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The 'Slut' Myth

01/09/2016 15:55
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Slut. Whore. Tramp. Skank.

I'm sure many of us (feminist or not), have said and heard these words. I know I have. Growing up in a small village in South Wales will have you hearing phrases like this all the time. Small villages are a little like that; full of archaic patriarchy and ingrained misogyny.

I was raised by a wonderful family, surrounded by love and support. This does not mean, however, that I emerged unscathed by the sexism present in my community. One of my first life lessons as a young teenage girl was that women who wore revealing clothes and were 'promiscuous' were slutty and the kind of women I should never look up to. At the same time, I was still being told to be these things; attractive and available. Bullshit, am I right?

I was raised by society to always look beautiful, to show off what I had; but not too much of course because then I would be overdoing it. Then I would look like a 'slut.'

I developed a lot quicker than other girls my age. I had my period at around eleven years old and by the time I was twelve I was wearing bras. Not to mention I was a head taller than most of my peers. I never really saw this as a problem, not knowing what that meant for me; until I started secondary school.

Every Wednesday, in the village over from mine, there was a 'blue light disco', aka a young teen disco. It ran from 7pm to 9pm and was the place teens went to pretend to be adults. Boys would watch from the seats while young teenage girls danced erotically like they somehow knew they should. We would spend our time trying to entice a boy to kiss us; to feel wanted and desired. Like peacocks showing our feathers, us girls would dip and sway and wink as boys watched, deliberating who their third or fourth kiss of the evening should go to. If you went unkissed by the end of the party, it meant you were ugly and unsexy. So here I was, thirteen years old, shaking my non existent ass in the hopes that some boy would find me sexy when I didn't even know what sexy meant.

It was before one of these dances that I first understood what having a fuller body meant for me as a women. I was around thirteen years old, standing before the mirror smiling in my mini skirt and low cut top as I put on my boots, all ready to go. I was wearing the same thing as every other girl my age and was sure tonight I would get 'lucky'. My happiness was short lived. Upon seeing my outfit, my family quickly told me that I had to change, that I had to be careful in what I wore. I was told that I could only have one revealing thing on, otherwise I would look slutty, look easy. I didn't quite understand this at the time, but as I grew older and my small understanding of how it all works grew with each burning experience, I began to clue in to the truth of it all.

I was reminded constantly that because of my body shape, I couldn't wear what other girls wore. That I would look like a slut, like I was trying too hard. Looking back, I'm sure my family just felt protective. I was tall for my age, with large breasts that made me I look older than I was, and as a young women in my twenties, I now understand their fears. They were trying to protect me, to make sure no harm would come to me. I just wish they had explained why I had to be careful. I wish they had told me to be careful because some men wouldn't care how old I was. I wish they had told me I was not the one at fault, and that my body was still my own.

'Oh my god, look at what she's wearing, what a fucking slut.'

'Wow, could her skirt be any shorter, Jesus Christ.'

Everywhere I went the words slut, whore and tramp were thrown at women on the street, at school and on television. I quickly clued in that women who wore revealing clothes were indecent. I grew to understand that women who were sexual and confident were loose and a disgrace. They were dirty sluts and I should never aspire to be one.

But I was confused; people were still telling me to look sexy and attractive.

I saw boys pass around women like gum, chewing them up and spitting them out when they were bored. From my place as 'one of the lads' I would listen to my male friends talk about my classmates explicitly; who had the best ass, who had the best tits. I'm sure they even had a list. I heard boys crack jokes at their female classmates expense and talk about how many they could pull, and yet it was the girls themselves who were degraded the moment they crossed some invisible moral line that they had not been informed about.

The worst part was, I wanted to be talked about like those girls. I would feel a tingle of something akin to pride when I too was sexualised by my classmates, by my friends. I felt happy when they would stare and try to look between the buttons of my shirt as I stretched my stiff arms above my head. I was happy when boys touched me at teen clubs. I was happy even if it felt wrong.

My entire self worth lay in the hands of careless teenage boys who had no idea what they were doing.

Girls are raised to believe that they are better than the women who sleep around, but are simultaneously worth less because not sleeping around means no one wants you. Which of course means you are undesirable, worthless. You are seen as a failure, incapable of completing the one task you were birthed for; attracting and pleasing men.

I used to feel like this, and if I'm honest, I sometimes still do. When I watch my friends and how men turn their heads to look at them I feel a ripple of both disgust and envy. It's head spinning.

I would often wonder, why men were never called sluts? I mean, they seemed to be just as, if not more sexual than the girls I grew up with and yet they were only ever praised. Whenever gossip about people getting together came out, he would come to school with a huge 'Lad' badge tattooed on his forehead, while she wore the word 'slut' all over her body.

This was going on when I was fourteen, and now ten years later, I still see it happening in my everyday life.

Women are raised and conditioned to be sexual beings while simultaneously being shunned the moment they act upon any sort of sexual desire. They are told that looks matter and that the more skin they show, the better chance they have of attracting a male. The word 'slut' follows them like a sneaking fox, waiting for the first opportunity to sink its rabid claws into her exposed skin, inflicting her with guilt and shame.

And it's not just the act of sleeping around or wearing revealing clothing that makes someone a slut! Oh no, there's more.

Who here has even been called a slut when rejecting a man? Despite saying 'Sorry, I'm not interested.' 'Sorry, I have a boyfriend/girlfriend.' I know I sure have!

Whether women put out or not, they will always be sluts. Whether women hide every inch of their skin or walk around naked they will be a slut. Whether they shy away from physical contact or crave it, they will be labeled a slut.

Used as a means to control women, the word slut is thrust upon women to keep their self esteem down, to keep them in check. These slanderous words such as slut, tramp and whore exist as a reminder that while we are sexual, our sexuality will never be truly our own.

I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of the word slut. Of hearing 'whore' 'tramp' 'skank.' I'm tired of hearing these words coming from men, but I'm even more tired of watching it drop from the lips of my fellow women. Arn't we on the same side?

My take on it all?

How about we not shame women for having sexual feelings like every other human on the planet. Wouldn't that be something?

To anyone who wants to explore their sexuality, be it leaving the realm of heterosexuality, kissing a bunch of strangers, or maybe just indulging in a string of one time love making sessions; JUST GO FOR IT.

You do you (and others) and pay no mind to those who judge you. This is your life and I hope you make the most of it, be it by travelling the globe, having babies or just getting some.

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