There Is No Such Thing As A Slut

Posted: June 1, 2013
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Yesterday, I had a fight with a guy. One of those long, tedious verbal fights that I have had only three or four times, in which the guy keeps calling me a slut, a whore, etc (the usual drill) and I keep mentioning that his English makes no sense and he is a moron.

This specific fight is of consequence because it led me to ponder what boys generally think about girls, more deeply than ever before.

This is the second guy who attempted to threaten me with verbal abuses. Maybe some boys think they live in a world where profanity is their exclusive domain. In their universe, women are tender and fragile – their ears bleed on hearing unkind words.

The first guy had told me, “Delete your comments or you’ll see what I do.” Imagine my surprise when he goes on to execute his threat by spewing verbal abuses. Seriously? I know all the bad words. I have said all the bad words. I learned them from my elder sister and the internet. I have had all the bad words said to me by my mother (in anger) and my friends (in humour). I am more accustomed to verbal abuses than some boys who think they can threaten people with them.

Also, this was the second argument in which the boy tried to make me forfeit by consistently ‘slut-shaming’ me. Since, I am a girl, according to them the worst insult is them questioning what I do with my body.

It made me wonder what kind of a husband a man will be when he thinks that being ‘fond of sex’ is an appropriate insult for a woman. In his world, women are not supposed to like sex. They are the worst kind of women if they do. They are only supposed to partake in it as a sacrifice for the man they love. It made me wonder what kind of a father he will be and what values he will impart to his sons and daughters.

When this boy said that being the major slut that I am, I should leave something for my husband as well, it made me question his views about the female body. Is a woman’s body a vessel whose insides diminish in quantifiable quality every time she has sex, till finally it has nothing left? Is a woman’s body not just a human body functioning and maintaining life, same as a man’s?

In this boy’s world, sex is not something that two people do. Sex is something a man takes, and a woman gives. It is something a woman loses and a man earns. In his world, sex is wholly embodied by a woman. It is not an intangible experience that two human beings take part in and enjoy equally. It is not something that ends when the bodies separate. For him, the vestiges of sex remain in the ‘used’ body of the woman, and the increased prestige of the man.

In their world, having a girl’s body discussed about publicly is one of the worst things that can happen to her; even if none of it is true, even if none of it makes sense. The allegation of her being a slut is enough. In their world, a girl’s character is decided by what she does with her body. A girl’s character has nothing do with her personality. In their world, a girl’s honor only exists if her sexual life is nonexistent. And even speculating about it’s existence is enough to diminish her honor.

In their world a woman is not a well-rounded human being with both good and bad characteristics. She is either a Goddess, a mother, a sister, held up high on a pedestal – pure and to be protected, shielded away from men of the world (who are thought to be inherently demonic). Or she is a bitch, a slut, a whore, unworthy of reverence or love. She is to be ‘used’ and insulted. It is absolutely justified if a man shows his demonic side to her.

When so many boys still think of women as the ‘other sex,’ the dehumanized Goddess-or-bitch sex, social, political and economic equality is a long way off. The worst part of this situation, however, is that a lot of girls and women have internalized this ideology. They truly feel insulted when a boy says that they are fond of sex. They burst into tears when a boy calls them a slut.

There is no such thing as a slut. In cultures where women wear a burkha, those who only wear a hijab would qualify as a slut. For those who wear saris all the time, someone who wears pants may qualify as a slut and so on. The definition extends and evolves till it blurs. Premarital sex makes someone a slut. Premarital sex with multiple lovers makes someone a slut. Kissing a stranger makes someone a slut. For girls who believe in the word, anyone who bends rules differently than they do, is a potential slut. For boys, any girl they have been rejected or insulted by, is a potential slut. It is simply a tool used to police women and ‘keep them in their place.’

So, before I engage in another argument with a boy who fails to comprehend the humanity of the female sex, let me make this clear: My insides are made of steel. No amount of slut-shaming or profanity can corrode it. My honour has never resided in my body. My honour resides in my mind and what I do with it. It resides in the things I write, in the accolades I receive, in the grades I get. It resides in the quality of my thoughts, my deeds and accomplishments.

It will never rise or fall depending on the number of men I do or do not sleep with. If you really want me to feel insulted, insult my intelligence and have evidence to logically substantiate your claim. If you are successful, I will hang my head in shame and forfeit whatever argument we will be having.

Pic of Slutwalk March, Sydney, courtesy CreatrixTiara (Used under a Creative Commons License)

Studying MA International Journalism at Cardiff University, UK. Journalistic reporting: https://suryatapamukherjee.wordpress.com/ Creative

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22 Comments


  1. Thank you for this amazing article! I really enjoyed reading it..

  2. Great piece. I think it is important than ever for women to be assertive and call out misogyny in it’s every form. Words included. Thanks for articulately stripping the male aggression and superiority out of the S word and letting them know it won’t hurt women anymore. Nice work!

  3. Your writing reeks of authority and honesty in every sentence. Wonderful piece. Just one thing, what do you mean when you say in sex men gain and women lose?
    P.S you should write more often .

    • I started the paragraph with “In this boy’s world…” Hence, it is not something I say, it is something that many such boys think.
      Thank you! I’m glad you liked it.

    • Be a little more careful and emphasise the word “many” . Not all boys think that.

    • I did mention “many!” I know that all boys do not think that! In my article, it is clear that I’m only writing about one specific type of boys. Further emphasis would only be required if the reader is not secure in his/her belief that all boys do not think that way.

    • hence the word “many” and not “all”. lol

  4. Thanks for a great article! Hope more boys and men read it and more importantly…. GET IT!

  5. superb! very eloquent indeed! 🙂

  6. I actually do think that what you wear can make you look like a slut. I think the things that come out of someones mouth can also make them appear sluttie. I don’t think it’s how many times you sleep with someone, it’s how many different someones you’re sleeping with. I’m a female and I have called other female’s sluts before. If someone is wearing a mini skirt and no underwear yep the word slut is coming out of my mouth <_< I've called men sluts too not just women.

    • I love this post, thank you for writing it. I have NEVER called a woman a slut and I never will.

    • Whoops- I meant the blogger’s post, not Beth’s. Beth: why do you feel compelled to comment on women or men’s clothes or sexual practices anyway? Why are you using ugly insults against your fellow human beings who have done nothing to you other than apparently wear clothes yuou disapprove of or had a private life that is none of your business?

  7. Niranjan Chandrasekharawarrier -

    Great work Suri Mukherjee , Sadly , It has got deep into the thoughts of people and will take a generation to completely vanish!!! 😐

  8. manjusha girija

    Great work Suryatapa Mukherjee… i like what you have mentioned in the last para “If you really want me to feel insulted, insult my intelligence ” rather than insulting by calling a slut. and mentioning the fact that sex is not the thing in which women gives her and man gains. sex is the extreme of love and it is devine.

  9. Every once in a while I come across something that makes me stop and think. This is one of those times. While I am certainly (and securely) not one of these boys, I was struck by the assertion that there is no such thing as a slut. Obvious once it has been said, but something I had never thought of. Thank you.

  10. I saw this link on someone’s wall and randomly opened it. Imagine my surprise when i found that this well written article is by someone i know. You write well. And you think even better. Lots of love.

  11. Great article! I thought you and your readers might be interested in this project.

    Emily Lindin has been working on an amazing tumblr site called The Unslut Project (http://unslutproject.tumblr.com/). What started as postings from her own middle-school diary has become a movement/community of women sharing their stories of being slutshamed and sexually bullied.

    Now she wants to spread this message far and wide by producing a documentary film. Please consider donating so that she can reach her goal by September 4, and share this among others who might be interested in supporting.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/unslutproject/slut-a-documentary-film

    If you want more info or want to get involved with the project/documentary, you can get in touch with Emily at [unslutproject@yahoo.com].

  12. Hey SuryaTapa,

    Your article contains a lot of logical flaws that need to be pointed out even at the risk of being politically incorrect. The article makes several wrong representations of the word in question and then proposes to dismiss them. No, slut does NOT mean a woman who loves sex. It is a pejorative term used for a promiscuous female of poor / loose moral character. Didn’t know when loving sex translated to having lots of sexual partners or having sex indiscriminately. And what is considered promiscuous does vary from one culture to another,

    Contrary to what you claim, sex for the sake of itself and purely for pleasure is not something that most women do and certainly not with the average man. If you think that men and women are identical in the dating / mating game with identical strengths and strategies, you are mistaken. Even in the West, most women expect to be taken out, dined, and entertained by men. Splitting the bill is relatively new and still not de-facto (50 years post the so-called “sexual revolution”). In terms of the ability to be selective while dispensing sex (yes, dispensing), women marrying up clearly proves that it’s not identical. Women typically demand commitment in return for sex (be it exclusivity, emotional intimacy and financial incentives like gifts).
    Men have to make the first move (in expressing interest and therefore opening themselves for rejection), pursue by expending their resources (money to wine, dine, entertain), and constantly live with the possibility of the woman walking out (given the relationship dynamics and effort expended, all things being equal it is easier for a woman to find a new partner than a man). It is evident even on online dating sites where women receive a large number of messages relative to men. The power imbalance is clear.

    This is why female sexuality is tempered by most cultures just as male aggression. By virtue of being selective, even average females yearn for above average men. This is an optimum strategy, in which women demonstrate restraint and selectivity in return for the attention of a superior mate. Men being the first movers are encouraged to pursue as many women as possible while women who are pursued are encouraged to wait for the best. Biology, and social mores that have evolved over millenia have shaped this.
    It’s a game where men make the first move and women the last. There is no double standard or ownership of the body / purity. Just like there’s no double standard for the need for commitment, or the need for women to marry successful men, or tall, strong men. There is no “universal standard” simply because the genders are different, they have different strengths, they desire different qualities and they have different consequences for sex.

    Although a bad word, I don’t fear it in the least, just like I don’t fear any of the pejoratives for men (insults targeted at “manhood”, virility or lack thereof, masculinity, male disposability, demonizing male sexuality and portraying men as a danger to children). It’s a free world and we don’t need thought policing. Thanks.

    • Hey Gautam,

      I never said that slut means a woman who loves sex. When I said that the boy in my article thinks that being ‘fond of sex’ is an appropriate insult, I wasn’t alluding to him calling me a slut. He literally said that I am ‘fond of sex’ and meant it as an insult.

      Also, you may think that slut is someone who is promiscuous, but there are people who think that slut is someone who enjoys sex. This article is actually about such guys. You are free to define and understand ‘slut’ in whatever way you want, but that understanding cannot be imposed on everyone else. Language is a tricky thing.

      You mention a lot of rules of ‘mating’ or whatever in this reply. Women do not usually have sex for the sake of sex (But men do, I’m guessing, as you didn’t mention that). Women expect commitment more than men do. Men pay for stuff, women don’t. Men make the first move and women don’t.

      Do you know why men usually pay for dates and everything else? It is because women working is a relatively new occurrence. That is why, traditionally, women CAN’T pay for things. Even now, when women have made their way into the workplace, there is the problem of equal pay. It is assumed that men have to take care of entire families, so women are not paid as much for doing the same job. There is also the question of fighting the glass ceiling. Men traditionally inherit their familial properties while women don’t.

      Because of these reasons, men are expected to pay for things. At present, at least in India, there are many regions where women are simply not allowed to work and there women are wholly dependent on their husband economically. This is why, many a times, no matter what abuse a wife faces from her husband, she cannot think of a divorce as that will leave her destitute.

      Seeing where this tradition is rooted, I do not think it is one that we should accept. I never let my male friends pay for me. As for relationships, I’m always the one buying the more expensive gifts. I like showering my lovers with presents, although your brand of evolution may disagree.

      It is in no way easier for a woman to find a new partner than a man. Stating otherwise is paradoxical, given that when a women finds a partner, it is a man. If women jumped into relationships, men would have to jump in too. If women delayed getting into relationships, men would have it delayed too (given that we are taking about heterosexual relationships). Also, yes, I do know that men make the first moves more than women do. This is because men are taught that they are free to pursue women, while if a woman pursues a man, she is a slut (or some other variation of that concept). And this pursuing of women often translates into harassment, stalking… Also, men do not always take it well when their advances are rejected, being the main reason behind almost all acid attacks.

      As for sex, we live in a culture that teaches us that sex is all about pleasing the man. So, yes, women do not always have sex to please themselves, and in heterosexual sex, men orgasm way more frequently than women do. Men are taught that it is natural for them to want sex all the time from any and all women, and because of this, sexual assaults against men are hardly ever reported. As for commitment, at least in India, all the men and women I have known, have wanted it equally.

      Relations between men and women have a lot to do with concepts of purity and ownership. The whole concept of virginity and looking down upon promiscuous women, comes from a time when paternity tests were not invented. Men could own property, women could not. Men’s property was inherited by his sons. So, they wanted to make sure that it was their son. As there was no way to know who the father was, the only solution was to make sure that the wife did not have sex with anybody else. And voila, we have virginity, slut-shaming, gender segregation and what have you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-hUbI8my0Q

      Also, given that we live in a world that not only consists of cisgendered, heterosexual men and women, but also transgendered, bigendered, agendered people, and homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, asexual people, how would you frame and explain these rules of gender to them? How does your brand of evolution explain the existence of such people (there are non-heterosexual animals too by the way)?

      I’m not a Martian who needs to have rules of gender explained. I know about those rules and I disagree with them. Since you are so interested in biology, I would suggest that you read these books and articles that argue that there is hardly any biological cause behind the differing behaviours of men and women, but that such behaviours are a result of cultural conditioning: http://sexnotgender.com/brain-sex-does-not-exist/

      Same as slut-shaming, calling feminine men ‘gay’ in a pejorative way and questioning their masculinity is nothing but gender-policing and misogynistic in their own way. I condemn both heavily, because, as you mentioned, this is free world, and we don’t need people telling men and women how to act, it is oppressive. People are free to think what they want as long as it does not hurt anyone. Slut-shaming hurts.

    • I think people care way too much about this stuff. Men and women can be sluts and they can call each other so. If your mad about people who do this then don’t talk with them. And as for sex it is something for both parties involved, otherwise your probably doing it wrong. The fact that men are supposed to make the first move is stereotypical but has some truth to it. I’m not saying its 100% completely, but it is the norm. As for what people wear in public, I have no idea how some fashions every came to be. And I will say certain outfits will attract other peoples attention more. So dress for what your looking for. If you walk in half naked then expect a lot of people to notice and comment on the fact. I mean if I showed up in a bar in a speedo every patron there would probably have something to say about it. In the end I don’t think slut shaming is the issue (unless used as an excuse in trial. that should not fly) I think people just give way too much of a fuck about it.

  13. Pingback: AP Singh's crass defense of Delhi gang rapists

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