Sluts, centaurs, and other mythical creatures
All too frequently, horror stories of rape pop up in the news. Those that are considered newsworthy are extreme, like what has happened in Steubenville. What doesn’t get covered is the thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands? we will never know due to drastic under-reporting) of sexual assaults and rapes that happen every day.
Invariably, when people start discussing rape, slut-shaming gets pulled into the mix. The, “she was asking for it” mentality. The idea that someone who is a slut ‘deserves it’. Well, I should hope you already know that when it comes to rape or sexual assault or harassment, no one was ever asking for it. Furthermore, slut-shaming in all of its facets is always wrong. It is ethically wrong. There is, however, one other way it is wrong… logically wrong. After all, sluts don’t actually exist.
Why not? Well, let’s take a look at the definition.
However, when people using the word slut in everyday language, is it this definition they are using? Do they mean a woman who is slovenly? Rarely, if ever. Are they talking about a prostitute who is actually paid for their services? No– they would then use the word prostitute, or hooker, or other synonym. When most people say slut, they are talking about someone (almost always a woman) who has too much sex. And they don’t mean it in a nice way.
This seems rather at odds with our sex-crazed culture. Since when is having too much sex a bad thing? Sounds wonderful to me. In fact, barring serious injuries, exhaustion, or interference with other daily activities, I have a hard time imagining that there is such a thing as ‘too much sex‘.
Perhaps by slut, then, people someone who has too many sexual partners. Well, we all know the double standard here, whereby men are regarded more highly for having many sexual partners and women are derided. However, the crux of this is the quantification. How many is ‘too many’? Where is the line of moral failure?
This kind of thinking is a holdover from a time when virginity was prized, and negative value judgement were placed on those who had sex before marriage. In terms of that old-school sort of thinking,the line of ‘badness’ is at the number 1. A person either is a virgin, or isn’t, and there are no degrees of virginity (of course, practically this is debatable, but let’s go with it for the sake of argument). Thus, having sex with one person before marriage = removing virginity = bad. It is all or nothing. Therefore, having sex with more partners doesn’t ‘add’ to the level of badness. Moral (dis)value isn’t additive under such a scheme. If there is a defined line of ‘badness’, and has been crossed, wrong is done. That person, in this case a woman, is bad.
You might protest, “but Western society, by and large, doesn’t use sex before marriage as the line of ‘badness’ any longer, so this doesn’t apply.” Fortunately, that is true in some places, and is growing to reach others. Having sex before marriage with one person is no longer wrong. Hooray! But, then, by what line is ‘too many’ partners calculated? If we can’t use the number 1, what number defines a slut? How do we select a number?
We cannot. Any number would be arbitrary, and thus there is no line. There is no qualification for how many partners is ‘too many’. If a slut is someone who has ‘too many’ partners, but there are no standards to qualify ‘too many’, a slut by that definition does not exist.
So lets stop calling people sluts, because it is harmful, hurtful, perpetuates rape culture, and sluts don’t actually exist.
Filed under: feminism, logic | 5 Comments
Tags: definitions, gender, harassment, rape, sex, sexual assault, slut, slut shaming, virgin, virginity