Repost: I’m a Slut

This post originally appeared on March 7, 2012. Since I first posted it, I’ve started co-hosting The Wednesday Nooner podcast, and I feel even more adamant about the subject. No shame. No. Shame.

slut

 

In November of 1996, I began taking oral contraceptives. And in December of that same year, I started having sex. I don’t remember the exact date, but I do know that it was the first of many times.

I’d messed around a lot the two and a half years prior. Lots of pushing the envelope as far as it could go without crossing over to sex, and at least a little bit of pushing beyond even that. The only thing that kept me from just going ahead having intercourse was a deathly fear of pregnancy. I was not going to be an unwed mother, so I didn’t have sex. But I was sure as hell sexual, and I got as good as I gave.

I’ve had one sexual partner in my life. And I’m married to him. In the two and a half years before we were married, we were completely faithful to one another. He was the first and only person that has shared my bed.

It can be easy to read those first few paragraphs and call that woman a slut. She was sexually active outside of marriage. She engaged in sex as soon as the threat of pregnancy was removed. She was an active and enthusiastic sexual partner.

I knew all of the reasons why I should wait. I even agreed with them. And before I met Jason, there was never any question that I would wait. I wanted to be with someone who I loved and who loved me back. I wanted to be with someone who was fully committed to me. I wanted to be with someone who I intended to spend my life with.

Jason was all of those things.

But he was all of those things for two and a half years before we were officially married.

And this is where the word slut is problematic to me. Not only because it demeans women, but because it is generally used about women who aren’t ashamed of being sexual. Women who say, “Yes, I want to have sex and I want to have an orgasm when I do.” Women who don’t have sex coupled with regret.

When we use this phrase, whether loudly on the radio or in whispers in church, we wrap sex, and particularly the female enjoyment of sex, in a huge blanket of shame.

When we teach our daughters “don’t be a slut,” we aren’t simply teaching them to be faithful to their future husband. We aren’t simply teaching them to respect themselves. We aren’t simply teaching them to value marriage and fidelity and oneness.

When we use that word they may hear those lessons, but it comes with extra baggage. When we say “don’t be a slut,” we’re teaching them that if they do have sex outside of marriage, they had better feel terrible about it. They can never admit to enjoying it. And they should never, ever, ever be the one to pursue it.

These messages stick with you, regardless of your sexual activity. Whether it becomes something that you fear or you pursue recklessly, sex loses that which makes it truly sacred – the ability of two to become one.

You may consider my past behavior to be slutty. You may consider my current behavior to be slutty.

All I know is that I want the same thing today that I have wanted every day since the first time Jason kissed me, and that’s to be curled up naked with him.

If that makes me a slut, then I’m a slut.

  • beverlyakabuddy

    Aside from the fact that women are the ones who get pregnant, I don’t get why there is a double standard. When I was around 11, my mom had “the talk” with me and told me that all boys will try something, but it was up to me to set them straight, that I’m not that kind of girl. She said, “You’ll be dating the sons of boys I dated, and they will use the same lines on you that their fathers tried on me. If you give in to a guy, you risk getting a reputation because he will boast to all his friends. If you wind up pregnant, all his friends will say they had you too so you can’t prove he’s responsible. (This was before paternity testing like we have today.) The burden lies totally with you.” I sure didn’t want to be “that girl.”
    I went on the pill three months before I got married. Everyone said that since I was planning to work and not start a family right away, that was the best thing to do. I was not a virgin when I got married, but I still carried a lot of attitudes about good and bad girls. Once I got on the pill and realized just how easy it was to take and how well it worked, and also realized it wasn’t all that hard to get, I thought teen pregnancy would soon become a thing of the past, and I thought that was a good thing, that girls shouldn’t have to pay for a night of fun with a child. . .or a reputation. But I didn’t count on teen pregnancy becoming a way for a girl to emancipate, to get on welfare and become a single mom with income. Just didn’t see that one coming, and I am one of those who stand up for poor people and think social programs are important, especially in this time when so many families are without income due to greedy oursourcing of jobs to foreign countries by corporations who don’t want to pay American workers a living wage so instead they exploit foreigners with salve conditions and wages. But I think this is one reason so many people are fed up with the system.
    I also always felt abortion was taking a life, and I can remember when the Supreme Court made it nothing more than a medical procedure between a woman and her doctor. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I always knew that if anyone every sought my advice, I’d do all I could to steer them toward other alternatives. But I was aware of back alley butchers and self-induced coat hanger remedies that often either killed the woman/girl or left her unable to have children, so my hope was that this would be a rare occurrence. I thought this would also stop girls from concealing their pregnancies, giving birth in secret and killing their babies. Yes, that went on back then too. And it still happens, so abortion didn’t take care of everything.
    Okay, I’m leading up to something here. A large majority of the so-called “Christian Right” vote republican based on the abortion issue alone, and some vote because of that and because they want “dependencies” or social programs cut. And this is what gets me confused. You are against abortion and you want to save the unborn. Okay, but after they are born, shouldn’t we also care about those children, especially the ones born into poverty situations? We don’t want to pay into programs that help them, and many of us even resent free school lunches, although now that the “gun issue” has once again reared its ugly head, many want either a policeman posted at every school or teachers (referred to as union thugs in recent times) to pack guns on the job. The craziness of all of this astounds me. And in the frenzy to stop killing babies in the womb, many have supported candidates that not only want to end abortion, but most forms of contraception. . .yet those who support that are the same ones that say people shouldn’t have kids if they can’t support them. Does anyone but me see the impossible circular thinking with all this?
    Many seem to want to return to some idealized version of the 1950′s which were not so good if you were black or even a woman. Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut certainly shows that attitude. My very rightwing Christian relative cheered Mr. Limbaugh for saying that. I told her there was a time when Christian woman would have been shocked and dismayed at that, not cheering him on, and Rush has never even claimed to be a Christian to my knowledge, only conservative. Mr. Limbaugh who admits to taking Viagra, has been married four times and has no children is certainly taking a double standard with his judgment on a woman who never discussed her sex life or anyone elses, but merely talked about the medicinal use of “the pill” and how it could have helped her friend who couldn’t afford it and lost an ovary and now cannot bear children. Where is love and compassion in all of this?
    Well, I have probably written more than anyone wants to read, but as an old feminist, this is a subject I am passionate about. I look forward to comments and hope people do.

  • http://ear-sword-miracle.blogspot.com/ Miles O’Neal

    I went back t the original to see if I commented there. At the top it says, “4 comments” but when I click on that link, at the bottom it says, “0 comments”. Weird.

    “Slut” is one of those words I hate. It’s reeks of judgment. It’s the antithesis of how Jesus treated people.

    Where you’re at is where I am with my wife (wishing I were curled up naked with her), and where I wish all married people were. And while I know that’s not going to happen, our society (including the church) makes it far more difficult than it needs to be.

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    The story above could almost be mine. It probably fits a lot of women. One partner, lots of snuggles before sex, lots of sex before marriage, I think that’s common. So glad I was raised secular, never taught that sex is shameful or dirty or only for men. I did grow up thinking sex was for adults, and as a college freshman, I did not think I was an adult, not really. I could easily have gotten contraceptives if I wanted to. I did not fear pregnancy, because I see nothing wrong with first term abortion if birth control fails. Yet I chose not to have sex for the first few years of college. My boyfriend (now my husband) understood and supported me. So to anyone thinking easy access to the pill (or to abortion) leads to sex, or denying it prevents sex, or that fear of pregnancy is all that keeps women virginal, please reconsider. We are sexual, we are reasonable, we are caring, we are responsible, and we can be trusted to make decisions for ourselves.