The first time I was ever called a slut, it was by my brother. I was 14, and a virgin. He objected to the shirt I was wearing, which I was accessorising with jeans and sneakers. It was my boyfriend’s shirt, and I guess it was too see-through, or I had too many buttons unbuttoned, or something, hence the epithet posh slut.
The next time was my boyfriend. He like to throw it around quite liberally. “You can’t go out dressed like that, you look like a slut.” “Why are you five minutes late? I bet you’ve been out slutting it up” “Why do you bother flirting like that, no one would want a stupid slut like you.” The last time he called me a slut was while he hurled a vase at my head.
After that, it was another boyfriend. He used it….differently. I didn’t hate it quite so much. But still, the first time he said it, I stiffened, upset. Wondering if it meant that on some level, he hated me. It didn’t of course, and he meant it in an entirely different way.
I’ve been called it a thousand times. I’ve asked over, and over again, how many people I have to have slept with to deserve the title. 100? 1000? 10? In the past year? 1, 3, 5? Does it make a difference if I’ve been in a relationship? No one has ever been able to answer. Shouldn’t something as important as this have a definitive number? If all women are either Madonnas or Whores, shouldn’t you be able to tell us which we are?
I’ve been called slut by a group of old men, by other women, once, fantastically, by a toddler. I have been repeatedly harrassed with phone calls and emails reminding me I am nothing but a worthless slut.
And you know what? None of that had anything to do with my clothes. None of it really had to do with me, except maybe that third example. It has everything to do with the fact that I (mostly) project myself as a woman comfortable with myself and my sexuality. That I am not scared to flirt, or ask for what I want.
And I am not putting up with it anymore. What I wear does not belong to you, anymore than who I sleep with. It wouldn’t matter if I was wearing these. Because it doesn’t matter. Assault isn’t about how we look, and calling me a slut is all about you, not me. It’s about you being intimidated by women who like sex. I can like sex how I like it, and I will put what I want on my body, from assless chaps to a nun’s habit, and you know what? None of that is any of your business. Stop policing women’s bodies, and stop making excuses for rapists.
I’ll be marching. Join me:
June 25 – Slutwalk Aotearoa protest, Auckland Chapter. More info.
June 25 – Slutwalk Aotearoa protest, Wellington Chapter. More info.