What’s your number?
Sluts, whores, hoes, promiscuous, tramps, harletts, floosies, etc. We’ve heard the words, we’ve used them, and we all have an idea of what they mean. When asked to define it though, everyone seems to have a different definition. We have grown accustom to using these words as insults and as a result women have been raised to feel shame for ideas we have implanted on our own. We have a fascination with women’s sex lives and in turn have acquired what is now known as “slut-shaming”
When I asked many of my peers and family members what a slut was to them, I was given a wide range of definitions that were all different. I started with my own boyfriend, Jake. “A slut? Uh, someone who casually sleeps with people below their standards regularly…” he then added, “Women who sleep with people they are not dating.” I asked my close friends and they gave me short responses. “Home-wreckers, attention whores, I cant think of anymore.” and “Anyone who is involved in ruining a relationship.” I posted a status on Facebook and immediately got feedback from friends of mine as well. One boy commented, “A meaningless word used to promote rape culture and the idea of women deserving what comes to them by shaming them for acting on sexual impulses.” Then I received comments from my stepdad and grandmother. My grandmother stated, “To me it goes way beyond just sexual actions. A slut sells their soul for the possibility of being cared for or loved.” My stepdad defined it as, “A man or a woman who needs sexual comfort to fill a void in their life.”
Personally to me, slut is not a word I use. I think a woman in the wrong is one who uses her seduction to influence a person who is in a relationship but I hold men to the same standard. When comparing all of these answers you can see that each person incorporated their own way to define the word. Some related it to the act of infidelity, the amount of times they participate in sexual intercourse with different partners, attention craving, rape culture, shaming women, the need for love from another, and the substitution of sex filling voids in their lives. It could also be the way they dress, the way they act, and the way they think. They all had one factor that they strongly addressed. This lead me to the actual “meaning”. Google’s first definition was, Slut: A woman who has many casual sexual partners. So I guess my boyfriend was right?
Unfortunately we will never have one answer and my boyfriend is not correct to his dismay. Slut is a word society created throughout the centuries. It has been associated with immoral values and uncleanliness in women. Now it is something we casually sling around almost like a nickname. We underestimate the effect it has on each individual as we say it because as you can see, none of the answers were positive. I proceeded to read an article about sixty different women who were called sluts and why. One was called a slut by a man because she refused to have sex with him. Another was called a slut because she was interested in sex toys. Some women used the word during sex as a version of dirty talk. It seems to me that it is not always related to sex but more of a relation to just an insulting word. It is a harsh, vulgar, and strong term to throw at someone no matter how it is used.
The truth is women are cursed with the double standard. We are undoubtedly damned if we do and damned if we don’t. If women are seen accepting the sexual desires that all humans face and participating in hook ups just like men do they will be called a slut one time in their life, it is unavoidable. A girl who doesn’t participate is considered a prude. Both are terms of ridicule and we get one name or the other. Men are shown to have many more sexual partners than women but they are accepted for it. They do not have a nickname except maybe “man-whore” but it is more of a humorous word and less vindictive than women’s nicknames. For example my boyfriend is five years older than me, therefore his number of partners is much higher than mine. It is something that rarely bothers me just because it is not a strong stigma I have in my mind.
On the other hand, he is satisfied with the number of partners I have had because it the number he envisioned me with. Therefore he uses the double standard. My number is low I will admit. This is not because I tracked myself with some number I am not allowed to break. It is simply because I have only been interested in a small group of people who it escalated to that point with. At times I have been insecure about it because society presses down the idea of women being impure on different levels. It has been shown that a female with a high number does become less desirable to others and she is usually treated differently. “As far as dating material, a low number is a requirement for me but if I am just interested in a girl for just sexual reasons, I do not care to know.” Jake stated. Even with a small number, I am sure some people think that it is large. This is something I had to shut out though. This is something women should shut out.
Women are so praised by men and each other. We are beautiful, smart, and enticing individuals. We are man kinds source of life. Women have and always will be under the spotlight. If a woman beats a man in sports it is always the bigger headline. A woman runs for president and she will receive twice as much doubt as a man. Not only are we held to the standard of a sexual boundary, we are doubted physically and mentally when compared to men. We wont be able to get rid of this but we are given the resources to prove them wrong. We are given the resources to end slut shaming by eliminating the word.
Our bodies are something we should be proud of. We are physically blessed with great assets. This does not relate to everyone because the way we dress is a personal decision. Is the girl with the big breasts wearing a halter top, really a slut though? Well no, she personally enjoys a style of bathing suits and just like a smaller chested girl she wants to wear it too. The sexual attraction we feel to others is accountable to ourselves only. If a women wants to have intercourse with a man or female that is her decision to make. That is her body and if she feels that it was a mistake, it is her mistake to correct.
The world is filled with issues we ignore just because we don’t like negative news. Instead we focus our energy on the sex life of women in our lives, the way they dress, and the way they portray themselves. This can be something we have the power to remove but we have to inform people about the stigma. In my eyes there is no justifying the truth. This is how I believe it is, Women and men are both humans and we have similar desires and fantasies. We should not be held to different boundaries. Instead of turning the word to men and trying to label them we need to quit using it completely. It is the 21st century, it is time for us to see each other as equals once and for all.
Next time you see a girl in a tight skirt or hear her openly talking about a sexual experience, apply the word to yourself first. It will never feel good. Try and look at it this way, she is proud of her body. She wears the skirt comfortably and your thoughts wont change that. Just as, the woman talking about her sexual experiences. It has already happened and there really is nothing your words could do about it. Basically, if you are not involved it does not concern you. As women we have the power to strengthen each other and we have trouble with that. It is time for us to feel genuine happiness for each other because who else knows what it’s like to be us.