I Will Not Receive the Word ‘Slut’

Alberta legislature 
Saturday, June 04 will see Edmonton's first SlutWalk. Inspired by events in Toronto, where comments made by a police official sparked outrage among women (see CBC's original coverage here), Edmonton women are following suit along with similar walks around the world. The controversy about the name itself still rages on.

I wrote before about Toronto's first-ever walk and my original feelings about it. I must say, they haven't changed one bit. In fact, it saddens me to see so many women trash themselves over a word. You might be thinking: "Well, you're doing the same thing by getting prickly over the word 'slut', too. It's just a word!"

Well… if it was just a word, the whole impetus of taking back the word 'slut' would have no merit in the least. The argument, in part, is indeed about the word. To take back or not to take back.

When a police official makes tactless and, dare I say, evil comments about women who apparently dress like sluts are somehow deserving of sexual violence, yes outrage should ensue! I agree with this stand of SlutWalk here. It does not matter if you are straight or LGBTQ, sexual assault is absolutely never called for.

"She asked for it"…"she came on to me"… "she wanted it"… let me be clear: if a girl or woman approaches you and acts provocatively, you still have control over your brain and your penis. You still have the full choice of saying "No". End of story. If the woman is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you have an even greater responsibility to say "No". For by engaging in sexual encounters with someone who does not have possession of their full faculties, you are taking advantage. If you still choose to engage in these encounters because, at first, it was all consensual at the beginning (drugs or alcohol involved or not), if she says "NO! STOP!" at any point, it's game over. You stop.

Some of you, men and women, believer and unbeliever, are saying right now: "But look at the way she was dressed! Surely some of the responsibility falls on her!"

Wrong statement for the context, people.

That's the point of SlutWalk: it does not matter how a woman is dressed, there is never any excuse for sexual assault — rape, trafficking, forced fondling, forced prostitution, porngraphy, or any number of acts against the woman's will and choice. Clear?

When we're concerned about our daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces, friends and co-workers dressing provocatively, this conversation must take place in a loving relationship through example outside of a sexual assault context. I'm talking about being frank with our kids: dressing up trampy because Tyra Banks does is not cool. Showing off your boobs because Lady Gaga has a great set is self-demeaning.

Yeah, fashion can be fun! But our female bodies were created beautiful by God and not meant to be used as eye candy for the world. I'm not asking us, as women, to go all Victorian again (that had it's own repercussions). What I am saying is: there are ways to be beautiful without selling your body each day in front of a mirror. Deliberately dressing in see-through tights, tube tops with your boobs hanging out, and 6-inch spikes just to prove a point on an awareness walk showing that world that you are indeed NOT a slut is… backwards.

Back to the issue at hand: my refusal to take back the world 'slut'. There is precedent for taking back dirty words. The name "Christian" for example was not a title early church believers took for themselves. Meaning "little Christs", it was a derogatory name from the Roman Empire that, at the time, was hunting down these rabble rouses, torturing them, and killing them. If you were called a "Christian", it was meant as filthy insult (and probably also meant you were going to end up a human candle in Nero's courtyard, or facing a pack of seriously hungry lions). Instead of rebelling against the word, early believers took stock of what the name truly meant and embraced it. Yes! We are "little Christs", for that is who Christ truly called us to be.

The same cannot be said of "slut".

It denotes "a promiscuous woman; a prostitute" (and not in the least ways respectfully, either). Let's face it, if a woman acts in ways we would disagree with, calling her bad names flies in the face of us being "little Christs" as well as destroys who she really is, involved in promiscuity, prostitution or not.

While I applaud women for wanting to erase such labels given on the basis of something such as clothing, I do not see any goodness in taking back the word. I will not go up to one of my girls at youth group and say, "You look great today, my little slut", or "Hey Slut! What's up?"

Where's the freedom here?

People around the world are working so hard to end sexual violence. Please don't add to it by placing a sexually violent word around our necks, when there are so many better ways of sending the message out.

1 comment

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  1. laura krueger

    the meaning of the word IS changing. young girls prefer to be called a slut rather than a bitch. is this better? I don’t know. when I was at highschool, if they started calling you a slut, you could forget it. not one boy would ask you to go out. this has changed, I think. I even found a brand of t-shirts using the word slut, and not in the negative way: http://slutshirt.spreadshirt.com/ is it better? I don’t know. but it IS changing.

    Like

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