I’m a Slut

 

Photo of Amber Rose, smiling with buzz cut blonde hair wearing an outfit that says, "slut, hoe, gold digger."
Amber Rose sporting a bold statement.

By Alexandria Arritt

Amber Rose, blonde with a buzz-cut, single mother, all in one entrepreneur and feminist icon, speaks about the term “slut” and says, “If I hang out with guys they always thought that I was having sex with them. So now I take the bullying, the derogatory labeling and I refer to myself as a slut.”  Slut: (noun) \ˈslət \ a lewd, dissolute, or promiscuous woman. Otherwise known as a derogatory term for a woman who is sexually active. Slut, a four-letter word that is used to make women feel inferior. The term “slut” is thrown around carelessly and daily. Women and men alike chase the band wagon to let women know that a women’s sexual activity is somehow dirty and bad. But women, like Amber Rose, are taking back the name. Reappropriation is the next step for many women participating in the fight to end the misogynistic use of language.

 

Reappropriation is a relatively new concept is claiming a derogatory term so the term loses its rhetorical effect as a weapon. The word “slut” is used against women to make them feel guilty for expressing sexual desires and needs. When people do this, it can be referred to as “slut-shaming.” I’ve witnessed it, you’ve probably witnessed it, and so have your friends and family. It’s an epidemic!

Slut-shaming is a social stigma applied to women and girls who are perceived to violate traditional expectations for sexual behaviors, according to Wikipedia. Traditional expectations include: waiting until marriage to have sex, refraining from casual sex, and wearing clothing deemed modest (but not TOO modest, because that could indicate prudeness). The standards that the public holds women to is truly a balancing act. “Women are expected to exude sexuality, but not fall into the line of being a slut,” a Women began labelling themselves as sluts partly in response to the remarks of Toronto Police officer, Constable Michael Sanduinetti, who  told a group of students during a personal safety class “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.” This comment fired up women and girls first in Canada, and then nationally, to push back against the stereotype in a way that was less expected. The officer’s statement is not a unique one when it comes to the way in which women’s experiences are skewed.

 

Taking back the “slut” persona allows women to narrate and embrace their personal experiences regarding promiscuity and sexual expression. The important difference between “slut” as an insult and “slut” as a form of empowerment is usage. As mentioned earlier, Amber Rose is an important icon in the struggle to reappropriate the term. Amber Rose created the annual Los Angeles SlutWalk to empower women. The Amber Rose SlutWalk describes their mission statement as, “To deliver a flawlessly executed event geared toward raising awareness about sexual injustice and gender inequality. The Amber Rose SlutWalk aims to impact and uplift, while shifting the paradigm of rape culture. The event provides a safe, all-inclusive space to entertain, educate, and empower.” The SlutWalk includes speakers, events, free breast cancer and HIV screenings, and plenty of entertainment! Participating in or supporting a SlutWalk is one of the many ways to help eradicate rape culture. Let’s talk a little bit about rape culture! I will set the scene.

 

It’s a small school with crowded hallways and the number of teachers paroling the halls are almost equal to students. Three…two…one. Okay that’s enough hugging for you two. My boyfriend and I are told to step apart from each other after a three second hug. Affection was not allowed to be shown at any cost or in almost any manner. I heard the countdown at every departure from my boyfriend where we felt it necessary to hug.

 

The restriction of the ability to show affection or to express need for it is prevalent in nearly every community across the world. A study titled, “PLEASURE and DANGER: exploring female sexuality,” details the experience of women globally. Women in Northern and Eastern Africa are subject to genital mutilation of the clitoris, which is very literally what triggers sexual pleasure within women. A historical example of this is when oriental women were brought chastity belts from the Middle East and Europe during the Crusades to prevent unchaste behavior when the men were fighting in wars. These cruel devices were made of 8-inch-long bamboo sticks that were inserted into the women and held in place with a shield and lock. Throughout history and still today women are pushed to repress their sexuality, something so human and so necessary to sustain life.

 

This is rape culture. Marshall University describes it as, “An environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized…Rape culture is perpetuated through misogynistic language, objectification, glamorizing sexual violence, and disregarding women’s rights and safety.” Taking back and claiming the term, “slut,” is one way in which women can control their narrative and disregard the original use of the word. Here are a few other ways we can prevent rape culture from progressing:

 

  • Be aware! The first step is always to be aware. Women and men slut-shame without noticing it, so taking a harder look at conditioned thoughts that run through your mind occasionally is crucial. Ask yourself why it matter that someone is dressed a certain way. Does it matter?

 

  • Refrain from sexually violent language. Phrases such as, “f*ck yourself” and “suck it,” yeah, they’re violent! It’s easy to hear such phrases and disregard them as such, but taking time to write down those phrases or even tally the amount of times you say such phrases.

 

  • Get involved with RAINN. RAINN is the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. It’s the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the nation. Here you can donate, involve yourself in RAINN fundraiser efforts, and participate in the policy action center to support public policies that prevent sexual assault and help provide justice for survivors.

 

Remember, there are so many ways to join the fight! Together, unashamed and unafraid women everywhere, such as Amber Rose, plaster the word, “slut,” across their chests and hearts as we march on to victory over the vicarious!

 

 

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