No, I don’t mean your ten-digit phone number. I mean that one or two-digit number (or three; unlikely, but uh, do ya thang, honey) that is an entitlement for men, and a damnation for women. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about the number of people you’ve slept with. Had sex with. The number that makes him a stud, and makes her a slut.
“Slut.” That’s a fightin’ word. What defines one? If you were to type “slut” into Google, your first hit would be The Free Online Dictionary, which asserts that a slut is “a person, especially a woman, considered sexually promiscuous” [italics added]. How enlightening. At what point is sexual activity considered promiscuous, you might ask? Our handy dandy Free Online Dictionary comes to the rescue once more, defining “promiscuous” as “having casual sexual relations frequently with different partners; indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners.” I could continue the laborious task of looking up such words as “casual”, “frequently”, and “indiscriminate” in an attempt to pinpoint how many sexual partners a woman can have before she is deemed a “slut”. That would be a futile task, though, and I do have a deadline to meet on this post, so I digress.
My point still stands. The ambiguity of this definition is remarkable; it’s vague enough to mean something different to every individual who allows the dirty, derogatory word to pass through his or her lips. Here’s the part that no dictionary definition will ever get at: “slut” is a term used to control a woman’s sexuality. It’s fittingly filthy and morally reprehensible: as women, we are taught that should cherish our dignity and defend our honor. If you have two X chromosomes, having sex in any capacity undermines that undying “truth.” If a gal does have sex, she should keep it quiet, and keep it confined to monogamy. If she dares explore her sexuality with multiple partners, she’s dishonorable. She’s slovenly. She’s a slut.
The use of the term “slut” is a linguistic mechanism with the intent of reminding a woman that her sexuality is not her own. Regardless of her innocent intention of sexual expression—a human tendency—if she does the dirty more than the average individual, if she has casual one-night stands from time to time, hell, if she even talks openly about sex, she’s not liberated, she’s a slut. Or whore, skank, sleaze, prostitute, harlot, hooker, tramp…just to name a few. And these terms vilify a woman, and are used to make her ashamed of herself. They shut her up, and remind her to be passive about sex. Society doesn’t like to see women talking about sex. It’s just weird. It’s a taboo topic, and it’s not to be discussed in polite company.
Conversely, a man is expected, no, enabled, to get around as frequently as he’d like, with whomever he’d like. The more, the more often, the better, ya stud-muffin. When a guy has a wild encounter, he’ll return to his pals, who will congratulate him for “dominating that bitch” (disgusting to use, even in context). He’s the Man. He’s big pimpin’. He’s revered among his bros. To my knowledge, there’s only one remotely negative connotation associated with male promiscuity (does that term even exist?): Man-whore. Ah, a derivative of “whore” you say? How creative.
As a disclaimer, I’m not advocating for widespread orgies, nor am I implying that sex is meaningless and should be treated flippantly. However, I strongly believe that sexuality belongs to the corresponding individual, and it should be expressed and celebrated how the individual sees fit, regardless of gender, sexual preference, or any other factor that society attempts to homogenize and normalize. A woman is entitled to her sexuality just as a man is, a homosexual is entitled just as a heterosexual.
And ladies, once again, I’m calling us out. Every time we size a sister up for the outfit she’s wearing, disparage her for how many dates she’s been on in the past month, or try to shut her up for talking honestly about a sexual encounter, we’re fueling the fire of subjugation. Newsflash: a cleavage shirt doesn’t make her a hoe, nor does her being a social butterfly. Those choices are HER prerogative, and it’s our duty to back her up. We should be empowering one another instead of tearing each other down, but we would rather spend time finding who the biggest whore is, so that we’re reassured that we’re not that bad. Two little words: stop it. Stop feeding the machine. The message is self-love, mutual respect, and empowerment. Pay it forward.
On a final note, your number and your means of sexual expression are nothing to be ashamed of, and quite frankly, it’s no one else’s business. That number says nothing about how “prude” or “loose” you are, nor does it define you as a slut or big daddy. It’s time that we held a woman’s sexuality in equal regard to a man’s, and stop viewing the same number differently, depending upon whether it represents a man’s sexual partners versus a woman’s. Sexuality is a human trait, not merely a man’s. Let’s treat it as such.