As you know faithful readers I go to school with mostly 20-somethings, and for the last few months have overheard various conversations that annoy, scare or confuse me. Most of this is a result of the way people (kids) use language now. This post is about a particular word.
Now I have been known to use this word in various contexts, and I have at times had this word used to describe me. So I am not going to pretend I’m above this kind of talk but stick with me, I think I have a point (I hope).
It started last semester when I was with one of these twenty-something girls, and I saw a poster for the “Slut Walk” at my school. Not knowing what it was about I was understandably taken aback by the title; this girl and I started talking about the event. She explained that it was to demonstrate against using a woman’s appearance or actions as way to defend her rape; this got us on to a discussion about “slut shaming” as well.
I obviously believe very strongly that a woman should both feel and be safe dressing and acting in a way that makes her feel empowered. She should not be degraded for how she chooses to dress, or her actions. As women we should be having events like “Slut Walk” and fighting against “slut shaming” we should be yelling and screaming for our rights and our safety. ABSOLUTELY!
But words have power, let’s not forget that.
So here is my argument, instead of adopting this misogynistic hurtful term to shock and promote our causes, why not stop using the term altogether. My young friend argued, “Well if we use it for our causes it takes the power away from that word and makes it mean what we want it to mean”; what do we want the term “slut” to mean exactly? Someone who is in control, who has the power and the right and the freedom to do what they want with their bodies however and whenever they want? Why can’t we just call these people women? Or better yet just people?
So readers what do you think, is appropriating this kind of language helpful or hurtful?
*For the purpose of this post I am ignoring the upsetting fact that young women seem to feel (like I did at that age) that asserting your dominance and your independence needs to be associated with asserting yourself sexually.