Thought Catalog
October 12, 2015

18 Women Discuss How They Feel About Reclaiming The Word ‘Slut’

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Amber Rose slut walk via YouTube

1. “As a college student I feel like it’s still absolutely necessary. I can’t go one weekend without hearing some frat boy yelling that word at some girl who just rejected him. Men don’t use the word ‘slut’ as a compliment. They use it to assert power and that’s why women have to continue to fight to reclaim it, so that it no longer has that power over how women think of their sex lives.”

—Kendra, 20

beetlejuice

2. “I was thinking about this during the week due to Amber Rose’s slut walk and all the talk about Kanye basically calling her dirty over social media. Not all men are like this, obviously, but I’ve known plenty that were willing to call women sluts once they were sleeping with a new person as if the fact that a woman had sex with them in the first place was some kind of evidence that women are dirty and that sex is something bad and immoral. The word slut isn’t just about how women are tarred for ever having sex, it’s also about how some men actually have a Puritanical view of sex where it’s solely a dirty thing and not just a natural one.”

—Madeline, 22

beetlejuice

3. “For the most part, I think the word ‘slut’ has been reclaimed by sex positive women and men who recognize that sexual desire is normal and healthy. Of course stupid people still use the word to insult women for simply being normal but these men are mostly low value these days and are undesirable anyway. I think that using the word as a blanket insult to women in the context of a man tantrum is probably on its way out. Obviously we have to keep pushing but I think the stage is set for the word’s exit. Soon it will be like the ‘n-word’, something only idiots say.”

—Janelle, 21

beetlejuice

4. “The word slut has always been one of two things, an insult used against women by men who are mad at them and has nothing to do with sex and a term of revulsion used to describe women who have little self respect and are often attention seeking. Using it in the first way is massively insulting and is a way of trying to exert control over a person’s self image. The second way it’s used has to do with identifying people whose self image is skewed or dependent on the approval of others. I still tend to think of promiscuous women who are clearly approval seeking as being true sluts and I don’t think the word will ever be reclaimed for those situations. I know that’s not a popular opinion but I don’t care. There are women who are sluts and all women know it.”

—Nancy, 25

beetlejuice

5. “There is only one place and one man who I want to hear calling me a slut and that’s in bed with boyfriend. No woman should have to suffer an insult simply because of their sexual desire.”

—Maggie, 30

beetlejuice

6. “I think it’s pointless. No one likes to be insulted but it doesn’t matter if you reclaim the word slut or not. There’s a hundred other insulting words out there that are used against women for the exact same reason that ‘slut’ is used. I’d much rather see the word ‘bitch’ disappear but I guess that’s just what I’ve been called the most. Either way, it doesn’t matter. An insult is an insult.”

—Amy, 27

beetlejuice

7. “I definitely think we as women need to keep bringing awareness to the issue. A woman’s sexual behavior isn’t anyone’s business except her own and her partner’s. Shaming words like ‘slut’ are simply a method of patriarchal societal control designed to keep women in check.”

—Amber, 23

beetlejuice

8. “There are sluts though. The girl who cheats on all her boyfriends and makes out with her girlfriends in bars to attract guys is a slut. Maybe if some women wouldn’t act that way then the word would be used less as an insult against non-sluts. As for reclaiming it, who’s trying to reclaim it? Serial cheaters or women just expressing their sexuality?”

—Danielle, 19

beetlejuice

9. “It’s one of those words that I wish would just go away instead of having to reclaim it. I completely understand the point of trying to reclaim it because I don’t know any woman that hasn’t been called a slut at some point but I don’t like calling myself a slut as a way of lessening its power either.”

—Gwen, 23

beetlejuice

10. “The only people I’ve ever heard use the word slut in real life were guys who had just been rejected by a girl or been broken up with. The only place I’ve seen the word used a lot is online from anonymous dudes trolling women. I don’t feel like reclaiming the word matters in the second example because guys will just move on to some other term if ‘slut’ is no longer an insult.”

—Paula, 25

beetlejuice

11. “It’s not a word that a woman should ever have to hear, ever. I don’t judge men’s sexual behavior so what gives them the right to judge mine?”

—Rachel, 20

beetlejuice

12. “Eh, in my experience the women most concerned about being called sluts are usually either sluts or want the option to sleep around without being judged for it. Just being real.”

—Bea, 21

beetlejuice

13. “I’m all for reclaiming the word but I also feel like the word slut means whatever the person using decides that it means. In a lot of cases it doesn’t even seem to have anything to do with sex at all, it’s just an insult like ‘bitch’. So, while I’d love to see women’s sexual mores not being judged with a word like that I’m not under any illusion that reclaiming it will have some miraculous effect on how often women are insulted by men.”

—Denise, 28

beetlejuice

14. “Using the word ‘slut’ as an insult says more about the speaker than it does whoever they’re insulting. We can reclaim the word itself but I don’t think that will ever get rid of the problems behind the word which is usually manbabies just lashing out.”

—Chelsea, 26

beetlejuice

15. “I think it’s already been reclaimed for the most part. I hear people using the word ironically all the time so when I hear about people doing slut walks it always confuses me because the word just doesn’t have the power it used to have. I mean, just look at the men and women on tinder. That’s behavior that would have been called slutty not long ago and now it’s just considered normal. I think slut walks basically address a problem that barely exists anymore.”

—Lacey, 18

beetlejuice

16. “I am a slut and I don’t care what anyone thinks that means or how they use it. My sexuality is my business and I’ll sleep with whomever I want. My number isn’t anyone’s business nor is whether I’m ‘in love’ or not. Being a slut is being empowered, not having loose morals whatever that even means.”

—Sharice, 29

beetlejuice

17. “Slut is a word that young people use. After you hit your mid-20s you’ll almost never hear it again in real life. I remember this being an issue when I was in college where everyone was learning about their sexuality but if you’re still hanging around people that care about this kind of thing after 25 then you’re doing it wrong.”

—Jamie, 32

beetlejuice

18. “Even as someone who has pretty traditional ideas about sex and can count my partners on one hand I’m all for reclaiming the word. It’s dehumanizing and poisonous and I’m all about society becoming more acknowledging of people’s humanity and becoming less toxic in general.”

—Olivia, 25 TC mark