Comment · Lifestyle

Sluts and sexual politics

The original article was published in the newspaper Redbrick on 26th November 2010. I recently rediscovered it, and 4 years later it’s still rather relevant. It’s been slightly modified as I’m no longer a carefree student drinking £1.50 vodka apple juices. Sadly.

“She slept with him on Saturday night. God she’s such a slut”.flirt

The conversation I overheard on Monday morning wasn’t particularly stimulating, but oh-so intriguing. Not the ‘who-slept-with-who’ bit, but the ‘friends’ opinion on an otherwise-mute Tube carriage’ bit.

The subject of their conversation had decided to have sex, and as a result was being judged.

We are lucky to live in a country that allows freedom of speech. A simple yet powerful concept. A concept that, wonderfully, includes freedom of sexuality. We can choose how often or infrequently we have sex, and (providing it is mutual……) with whom.

Many women choose to have one-night-stands in their twenties… their thirties, or their sixties for that matter. What women can’t choose is the way society reacts to this decision.

Flicking through the music channels, the average video features a beautiful model grinding on an aesthetically troubled R’n’B ‘singer’. As women, we are encouraged to act sexually and promiscuously. Yet as soon as we do, we are branded as a ‘hoe’ or ‘whore’.

In contrast, the term ‘lad’ is now the succinct synonym for ‘boys will be boys’.  We’re told that it’s okay for guys to be promiscuous because the more girls they sleep with, the more of a “lad” they are.

I won’t start a 3000-word essay on sexual inequality right now. I would need more salted caramel green tea for that.

But one thing worth noting, which was rife in the male-dominated degree I studied, is how women can often be their own worst enemies.  Describing a girl as a ‘hoebag’ or ‘whore’ because she got with the guy you like is an acceptable thing to do. (And it’s worth noting that there are no obvious words describing the male equivalent).

Words like these are weapons – used against a woman whether she ‘deserves’ them or not. And it’s often the women who speak their mind who receive them the most… regardless of whether they choose to be promiscuous or celibate.

Both men and women have a responsibility to eradicate sexual inequality.

Now where did I leave my copy of Can’t Hold Us Down…