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L.A. Beat

Ask Margo— What’s up with the word slut? Part 2: judgment

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In last week’s column (see Ask Margo – What’s up with the word “slut”?: Part 1) I discussed the slut-word, what it means to people, and how some of my friends (who happily answered my probing questions) appear to have conflicting attitudes about it. Some revealed they had used the word recently, but then also claimed to not be influenced by it (they answered “no” when asked if they had “judged someone or changed the way they thought about someone because they were called a slut”.) Why use the word when it has no effect on you? The thing is most of my friends had a tough time giving a straightforward answer to my last question. It is likely we are not fully conscious of how it is we come to decide who is worthy of getting to know. If we are not aware of how the word affects us, how would we understand its powers? from

But some friends answered a straight up “no,” sans effort, stating they don’t hear the word anymore and felt the word had become obsolete. These friends wondered why I wanted to write about it and thought that it was in response to the slut-movement (to reclaim the word). Why is it that some friends don’t hear the word used anymore but many of my other friends do? I suspect that the size of one’s city plays a role in the word’s prominence.

I think this because all six friends who answered “yes” (they have used the word recently to purposely be harsh or tarnish a person’s reputation) are residents of Lethbridge. That’s right, out of the 15 friends I talked to six answered yes to this question, and all six live here in “LA”. But before you Lethbridgians get all ashamed of yourselves (after all I only asked seven of you which is hardly representative of the population) I have to say that there is probably a good reason for this.

Please don’t assume all people from a small city like Lethbridge have ‘red-neck,’ closed minded views, because, as I said before, most of the friends I spoke to have fairly liberal attitudes about sex. It is probably that the term (or any kind of social monitoring, gossip, and name calling) is more effective in a place where many residents already know your name. If you call a girl a slut in a larger city, like say Vancouver, people might just shrug it off.

Calling someone a slut is a form of social policing. It is a way to put a person’s behaviour and/or intentions under the scrutiny and judgment of others. It is a way to ensure a person suffers some form of social repercussion for their supposed (or actual) actions or behaviour. It is a word I don’t think is necessary and a word I hope falls out of use.

I am not aiming to tip my hat to those that don’t use the word, nor am I saying ‘tsk-tsk’ to those that do.

I certainly don’t take the high road when it comes to exacting verbal revenge. I guess I just think that if you are going to be vicious and bully others into thinking less of someone, potentially causing a person to lose credibility among their peers, couldn’t you at least say something more cutthroat and accurate rather than relying on the loaded word ‘slut’? If you want to take someone down, why not just say what it is that caused you to feel this way; why bring their lifestyle choices into it?

Feel free to let me know what you think, and, as always, send your relationship/sex advice requests to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
I would like to thank all my friends who provided their definitions and some pretty honest responses.
What does the word slut mean to you?

“When I was younger it meant a girl who would sleep with any boy to be popular. Now I associate it with an ugly word that mainly women call other women as a last resort type of insult”. – Female, Actor, age: 23 (Calgary, AB).
(Answered “No” when asked if she had recently used the word to describe someone).

“A slut to me is a woman who is very easy, who is somewhat unattractive and is more than easy. It is a last resort for a desperate man to have sex with a person without having to pay for it”. – Male, Amateur Scientist, age: 35 (Lethbridge, AB).

(Answered “Yes” when asked if he had recently used the word to describe someone).

“The word slut in my opinion takes on several different meanings depending on who is using it and in what circumstance. It could be someone calling their ex that because they're angry, or another girl just being jealous or mean spirited. It may even be considered comical to certain people to call someone a slut. I think at its core though, it is a judgmental word for someone who is sexually promiscuous with several different people. However, in my opinion using a derogatory word to describe anyone whether you agree with their actions or lack thereof, is a much bigger problem. Words like slut get thrown around so much in today's society and although it's common to hear, it doesn't make it right. It is still a very powerful and often times damaging word. I think too many people forget that.” – Female, Student/Actor, age: 28 (Los Angeles, CA). 

(Answered “No” when asked if she had recently used the word to describe someone).

“A slut is a dirty girl who uses sex to her advantage, sleeping with married people, spreading diseases knowingly etc” – Female, Supervisor/Cashier, age: 19 (Lethbridge, AB).

(Answered “Yes” when asked if she had recently used the word to describe someone).

“To me, being a slut is a positive thing. I think that the word "slut" signifies someone that is open and unafraid of their sexuality that has obviously pushed the buttons of someone with a more conservative worldview. To me, it is like calling someone a "queer". It has historically been used as a tool of subjugation, but the word "slut" only has that negative power if we want to endow it as negative. On another note, if more people just relaxed and f**ked more often the world would be a happier place”. –Male, Comedian, age: 28 (Toronto, ON).
(Answered “No” when asked if he had recently used the word to describe someone).

— By Margo, Special to L.A. Beat
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