XXFactor has an article this morning about the word Slut. To a certain extent I think that the Slutwalk movement does help reclaim the word. However, I am not at all phased by the word slut, I just hate the fact that it is gender-specific. The word Slut is the symbol of the huge double standard that plagues men and women when it comes to sex notably, praise men who are promiscuous but shame women who think, talk or are concerned with sex. The word slut should be entirely gender neutral. I have never used the word in a gendered way myself and I cannot see how it can bring weight to an argument in a mainstream setting. Using vague words to insult or shame is not a very good way of communicating. It can only serve to placate when no intelligent retort comes to mind. Common vague words that call attention to what someone does and could be interpreted many ways are Crazy, Slut, Creep and Whore. I our home, when my daughter uses the word crazy, I try to explain to her that without context, the word means nothing and in fact it’s an intelligent-conversation ender.
Some words however, are overused in completely inappropriate contexts. Take the word Whore for example which means a woman or man, who exchanges sex for money. At a time when most people know what the word prostitute or, more largely, sex worker means, the word whore can be avoided. Unlike the word Slut which has a positive context in women-centric groups and can even have an aspirational connotation in the world of BDSM, the word whore always has a negative connotation. My favorite use of the word is to refer to politicians who conveniently change their values to serve their wealthy donors, notably ‘Koch Whores’. Besides this oh-so-easy pun, there is much language that can be used to describe unconscionable, unethical, unscrupulous actions.
However, more and more, I hear young women use the term to refer to themselves. Recently, I heard a woman say: “I’m kind of a label whore.” What does that mean? Does it literally mean “I am an unscrupulous person who exchanges sexual favors to buy designer shoes, bag and clothing?” or is it a self-deprecating comment we are supposed to find charming? Why refer to yourself as a whore in casual fashion-related context AND in a Youtube video? I cannot think of a context where a woman can refer to herself as a whore outside of a sex work situation. And even then, prostitution, the act of providing attention, companionship and sex for a fee is hardly something that can be described as unethical. It’s just one of those activities that are unfortunately illegal even though there is no intelligent argument to leave it in the control of and to the benefit of criminals (like marijuana growing and selling).
Should the word whore be retired?