As a six-year-old, my favourite past time during recess in the schoolyard wasn’t double dutch, hide-and-go-seek, or kickball. I mean I did do those things, but there was something above all these that I preferred most to engage in. With great pleasure and delight my favourite game to play was: kiss the boys.
Or more specifically, chase and kiss the boys because they regarded girls as “gross” and my mushroom-cut-jumper-wearing self would run around like a maniac doling out deplorable pecks once I’d corner my selected boy of interest. It wasn’t because I liked these boys, it was because they hated it so much that made it fun. I most relished taunting one red haired boy named Shawn who would scream in terror and disgust as I aimed to plant a fat one on him.
It was something that became a bit of a problem and I still have a report card from that year that reads, “Susie is a good student, but she needs to stop kissing all the boys.”
This statement from my educational institution worried my mother and she sat me down, and in retrospect, she did a great job in gently explaining why this wasn’t appropriate behaviour. Thinking back to this report card now I chuckle at how I was, “slut shamed” as a first grader (my teacher totally had a point, I mean, forcing someone to kiss you against their will is… not great).
You’ll be happy to know, I did grow out of this phase and now I get a more positive reactions from the people I try to French (THANK GAWD). However, with this freedom of partaking in consensual smooches real slut shaming is something that has become a reality.
This past summer I was having a conversation with a friend she talked about her dating life and stated, “I think I’m a bit of a slut” she said in a tone that wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. I could relate. In a slut shaming culture I’ve had my fill of moments like in high school (when I was a VIRGIN) because I was open about the idea of sex before marriage (Catholic School) people had a certain “ideas” about me, and in day to day things like how much make up I wear or if my skirt is too short. “Well I mean you don’t need to use the word slut if it has bad connotations, how about ‘intercourse enthusiast?’” I joked.
I’m of two minds about the term “slut”. On the one hand, it’s an absolutely heinous epithet used to degrade, devalue, insult, and undermine women. It’s part of a culture where specifically women who exercise their right to be sexual beings, or are just rumoured to get down in the bedroom, are punished for these acts or perception of these acts. Whereas, speaking in a heterosexual context here, men who have the same amount of sexual experience are called a stud or a player or something that is not nearly as damning or demeaning. Within this binary where sexual promiscuous women or girls are labeled as immoral or dissolute, men are regarded as virile and masculine (the sentiment boys will be boys comes to mind) the balance of power and agency is uneven.
On the other hand, as events like Slutwalk, and even some celebrities and organizations have moved to reclaim the word slut as a positive term, allowing for a reworking and reframing of the notion to enable women to take pride in their sexual agency. Re-shifting the power of the word as opposed to keeping it in the negative realm where it’s used to reiterate and replicate misogynist ideas that are harmful to our society as a whole is a truly paramount and I think admirable task.
There was a point where I decided that calling myself a slut was just fine with me. A few months about I was chatting with a male friend and was relaying a story about a hook up I’d had. I talked about how my date and I spent a few hours before hand just asking one another questions about our sexual histories, flirty questions like, “When did you lose your virginity?”, “Where’s the craziest place you’ve had sex?” etc, etc until we ended back at his place…
…I had a really great time and it was just understood that we weren’t dating and unless we ran into one another at the grocery store we weren’t going to see one another again.
My friend looked at me. “I think you were tricked.”
“What?” I responded.
“I think he tricked you into sleeping with him.”
“Oh you mean the super hot guy who I wanted to get weird with tricked me into it? Was I BAMBOOZLED into intercourse? The whole thing was just his magical powers taking effect so that I had no choice in the matter?”
My friend’s logic relied on the concept that all men want from women is sex and that women are somehow “giving it away” if they succumb to this. He didn’t consider my desire in this situation, and in the back my mind all I could think was “I’M A SLUT DEAL WITH IT.”
It felt really empowering. The more I thought of myself this way and took the meaning of the word to be positive it was something I just… dug.
So yeah, I do think that calling myself a slut in the right context is something I would like at my disposal. I refer to a, “really slutty weekend” with friends in a completely affectionate and joking way. I wouldn’t use it in a derogatory way towards another or myself and that’s how it works for me.
However, I can understand why others wouldn’t want to. Words, labels, epithets, and monikers carry a lot of weight in the way that we identify ourselves. For other individuals out there, to be called forward to “reclaim their inner slut”, or embrace this term maybe marred with too much violence, nuance, and consequence and they simply decide it’s not for them. I think that’s just fine too.
I may be a slut, but I do try to not be an ignorant slut.