the semantics of sluthood

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Irin Carmon's "My Sluthood, Myself" gives us some details of her long dry spell, followed by a Craigslist Casual Encounters hookup that prompts her to declare that "sluthood is scary:"

Because we've been taught to fear it all our lives, and that training doesn't just go away because we understand the agenda behind it. And because there are real risks involved. Society likes to punish slutty women. And so do a lot of individual men, some of whom frequent Craigslist Casual Encounters.

I left my roommate a note telling her what I'd done and where I was going and to call me at 11 and if I didn't answer to call the police. (What they were going to do about the fact that her 30-something roommate had gone on a CE date and wasn't home after two hours I mercifully didn't wonder at the time.) And then I went down to the local bar and met him.

You've probably already guessed that I didn't get axe murdered. Instead, we spent a lovely hour chatting over a couple of glasses of wine, he used the phrase "male hegemony" critically in a sentence (entirely unprompted by me), and then he asked me if I wanted to go back to his place, which was nearby. And once again, to my shock and terror and excitement, I found that I did. Though not before asking him for his address, calling my roommate with it in front of him, and letting him know I had extensive self-defense training.

Reader, I fucked him. Three rounds worth that night. And it was awesome.

After talking a bit about privilege, she says, "I'm telling you this because it's important for everyone to understand:"

Sluthood isn't a disease, or a wrong path, or a trend that's ruining our youth. It isn't just for detached, unemotional women who "fuck like men," (as if that actually meant something), consequences be damned. It isn't ever inevitable that sluthood should inspire violence or shame. Sluthood isn't just a choice we should let women make because women should be free to make even "bad" choices. It's a choice we should all have access to because it has the potential to be liberating. Healing. Soul-fulfilling. I'm telling you this because sluthood saved me, in a small but life-altering way, and I want it to be available to you if you ever think it could save you, too.

Interestingly, Kate Carraway opines that queer women can't be sluts:

There's a crucial difference between a straight slut and a queer slut, and it's the shame factor. But it's not shame in the way you might think.

She continues by observing that this is "because 'slut' doesn't exist as an idea without its association with shame:"

This is why there's no original analog for a "male slut," why we have to dredge up horrible jargon like "himbo" and "man-whore." These all provocative-on-purpose jokes cannot be taken as seriously as to call a woman a "slut."

"A slut without shame is not a slut at all," she continues, "and a queer slut is, mostly, freed from all of the still-in-effect stigmas and judgments of straight straight-up sluts:"

This is because the shame of "slut" is specifically about the fear and subsequent judgment of women making themselves available and in some ways vulnerable to men. But we're not so much worried about a so-called slut's emotional well-being as we are afraid of her being used up, spoiled, pregnant with a fatherless baby -- because all of that stuff is bad for women, individually and collectively.

But these fears don't -- can't, really -- translate to the lesbian community.

I'm not sure that I completely agree with her take on the semantics of sluthood, but it's worth considering.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on December 26, 2016 6:25 PM.

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