Slut. Whore. Tramp. Hussy. Easy. Loose. Must be like throwing a hot dog down a hallway in there.
Nearly every woman has encountered these words. Whether you’ve said them or heard them, you’ve encountered them. Generally, they’re used to demean and insult a woman who is actively pursuing a man, or expressing her sexuality openly. Maybe she wears low-cut shirts that show off her cleavage to work. Maybe she has had sex with 9 out of 10 guys in the bar. Maybe she’s just attractive and flirty. Maybe she is rumored to have accepted money for sex in the past.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s no one’s business but her own.
I’ve spoken about slut-shaming before. It is a degrading practice, and I think women everywhere should feel empowered by their sexuality and their active expression of it. If you want to live as a nudist, I am cool with it. If you want to sell sex toys and speak openly about your orgasms, I am cool with it. And likewise, if you are a Catholic nun sworn to celibacy, I am cool with that as well.
But here’s the thing: You shouldn’t care if I’m cool with it. You should tell me to fuck off for even assuming you care that I am cool with it. You should not give the slightest moment of your emotional energy to my opinion about your sexuality. It is your life, not mine. What you do and do not do, sexually, is between you and your partner(s). It is absolutely none of my goddamn business.
When Emily Faith and I set out to write The Core: Andee and The Core: Alice, we didn’t have an “agenda” in mind. We wanted to express our own fantasies and some experiences, and we wanted to share that with readers in an erotic, sexy way. Part of the evolution of the story was to incorporate slut-shaming, because we don’t want readers to feel ashamed of their sexual openness. But the story evolved and became so much more than that.
Andee and Alice, the main characters in The Core are, by society’s definition of them, sluts. Whores. Hussies. Tramps. Harlots. Floozies.
Andee and Alice embrace this title. They hold it proudly, and wear it like a banner. They shout it from the rooftops: “We love sex, and we don’t care what you think of that.” In The Core, they are not chastised for it (and if they are, the offender is removed from the property). In The Core, sluts are safe from discrimination.
But in the real world, and in the world outside The Core, Andee and Alice (and every single woman on this planet) are faced with a different set of standards. They are shunned, gossiped about, and disrespected based on their sexual choices and expression. They are labeled. They are tormented. They are afraid the opinions of others will have real, life-long, devastating consequences on their relationships. And in The Core: Alice, that is exactly what Alice grows to fear: that in public, her lover Evan will grow ashamed of her as he hears whispers of her slutty “status” in society.
These are not just fictional characters. Women everywhere live with secrets, the fear of exposure, and the hate-filled practice of slut-shaming every day. We not only have to fear rape and catcalling and inequality from our male counterparts, we have to fear it from the other women around us, too. Women, every day, make sexual decisions (whether to do something, to not do it, or to hide that they did) out of fear.
Emma Watson recently made history with her #HeforShe speech at the United Nations. But the campaign for equality cannot stop at wages, voting, and the right to choose who you marry.
Men who sleep with 100 women are perceived as, “Wow, he must be good in bed. Everyone wants him!”
Women who sleep with 100 men are perceived as, “Wow, what a slut! Bet it’s like throwing a hot dog down a hallway in there!”
Is it anyone’s goddamn business? Is it your business how many men I have slept with? Is the condition of my vagina open for your public judgement and slander?
Does a woman have the right to sleep with 100 men? In many countries, yes (and in some countries, she would be killed for it). But in those countries where her life is not in danger for her sexual habits, are her securities – financial, employment, and social – stable? Does she risk losing a job for being too provocative? Do her friends abandon her for being too loose? Does she have free, undisputed access to safe contraception before, during, and after intercourse?
Does a slut earn rights under the #HeforShe campaign, or do only monogamous, modestly-dressing women earn protection from all the men and women screaming for women’s rights?
She was not asking for it when she was raped, and she is not asking for it when a person judges, ostracizes, and shames her for her attire, profession, or level of sexual activity.
It is time for women to stand up and fight for each other. We can all agree that there is a need for rape culture to end, and for men, as a whole, to stand up for equality on behalf of women. Emma Watson hit that right on the head with her #HeforShe speech. But it is not just men who degrade women; women do it to each other all the time. Women judge, slander, and shame each other. Women oppress, label, and shun each other.
#HeforShe involves so many facets of society, including contraception, wages, rape, and plenty of other issues. But this might be the easiest part of the #HeforShe battle we can fight: women championing women. Raising each other up instead of cutting each other down. Refusing to slander or insult each other based on sexual expressions. Refusing to break each other’s value down to simply #ADirtyWord.
So you love smut? Great, me too!
So you work as a phone sex operator? Not my scene, but cool, your job is probably as fun and yet stressful as mine!
So you have only slept with one man in your life? Also not my scene, but I’m happy you’re happy with it!
Is it any of my goddamn business?
And it’s none of yours. Refuse to shame other women for their sexual choices. Take the power away from words like slut and tramp. Don’t have conversations on Facebook about what makes a person loose or slutty. Don’t say a celebrity “looked like a slut at that awards show.”
Lift each other up, ladies. Having fewer sexual partners does not in any way make one woman a better woman than the lady next to her who has five guys texting her right now. It doesn’t define her. It doesn’t identify her. It doesn’t make her any less beautiful or valuable than you are, and vice versa.
Feminism is not #ADirtyWord. But neither are you.
You’re a woman. You’re not a dirty word. You have the right to feel loved and safe. And if someone insults you for your sexual choices… just tell them that.
“I am not #ADirtyWord, and this is none of your goddamn business.”
Please feel free to join me on Twitter @NolaSarina, where I will be Tweeting about instances where I was reduced to just #ADirtyWord! I’d love to connect with other women who want to see this slut-shaming end once and for all.