Slut is a powerful word

Cities across Australia and the world are meeting points today for thousands of people who plan to take part in a SlutWalk. There have been many walks already and many more are planned. The idea was born when one Canadian policeman said women needed to take responsibility in the prevention of sexual assaults by not dressing like sluts. The reaction was, understandably, outrage. The walks are, in essence, women reclaiming the word slut and marching for their rights to dress how they please and never be at risk of sexual assault, abuse and rape.

Gay people have done a great job in reclaiming the word queer. Black people have managed to make nigger a part of their own vocabulary while it’s completely taboo for anyone else to say it. But they’re just words. Words on their own have no power. It’s how they’re used and how they’re directed that make them powerful. I just said nigger above – look, I did it again! – but it’s simply a word, used to convey a point. Using it in description of someone is universally recognised as an abusive, racist act and that’s wrong.

I’ve known girls that will greet each other with, “What’s up, sluts?” and all laugh about it. But if I were to call any one of them a slut they would be justifiably outraged and offended. It’s not the word that’s the problem, it’s the intent. It’s the baggage that comes with the word. It’s the sneakily “disguised” position held by the person using the word that has the power.

That Canadian policeman said to ten college students in April, “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.” The guy is clearly a dickhead. Dressing “like a slut” doesn’t make people sexually assault you, any more than heavy metal makes you suicidal or video games make you a mass murderer. People are already suicidal, homicidal or sexually sociopathic and any excuse will do. Women can dress however they like and should be able to do so without ever feeling at risk. They might attract some appreciative glances, but they should never be told they’re attracting attack.

I don’t know whether reclaiming the word slut is really going to work in the same way as queer or nigger or other reclamations have worked. But I do know this:

No woman should ever be the victim of sexual abuse or assault for any reason. There is never an excuse, whether it be alcohol/drugs made me do it, the way she dressed means she was asking for it, or the little voices in my head told me to. Any victimisation of anyone is wrong and only the fault of the attacker.

So walk with pride, and know that most men I know agree that a women is never a fair target of abuse or assault.

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6 thoughts on “Slut is a powerful word

  1. Yeah…. I have really strong views on this. Nobody deserves sexual assault, period. I’ve been assaulted, right? But in my sleep. Go figure.

    ANYWAY.

    If you go out in town on a Saturday night, with a skirt that barely covers your ass, and your tits all but hanging out… and you’re in heels you can barely walk in; but you do walk, drunk as fuck, through unlit squares and lanes because you’re a pissed tart… Then I fail to see why a morally depraved opportunist wouldn’t take the opportunity. If you’re equally pissed but dressed more modestly, and in shoes you can run in if necessary, you have vastly more power on your side. No less because your assets aren’t titillating somebody who is already at that point.

    Nobody deserves assault. But by christ some of the chicks I see out and about don’t discourage it. And most men I know agree with me. There’s a fine line between wearing what you want to wear and looking (and, for younger girls, hence acting) like a street walker.

    And yes, I’m an anti-feminist in this regard. A sensible one.

    The only other thing I’ll say is that a slut is a slut. The word won’t lose its power until it applies equally to men and women. But then, I have strong views on words, too 😉 haha

  2. The problem is the existence of “morally depraved opportunists” that think what a person wears says something about their right to be left alone. And the vast majority of victims of assault are attacked for other reasons than what they wear. Most sexual predators wouldn’t be able to tell you what their victim was wearing. They’re looking for a victim.

    It’s about power and victimisation and telling people what they can and can’t wear based on the inability of some animals to control their base desires is addressing the wrong end of the problem.

  3. This is so true, that no matter what word you use its the tone of your voice and the intent that counts. But since the things you said are mostly true like when saying nigger, slut or other words is offensive to someone you do not know then why not let it be that way. respect is all there are

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