The Body

Emma Rawlins

Editor:  The Body

'Slut – I wouldn’t dream of using that word'


“I hope you don’t mind tea in mugs,’ she said, coming in with a tray. ‘I told you I was a slut.” 
 Barbara Pym, Excellent Women
 
“If a man brags about his sex life he's a stud, but if a woman brags about her sex life she's a slut.” 
 Anthony Liccione
 
 
I asked a variety of people of different ages, men and women, what the term slut means to them.  Here are their responses:
 
 
Ann, Female, nearly 80  -  MESSY
 
A slut is a very messy, unput together person.  It is worse than being untidy and messy.  Their house would be a disaster, their kitchen full of unwashed things.
 
I asked if there might be a sexual connotation? 


Yes, it is someone who would sleep around with other people.  It is more likely to be used by women about other women.  It would have been very disapproved of, and relatively rare amongst people that I knew, we were much less free in those days.  I had an almost Victorian upbringing.  I was brought up to be a ‘good girl’ which would definitely be someone who didn’t sleep around.  If I did get familiar with a man there would be nothing more than a peck on the cheek and nothing much more than that until you got married. 

 
Andrew, Male, 58 - SEXUAL POWER
 
That is just not a word I would use, I don’t think I have ever used it. I think it is a pejorative term, it is less about the person but more about how other people feel about the person.  It is definitely a term used about a woman.  I think it is most often used by women about other women.  I don’t think a man would ever call a woman a slut.
 
I also think that someone might use it describe a woman having more sex than they are, possibly having sex with married men.  It is not just about having lots of sex, but having sex with people they shouldn’t be having sex with.  It is a term that is used to try and control people’s behaviours.
 
I don’t think that women and men should have to behave differently.  I have always felt that in reality women can easily have more sex than men because they are the ones who are empowered.  I feel as though it is women who control the having, or not having of sex. It has been tough for men to know what is appropriate.  If I was a woman I think I would like to have been a slut.  I would like to have had the sexual power.  





If I was going to use the word slut it would probably be to describe the girls who just want sex as a form of validation from men.   I think it is quite a sad thing really.  I would say that girls who are sluts have sex not because they want sex or they feel empowered by sex but they have sex because they feel that is the way men would like them. So a woman who is very strong about the fact that she has had sex with this man is an empowered woman and the slut is more ashamed of what she has done because she has not done it for herself.

Hannah, Female, 22 – EMPOWERED

The term slut is a horrible term, it has quite derogatory connotations and it just means a girl that sleeps around, but I think it is more applicable to men – a man whore.  I think it makes women feel that they can’t enjoy sex, and they can’t have sex out of relationships.
 
To me the very use of the word slut means that any woman who sleeps with someone for sex shouldn’t be doing it, but men do it all the time. It takes away any female empowerment of having sex with someone.
 
Women are concerned about being labelled a slut.  They would lie about who they have slept with or how many people they have slept with because they wouldn’t want to be called a slut.  And it is always by other women – I have never heard a man use that term. It is also more of a group thing, part of slut shaming.
 
If I was going to use the word slut it would probably be to describe the girls who just want sex as a form of validation from men.   I think it is quite a sad thing really.  I would say that girls who are sluts have sex not because they want sex or they feel empowered by sex but they have sex because they feel that is the way men would like them. So a woman who is very strong about the fact that she has had sex with this man is an empowered woman and the slut is more ashamed of what she has done because she has not done it for herself.
 
Nowadays I wouldn’t have a one night stand unless I feel a real connection with someone.  It doesn’t have to be love but there has to be an emotional connection.  I would never have sex with someone unless it is what I want to do.  Sex should be a great thing, it should be a fun thing.  If you don’t want to do it then don’t do it. Don’t do it to try and please someone else. 



I think that is why sex is seen as empowering for a guy, because a guy is entering a girl and in some way control and in charge or her.  But I take the view as a woman that it is me who can make that empowered decision to let someone in.

Sex should be empowering for women but it is often not because of social perceptions of sex and a weird shyness of people talking about it and a lack of openness and honesty.  You have to be honest and say what you do and don’t like and what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.  The man doesn’t have to lead it and you don’t have to do what the guy wants to do.  If you enjoy certain things or don’t enjoy certain things just say, but there is this weird idea that nice girls ‘don’t talk about sex’.  If you are in a relationship with someone you say ‘I like this I don’t like this’ and the sex gets better and better.  So it can be empowering but you have to take control.  There is often this thing that sex is for guys, and guys lead sex, and guys enjoy sex but I take the stance that it is a mutually enjoyable thing, which should be shared on an equal footing.
 
A man can be slut but it is much harder for a guy to be a slut because girls are harder to sleep with than guys are.  But if a girl finds out that a guy is a slut then she will not sleep with him.  If a guy finds out a girl is a slut he will think “oh good that’s easy, I’ll do that.”
 
I think that one of the reasons for the differences in attitude to men and women and sex is that as a woman, you are letting someone into your body, which is a very intimate thing.  I think that is why there are more negative connotations about a woman letting ‘too many’ people into her body.   I think that is why sex is seen as empowering for a guy, because a guy is entering a girl and in some way control and in charge or her.  But I take the view as a woman that it is me who can make that empowered decision to let someone in.
 
 
Colin, Male, in his 60s – ANGRY
 

 Slut is not a term I would ever use about anyone.  If I heard someone described as a slut I would probably think that their house was filthy and that they dressed or talked in a certain way.  It also might mean that someone was promiscuous. 
 
Men are never called sluts.  It really makes me angry – it is a pejorative, judgmental term.  I also don’t know why people use the term ‘dirty’, they talk about dirty magazines, dirty films, dirty postcards.  Sex is not dirty so why is that word used.  It is all quite bizarre and as if we are stuck in the dark ages.  Whose morals are we going by when these things are decided? 
 
If I heard that a woman had slept with a different man every night for a year I would be concerned about that person for practical reasons, as she would be exposing herself to risk.  Being naked in a bedroom with a different man every night she might be in danger of violence, sexually transmitted disease, violence and an impact on her reputation, which might be damaging.  I would not judge her though, or call her a slut.




I was definitely brought up to be a ‘good’ girl.  That meant working hard, being nice and polite to people, not getting drunk and staying out all night and definitely not having sex with different people.
Amanda, Female, in her 50s – UNCERTAIN

I would think of a slut as a young person who would be dressed provocatively in a short skirt and a low cut top, probably with bad taste.  They would be very flirty, often drunk and they might have a reputation for having multiple partners.  It might also mean someone who has a lot of sexual partners. 
 
I think that might be quite an outdated view as now people are not so judged by what they wear.  I also think it is outdated as women should be able to have sex with who they want, and they should not be judged for it.  Now it is fine as long as the girl does not get hurt emotionally or physically.  I do not remember it being a term that was much used in my girls’ grammar school.
 
I was definitely brought up to be a ‘good’ girl.  That meant working hard, being nice and polite to people, not getting drunk and staying out all night and definitely not having sex with different people.
 
Now that I am separated it does bring up lots of questions about how people perceive you as a single woman.  I think that going out on my own I could be judged differently for the clothes I wear.  If I was known to have flirted with different people, or had sex with different people then you could get a reputation as a slut, which is something that I would hate.



 
 If I was known to have flirted with different people, or had sex with different people then you could get a reputation as a slut, which is something that I would hate.
Annabel, Female, in her 50s - OLD FASHIONED

 I think that slut is an old fashioned word, it is what people used to get called at school.  It is always used about a woman, never a man.  It would be used to describe someone who sleeps around indiscriminately.
 
I don’t think it is a current word, or a term that is used much any more.







Chloe, Female - HIDDEN
 
I celebrate my inner slut. 
I embrace my sexual power. 
I like the thought that men would like to fuck me.  
I want to wear rubber and leather.  
I enjoy sex.
I love my body.
 
BUT………………..
 



My name has been changed as I do not want anyone else to know this about me.