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Opinion | ‘Slut’ slamming, judgment needs to stop

sacksrj@muohio.edu

Published: Thursday, April 21, 2011

Updated: Thursday, April 21, 2011 20:04

Constantly in female magazines we find tips on how to be "sexy" but not "slutty." I have read several articles basically telling women how to not appear slutty and how they won't attract romantic prospects if they act, dress or talk a certain way. Needless to say, women who dress more provocatively or have many sexual partners tend to be frowned upon in society.

The attitude these articles present merely continues the stereotype that those who wear tighter shirts, shorter skirts, higher heels, more makeup, bigger hair, dance too suggestively or have a raunchier sense of humor are more promiscuous and careless when dealing with sex.

But because someone chooses a different lifestyle, does not mean we should brand them. Our society has repressive ways of creating boundaries when it comes to discussing sexuality. If women step outside these narrowly defined boundaries, they may be subjected to labels such "sluts" and "whores," all because they wish to be more frank and open about the topic of sex.

So many of the articles we read in magazines and the stereotypes perpetuated in the media condone and even promote the idea of "slut bashing." Insomuch that people who are open about sex are treated as lesser people and are held to a lower standard than those who are not as vocal. We think people who have more sex have more sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 80 percent of sexually active adults will contract an STI in their life and people ages 15 to 24 will make up nearly half of people who acquire new STIs.

There is a fine line distinction between being "sexually confident" and being "a sloppy hot mess," not between "sexy" and "slutty." Maybe women wear high heels because they want that extra boost of confidence that comes from the extra boost of height. Or maybe they enjoy wearing shorter skirts because they know their legs, that they spend days working on in the gym, look good.

The Oxford English Dictionary's first definition of the word "slut" is "a woman of dirty, slovenly or untidy habits or appearance." Katharine Whitehorn, former columnist for The Observer in London, wrote a famous article in 1963 that redefined the term "slut," asking, "Have you ever taken anything out of the dirty-clothes basket because it had become, relatively, the cleaner thing? Changed stockings in a taxi? Could you try on clothes in any shop, any time, without worrying about your underclothes? How many things are in the wrong room — cups in the study, boots in the kitchen? ... This makes you one of us: the miserable, optimistic, misunderstood race of sluts."

Just as we should not judge anyone on the basis of appearance, we should not judge women who act a certain way. If we see a girl stumbling home wearing high heels and smudged makeup, we should not think, "I bet she sleeps with a lot of different people" or unfairly label her. Maybe she cannot walk in heels properly or maybe she did have too much to drink that particular night. She could sleep with different people, or has had the same partner for two years.

I believe terms like "slut" and "whore" only exist to silence those who are not opposed to openly talking about sexuality in everyday conversations. Let's face it — sexuality does exist in our everyday life. Why should we not be able to discuss and be educated about it? If anything, we should embrace those who are open about sex.

Ultimately, you should always think before you speak. Think about the person's life. If you have no idea what that may be like, then you probably have no right to judge them.

Whether we are loud, quiet, unashamed about sex or even would prefer one partner at a time, we should all be able to live freely from other people's remarks about how we choose to live.

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