Slut. It ranks among the most offensive of words. Yet, it gets tossed around so casually in conversation. While racial and ethnic slurs remain taboo, just about anyone can get away with this gender slur.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition, a slut is defined as a “[sexually] promiscuous woman.” So by definition, a virgin would be exempt from being labeled a slut. Or would she? What about a virgin who engages in foreplay? And what exactly is promiscuous? Sleeping with two guys? five? ten? What is the imaginary line one crosses to become a “slut?” More importantly- who decides?[rules]
The first injustice to point to was the gender bias of the word. Even the professional dictionary referred to the word as a primarily estrogen-based one. Jayne Schuiteman, the acting director for the women, gender and social justice department said this is just another “[obvious] example of the double standards that exist for men and women involving sexual behavior.” While the term in its reference to women holds many negative connotations, any comparable term is seen in a positive light when referring to men. Words like ‘stud’ and ‘pimp’ make a guy seem “cool, more manly,” and “put him higher up in the pecking order.”
Schuiteman speculates that this may come from “as some might argue, a need to control a woman’s behavior [being that her actions can result in serious consequences, (such as pregnancy) and her monogamy assures] an important line of hereditary, from father to child.”
Another factor that may define a “slut” is appearance. While it is unfair to judge anyone on their appearance, it is obvious many do. Nineteen-year-old sophomore Travis Tinsey was eager to share his opinion that “a slut is a girl who shows too much skin.” He said sexual promiscuity is definitely reflected by a woman’s clothing choices. When asked about a virgin who might dress provocatively, he said “you just don’t really see that too often.”
While some guys automatically assume that the girl in revealing clothes will put out over the more decently dressed girl. Knowing this, a perfectly respectable young lady might choose to raise her hemline a few inches to get that extra male attention. It’s a rather vicious cycle. Or perhaps, as Sara Lennox, an 18-year-old freshman at MSU said: “[there are just those girls that are] proud of the fact that they have nice bodies and wanting to show them off. It doesn’t mean they automatically want to go have sex behind the bleachers!” Either way, it is unfair to label someone as sexually promiscuous because of his or her choice in clothing. This argument is similar to the antiquated one that justified the rapes of scantily clad women. [page]
While appearance may play a role in who is thought of as an s-word, what you do in the clothing weighs a little more heavily on the affair. So how many is too many? What is the magic number of partners that makes someone a “slut” and why does this only apply to women? Guys that sleep around a bit either don’t get a bad rap or get an even better reputation. Well, if the 2004 National College Health Assessment is any indication, “a lot” of partners is anything over one. Nicolle Stec, a health educator at Olin provided the statistic that in the past school year, 71.9 % of MSU students reported to having one or fewer partners.
The relationship to your partner is also viewed as component of what makes a “slut.” Junior Raelyn Thiel, 20, said “Having sex with random people and people you’ve had serious relationships with are two different stories.” Again, does this just apply to women and if so why do women judge each other? If someone has sex with an intimate partner, a friend or a virtual stranger it is no ones business but his or her own. As long as you’re physically and emotionally safe, it is up to you. Whether female or male, dare to break the stereotype and live by your own rules.
Ultimately, the word is so complex that it could never completely be understood. Sophomore Ian Gordon, 19, said “…society has certain expectations, and [“sluts”] do not fit into the realm of what is considered to be proper.” The bottom line is who cares what society thinks.
The next time you think about throwing around the term you thought you knew so well, think about the consequences. By letting the word go with the wayside everyone is liberated. Without the oppressiveness of the word, both women and men can be in control of their sex lives- without stigma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *