Debate Magazine

Sluts and Whores

Posted on the 14 October 2011 by Juliez
Ms. Norbury gets it

Ms. Norbury gets it

You know that scene in Mean Girls where Tina Fey’s character tells all the girls that they need to stop calling each other sluts and whores because it only makes it okay for guys to call them sluts and whores?

I wish Fey would tell that to girls everywhere.

There’s pretty much two types of that sort of name-calling and they both piss me off.

First, there’s the casual, “Hey, slut, what’s up?” or “Hey there, ho!” that friends say to each other. Now, this would be one thing if they were trying to reclaim the word, if this was some sort of movement or statement – but in the vast majority of cases, it’s not. These girls are just trying to fit in with the patriarchal bullshit that tells them they have to say that in order to tear other girls down to build themselves up. And what better way is there to keep those other girls in line than to admonish them about their sex lives?

I just don’t understand why you would so casually use a word that has been used to repress women for centuries and even today? Do you have any idea how many rape and sexual assault cases that have been dropped because the woman was declared a slut, or a whore, or some other equivalent?

And then there’s the other, arguably much worse kind of name-calling: “What are you doing with her? She’s such a slut.” “Did you hear about what she did at that party? Can you say whore?”

Why, why, why do girls think that this is okay? I’ll even ask my friends point-blank sometimes, “Well, what’s wrong with being a ‘slut’?” And virtually every time I get the same answer: a nose wrinkled with disgust and a “Being a slut is just…bad.”

I’ve never met anyone who could actually articulate what was wrong with being a so-called whore – and that’s because there is nothing. I wish girls and guys would get it through their heads that there is nothing wrong with sex! There is nothing wrong with liking sex, with wanting sex, with having sex – as long as it is consensual and safe.

The thing about “slut” and “whore” is that there are no male equivalents. And before someone comes after me for that, I am not saying we should make male equivalents. That would not fix anything. I’m saying we should get rid of the words altogether because they’re rooted in misogyny.

Those words, if you really take the time to sit down and think about them, are words that are designed to keep women in their place – the kitchen, with the babies. They obviously shouldn’t be having sex if they’re not creating new lives. What other reason would they have, right? It’s not like girls can get pleasure out of sex. They’re just vessels for the almighty fetus. So people make them feel ashamed if they ever do have sex for pleasure, and “slut” and “whore” are the weapons of choice.

We need to stop calling each other these names because it just reinforces the idea that’s it’s okay to attack women based solely on their sex lives. And that’s something that’s been going on for far too long. Most of us are aware of the virgin/whore dichotomy, and this is just an unfortunate perpetuation of that.

Just ridding “slut” and “whore” from our vocabularies can really make a huge difference.

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