A recent NY Times article about the state of the word "slut" caught my eye, naturally.
"The Taming of the Slur" was penned by Times staffer Stephanie Rosenbloom who covers American social trends for The Gray Lady. Her piece examines how the nature of the "slur" has changed over the years as teens claim it for their own use and meaning. Writes Rosenbloom:
“Slut’’ is tossed around so often and so casually that many teenagers use it affectionately and in jest among their friends, even incorporating it into their instant messenger screen names.
Like “queer” and “pimp” before it, the word slut seems to be moving away from its meaning as a slur. Or is it?
The piece goes on to discuss the even more fascinating issue of how women today navigate the contradiction between the need to be liberated, sexual beings and the desire to be respectable, married women desired by a set of men who would date but not marry a slut. One man Rosenbloom interviewed said exactly that:
“When I think of the word slut,” wrote Don Reisinger, a student doing accounting and law work in Albany, in an e-mail message, “I think of a woman who has been around the block more times than my dad’s Chevy. I might date a slut, but I certainly wouldn’t marry one.”
It reminded me of a post I wrote over two years ago about what it really means to be a "slut" today. Mine was a technical analysis of how many sex partners means you've crossed the line into "slut" territory - if the parameters are even about sex partners. As I re-read it I tried to think about the last time I'd referred to someone at a "slut" - even jokingly - but I couldn't remember.
Sadly, I think the truest part of Rosenbloom's piece is this quote from Susan Schultz editor in chief of Cosmogirl! Magazine:
“Once you get into your 20’s and 30’s, you just have better things to do.”
And apparently better things to talk about.
That said, the reclaiming (or not?) of the word remains an interesting issue, as does our perception of what it means to be a "slut" and how we behave in the context of the male/female sexual dynamic. Give a read and leave a thought in comments!