Stop the “Slut” Talk

Published June 22, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I don’t normally read Miranda Devine’s columns.  I read a few some time ago but found her so snarky that I’ve avoided her work ever since.  However tonight a friend posted this article from the Sydney Morning Herald on Facebook, and the headline of “Flash of Fame Spreads Sluttiness” just grabbed my attention.

I responded to my friend’s post, and realised that what was coming out of me was more than just a response, it was a full on blog post.  So I have decided to expand upon it a little here.

While I do believe that we’re experiencing an intense “pornification” of celebrity and fame, I really take umbrage with the “sluttiness” label.

This implies that it is all about the young women and bad behaviour, and says nothing about the equally sexualised behaviour of young men. Not to mention the fact that more and more, young women are pressured into this behaviour because they’re led to believe that their value lies in being sexually pleasing to men. Their “hotness” is worth more than intelligence, heart, humour, kindness, and so on.

Every time a young woman opens a magazine, turns on the telly, watches a movie, sees a billboard ad, or any other media, the message she gets is that her sex is the most valuable currency in our society.

And yet does Ms Devine challenge that cultural attitude?  Not really, instead she suggests David Jones dump Miranda Kerr as their spokesmodel – so the young woman cops the punishment for the cultural pressures she is under.  How is that the right action to take?

It also doesn’t touch on the fact that these ARE young women, who have nobody to advise them except those grubbing for their money, or cleaning them up just enough to slap them back on a stage to start the cycle all over again. If someone treated these young women as the daughters they are, then they might not be on this path of destruction.

If Ms Devine wants to challenge the pornification of western culture, she’d be best to lay off creating a stigma around young women and analyse it across our entire culture. Look at the messages we’re sending to our young people; young women who behave outrageously are sluts, young men are just “boys having fun”; sex is the most valuable currency for starters.  Perhaps we need to start to teach our kids that they have so much more to offer the world than sex and scandal.

I agree, the culture of young people in the public eye is intensely sexualised, and “pornified” and we need to address that.  But there should be no place for the word “slut” in our culture, as it creates a heavy gender bias against women when the problem lies with the entire culture, not just women.

17 comments on “Stop the “Slut” Talk

  • I found this article wrong and disturbing in so many ways. Ms Devine is casually dismissive and insulting to nearly everyone she makes reference to, as well as being patronising and holier-than-thou, and as you point out, not investigating the bigger picture. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth (which was pretty hard to do seeing as I was eating birthday cake while I read it!).

    • How dare Miranda Devine spoil cake. As a fat woman I find that outrageous!

      In all seriousness, it’s just endemic in our culture to crucify the women while deifying the men. And it needs to stop.

  • But then practically everything that happens to a woman these days constitutes her being a “slut”. I mean, a woman can’t enjoy casual sex the same as a man because it supposedly makes her a slut. The media just about never actually recognizes that yes, women ARE sexual beings and can enjoy sex: nope, male stimulation is always the alpha and omega of everything.

    We’re told from day one that our attractiveness to men and the ability to turn them on is what makes up our frigging value, but you act on any of your own urges? You get a scarlet S! Our society manages to be so over-sexualized yet puritanical at the same time. I really fear for our children being shown this schizophrenic outlook…

    Not to mention I truly, truly never understood this conundrum.

    • You’re right Rachel. It’s the old double standard. There is no male equivalent for the word “slut”.

      Female sexuality is only permissible in our culture when it is submissive and not reciprocal. We’re only allowed to be sexual if we’re sexy dolls, dressed up for the dudes.

  • Of course this is nothing new. But just as lots of people will argue that racism is dead and there’s no need for civil rights groups now that the US of A has elected a black man president, there are thousands of people assuming that we don’t need women’s rights groups now that women have the ‘power’ to choose to dress provocatively.

    And yet there is entire movement of people trying to get that black president thrown out of office because they don’t want to believe that he’s a citizen, and any woman who chooses to wear very short skirts, ridiculously high heels, and a low-cut bodice is a bad, slutty slut who doesn’t deserve any human rights.

    Brand new day, same old crap.

  • I never found it right that boys were told to “sew their wild oats” and girls were told to stay home. Seems people don’t understand that there is a girl who’s going to have some wild oats sewn on her if you’re telling the boys to go do it. And if they do realize it, these girls don’t matter. It seems, in the minds of society, these girls who are okay with having sex or who aren’t okay with it but do it anyway, are only useful in the sex they provide boys, momentary physical relationships and the “good” girls are for marriage.

    A “good” girl is one who stays home. A “bad” girl is one who has casual sex. And all boys can have casual sex.

    It hurts my poor little brain!

    • Ugh, I know! So if there’s this huge disparity between who can have casual sex, then who do the boys have all this sex with? A vacuum cleaner? (Some of the ones I’ve known, probably.)

      Like the Rule of 3: Men who want to be da man, try to make their body counts go up, they multiply the number of partners they had by 3. Women are supposed to be all good and pure and all that patriarchal horseshit so we’re supposed to divide our body counts by 3.

      The western world has a major madonna-whore complex. Seriously.

  • I agree that much of American culture is definitely over sexualized, in both women and men, but just calling someone “a dirty slut” and then going on about their day is no way to properly address the issue. We need to dig deeper than that and truly explore the things we think and feel when we do see a movie that shows women as nothing but empty headed sex toys.

    • I agree, Ashley– but part of that digging deeper is removing the portrayal of women who are confident and sex-positive as evil witches, like almost every movie and TV show that has a female character who “has sex like a man” always shows her as an evil seductress. And/or she just uses sex as a tool, as a bargaining chip– that she doesn’t do it for her own enjoyment; that female pleasure doesn’t exist and if it indeedy does? SLUT!

      From my point of view, thinking about teen movies for instance where it’s likely to have a bigger impact on a young person than seeing films in our adulthood– it’s just that the “pure” girl who wants to wait for a loving relationship is exalted while the promiscuous girl is seen as evil, wrong, and just plain a bad person!

      And of course the counterpart to this is the “it’s just male biology!” schema. No, that’s just an excuse some men have been using to cheat on their partners for decades. And in the media a man who DOESN’T act like that is portrayed as weak and effeminate.

      If I can own property, serve in the military, and work 70 hours a week in the professional sector like a man can…surely I can have casual sex like one now too in a judgment-free zone?

    • I don’t think it’s just American culture though. I think it’s all of the Western world. It’s just as bad here in Australia, in the UK, and so on. Young women are pornified into parodies of femininity.

  • What disturbs me is how young kids are becoming aware of the whole sexuality thing. It concerns me that 12 year olds worry about push-up bras. That’s just not right. I’m aware that kids are developing younger and there is a market for bras to fit their young but developing bodies. But push-up bras and matching bikinis?! Yet you can’t get nice underwear if you’re over say a size 16-18. Back to the focus of your post (wow, wandering a lot tonight!), why the hell should guys have all the fun? To call someone a slut for taking part in consensual sex with another adult is just wrong. It’s a mutual decision that is made. The days where sex was purely something that occurred within marriage, at least for ‘good girls’, (incidentally, what the hell IS a good girl?! Grit your teeth and shut your eyes type of thing?) are long gone. Sex is more out in the open than ever, so why is the attitude still that it’s wrong to enjoy sex?

    • Indeed, that’s another whole set of posts on their own someday Amber, on how kids just don’t get to be kids any more – they’re sexualised from such a tiny age. I agree.

    • Ugh, I have made a personal vow never to read anything on DramaMia’s site ever again.

      She’s expert at mining content from other sources and not adding anything of value (usually only adding snark or encouraging shaming) and calling it a post on her own blog.

      • I have her in my Google Reader feed and occasionally find gems such as that. But I’ve given up commenting or considering the site useful or positive.

  • Comments are closed.

    %d bloggers like this: