Why I’m reclaiming the word ‘slut’

slut shaming o-diaries

Slut has been an easy insult against sexually empowered women for generations. But can owning the word as your own help you feel more confident and in control of your female sexuality? Our author Nadia Bokody explains why she is taking the term back…

If you’re a woman who says you’ve never been involved in slut-shaming – whether as a perpetrator, or a victim of it – you’re a liar. The truth is, slut-shaming is so ingrained in our culture, we’re often painfully unaware of just how often it happens.

Examples of slut-shaming

Ever judged a woman for showing skin in the office? Refrained from having sex on the first date for fear of how it would make you look? What about referred to a peer you vehemently disliked as a “slut”? Those are all examples of slut-shaming.

Slut-shaming can be silent, too. It can be the extra glances we give a woman that is wearing a revealing outfit when she shows up at a party, the internal guilt we wrestle with over how many sexual partners we’ve had, or the thought that a woman must be ‘desperate’ or ‘abused’ if she’s taken a job in the sex work industry.

I’m guilty of slut-shaming myself, and others.

It was such an entrenched part of my teen dialogue with peers, I didn’t stop to question it. Certain girls in our grade were branded “sluts” based on the number of boyfriends they’d had. There were outfits and behaviors, too, that were relegated to the S-label.

It wasn’t until I hit my thirties, I begun to understand how damaging my role in slut-shaming culture had been. I could no longer see women as the two-dimensional objects I’d been conditioned to believe we were. I could no longer ignore the persistent hypocrisy in the way my male peers seemingly slept with whoever they wanted, wore and said whatever they wanted, and remained free from judgement.

And so, instead of dumping the S-word from my vocabulary, I decided to do something radical. I reclaimed it. I took back a word that had been weaponized against my fellow women and I wore it like a badge of honor.

I AM a proud slut

When trolls inevitably responded, “Slut!” in the comments section of my sex columns, I retorted, “Why, thank you. I AM a proud slut”. Suddenly, that word could no longer hurt me. It had lost its power. And as more of my peers followed suit and reclaimed it too, its ability to harm was further weakened.

Women are not objects. We are multi-dimensional people capable of being both sexual and successful, and nurturing and smart, all at once. And here’s the best part about taking back the S-word: You can’t slut-shame a woman who’s already a proud slut.

 

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Author

Nadia Bokody is a sex-positive journalist and media commentator with a passion for empowering women in their sexuality, relationships and mental health. She’s also a regular columnist for titles including HuffPost, Mamamia, Thought Cataloug, The Sun, News.com.au, The Washington Post and more, and a regular sexpert on TV and radio shows including Triple M’s The Grill Team and Channel 7’s The Morning Show. Her relatable, comedic sex-ed YouTube channel has exploded in growth, amassing over 110,000 subscribers in just three months. When she’s not talking about sex or trialing the latest and greatest adult toys, she can be found running global women’s website, SHESAID.com.