A few days ago, this article by Katheryn Hale was sent to me by a friend who wanted me to comment on it. Knowing that I am rather pro-slut she specifically wanted to know whether I approved or disapproved of this commentary. I am a proud and happy slut. I am happy to reveal my number and go into gross detail about what each encounter meant to me. I consider myself an advocate for responsible slutting.
Want to know how I feel about the article? I wholly disapprove. I sat there in shock as this commentary in EdenCafe of all places was insulting those of us who have an active and equally healthy sex life. Not to mention the fact that this article showed absolutely none of the sex-positive or even woman-positive imagery I had grown to expect in my daily readings, it did it in such a demeaning and judgmental way that I have no choice than to respond to some of the more choice judgments.
“Whore” and “slut” are terms almost always applied to women, particularly promiscuous ones. While they’re very similar behavior-wise, whores and sluts differ by their degree of promiscuity. Whores are often associated with prostitution. These women have many sexual partners, but they’re selling their bodies primarily for monetary gain, whether they actually want to be a prostitute or not.”
She starts the article by assuming that sluts should end up at the bottom of this heap. She acts as if any of us are morally equipped to judge someone else’s sexual choices or encounters, much less determine that some classifications of sexual women deserve to be at the bottom. What is interesting at that she classifies “whores” as being better since they’re getting paid for their promiscuity and later in the article states that the fact that “whores” maintain some sense of safety and control over their choices.
But it’s this statement that set me off:
Sluts, however, are willing to have sex with just about anything that moves. They’ll engage in dangerous sexual activities at a whim, all while only being concerned about pleasure. At least whores are both aware of the risks and are willing to protect themselves whenever they can. Even if a slut knows about the dangers of frequent unprotected sex, she’ll most likely not give a hoot about safety precautions pre-intercourse.”
Sluts are willing to have sex to satisfy and assert our own pleasure, our own choices, their own values and not those of someone else. We do not have sex with just about anything that moves; in fact, we exert a great deal of choice over who we have sex with and how. And even if Ms. Hale had bothered to define what are “dangerous sexual activities” (is it sex with strangers, sex without condoms, sex in public, group sex, kinky sex, mile-hi sex?) trust me when I say that we sluts have one thing in common: we assess our risks and make knowing and informed choices. The fact that we do so more quickly than your average bottled-up housewife does not necessarily make it “on a whim”. But even if it were on a whim, why is that a problem if we are walking in fully aware of and prepared for the risks involved? Even if the sole concern isn’t primarily for pleasure, at least we do actually consider our own pleasure before deciding to have sex with someone. Shocking, I know. But certainly not anything that should be used to judge anyone…that is, unless your premise is based on an assumption that sex should not be pleasurable. And if so, you should really be more upfront about that.
But more than that, I’m offended by the assumption that think that our sex is “unprotected”. The fact is that sluts are owners of our sexuality. We are enforcers of a healthy sexuality. And more than anything we aren’t so caught up in the paradigm of fear about what is “down there” that we actually know our own anatomy, our own pleasure centers and are educated and assertive enough to understand and make conscious decisions about our level of safe sex. We are more likely to be prepared with condoms, have had frank discussions with our health-care providers in order to keep ourselves safe and are more likely to walk out on someone who refuses to respect any boundaries we require regarding safety or activities. We are active and informed consumers of sex, from the side-effects of some of the materials used to make the sex toys we use down to the rules of engagement for a new sex partner.
Are you prostituting? You’re a whore. Were you caught cheating with your lover’s best friend? You’re a whore. Did you contract an STD, have an abortion, or appear on Maury Povich for a paternity test? Whore, whore, and big time whore.
Here’s my take:
Are you prostituting? You are a sex worker.
Were you caught cheating with your lover’s best friend? You’re likely a cheater.
Did you contract an STD? You’re either not taking the right precautions in sexual activity or you were terribly unlucky.
Did you have an abortion? You are a woman who has had to make a very difficult choice (and you might have been forced to because you were a victim of rape or incest or marital abuse).
Did you appear on Maury Povich for a paternity test? You’re attention-seeking and possibly harboring some unresolved issues, but not likely an actual whore.
Am I the only one who sees this line of judgment as problematic and infinitely fallacious?
When a woman becomes a slut, she is no longer treated like a woman, let alone a human being. She becomes an object to abuse, and no one cares because nobody wants to associate with sluts.
No, it’s when other women, like the author, who treat empowered and sexually assertive women as less than worthy that we are treated like this. I didn’t see anything in this article that treats “sluts”, “whores” or any other woman who has had more than 3 sex partners with anything resembling respect or admiration. So why would anyone else treat us with respect? It seems that the author cannot even bring the sensitivity or sensibility to treat woman who are obviously far more sexually active than her with anything but distant derision and outright shame. It is people like the author who are responsible for continuing to shame a healthy and positive sexual presence for women and thus legitimizing such horrid treatment as the default societal response.
It’s not hard to imagine just how threatening a sexually assertive woman might be. How threatening it is for her to be aggressive, directed and yes, pleasure-driven much less to expose herself to other women who do embody these qualities? After all, that might be far too empowering and would start to eliminate the millions of women who have been brainwashed into thinking that Cosmo can solve their sexual dilemmas by turning elementary school girlish titillation into some grand game of sexual doormat olympics. All the author does is deter women from taking control over their own sexual satisfaction and setting reasonable and concrete boundaries about their level of involvement in a sexual encounter; thus silencing those who model any level of sexual control and maturity to our partners and friends. She might prefer in fact if women were kept as demure little girls who allowed fear and insecurity to make our sexual decisions for us…and thus keep us repressed, lonely and pleasure-deprived. After all, that’s been the predominant message over centuries of patriarchial society. It is up to the woman to keep her legs closed and shame to any women who decides to open them willingly for someone she might be attracted to.
So, to answer the final question in the article, why yes, I am rather proud to be a slut, to sex-positive, to have touched others’ lives through my intimately physical interactions with them and to continue to focus on my pleasure, my safety, my boundaries and having sex as loudly as I can on my own terms.
Thanks for asking.