I am often amazed at what people think it’s okay to say to others, especially people who are perfect strangers. I was a sponsor at a business event last week and a woman came up to me at my booth and said, “Are you the sex lady? You’re a real slut aren’t you?”

She wasn’t kidding — she meant it.

To think that you could walk up to any business owner in a professional context and call them a “slut” is beyond inappropriate and is in absolute poor taste. To assume that because I talk about sexuality, that I’m okay with a stranger calling me a “slut” is another problem. And underneath it all is what this actually says about how this woman views sexuality, including her own.

The biggest thing is the idea that if you are someone, like myself, who is willing to talk openly about sex and to address it, that that must make me a slut. How much do young girls and women who are still finding themselves as sexual beings get shamed and called sluts because they are in a process of exploring and expressing their sexuality? There is a major problem with slut-shaming right now and we have already lost hundreds to thousands of young people to suicide because they have been shamed about their sexuality: as “sluts”, as gay, as too fill-in-the-blank sexual.

And just the week before, as we were working to solidify our insurance for the same event, we were turned down when the insurer found out my business had anything to do with sex. Yep. They wouldn’t insure me for the same potential accidents that they were insuring other business owners for in the room all because I talk about sex in my business. Yep, people were going to be way more at risk at my booth than the one next door. They might choke on the open discussion about sex and lose their balance and fall more easily.

These two events are definitely related.

Photo by Rosea Posey (tumblr)

In our culture, we sunbathe in sex-negativity constantly. When I say sex-negativity, I mean that we attach all kinds of negative ideas to sex and sexuality and, as a culture, we use sexuality as a weapon of control. We shame one another for sexual expression we don’t personally like, and we hurl outrageous insults at people who don’t fall in line sexually the way we want them to. The sex police are everywhere, from Bill O’Reilly, to your sexist legislator, to Phillis Schlafly, to your mama or your school peer: They tell us what to do with our bodies, what sexual choices to make, what sexual expression is okay/not okay and the sexual etiquette they deem appropriate for us. So much of it boils down to others wanting to limit our sexual choices and expression.

You are not a slut because you’re a sexually powerful woman.
You are not a slut because you’re in your body.
You are not a slut because your sexuality might be different from someone else’s. 
You are not a slut because you enjoy sex.

I’m not a slut because I talk about sex and help people with their sex lives, which are a precious and important part of their well-being and happiness.

We are all taught to judge one another’s sexuality harshly. It can seep out in insidious ways. This week, I encourage you to notice if you start to judge another’s sexuality/sex life/body and where you go when you do. Just notice it, and see how cultural norms about sex might be impacting your judgments.

In my women’s Sexually Empowered Life Program, I lead a Sexual Archetype Ritual with the women so they can explore how these many cultural archetypes impact their sexuality. The slut is one of twelve archetypes we explore. It’s powerful stuff. And until you really look at the ideas you’ve been fed culturally about sexuality, and unpack it all, it’s really hard to get to who you really are as a sexual person and what you really want.

And a person who knows what they really want and asks for it is powerful. I want to see a world of people who get that and are in their own desire and able to be critical of all the expectations that are hurled at them daily. THAT, my friends, will be a changed world.