Bite me, I’m a slut. No really, I am. By popular standards anyway (including desi), I would probably be the empress of slutopia or at least a high priestess of sorts. Well.
So what constitutes slut-like behavior? Lots of sex? Being promiscuous? Tight clothes? Polyamory? Pre-marital sex? Talking to a guy? Merely acknowledging a man’s existence? First base? Second?
What is it?
What does one have to do in order to be identified as a bona fide slut?
Based solely on the benchmark in the yoo yess, I would surmise that a woman who is comfortable with her sexuality and really enjoys sex and has sex regularly on her own terms would probably fit the slut descriptive.
When you bring in the desi angle for the arbitration of whoriness/ slutiness however, this opens a whole new can of muculent worms. The desi yardstick for whoriness can range from being woefully feudal (a girl who talks to anything or anyone without a vagina = whore) to putting up an outward appearance of flighty non-prejudice but are quite the opposite (a woman dressing in western clothes = fine, but drinking/smoking/male-friends/social-life = whore) to being grudgingly accepting of certain behaviors (drinking/smoking = fine, pre-marital sex =no-no or vice versa) or even to being generally accepting but subscribing to the popular western points of reference for slutiness.
Of course I am not denying that there are desi’s out there who transcend these sort-of-microcosms and don’t really care and do their thing (myself included, yay sluts!), but I think that I am not inaccurate in stating that such desi’s belong to a pitifully minuscule and underrepresented minority and it also stands to reason as to how many desi’s belonging to this minority are truly liberal and non-judgmental when it comes to female sexuality and sexual behavior as a whole be it heterosexual or homosexual or both.
Almost inevitably, this brings me to the virulently noxious and all pervasive slut/stud (or whore/player, oy) double standard.
The omnipresence of this double standard astounds me. Which is a bit silly really, as discrimination and double standards being actively promulgated with respect to women is a given, but I can’t help but balk at it. It is possibly the oldest stereotype in the world and yet, it is also the most insidious and deceptively oppressive, in part due to its sheer prevalence.
The slut label also ties in with the Madonna/whore dichotomy which is a masterstroke of patriarchal genius, I have to add. This dichotomy adroitly dooms women to fail, irrespective of the mantle they choose to don: the chaste, immaculate virgin or a woman who dares to have sex outside of marriage. It is an ingenious ruse, a set up, designed to make women feel insecure, guilty and shameful about themselves, no matter what extreme they try to portray. For, the Madonna/whore dichotomy is nothing but two extremes, its brilliance lies in the fact that there is no middle ground. Think about this the next time you ask someone ‘are you a virgin’ or talk about ‘losing your/her/his virginity’. All you need to do is to have sex once*. And for that, within this repressive dichotomy, you will be pushed off the precipice of purity so to speak and land squarely in whore territory. The cycle is never-ending.
[I also have to add that dismissing the Madonna/whore complex as non-existent or as a rabid by-product of some crazy fundies, is utterly inaccurate. It exists everywhere, in every medium, in every society; the difference being that it manifests itself in varying degrees in different cultures.]
Indeed, all a woman has to do is to have a social life and the slut/whore tag faithfully and parasitically attaches itself onto her and gnaws at her self-worth, like a cancer.
The judgment of men however, based on sexual activity, is diametrically opposite to the wringer which women are put through. Men are actively encouraged to pursue as many women as possible, ‘scoring’ women becomes a fun pastime. Even in seemingly conservative households, a boy who sleeps around might be reprimanded, but not severely chastised. The more women a man sleeps with, the more he is praised, his peers look up to him and his actions set the standard for other men/boys to follow and emulate. There is no question of him being sullied, he hasn’t fallen off his precipice of purity (there is no precipice of purity in his case), and even the thought of him being called a ‘whore’ or ‘skank’ or ‘slut’ seems laughable.
But why? Why does it seem laughable? Why don’t we judge men with the same stifling standards with which we judge women?
I think there are a number of reasons, many of them if not all, quite incredible in their fallaciousness but are dangerous in their pervasiveness all the same. For instance,
- Men are presumed to be the possessors of an irrepressible sexuality and sexual instinct. Therefore, women are automatically pushed into gate-keeping the sexuality of men.
- Tied in with the earlier point is the notion that women are almost asexual in their sexual preferences, and yet it is curious to note that women have very little control over their sex or sexuality, it is the society which imposes rules and regulations on restraining and ostracizing women for their sexual activities. If women are so uninterested in sexual activities as a whole, why are their actions and sexual preferences judged? Why are their actions open for intense scrutiny?
This brings us to another paradox, a miasmic spawn of the Madonna/whore dichotomy which expects women to not only be pure and virginal, but also sexy and approachable at the same time. This is what we come to, after years and years of sorting out women as either virgins or whores, we fuse both the identities together and expect one woman to embody both, as an example of a balanced personality. Am I the only one who sees the odious absurdity of this?
As for judging women, I too am not blameless. I’ve called a fair share of women sluts either in anger or for their perceived ‘slutty’ behavior, which is contemptible and wrong, I know. And I am not without regret. It is that regret which hovers over me and makes me check myself before I brand any woman with the slut tag. After all, my actions make me a slut too. And you know what? I’ve learnt to accept it. Hell, I was called a slut in 9th grade because, are you ready - I was taller than the other girls. I kid you not. I even yelled at one of the boys who called me a whore, and his reasoning unearthed such gems like:
Oh, because you wear shorts under your skirt.
You have short hair, and you are taller.
You are not shy or quiet.
You are friends with so-and-so.
You girls wear makeup (makeup = chapstick).
You talk a lot/go to tuition/ live next to a group of boys from our class.
Thinking back to that confrontation, I can’t help but shrug with acceptance at the fact that being a virgin is no safety net for being called a slut. Lack of interest or experience does not automatically cast a protective shield around us.
And the sooner we learn to accept that, and move on and live our lives the way we want to, without gleefully judging women and conferring titles on the men for the exact same actions, the better it is for all of us.
But what do I know. I am a card carrying member of the sluts-for-evah! party after all.
A note to trolls and their ilk: This post is not a free pass for you to call me whore, slut, bitch, cunt or any derivative of the above mentioned words. And this post is not a green signal for your 'will you have sex with me slut, I asked nicely har har' type propositioning. Such comments will promptly be ignored and/or not published.