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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Sex, students and stereotypes: What does the word ‘slut’ really mean?”

    Do I look like a slut? Uh-huh. Shut up. You know, maybe it’s these outfits we wear, I mean, I can see your boobies.

    These lyrics, written by electroclash duo Avenue D, detail a conversation between two Daisy Duke-clad girls discussing what it means to be a slut. The song, “”Do I Look Like a Slut?”” is one of my current favorites.

    The DJ at my favorite bar plays it on Thursday, a big night for dancing. I always laugh when Avenue D starts playing. These lyrics are hilarious, and the situation is supremely ironic: Women pack the dance floor decked out in cleavage-bearing tank tops, tight pants, short skirts, heels. Apparently, what a girl typically wears out makes her a slut, and we’re all dancing to this song and having a good time.

    Obviously, not every girl in a halter-top is rampantly promiscuous (this definition would include almost every female UA student). This song, written by the two girls of Avenue D, makes fun of a word routinely used against women; that’s why I love it.

    Yet the word “”slut”” isn’t meant to be fun. Originally, it was a synonym for prostitute, or a sexually immoral woman. Now, women call each other sluts to insult, and the target of our insult is usually another girl (with the exception of the commonly heard “”man-slut””). The word still conveys derogatory implications, but what exactly is the implied meaning?

    The answer seems obvious – “”slut”” is a designation for women who sleep around. I took an informal poll, and a majority felt “”slut”” specifically means having sex without standards. While many people may screw sans standards, the word “”slut”” almost specifically refers to women.

    Recently, my grandma told me she heard about a book on National Public Radio, and it’s about “”girls doing everything with boys from kissing to oral sex to intercourse, and one boy this night, another boy that night.”” The phrase “”loose as a goose”” (grandma-ese for slut) was also employed.

    Since I study gender equity and politics, I asked Grandma about the boys. Weren’t they responsible for their part in the interactions?

    “”Unhooked,”” the book she so uncomfortably referenced, dictates that college hookup culture harms women, not men. The author, Laura Sessions Stepp, discusses the college hookup phenomenon with the assumption that men are inherently promiscuous. Her book implies that poor, innocent girls just want love and get conned into meaningless sex. She didn’t do a quantitative analysis, just interviews. It figures.

    My grandma didn’t have an answer, and I’m not sure mine is perfect, either.

    However, I do know that Stepp’s book assumes that it’s natural for men to have multiple partners, and when women make the same choice, they are emotionally empty, shallow or troubled.

    The word “”slut”” is based on similar ideology – that when women sleep with multiple men, they are somehow tainted and deserve social scrutiny. “”Unhooked”” and the use of the word “”slut”” both vilify women who have sex; the book just says women are passive victims of a sexual society, but “”slut”” says they’re actively part of sexual society. Both have obviously negative connotations.

    I think the word is also used mostly by women themselves. In today’s dating game, competition manifests itself in ugly ways. Most people don’t know the sexual history of every other person at the UA, but we casually throw around “”slut”” like we do.

    We literally have no idea if the object of our insult is worthy of the word “”slut.”” In other words, Girl A sees Girl B (clad in Daisy Dukes and flirting with Girl A’s “”it’s complicated”” Facebook romantic interest). Girl A doesn’t know anything about Girl B, but she calls Girl B a slut.

    Short-shorts might make someone an easy target, but ultimately, what did Girl A accomplish? She might secretly feel a little better, but if the actual goal is to talk to Mr. “”it’s complicated”” and tell him that she prefers to be “”in a relationship,”” then that responsibility falls squarely on Girl A. And that takes a lot more maturity than gossiping about Ms. Daisy Dukes.

    No matter who Girl B is, the same theory applies. What does calling someone a slut really do? It just buys into the idea that women should be chaste and pure.

    If we own our decisions about how we dress, with whom we are intimate and the songs we love hearing while we shake it on the dance floor, slut becomes obsolete. Now, go put on a short skirt and download some Avenue D.

    Allison Dumka is a political science senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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