It is far too early to be awake but I am too annoyed to stay curled up in my blankets no matter how tempting more sleep sounds.
Someone I follow on Twitter linked Jessica Valenti’s piece from the Guardian on Twitter with the usual caveat about not reading the comments (which I thought was a maxim for the Internet at this point) so I just had to read it, it had “slut” in the title and I am a terrible glutton for punishment. What followed was a maybe slightly more verbose piece that I’m sure I’ve read a bunch of times before – what does “slut” really mean? There was at least a passing mention as to why WoC don’t want to reclaim the term this time around but the rest of it was more of the same. There feels like this incessant need in mainstream feminism to constantly hash out these basics as if they matter versus asking the tough questions or making statements from a place of truth and knowledge.
A little bit of background on my feelings on slut, because I feel it is relevant: I hate the word. I think hate is one of those starting point terms for me. I loathe it. It’s like hearing nails scrape across a cardboard. It produces a mental effect similar to having my teeth drilled. At one point, it was so triggering to me that I couldn’t even handle people talking about it. Being called it every day for nearly four years has that Pavlovian effect after a while. I go so far as to think that it shouldn’t be reclaimed, it should cease to exist. It is not a word that should have meaning.
This is why I find Valenti’s piece confounding and fairly facile. “Slut” is the spun-sugar construction of sexism and misogyny. It’s undefinable because it has no definition. The shape of the concept is a shadow. It’s something that haunts you and sticks around and follows you because men feel it should. It has taken many forms – legislation, scarlet As, but for most of us it is nothing but a meaningless excuse for violence towards us. This is what galls me about certain pockets of feminism, that there is need to constantly wonder about what our oppressors really mean when in our hearts we already know. We need to stop framing the discussion as leaping into the hearts and minds of what Sexism feels about us and we need to continue standing here defining it by our feelings. I know what it means. It’s hate. It’s violence. It’s oppression. It’s a tool of the patriarchy to corral us like cattle. To shame us into silence. To make us dirty so no one will touch us. As soon as we let the air out of that particular balloon, it will cease to have a shape.
When someone has their boot to your neck, do you need to inquire as to why? You know why, or you don’t care. It loses material value. If you accept that slut is a sexist term, and you know what sexism is (and you do, you do know what it is, you’ve seen its face) then you don’t need to ask. Stop calling it slut-shaming, stop calling them Slutwalks. Stop letting that word having a place in our lives. Let it go die under a porch and kick the stinking corpse into a dumpster. I will not ask what a slut is, I will say it: no one is a slut.