ABOUT THE AUTHOR
slutting towards bethlehem
Slut” is a great word. It just sounds perfect—so sharp and clear and beautiful. It’s one of those satisfying fourletter words, like “cunt” and “fuck.” “Slut” also happens to be an anagram for “lust,” which is one of those divine coincidences that makes you wonder if God actually exists.
We’re lucky that “slut” is such a great word, because it’s pretty safe to say that every woman will be called a slut at least once in her lifetime. I, personally, have the distinct pleasure of being called a slut like twelve times a day—just one of the many perks of being a sex writer in the age of internet trolls (*hair flip*). I’m not sure if my brain is wired wrong, or if I’ve simply developed a defense mechanism after years of harassment for being a professional blowjob blogger, but now when someone calls me a slut I get bizarrely excited by it. I find perverse pleasure in knowing that simply by being a woman who openly enjoys sex, I’m able to incite rage in total randoms. It’s entertaining. And it’s a rite of passage. Being called a slut means you’ve really made it, ya know? Like you’re officially a woman.
But what is a slut, anyway? According to the relic known as the Oxford English Dictionary, “slut” is a pejorative term for a woman who has many sexual partners. However, in recent years, the word has gone a bit rogue. These days, it’s often used maliciously as an umbrella term for any woman who’s openly sexual. Something as PG-13 as texting someone a topless selfie can make you a metaphorical whore these days. But if you can be slut-shamed while you’re still a virgin, then how do we define what it means to be a slut? Who holds the keys to the slut kingdom?
To me, a slut is a person who seeks out visceral experiences through sex. Being a slut is not necessarily about having a high body count; it’s about being sexually activated. A slut is someone who has no moral obstacle between themselves and their desire to enjoy sex. A slut is a person who has sex with who they want, how they want, and isn’t ashamed about it. Sluts are special. Sluts are radical.
And sluts are also skilled at time management, because we can handle multiple dicks on rotation, plus our jobs and our blogs and our beauty routines. It’s not easy, being a ho. Not everyone is qualified for this coveted position. And the slut label is unifying. When I meet a girl who self-identifies as a slut, I immediately feel an affinity with her—like, one of us. It’s like a modern-day vagina version of the Freemasons, except without the cool secret handshake. (Unless a hand job counts?) I believe that once we accept this more contemporary, sophisticated definition of “slut,” it will be easier to accept the label as a badge of honor.
Unfortunately, much of the world has yet to catch up to our level of slutty enlightenment. Until they do, we just have to own it. One of the best pieces of advice my mother ever gave me was: Whenever someone insults you, just smile and say “thank you” in that wonderfully blasé-slashpotentially clueless tone that Andy Warhol perfected. For example, I was recently at the STD clinic being casually diagnosed with throat gonorrhea when the doctor let out an unnecessarily long sigh. “Well,” he said condescendingly, “I’ve never known a woman to have gonorrhea in her throat before. Usually we only see that in gay men.” And I was like, “Wow, thank you!” Followed by, “Did you just assume my gender?”
So far, my sex life has been—how should I put it...colorful? There’ve been a lot of ups and downs. And, like, whips and chains, lies and deceit, love and hate, lust and money. Not to mention bruises, rashes, dungeons, confusion, insecurity, blackouts, crutches, orgies, doctor’s appointments, boys, girls, toys, trauma, hotels, jealousy, addiction, mysterious bloodstains—ya know, the usual.
For the most part, I’ve found my sexual curiosity to be a positive trait, as it’s led me to have experiences that I’m certain I’ll be happy to have had when I die—from Eyes Wide Shut–style sex parties in hotel penthouses, to being the “first assistant dildo” on a porn set, to somehow ending up in a prisoner-of-war role play in Munich with a married couple who didn’t speak a word of English. Without question, if I weren’t as slutty as I am, my life thus far would have been far less interesting. As my hooker friend likes to say: “Sluts have more fun.” But my sluttiness has also been the cause of many existential bathroom-mirror moments. Over the years, I’ve often found myself stabbing at the ingrown hairs on my bikini line, thinking: How does my gang-bang fantasy factor into my life plan about who I think I am...or whatever?
We are taught that our sexual behavior has a vital impact on who we are, our mental well-being, and how other people perceive us—especially for women. From a young age, society tells us that when a guy has a lot of sex, he’s a virile Don Juan who’s just fulfilling his biological urge to spread his seed (gross?). But if you’re a woman who has a lot of sex, not only are you a slut (in a bad way), but there’s also something fundamentally wrong with your brain. You couldn’t possibly just want sex for fun, like guys supposedly do, so the desire must be coming from low selfesteem, depression, or because you’re “ugly” and can’t get a boyfriend (as if ugly people don’t have boyfriends?). Talk about gaslighting on a mega-scale.
Since my teens, part of me has been infatuated with the rebelliousness of being a girl who sleeps around. But there was another part of me that thought, Let’s be real—there’s probably something wrong with me. It’s hard to escape this gloomy self-diagnosis when everyone close to you—from your parents, to your church, to your friends and boyfriends and even the characters in your favorite movies—is constantly telling you that if you’re a girl who has a lot of sex, it means that you’re unequivocally fucked up.
In terms of sexual freedom, we’ve come a long way in recent years. (Hello, you can say “pussy” on TV now.) But there continue to be lots of mixed messages floating around. The double standard is finally beginning to fade, but we’re still a culture with a slut-shaming problem, often made worse (or at least more public) by social media. Casual sex has become a casual part of the cultural conversation—women stalk prey on dating apps just like men do—and yet it’s still taboo to be a woman who has multiple partners. While many women today are vocally antislut–shaming, very few women are openly slutty. Basically, society is experiencing growing pains when it comes to female sexual autonomy. To be a slut or not to be a slut? That is the modern feminist question.