Is this the kind of word women (or, womyn, or whatever) could "take back"?
Let me first explore the origin and meaning of the word.
According to Wikipedia: Slut is a pejorative term for a person who is deemed sexually promiscuous.
According to Websters: a slovenly woman
According to Yourdictionary.com : a careless, dirty, slovenly woman; slattern
And here is where it gets REALLY interesting....
According to the Urban Dictionary :
1. a woman with the morals of a man
2. there can be 2 definitions: one negative, the other positive...1. a girl who has sex but does not enjoy it, who is used by guys and lets them do it. She does not have the self respect to make them stop.2. a girl who likes sex, so she does it. She probably is not in a relationship, and she equalizes herself to guys by treating sex the same way they do.The difference between the two examples of what society labels as "sluts" is that one has self respect, the other does not. No one should be called a slut anyway, especially when the name "slut" is a purely judgemental and stereotypical one, and no one really knows the real story behind it all, which is pretty much always the case.
3. Someone who provides a very needed service for the community and sleeps with everyone, even the guy that has no shot at getting laid and everyone knows it. She will give him a sympathy fuck either because someone asked her to or she just has to fuck everyone she knows. These are great people, and without them sex crimes would definitly increase. Thank you slut, where ever you are.
I think it's pretty clear in the Urban Dictionary postings, which ones are written by men, and which ones are written by women.
What I find fascinating is the association of 'dirty' with 'slut'. "Slovenly" refers to being dressed shabbily, dirty and unpleasant. But what does that have to do with sexual promiscuity? I suppose in it's darkest explanation, a woman who has had many partners may have diseases, or literally is dirty. But for the most part, this term is thrown around very easily these days, and in reference to many things. Women dressed a certain way, acting a certain way, even appearing in photographs, a woman can be deemed a slut. It seems though, that women are quick to classify other women as sluts, and men are less quick to do so. Men seem to need proof. Women will cast that judgement based on the cut of a neckline.
One time I was out with my girlfriends and my boyfriend. He being the only guy there...this wasn't out of the ordinary at this time, he likes to go dancing with all the girls. I can't blame him. Anyhow we were all out, and I was very drunk. So much so that I fell down on the dancefloor. A girl who I do not know approached my boyfriend and announced to him, that he should not be with me, since she knew me, and I was a slut. He said nothing at the time but in a few days it began to bother him. Did I know this girl? Does she know me for some reason? AM I A SLUT? He evenutally approached me and I assured him that I was neither a slut or a person that was known to this girl. It bothers me though to this day - did she mistake me for someone else? Or was it my drunken dancing and tight shirt that created this assumption? Amazing that a stranger would form this opinion of me, and announce it.
I talked to my boss at the time about it. Sounds odd but it was a lingerie store, and she was young, so it was an appropriate conversation for the workplace. My boss informed me that no one could be a 'slut' after highschool. Once you've graduated, you are an adult who is able to make your own decisions...and therefore, you are just sexually promiscuous, not a slut. I found this to be an excellent interpretation of the word. After all, isn't a slut a girl who gets around in a small social group? And if so, then, once you leave the tiny world of high school, you just get around, and not in a small social group. So no one knows about the quantity of sex you are having, except for you of course. No one can judge if it is an appropriate amount. And therefore, you are just promiscuous. After all, slut is something other people label you.
Or is it?
Back to reclaiming the word. I personally love the word, and found throughout my youth and beyond, that I'd rather be called a 'slut' than 'stiff'. Maybe I have no self respect, sure, but it's more complex than that. In reality this is because the word implies that you are a whole lot of fun, while stiff implies...well...that you are stiff. And who wants to be a stiff?
It is likely that I don't find the word bothersome because I know in my mind that I am not what I consider to be a real slut. So it's ok. It's like calling someone who is very large in stature, "Tiny" as a nickname. Well, sortof. I don't think I'm alone here, many women of my age and younger seem to be reclaiming this term. It is no longer always a negative. It can be. But it's often a familiar, warm term. It's used to express love for something, as in, "I'm such a slut for Payless Shoes, I'm there every week!" and yet this usage doesn't imply dirty, diseased or bothersome. It implies, it is something you like, a lot. And that's the key. It's now a choice to be a slut for something.
This seems to me to be strongly related to the sexual revolution finally coming full circle. Women are in charge of their sexuality, now, more than ever before. Since we are in charge of it, and we have the right to it, we should own our desires, and therefore own our passions. The things we are slutty for, we determine. This woman I describe is of course, the educated liberal type, likely a feminist, who is having better than average sex. Not that I want to stereotype...but I firmly believe the liberal feminist types are having the best go at the sex revolution. Hopefully this will trickle down. I think this is another post alltogether, so let me get back to sluts.
Slut carries taboos and fantasies, and so the use of the word can be quite exciting, if well timed. Such a simple little word, can create such a rise in feeling, and thought, not to mention, emotional connection and control.
I'm not the only one to feel this way. Slut has also been reclaimed as a term in the BDSM, polyamorous, gay and bisexual communities. It may be used by the person concerned as an expression of pride in their status, or to express envy at the "success rate" of others. It is the name you call someone submissive, but it can express ownership as well, "You are my slut!" which is interesting, because the meaning of the word really does refer to multiple partners.
Can someone be a slut if they only have one partner?
Today's lesson: be a slut, if that's what you want, but don't do it on other peoples terms...do it on your own terms, and then, you will feel just fine with it.
Here is a fun test I found online, to help you determine if you are a slut or not:
Here is an interesting book on the topic:
Here is the IMDB for a documentary called "Slut": (full disclosure, I know the director/writer)