In middle school, my daughter Brynn went through a phase when she screened new friends by lending them a book, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, by sharp-witted, sharp-tongued blogger Jessica Valenti. Brynn had read He’s a Stud three times. She figured anyone who didn’t like the edgy tone or kick-ass girl-power theme probably wasn’t her type.
Mind you, at the time, Brynn wasn’t really interested in kicking male butt (except in math class) or being a stud or slut either one (except for one aberrant Femme Nikita Halloween costume that had my husband choking on his coffee). She mostly preferred making cookie dough with a neighbor after school and dragging her pet chickens into the house to feed them the crumbs from their baking.
Back then, most girls weren’t interested in being sluts. But that was before sluthood changed: before Rush Limbaugh redefined slut to mean any woman who thinks contraception is her birthright. Before Boobquake and Slutwalk. Before it was deemed more obscene for Gary Trudeau to cartoon about politically-motivated vaginal probes than for the Texas legislature to mandate them. Before ex-Muslim Miriam Namazie published the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar, which defies both religious and pin-up sensibilities by showing women’s real bodies with no airbrush: Full frontal feminism at its most defiant.
These days, it’s getting rather hard to hold your head high as a female if you aren’t willing to be seen as part of the slut sisterhood.
So, are you in? Ten points says yes:
- I have condoms in my purse – or bra. (1)
- I’m still mad at the Komen foundation for playing politics with women’s health. (1)
- I take the Pill to keep from getting pregnant. (1)
- I take the Pill to manage heavy bleeding or cramps. (1)
- I like sex. (1)
- I have had sex when I didn’t want to get pregnant. (1)
- I dress how I want. (1)
- I think that no means no — no matter how I’m dressed. (2)
- I will decide how many children I have. (1)
- I have a long acting contraceptive (an IUD or implant), which means I’m protected against pregnancy all the time. (3)
- I am unmarried, and I’m not a virgin. (1)
- I wasn’t a virgin on my wedding night. (1)
- I think Jake Gyllenhaal is hot. (3)
- I think any insurance that covers Viagra should cover Pills. (1)
- I stand with Planned Parenthood. (1)
- I DIS-respect religious leaders who protect pedophiles yet call contraception “evil.” (2)
- To me, contraception is a part of basic health care. (1)
- I believe that women aren’t in control of their lives if they aren’t in control of their fertility. (1)
- My cat is a person; a fertilized egg isn’t. (3)
- You can count me among the 1 in 3 women who have had an abortion. (1)
- I told my abortion story at the 1 in 3 Campaign. (3)
- I believe sex can be rich and intimate without marriage. (1)
- I believe marriage can be rich and intimate without children. (1)
- I find people of my own gender sexy. (1)
- Submission (except, maybe, in bed) is not my thing. (2)
- I want a career. (1)
- I have dreams of traveling. (1)
- I think smart, ethical women belong in positions of power. (1)
- I trust myself to make decisions based on my own moral and spiritual values. (2)
- When I testify before congress about contraception, I wear a gray suit instead of a black collar. (10)
In Trudeau’s Doonesbury strip March 13, a Texas lawmaker asks a young woman at a reproductive health clinic, “Do your parents know you’re a slut?” As a mom, I’m proud to say that I feel confident about both of my daughters. It’s mostly an attitude thing. True, they still seem more interested in cookie dough than bringing boys home. And the only testifying they’ve done on a public policy issue had to do with humane treatment of chickens. But their place in the sisterhood was secured – and will be through college – because they found out that a hormonal IUD can make your period go away. I figure any high school female who’s protected against dysmenorrhea and pregnancy for seven years straight must be a budding Georgetown student.
To a generation of young women, feminism is a dirty word. Yesterday my husband Brian took our daughters to hear actress Geena Davis talk about her efforts to promote girl characters in children’s media. (It turns out that in family films, males outnumber females three to one.) After Davis described herself as a feminist a teen in the audience stood up. She asked, “How can you define feminism, in your own words, so that we can feel proud saying it to our friends?” Davis floundered a bit trying to find words that weren’t too, well, feminist. But maybe Rush Limbaugh has done us a favor. Now that we’re all sluts, a little feminism on the side doesn’t sound so bad.
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Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org. Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.
I LOVED this piece. i scored pretty high on the slut scale. and if that is the definition of the word slut, than i am proud to be one. i’m pretty sure that my mom is proud of me too. i hope to one day raise a few slutty feminist daughters. and maybe even a few slutty feminist sons too.
The feminist movement is a great one. As a myself, I’m an avid supporter of the “illusion” of equality across all spectrum of gender, race, religion and sexual orientation. I am also, however, an avid support of common sense and that if you want things to work out, that means you need to tolerate everyone whom you have a problem with.
Like the cop who made a very common sense comment “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” I don’t think he thought what he said through, and he definitely deserved punishment due to his indiscreet and inappropriate behaviour. But lets put it this way, “I believe women should avoid being sexually harassed by avoiding the attires of a prostitute.” Yes, its not much better, but its a little bit better. You have to realize that in this instance, theres no good way to put this without seeming like a misogynistic dog who can’t do anymore than lick his balls all day and eat. But it’s got to be said. When women say, “Just because I dress like a slut, it doesn’t mean I’m a slut.” You are absolutely right and no one should think you are. But girls, you have to understand, what you’re doing is like a guy whose dressed in blue polo shirt and beige khakis in Best Buy and automatically people assume he’s an employee. It’s how everyone was raised to believe, which still puts a negative connotation on the word.
I don’t believe that this is an article about being slutty, I think this is an article about educating young girls about what life really is and this is called another thing, empowerment. Putting a, as of now, negative word to describe a positive thing is breeding a generation of thinking that is warped. When I type slutty into Google, I don’t find your average girl, who goes to school, protects her body and uses birth control in a respectable manner. I find daddy’s little angel on PornTube who takes a shot from 3 guys at a party without protection and smiles for the camera during the entire process. God forbid my daughter is slutty.
I have, however, no problem with my daughter carrying a condom or bra in her purse, taking the pill, having crazy and enjoyable sex with whomever she wishes, having a career, enjoying travel, enjoying submission if thats her thing, having an abortion if she wishes, not being a virgin on her wedding night, and all in all, I trust her to make the decision. But even if she DOES do everything on that list, that still wouldn’t make her a slut. That just makes her a girl who makes her own choice, be it right or wrong morally. The bottom line is, it’s HER choice.
I believe most people have misunderstood what the “slut” movement is about.
It’s about freedom, for both genders, from harassment and fear that they will be victimized by those who feel that they are justified in their actions because of how they (the sluts) walk, talk, dress, etc…
The simple fact is, anyone should be able to dress any way they please and not fear physical or sexual attacks. This is what I feel the SLUT movement is about and I support it 100%!
■ I don’t use the word “virgin” because it’s a misleading, patriarchal concept (ancient Greeks, in fact, argued whether it could even be applied to males*) with little connection to actual female anatomy** and which is potentially damaging to young women***. (100)
*Source: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, John Boswell.
**Source: Swedish Association for Sexuality Education
***Source: The Purity Myth, Jessica Valenti. (Yep. Same one.)
Valenti says there’s no such thing as virginity**** and I quite agree with her. I respectfully request that you consider discontinuing the use of the term in your blog, Dr. Tarico.
****Source: MSNBC, interview with Jessica Valenti.
You know that sex causes pregnancy, right? So, that basically means that anyone who has sex without the intention of getting pregnant is either a masochist or a complete idiot.
Sex is a drug. Just because men do something irresponsible doesn’t mean women should stoop down to their level. That’s the opposite direction things should be going. It’s the men who should stop being so casual about sex.
A slut, whether male or female, is like an alcoholic: pleasure-seeking and self-destructive.
I’m an atheist, not a Christian. That might interest you as a psychologist.
The title of this blog post still gets me. I’ve heard that psychologists are sociopaths with a loose grip on morality. They’re so over-exposed to unhealthy mental conditions that they begin to lose track of what’s healthy and what’s not healthy.
The innocence of the family structure and the proper use of sex (in the context of marriage) is the basis of society. Destroy it and you destroy society.
Personally, I use the word “slut” to refer to both men and women. All lot of people today are sluts. It’s a sad sad sad sad world.
Thank you for writing this blog. I only found it by trying to find out where else this Matthew guy has graced the world with his presence. I am a 42 year old mom and wife married 25 years. A deeply committed woman with a strong daughter. Great post.
I also found your blog from trying to stalk this psycho man. Seems like he goes around to all kinds of women’s blogs (and gay’s as well) to post horrendous things calling women whores and sluts all over the blog.
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Yea I wrote a blog called hasty whore and the chigger….he never commented again.
I’m not keeping up with my AwayPoint currently enough. BRAVO! as always; but what a pain to have to add it to your “workload.” Good Gravy!! I had no idea that every worman I know or have ever met is a Slut. I am clearly not listening and watching right wing nuts (all kinds) and their arrogant blather enough. (And funny thing: I can’t remember ever having a rape fantasy. Even as a “horny” high school dumbass. Just always kinda sounded unromantic and nasty. I will , however, acknowledge that here in my old age I DO occasionally have brief minisecond fantasies of “offing” particularly prominant Bad Guys. But I immediately think again. No, Wait, I- we- get Mad to quickly.) A whole ‘nother theatre of communal gender violence we’re not dealing effectively with. And the universe of Criminal Behavior: just one of a dozen big, expensive categories of Public Goods and Services that we need to fund to deal with: The whole spectrum of therapy, intervention, treatment, support, ad inifinitum, over the whole spectrum of conditions and stages in time. (The alternative to mass tossing folks into the clink, or otherwise away.)
You are “Rare Earth” Valerie.