[Trigger Warning for Discussion of Rape, Rape Culture]
Or I am, who am I to argue? I have big breasts, long legs, and the occasional short skirt. Men twice my age whistle and blow kisses as they drive by. The first time I was ever raped, I was 8. And then when I was 16–several times over. The day before it happened (again), my rapist told me that I was “such a slut,” and it took me a while to realize that this was abnormal, because slut is a thing that my parents, my teachers, and the girls I never seemed to get along with at school have all had the right to call me since the 6th grade.
It has very little to do with my personhood and a whole lot to do with victimization.
And, don’t get me wrong, I can’t possibly bring myself to give a shit about whether or not you consider yourself a slut. But I can tell you that I am no less of a survivor for wanting to keep my distance from such a term. Because slut is something that I internalized in a way that I could never internalize “stupid,” or “cunt,” or “dyke.” It didn’t mean anything to me, except that I was irredeemably available for sexual violence. “Slut,” to me, will always be a rape threat.
This doesn’t mean people will stop calling me that. I’ve learned pretty quickly that one of my litmus tests, now, has to be “will you invoke childhood trauma by calling me a slut? Does your love of shock value outweigh your distaste for making me feel unsafe? Are you aware that words mean things?” Lots of people fail. Including Jaclyn Friedman.
And nobody is talking about it. Friedman addressed a group of survivors with “well hello you beautiful sluts!” but all of us who would have felt threatened already knew not to be there that day (fittingly, if I wanted to be called a slut, I could just hang around at home). It’s frustrating, and a little exclusionary. I mean, maybe if every Saturday a group of survivors got together and demanded an end to rape culture, I could be okay with SlutWalk. I wouldn’t go. But I would be okay with it. But the fact that I apparently have to “reclaim” a word that I’ve been fighting my whole life to escape if I want to be part of the one response to a dipshit rape apologist who is furthering oppression that I–and every rape survivor too triggered for SlutWalk–suffer from is inexcusable. Demanding that we call ourselves sluts or just shut the fuck up is what rape culture looks like.
Because I was too powerless when slut was first applied. It doesn’t refer to anything I’m proud of: it’s not my sexual orientation (dyke), my genitals (cunt), or my autism (stupid). It’s my vulnerability and status as a rapeable member of society. There is nothing to “take back,” for me. Keep it.
(ETA: This post has been getting a lot of hits, and in maybe an overly-cynical move, I would like to request that negative/dissenting comments be directed at this thread, because they won’t be approved here).