“Slut” is such a strong word, isn’t it? Perhaps we should say the “sexually over-experienced” or the “excessively sexually compelled.” Anyways, a new study shows that these sluts are now being looked down on not just if they’re female, but also male. So soon women won’t have to feel that they are being treated unfairly for having sex with multiple partners just because they’re women. Instead, they’ll have to feel they’re being treated unfairly because having sex with multiple partners doesn’t make someone a whore… but that’s already beyond the scope of this article. Let’s just focus on that fact that – yay! – men can be sluts now too. This is just another gender-equality success story.
The Slut Survey
The study came from the 2011 Online College Social Life Survey (i.e., the Slut Survey), and 19,000 students responded from 22 colleges. They were asked to what degree they agreed with statements like “If men hook up or have sex with lots of people, I respect them less.” They were asked these types of questions for men and women. CBS reports:
While 48 percent of students judged men and women’s sexual exploits equally, 12 percent held a double standard, judging women more harshly than men. Another 13 percent held a backward double standard, judging men more harshly than women. Finally, 27 percent said they didn’t judge people for hooking up at all, no matter how frequently.
Women were more likely than men to judge but to do so equally, an attitude the researchers called “egalitarian conservative.” About 54 percent of women surveyed were egalitarian conservatives compared with 35 percent of men. Only 6 percent of women judged women more harshly for hooking up, compared with 25 percent of men who reported the same.
The survey also found that Jewish, Buddhist, and non-religious people were very unlikely to judge the sexual proclivities of others. Catholics were moderately judgmental, and evangelical Protestants were the most judgiest judgepants who ever did judge.
It turns out that people in fraternities and sororities are also particularly judgmental. CBS continues:
Male athletes and members of fraternities were more likely than other men to hold a double standard, judging women for their sexual encounters and letting men off the hook. Sorority sisters living in Greek housing were more likely to hold a reverse double standard than other women, judging men harshly for hooking up.
It’s possible that the Greek culture of judgment from men foments this gender war, the researchers suggest.
Slutty Food for Thought
The word “slut” has come into the spotlight recently. From Time:
Heather Jarvis isn’t afraid to call herself a slut. Clad in jeans and a red T-shirt, the 25-year-old student stood on a Toronto street on April 3 in front of thousands of women and men, raised a megaphone to her mouth and shouted, “As a slut, the only thing I’m asking for is consent.” Her declaration was met with roaring cheers.
Jarvis, along with crowds of protesters, had taken to the streets to march in what was dubbed a SlutWalk. The march, organized by Jarvis and Sonya Barnett, was spurred by the comments of Toronto constable Michael Sanguinetti, who told a group of students in a safety class that women “should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” In response to the constable’s remark — and the implication that women’s actions, not the actions of rapists, lead to sexual assault — SlutWalk was born.
Almost immediately, women in cities across Canada and the U.S. began planning their own SlutWalks. Four months later, more than 50 walks have taken place in cities around the world, from London to New Delhi, where anywhere from a couple of hundred to more than 3,000 protesters have turned out.
The BBC has this to say:
“Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation… whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back,” a statement on the SlutWalk website reads. “‘Slut’ is being re-appropriated.”
So far, SlutWalks have taken place in Canada and the US, but events are being planned in the UK and Australia.
This is part of a growing trend to “reclaim” words that have been given a negative connotation, says TV lexicographer Susie Dent. “Gay culture reclaimed the word ‘queer’,” she says. “It is about picking these words up and using them with pride.”
Psychoanalyst and social critic Susie Orbach says she loves the idea of woman trying to reclaim the world slut “in order to take the sting out of it. The problem with the word slut is that it has cut women off because they have an energy around their sexual desires and we are still so prejudiced about this. But if we reclaim the word, it simply becomes an issue of ‘so what?’.”
Many women argue that the very word slut is an embodiment of the double standards employed when discussing the sexual appetites of women and men. Women are described as sluts, while men are often referred in a less derogatory light as “studs” or a “ladies man”.
But as long as we’re delving into the history of the usage of the word “slut,” we must consider the hilarious and insightful explanation of the politically incorrect Australian comedian, Jim Jefferies, whose video you can see below:
From GoodMenProject, Scott Alden said:
“Slut” is a funny word. Not funny haha, but funny strange. The meaning and the power of the word change drastically depending on who’s using it and who’s being addressed. Among some women friends, “slut” has become almost a term of endearment. Some like to be called a slut in sexual situations because it turns them on. The word has even been re-purposed as a symbol of power and the freedom to have sex with who they want to, when they want to (e.g., The Ethical Slut or Toronto’s recent Slutwalk).
I think what’s more important than changing the word “slut” is really thinking about how we feel about people who are labeled as sluts; because believe me when I say that there’s no shortage of words to replace “slut” – just ask any 15-year-old schoolgirl and I’m sure she’s heard them all.
Is it really fair to look down on someone just because they have had many sexual partners? Does it depend on something? Maybe the person’s personality or attitude towards sex? Or maybe it’s simply the number of sexual partners someone has had. If so, what is the number that someone crosses over from “just getting started working the field” to “getting lucky” to “total slutty sex-crazed freak who needs to be stopped immediately, omgz!”? Alden says “if you’d sleep with her, you can’t call her a slut,” which may certainly be true. But then, what is a slut anyways? Maybe it’s just one of those things you can’t really put into words – you just know it when you see it.