Oh My Gosh, What a Slut…

OH MY GOD BECKY, LOOK AT HER BUTT. You’ve probably heard it before, the “S” word. Some women get offended by it, others wear it as a badge of pride, sometimes men get called it, sometimes it’s a joke, many times it’s not. People have many different views of the word “slut” and the way it’s used in our culture. Having heard the word used in almost every possible context, I started to wonder what the word really meant to people. The fact that it can be used in so many contexts and for so many reasons; as a joke, an insult, a compliment, makes it all the more confusing to understand. While most words are generally either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, the word ‘slut’ can be used in a seemingly endless amount of different contexts and connotations, so I set out to find what the word really meant to people.

I made a short survey and had people fill it out online to gather facts and numbers in regards to how people feel about the word ‘slut’ and what it means to them. Although some people gave answers more as jokes than as serious responses (not surprising when the topic is about what people to consider to be ‘slutty’), I still received many responses that allowed me to get a general idea of what people feel about this touchy subject.

After reading through all 308 of the answers, here are the results:

60% of people who filled out the survey were women, 40% were men, and one transgendered individual took the survey.

The youngest survey taker was 16, the oldest 70, and most responses were from college-aged people.

52% of people had called a friend a ‘slut’ as a joke or compliment, while the other 48% had not, or extremely rarely used ‘slut’ in a generally positive connotation.

58% of people had themselves been called a ‘slut’ as a joke or compliment, while 42% had not.

53% had called someone a ‘slut’ as an insult, while 47% preferred to stay silent.

42% of people had definitely or probably been called a ‘slut’ by someone else as an insult, while 58% of people had never been called a ‘slut’ as an insult, or  highly doubted that they had been.

I then took the answers to the question “What is your definition of the word ‘slut’? and lumped them together by similarity to find out what people generally consider to be a ‘slut’.

The most common response with 160 responses was “Someone who has a lot of sex/is loose, easy, or has loose sexual morals”.

The next most common response with 42 answers was that a ‘slut’ was someone who has sex or a lot of sex without any emotional connection, without being in a relationship, or someone who purposely or accidentally hurts others with their sexual activities and has no remorse for the emotional pain they may have caused with their actions.

The third most common response with 28 responses was that a ‘slut’ is someone who has sex in order to gain attention from others, who does not respect themselves, and/or who lets others use them and their sexuality in order to feel wanted.

Next, 26 people specified that the word ‘slut’ is an insult or a word designed by the patriarchy used to shame women who are sexually active.

16 people believed that the thing that defines a ‘slut’ is that they are open about their sexuality and speak openly about their sexual endeavors.

2 people believed that a ‘slut’ is someone who uses sex as a way to get what they want from others, and one person said that they believed a slut to be someone who is dishonest about their sex life.

Finally, two people specified that a ‘slut’ was Miley Cyrus or Paris Hilton… So…

Other than the fact that the word ‘slut’ is generally always used in a situation when someone has been having sex, although the amount of sex one needs to have before qualifying as being a ‘slut’ apparently varies from 1 to 1000,  or could be simply the attitude the woman has whilst having said sex, or even just kissing.

I went into this project trying to find a unifying, one singular meaning of the word ‘slut’, but what I came away with was the realization that there is no one definition; everyone’s idea of what a ‘slut’ is is different. With this new knowledge, the only real message that I can convey is the importance of understanding one another. Words hold so much power, and when there are such different ideas about what a word means, this power can turn chaotic quickly and create many problems between people. If I have taken anything away from this project, it is this; words have an immense amount of power, and everyone perceives certain words differently. It is important to understand that someone might feel differently about being called a ‘slut’, even jokingly or as a compliment, than you do, and it is important that we understand how much power we have when we use the word ‘slut’ and other words like it, and how it can affect people. I also learned how much people like having and talking about sex… What a bunch of…

 

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