Go ahead, call me a slut

Recognizing your sexual identity can be a liberating moment in life. But all too often young women are demonized by a dirty four-letter word we all know way too well: slut.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word slut is defined as a promiscuous woman, or my personal favorite, a saucy girl. The word has been around for centuries, but was not always directed at women. In 1386 Geoffrey Chaucer – nicknamed the Father of English Literature – would use the word “sluttish” in describing men of an untidy or dirty nature.

Today, men get a free pass from being called a slut, like a badge of honor that can be cheered over a cold beer with the buds, whereas women are shamed and divided against each other with this silly little word.

Slut-shaming is like the evil henchman of rape culture that can be thrown at survivors of sexual assault to make their case weaker, giving a subtle hint that women should know better.

As if we should know better than to get drunk at a fraternity party, or to wear a dress, to walk home alone, to change our mind, to be out too late or to trust our friends with hidden intentions.

We have entered a new era of slut-shaming that lives in our social media. Young girls like 15-year-old Audrie Pott from San Jose, California and 17-year-old Canadian Rehtaeh Parsons, have taken their own lives when viral bullying began after being gang raped. Both of the incidents were either video-taped or photographed and shared online, quickly smearing these girls’ reputations and livelihoods.

Slut-shaming even spreads to unsuspecting girls who, heaven forbid, happen to date your best friend’s sister’s ex. “Slut” is uttered to the girl who wears a short dress, screamed at the girl that says no to going home with a stranger at the bar and yelled at the girl who says yes to all of her male friends. We literally can’t win and what’s worse is we do this to each other — woman to woman.

We have to be on the same team ladies. It is time to “get into formation,” as Beyonce likes to remind us. I remember my own experiences in high school, and how easily it was to spear another woman with words like “slut” for losing her virginity.

I lost my virginity to a friend at the tender age of 16 because I was frustratingly single and pent-up, if you will. And you know what? I owned it.

Maybe I was called a slut behind my back, but I was never directly confronted with shaming.

A friend of mine told me once that powerful women who own their sexuality can’t ever have the term slut affect them because they have already been liberated by owning their sexuality. It becomes harder to shame someone out of liberation.

Throughout history, words that have a particularly damaging affect on a group of people are often taken back and embraced. Now is the time I call to women of all backgrounds to rise above this self-hating word and embrace it with dignity, grace and righteous attitude.

It’s time “slut” should be worn as our badge of honor or a casual title of sexual liberation. Sexual desire is in all of us, that is, if you don’t identify as asexual. It’s natural to lust and how you choose to exert those cravings is up to you.

Shaming others into a life of celibacy or secrecy is more damaging to that person than their sex life is to you.  

Women use words like fists in a fight, but in this time of political challenge to women’s rights, we should start using ours words as raised fists of unity. It is time to accept our sisters as sluts and our sluts as our sisters.

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