You might be an asshole, but I’m not so sensitive
I have had the privilege to ring in the New Year with countless forums, discussions, and conference presentations based on the power of language and the potential for oppression via words. Although many conversations entailed the necessary eradication (or potential for re-empowerment) of racially driven, sexist, culturally insensitive terminology, the most common word presented as a topic for debate was slut.
Slut, in its literal sense, refers to an individual who indulges in the pleasure of sex with varying partners on a frequent basis. Although currently its definition is often ignored when used, there is no doubt its initial introduction was grounded in a gender hierarchy, favouring the decisions of men. However, words and their use evolve, and the extent to which we give them power among a growingly hypersensitive bubble need to as well.
Call me a slut. The word ‘slut’ has grown to possess such minuscule value in comparison to its original meaning and is now applicable to a vast spectrum of scenarios that it’s employed arbitrarily. In fact, sometimes it can even be endearing.
I have a close friend who primarily addresses me as, “Hey slut!” She wouldn’t casually use this term with a stranger and utters this statement as a form of humor that ultimately solidifies our relationship.
However, when used by a man in a method to belittle my less than there outfit or my questionable back-wall dance moves, I’m still not compelled to lecture him on its origin. If slut is made to reference my sexual history then the individual’s logic is inconsistent because I am the only one with knowledge of those statistics.
I am sure of who I am, and acknowledge that my sexual choices are distinctly disconnected from my levels of intelligence, kindness, morality and creativity. Terms like slut, whore, and ugly are not only grounded in superficiality and can only be assessed subjectively but simply put shouldn’t offend you because they aren’t a reflection of your character or influence in the world. Why isn’t it more hurtful to be called vain, vindictive, or boring? These descriptors have powerful definitions that attack an individual’s relationships and person.
So, we’re not friends and you’ve decided to call me a slut. If you’re a boy and we’re at the bar, or my personal fave, yelling it from your vehicle, thank you for helping me identify the ignorant swine lingering on the StFX campus. I now have a mental image of the cowards with whom myself and my friends should avoid romantic involvement.
Females also like to throw the term out particularly when intoxicated or among a jealous fit, but once again, I’m left unfazed because you’ve only displayed your lack of imagination and weak vocabulary. Your suffering English lexicon has made it look as though I thrive in all other branches life with your decision to use such a meaningless word.
If you are called a slut, do not cry or worse, whine. Laugh if said by a friend, have an intellectually stunning response if spewed by a meathead, or simply remember that that boy will not have the luxury of having sex with you.
We need to check our priorities, be confident and orchestrate a symphony of work so loud it drowns out unworthy voices and meritless language.