cause all of you are beautiful”. And yet when girls do so, bam, another slut fresh from the oven. There is nothing wrong with girls wanting show off our body, regardless if its for comfort/weather or aesthetic purposes. If it makes them feel good about themselves, then let them be. Why create such a negative environment instead of a positive atmosphere, just because you can’t stand people looking pretty, or having what you can’t have, whether it’s long legs, big assets, or a beautiful personality? Can you say with absolute certainty that you haven’t done anything to try to make yourself feel better? Like spending an extra 10 minutes doing your hair in the morning, or going out for a run 3 times a week? And along with the “stuff-you-do-behind-close-doors”, how would you like it if your actions are publicly showcased, then blasted and criticised vehemently in front of numerous people? For those girls who call others girls sluts, this is a scaled-up version of the stuff you are doing right now. It doesn’t apply only within this context. Before you start criticising others for their imperfections without any justifiable reasons that doesn’t actually involve only your definition of imperfect, take a good look at yourself in the … in the same mirror that you spend 10 extra minutes a day making your hair on.

The word slut, as inferred from the first sentence of this article, is a gendered term, meaning it only applies to girls. To give the argument a bit more perspective, let’s factor in the general attitude casted on boys. My imaginary friend Bobby has spend the entire past 15 years locked in my comfy snuggly basement, leaving a luxurious life with no access to bathrooms or food supplies, browsing through 31 dictionaries, trying to find a word that chides a man for revealing too much, or for having sex too frequently. He has no luck so far. Maybe that’s because he’s dead by now, but even there is indeed such a word, it’s probably imaginary, like my dear friend Bobby (RIP, you’ll be missed). As a matter of fact, boys are congratulated when they have multiple sex partners, or worshiped by their friends when they pick up girls and have intercourse with them. This is in stark contrast to girls, who are branded to be whores, bitches and sluts for doing the exact same thing. Boys are expected to express themselves sexually, pursuing and enjoying sexual exploration, but teenage girls are not because there’s always a possibility that similar expressions of sexuality could lead them to being called a slut. Male celebrities are glorified to huge extent for doing something like that, but when a girl does it, nu-uh. When Kristen Stewart had sex with the director of the… um… what’s it called… some Snow Black movie, what were people’s reactions? “Sweet dude the guy had sex with Kristen Stewart when he had a wife! This guy is awesome.” vs “Kristen Stewart cheated on her boyfriend? Slut. She had sex? Slut. She had sex with a married man and ruined his relationship and marriage? Of course it’s her fault, that slut.” Girls, are you going to say the same thing to boys? Calling them sluts, or mluts (man-sluts) for having sex too many a times?

Society has unfair expectations and stereotypes for both genders. Aren’t you being sexist by only calling one side of the gender a slut when the other one did the exact same thing? And the ironic thing is aren’t boys to be the sexist ones? My point is, wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we learn to accept each other’s different lifestyles and keep your unflattering opinions to yourself? You may have your own views, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s no need to voice it out. Opinions are mostly meant to be voiced out I agree, but not degrading and unfounded ones like these, which are cultivated from your own perceptions on how life should be led. Not him, not mine, not everyone’s, but yours and yours only.

The above paragraphs talk about girls calling each other sluts with malicious intents, but what about casual and non-hurtful conversational usage among close friends? Some girls I know say that they engage in such conversations because they think that it’s just a joke and everyone will just laugh it off and grow closer and more bonded. While I agree, about the bonding part, I personally do not think that it’s right to call someone a slut, regardless of situations, even in endearing contexts like this one. The word slut has appeared in various media outlets witch such prevalence that we are often desensitised from a young age. Adults sometimes throw words like this around, not knowing the damaging implications it can bring. By calling each other sluts, we are implying that we’re fine with others seeing and treating us as sexual objects. Misogynist behaviors continue to be rife and omnipresent, essentially because girls are doing it too. It’s also a little like how black people use the term “nigga” like it’s common lingo, and then taking offense and wondering why the word is used such regularly. If the blacks are using a term that’s degrading to their race, wouldn’t it send the signal to the rest of the population that it’s alright to do so? Likewise, if girls are using a term that’s insulting themselves and to a certain degree, objectifying others, it would only send a message to everybody, males and females included, that it’s alright to use such an offensive term.

Look, I get it, the word slut is just a joke. I am a boy and I shouldn’t worry or make it such a big deal over this small harmless word. I should just mind my own business, you know what you’re doing. That is true to a certain extent I admit. But the truth is, by calling each other sluts, we are defining our worth and standings in society based on our sex lives. There are no international regulations stating how much sex is permitted or any recognised standards determining the appropriate expressions of sexuality.

As Kathryn Stamoulis says in The New Teen Age,

Offense is the best defense. All girls exist in an environment where they can be called a slut at any moment. Often, when girls bully a peer in this way it is because they themselves are uncomfortable with their own sexuality. One of the easiest ways a girl can represent herself as a “good girl” is by labeling someone else’s sexuality as “bad”. It’s just like the classic example of a boy calling another boy “gay” in the locker room because he thinks if he shows disdain for homosexuality, there is no way anyone could possibly think he is gay.

Calling each other sluts is going to result in a vicious cycle whereby everyone calls each other sluts in order to protect their own reputation, or to feel accepted in a cruel and judgmental world. So before you utter the s-word, think about it. You may not see the effects, or feel concrete implications stemming from your verbal actions, but just by mentioning a four-letter word, whether it’s for joking or insulting agendas, you’re not only affecting the recipient of your intentions.

And to the girls who have been labelled as a slut, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. A study done by the American Association of University Women has revealed that 17% of High School girls have been the victim of unwanted, sexual rumors (17% is a lot by the way). The persecution of women due to their sexuality is not a new phenomenon. If someone has called you a slut, try your best to not take it to heart. It’s hard I understand. Even as a boy when someone criticises about my hair I’ll go home and cry like I had my candy stolen from me by a baby. Understand that the bullies who have been calling you that are doing it for a couple of reasons. Is it jealousy? Is it hate? Is it spite? Or is it simply a misunderstanding that snowballed into such a divine scale? Talk to them, no matter how stupid it sounds. Bullies will more than happy share what they hate about you when you confront them, and when you hear what they have to say by taking the first step, ignore what they say if they’re unreasonable. People who tries to bring you down are a plenty. It’s not your duty or responsibility to get rid or avoid them, but rather to deal with their ‘tactics’ in a more civilised and confident way that makes you stronger after each negative experience.

Beware of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy as well. Like Kathryn Stamoulis says once again,

Sometimes being labeled in an undesirable way can lead a person to start acting in accordance with that label. A self-fulfilling prophecy is when a negative idea becomes a reality. Constant accusations of promiscuous behavior can lead to a rationalization that you might as well reap some of the pleasures of the label. This can potentially lead to unpleasant… experiences, hurt feelings or risky situations.

This can sap some confidence out of you, and might even convert your bubbly and cheerful personality into someone who’s insecure and an introvert. You may have become so fearful of being called a slut that you are avoiding situations that might display or support the idea that you’re a slut. I know of a friend who used to be outgoing, but due to incessant bullying and harassment, she has turned from this amazing and outgoing person to someone who is shy, who is constantly afraid of being judged and afraid of social contact. While it is unfortunate, she certainly is so much better right now. And the last point I want to make, before I end this long article, is that if this is happening to you and it’s bothering you, talk to someone about it, be it your parents, or your teachers and peers. There’s absolutely no shame in doing so, and their advice will certainly go a long way, at least longer than mine. Your courage and braveness is going to help a lot of people, and most importantly, it’ll make you a better person at the end of the day, knowing that you did not let a stupid, stupid remark get into the way of your happiness and social life.


Have you been called a slut before? How did it feel and what did you do about it? Share your unfortunate experiences with me in the comments section below!

Follow me on Instagram: @wenkai31

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2 Comments

  1. Munira's World says

    This made my day. I’ll be sure to tell it to the next slu- oops I mean the next girl who tries to call me that! By the way, I love your tagline. You’re really funny!

    • Hi Munira! I was looking through my blog and I realised I missed out on your comment. I apologise for the terribly late response and thank you for your kind words :) I hope you and your blog are doing well!

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