I’m a Slut: Why I Support Feminist Reclamation of Misogynistic Slurs

It’s likely that if you follow actvism at all, you’ve heard of The SlutWalk by now. The short version is, in reaction to a Toronto police officer stating that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” feminists gathered together to organize a protest against rape apologists who blame the victim for sexual assault.

Slut-shaming, victim-blaming, and rape apologism are some of my biggest buttons as a feminist. There are few things that will ruffle my feathers quicker than indulging in those particular misogynistic practices. This is probably largely due to my own experiences as a “slut,” and my instrinsic desire to fight for those women who are silenced as I once was.

First, I’d like to explain my own personal history with the word “slut.” It’s a term I’ve heard plenty in my life, virtually always as an attack used to undermine me as a human being because of my perceived sexuality.

It started when I was fifteen. I was a “late bloomer,” and was beginning to suspect that I’d be the only flat-chested woman in my family. Then, one winter, I went from an A cup to a D cup, and kept right on growing. I didn’t have much contact with kids my own age, as I’d been homeschooled since age 10, but I did see former classmates at my summer job. The summer that I appeared with a rather significant bra size was when it started. Rumors immediatly sprung up that I’d taken the winter to indulge in breast augmentation, and that I was, naturally, a slut. Because according to society at large, cup size directly correlates with the number of penises a woman is willing to pleasure.

This is problematic for a number of reasons. First, a woman has no control over how her body develops, and a busty woman is no more likely to be promiscuous than a smaller-busted woman. Second, the assumption that promiscuity or body shape indicates heterosexuality is homophobic and misogynistic ; it’s based on the assumption that if a man finds a woman worthy of his sexual attention, she, naturally, must desire it, as male attention is apparently the ultimate prize amongst us little ladies. Third, regardless of a woman’s desire to engage in sexual activity, it is never appropriate to turn her into a sex object; she is a complete human being with complex sexual desires, and the right to indulge them without being judged. And fourth…I was a child. Not yet a woman at all, yet forced to endure the horrible weight of society’s judgments, simply because my body now resembled that of an adult, and an adult female’s body is treated as a commodity in our culture.

The attacks only became worse when I entered public school for the first time in six years, as a high school junior. My clothing choices, my physical form, my outspokenness, they earned me the title of “slut” (and a slew of synonyms) almost instantly. Ladies and gentleman, look into the face of a slut:

Yes, that is my official high school picture. I believe I was seventeen when this was taken, by which time–if you listened to the rumor mill–I’d already slept with the entire football team, all males who’d ever even glanced in my direction, and a few guys who I still think might be entirely fictional. Man, did Rumored Me ever get around. And that was used as an excuse for my classmates to leer at me in the hallways, scream obsenities at me in the streets, leave death threats in my locker, and yes, sexually assault me. I mean, I was a slut; I deserved it, right?

No. No woman asks for harassment, no woman asks for assault or rape. No woman deserves to have her sense of safety, her mental wellness, her physical body violated based on her promiscuity, whether real or percieved. Women do not ask to be victimized. And it is never, ever deserved.

The truly ironic thing is, the reputation was utterly undeserved. What so few people knew was, not only was I a virgin, but I didn’t even have my first kiss until the summer before my senior year. My “slut” label was applied entirely because of ignorant assumptions made by hateful misogynists who simply didn’t like me. It had nothing to do with my sexual practices; it was an act of violence, of hate. Just like rape. Rape is not about sex, it is about violence, about control, about trivializing a woman to subhuman.

And yes, I have been raped. I will avoid specifics, but I can tell you undoubtedly that my rape was resultant of slut-shaming, of a male desire to control me, manipulate me, “put me in my place” for daring to not submit to male domination. And I initially submitted to a victim-blaming mindset that told me I somehow earned the attack by being a “slut.” I’ve since recognized the error in that thought, and now work to actively ensure that I do not slip into such self-destructive cycles again. But it is a daily battle, one that sometimes makes it hard for me to close my eyes at night without reliving my attack, and being haunted by nightmares of how it might happen again.

I had the word “slut” whispered in my ear while I was violated. It was used as the justification for taking my safety, my bodily autonomy, and for a while, my very sanity from me. In the mind of a rape apologist, a slut isn’t a person; she’s a warm body for male gratification. But no human being should ever be relegated to such a role, and that is why I support the SlutWalk, why I support any woman who wishes to reclaim the word “slut” as something indicitive of her right to demonstrate her sexuality however she sees fit. Because being a slut is not an excuse for rape, it is not justification for stripping a woman of her humanity. It’s just another label in a slew of labels that are often applied completely arbitrarily to strangers, and should always only be applied by a person to themselves.

Here I am now:

No longer the doe-eyed innocent from high school, I’m an experienced survivor, a woman with every right to express my sexuality, and with the right to call myself anything I wish. I am a queer feminist slut. And that gives no one the right to violate me.

Advertisements

About bunnika

shout at the brick wall; if it doesn't hear you, shout louder
This entry was posted in feminism. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I’m a Slut: Why I Support Feminist Reclamation of Misogynistic Slurs

  1. Jenna says:

    It’s horrible that you went through this and I am sorry. But thank you for posting your experience. Everyone needs to understand that this word has real, real, real repercussions.

  2. Ove Kristian says:

    Men and women can be very bad because you are large breastet. Sad but true.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s