Slut. A common insult in our society, used by men and women alike. A person with loose sexual morals, who has sex with many people, usually drunk, and only once, and is always a girl. Sluttish behaviour is synonymous with females. Often I have seen men cheered into brunch with jeers, whistles and fistpumps after spending the night with someone, but never have I seen this reciprocated; no one slaps a girl on the back after a one-night stand and congratulates her.
But why does this discrepancy exist? Why is the abandonment of chastity a goal for men, while it remains a crime for women?
Some people argue that this is a primordial argument. Reminiscent of the long gone primate days, they claim that this difference arises from simple biological reasons: men want to reproduce as much and with as many people as possible to ensure a bloodline, whilst women should remain faithful to ensure the paternity of the child remains clear. Yet I find this argument archaic. Whilst I appreciate the scientific value of this explanation I find it has little place in our society nowadays, and any resonance it has remains deep in our subconscious. The way our society has developed along with the invention of contraception and abortion has changed our perception of sex into an activity of leisure rather than evolutionary utility, and for most people, until they reach a certain age bracket or conform to certain social criteria such as partnership, sex is purely for fun.
The fact remains that sex used to only be enjoyed by men. It was something women did as a favour of sorts; and in the former male-dominated days only men derived pleasure during sex, because the aim was purely reproduction, and therefore centred around his orgasm solely. Now, as our society has changed, more emphasis has been placed on both parties climaxing; what used to be an elusive idea has now become the cover story of many single women’s magazines worldwide: “How to Find Your G-spot” for example. Knowing how eager men get for a bit of action, can we really punish a woman for doing the same thing? As half the population would testify, there are only so many times you can masturbate before you need “a partner to return the ball” back to you. (Excuse the American Pie quote.)
This is where the difficulties start; though we are fortunate enough to live in this liberal environment in which sex can be both casual and pleasurable, the temptation to take advantage of this exists. Drunk nights out in nightclubs can so easily lead to sex (does anyone even go to Klute unless they want to hook up?) that suddenly you have tallied up quite an impressive list of names in your little black book… slut. It is basically a trap. Society encourages “fun” but does not warn you of the consequences of this advice; Society appears liberal, however the people within it are not. Indeed, it seems the only way to have a lot of sex but save your reputation is by giving a relationship an arbitrary label: boyfriend and girlfriend. Though it seems strange, I can understand that explaining seven relationships is easier than explaining seven one-night stands.
This leads to the numbers issue. It remains unacceptable for women to have slept with a large number of people. Men generally do not consider sex as an intimate act that may lead to something more emotionally serious. However, when women approach sex with this same view it results in an accusation of slutty behaviour. Yet the case remains that though this insult may have developed only for girls, we do indeed judge both sexes on how many people they’ve slept with. Above a certain number is frowned upon, whether male or female. Some lenience and commendation is given to men as women are traditionally harder to seduce, but the fact remains that no woman is attracted to a man with a gargantuan list of partners. Sexual infections are never cool.
So why is it that the term ‘slut’ is continually used? Many women jump on the feminist bandwagon and claim that slut is a derogatory term used by men to oppress female sexuality. And while I agree that the term does squash sexual liberality to an extent, I disagree that it is men’s fault. Most men embrace a woman who is in control of her sexuality, and even find it amusing to watch a woman play the field better than they ever could. Upon asking some friends about their views on women having open sexual relationships and one-night stands, their replies were mostly forgiving and understanding: “as long as she can take the banter and isn’t messing my mates around, it’s her vagina and she can do what she likes with it”.
At the end of the day that is what it comes down to. Being promiscuous, whatever gender, is not a social sin as long as it is not hurting others. In other words, if you want to have sex liberally and often, without the threat of a reputation, you must abide by certain social rules: one must tread carefully away from seducing friendship groups, siblings, best friends, and involved people. Maybe this is where the disparity of the word “slut” comes in. Men don’t care about sex in the same way. If they like someone, great, if a friend gets in there first, it sucks but that is life, time to move on and respect dibs. But with girls, it is different. Constant competitiveness, bitchiness and attractions means that if someone takes another girl’s love interest, she is forever a slut in the eyes of that girl and her friends and revenge must be taken. Fights over men between close friends are common, and often, strangely, there is a complete lack of respect for the man’s choice.
Ironically, it seems that the problem of the overzealous use of the word “slut” is not a gender issue, but more a problem of condescension within the female gender. How can men respect women enough to stop using such a derogatory term, when women are constantly using it to describe each other?