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The Sex Files #20: We’re Taking Slutty Back

We at BCSSH have recently become mildly (or not so mildly) obsessed with this video.   Warning: Contents are extremely catchy, and could potentially lead to awkward moments if people overhear you singing it to yourself. No, of course I don’t know this from experience.

This video was posted as a response to Rush Limbaugh’s downright nasty comments about Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke.  Fluke must have missed the memo that only men are allowed to discuss reproductive justice, and had the audacity to testify before Congress on why birth control should be included in student health plans.  As a result, America got quite an earful of the conservative radio personality, Rush Limbaugh, who referred to Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”  We won’t grace Mr. Limbaugh with any more space on this blog (you’re welcome), but if you would like a re-cap that won’t make you completely nauseous, check out Jon Stewart's hilarious yet spot-on summary of the events.

Now all of this talk of “sluts” and “prostitutes” has got some people to thinking about the terms’ implications – basically the political equivalent of when a professor says a word so many times it starts to sound kind of funny.  And it’s made people think twice about the movement to reclaim the word “slut.”  What is this whole “reclaiming” business anyway?

The idea of re-appropriating the term generally began within poly-amorous and non-monogamous communities, where women were often called “sluts” to degrade and discredit their sexual choices.  These communities decided to spin the term on its head, claiming that if they are “sluts,” then a slut must be a person who has taken control of their sexuality, and can withstand social and religious pressures to conform to a particular lifestyle.  Touché.

Since then, the effort to reclaim “slut” has grown.  Slut Walks have spread the message to a wider audience, including an increased number of women.  Slut Walks originated in response to a Toronto police officer’s comments at a university campus safety information session, where he said that women should stop dressing like sluts in order to avoid being raped (nice, right?).  The Slut Walk movement aims to re-appropriate the term in order to place the blame for sexual violence back where it belongs – you know, on rapists, not rape victims.

These movements have one really important thing in common: the realization that using the word “slut” in a traditional sense allows people to degrade, judge, and categorize women based on their sexual practices – which, to be blunt, isn’t really anyone else’s business.  While the self-appointed Slut Police like Limbaugh pat themselves on the back for verbally detaining another wanton harlot, their only real contribution is towards building an even stronger rape culture.  In this kind of culture, rape is an accepted part of society, and individuals can be considered “unrapeable” because of sexual activities that they have consented to in the past. Slut-shaming and victim-blaming run amok, and authorities like the Toronto police officer spend their time blaming victims for “tempting” a rapist, instead of blaming rapists for raping in the first place.  In that society, your clothes can say “yes,” even when your voice says “no.”  What?

If this all seems insane, it’s because it is.  Thankfully, we don’t have to navigate the craziness alone.  Our friends at the Women's Resource Center (WRC) have put together a great schedule for CARE (Concerned About Rape Education) Week, including talks on consent, masculinity in the rape culture, and a ton of other goodies that we’re super excited for.

Speaking of goodies, there will be a lot of those at Sexual Health Trivia, which we will be hosting on Thursday, March 29 at 7:30 in Roggie’s.  We promise that there will be great company, good times, and plenty of independent, educated, freethinking people.  Or, in Rush Limbaugh’s words, sluts.

Peace, love, and lube,
BC Students for Sexual Health
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