Saturday 25 February 2012

Saturday SoapBlog: Marjorie Claire - Using 'slut' is offensive

The annual Slut Walk protest and has just been held around the world including events in Cairns, however the use of the world ''slut'' does not sit well with everyone, including mum and feminist, Marjorie Claire.

Slut walk is about protesting against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman's appearance. The event became more pertinent this year in light of LNP's Cairns candidate, Gavin King, using language that said "If a woman drinks to excess during a night out on the town, is she partly to blame for being raped or assaulted? As uncomfortable and difficult as this question is, the answer surely is yes." King said, in part, follows Police advice asking woman to not put themselves in a vulnerable situation. King's article has sparked State-wide protest action.

Along with her daughter, Marjorie helped with the local production of The Vagina Monologues, that embraces women to be strong and combat hate front on.

Words like ''gay'' and ''queer'' were 'reclaimed' in a similar way to own hurtful and hateful words. She says words are powerful, but ''slut'' is not helpful.

I hear and see on Facebook women calling each other and themselves 'sluts'.

This subject has become particularly prevalent of late due to the 'Slutwalk' event in Cairns.

I have stated previously why the word is so personally offensive to me, but I now realise that there is a bigger picture thing happening here. I want to know if calling each other 'sluts' is meant to be like some ocker calling out 'hey Blue, you old bastard'?

Are we, men and women, now to use the term as in 'hey Red, you slut, how are you?' Is it to become a new form of endearment? If so, is it meant to take the sting out of the word?

Are women going to be empowered in any way by using the word as an endearment? Just how does this work?

Hey, I know a truly beautiful word that's mighty powerful. In fact it's one of the most powerful words in the world. Millions have and still are suffering torture, deprivations and even death for it - that's how powerful my word is.

The word is freedom.

Freedom - sort of rolls off your tongue beautifully and easily and it's only power of alienation is against those who seek to destroy it - unlike the word 'slut'.
Freedom is definitely worth me fighting for and am more than happy too.

Freedom to dress as I want, freedom to get drunk if I want, freedom to walk around after dark if I choose, freedom to sleep with whomever I want and freedom to say no at any point in an intimate situation.

I wish for all women to have freedom from all male constructs on their basic human rights. I especially wish for all women the freedom to fight for these rights in their own inimitable way without resorting to one-up-man-ship games with men.

What I do and who I do it with - inside the law - is between me and my conscience, in my case, God, and not between me and man.

'Disempowering' the current meaning of the word 'slut' means that one day the word will be in common usage just like the word 'bastard' - and becomes a term of endearment. Is this what we really want? I certainly don't. Even without any meaning attached the word is ugly. Honey, sweetheart, darling. etc - all much prettier words.

My suggested solution: Why don't we get rid of the word altogether?

Words have been disappearing from the dictionary through lack of use for since dictionaries first came into being. An example is the word 'slattern' - forerunner to the word 'slut' - it's no longer used so let's do the same for the word 'slut'.

Let's educate ourselves and men that there is no such word as 'slut' which should be easy in these enlightened times. Really, do we actually know any 'sluts' or is it just another male construct to keep women in their place? Think about it.

The message 'Slutwalk' is sending out is focused on just one minor, but still horrific, issue of the entire rape experience.

I did not ask to get raped because I was perceived by male lawyers, male policemen, male judges, whatever to be dressed as a slut.

I did not ask to be raped at all, hence I want the freedoms I spoke about in the beginning of this discourse.

Let's put our energy, empathy, intelligence etc on fighting for freedom?


nomooremike said...

"Freedom to dress as I want, freedom to get drunk if I want, freedom to walk around after dark if I choose, freedom to sleep with whomever I want and freedom to say no at any point in an intimate situation."

What about the freedom to use the word slut in any way I see fit?

Carol said...

I too find the word offensive ... And it is the tone and vehemence it is hurled at one that makes it so hurtful. I was raised to think about what my appearance is saying to all people, not just men. So language is constructed on many levels to get a positive and negative message across. With rights come responsibility. Maybe with freedoms there should be accountability.

nomooremike said...

If people are going to use these soap boxes they should have the good grace to answer comments.

Wade Sharpley said...

I like your Idea to get rid of the word all together. I have always thought that the slutwalk protest only reinforced the stereotype.

Marjorie said...

I felt I had a democratic right to put my view out there. Having said that, I read your comment this morning about your right to use the word 'slut' but felt no need to respond as I agree with you.

It IS your right to use the word any time and any way you wish. What more can I say except to wish you well in the forthcoming week.

Forgot, I wish you well too, Carol and Wade and thanks heaps for your support Wade. Cheers all.

KitchenSlut said...

My own experience, as a slut identity, is that the most vitriolic criticism comes from those with the most stereotypilcal views. Which is obvious here!

The MOST vitriolic criticism actually came from a prominent local business nightclub identity who expressed an extreme disgust for sluts apparently related to the purity of his Italian background. Virgins only please!

The word is ugly? Shakespeare didn't mind although the meaning then was simply "an untidy woman"

The word has now evolved into a lascivious indulgence of any kind! Enjoy Bookslut! By far the best slut site!

Michael Weitzmann said...

I am afraid the word "slattern", whilst not in common modern usage, remains a word in the English language and can be found in any good modern dictionary.

This article is typical of those who would like to ban, or legislate against that which they do not like or do not agree with. Our human society in the west (and for that matter in the east and other areas) has taken thousands of years to evolve into is current form. Revolution does not work, you can not wipe away centuries or millenia of human development on your whim, even where this may be for the good.

Our society will evolve and things will change, but over generations and the course of many lifetimes, not quickly to suit our brief lives. By all means advocate for what you believe in, but remember that extreme actions against accepted cultural norms will only (at least in the short term) result in extreme REACTIONS.

Marjorie said...

Re Kitchenslut: Stereotypical views or life experience happening here????

Re Michael Weitzmann: Nothing ever changes when nothing ever changes. Have you not heard of Rosa Parks or the suffergette movement or the Unions or the myriad of other movements around the world and throughout history - they all began with a few people upset with the status quo and spread from there. There were a lot of people who were upset with the word 'slut' being used as in 'slutwalk' - I just happened to be the one to publically voice my concern.
Cheers, Marjorie

Michael Weitzmann said...

Dear Marjorie,

Sorry I just find it odd that it is the word that you find offensive rather than the meaning. A slut is a slut whether we use the word or not. Not that I have a problem with sluts, ones private life is ones own business. However, in the case of slut walk, I'm not sure if these people are identifying AS sluts or just asserting their rights to LOOK LIKE or DRESS like sluts. If you are NOT a slut then yes you might have a problem with the word and may not feel it is appropriate for what you wish to express.

If you are a slut and choose to publicly identify as one, then you can't complain. I would like to add that whether one is a slut or a vestal virgin, NO ONE deserves or should be considered to deserve rape because of how they look or how many consensual partners they choose to have. Having said that, we all (male/female, slut or demure matron) need to take care and resposibility for our personal safety just like we secure our home or car against theives. It's just about taking care and trying to avoid danger. It can't always work.....but it has nothing to do with our moral lives or the way we look. Thanks.

Wade Sharpley said...

I don't think we should legislate for the removal of the word - i do not agree with that at all. The last thing we need is our government telling us what we can and can't say....maybe we're too late.

Destiny Prophet said...

The term slutwalk is probably used to take advantage of the small residual surprise we still feel at some women taking ownership of the word - in order to jolt the community out of any apathy some have to assaults on women.
Actual words are irrelevant - as in 'bastard'. It was only ever a nasty word because it was used as one - it becomes a charming word when used endearingly as 'you old bastard'. To focus on the word rather than the action takes the focus from the real problem - people's actions, not their words. I would guess there have been rapists who used pretty words like 'honey' and 'sweetheart' while violating their victims, and also loving partners who have playfully called their other half a bitch or slut while having mutual fun. It's all about context.
And if 'slut' is a problem, what do we do about a friend of mine who proudly proclaims herself a 'shoe-whore'. I'm pretty certain she doesn't exchange sex for shoes - she's just a good example of how language changes.

KitchenSlut said...

I don't understand your arguent here Marjorie? Please eplain? What is the relevance of your suggestion on life experience v stereotypes?

Michael Weitzmann said...

I agree with Destiny Prophet, she demonstates through her examples that way language evolves and changes meaning over time. This is fine and normal. However, I could never agree that we expunge a word from the dictionary just because we don't like it is it doesn't represnt the paradigm we would like to be dominant.

I've got no problem with the message of slut walk or with sluts. If you are a is no one elses business anyway, except if you put it out there. Then you will cop flack, just like christians, gays, socialists, LNP members, gay LNP members and all other groups do, esp. if they are minorities. I know...

KitchenSlut said...

Perhaps because the gays, christians and socialists are separate identities rather than represented as a combined entity.

Barnaby Joyce is clearly a christian Ssocialist but not gay? As is Bob Katter! There can be many variations on this? Is Warren Entsch a gay socialist but perhaps not christian?

Christian socialists in particular seem to now dominate an anti-intellectual LNP, that I suported until recently, just as they now dominate the US fruit-loop conservative right!

Michael Weitzmann said...

Dear Commentators,

I did not mean to give the impression that I was all of these things. In particular, I am NOT a christian or a socialist. Kitchenslut is closer to the truth, I was using them as all examples of minorities which they all are to one degree or another as are self identified sluts. Kitchenslut, I don't think I'm spite of my spelling (typo's!)sometimes ;-)

Destiny Prophet said...

The majority of people belong to minorities and only a minority belong to any majority. The major evidence for this minor fact being the silent majority who are inevitably just the noisiest of the minorities.

KitchenSlut said...

Michael, I dont see how it is any longer honestly feasible to identify with the LNP and not also to openly identify as anti-intellectual?

When it comes to economics I note the comments last year from Peter Costello in the SMH that Abbott (and Joyce et al) are from an entirely different background rooted within what was the DLP.

Abbott's background in student politics at Sydney Uni was within the Democratic Club associated with the DLP and the Santamaria Catholics. He was aligned with the Liberal Club (then led by Tanya Coleman now spouse of Costello) only in opposition to the radical student socialism movement and its abuse of student funding.

When it comes to sluts it was reported in student newspaper Honi Soit, not the most reliable source admittedly, that Abbott used to greet the lesbian women's collective in the student council offices with a breezy "good morning sluts". I attribute this to his own backgrouund and sexual stereotyping?

Michael Weitzmann said...

Dear Kitchenslut,
Could you please proffer a definition of "intelectual" as you see it? Maybe we are not on the same page. Perhaps I am conflating it with "learned"? I'm guessing (but not sure) that you will regard me as a non-intelectual because I do not have a teriary education. But there must be more to it than that......many conservatives are tertiary educated??? Please explain...(ha ha)

PS to commentators who follow Hillbilly Watch - I have been booted off, accused by the blog administrator of abuse & trying to set the agenda and no further comments are being published. I did not abuse Athena (though I may have been inconsiderate in using the word "lying"). Athena stated in a previous comment that John MacKenzie did not allow non LNP candidates air time on his 4CA talk show. I stated that I regarded this as untrue (here the unfortunate use of "lying") as Beatrice Booth from NQ Party & DJ Hunt from KAP are frequent callers and are given air time. For this I was booted off. I appologise to "Athena" for any offense caused but I regarded her claim as one which I needed to answer and I did not use any bad language.

KitchenSlut said...

Weitzmann mate! If there is a differentiation between 'learned' and 'intellectual' it is in the concept of rationality?

Pope Urban 8 was was a very learned fellow by all reports however still managed ultimate responsibiility for the persecution of Galileo, who I would regard as an intellectual?

More recently, the quote from Einstein in a letter now almost a century ago should never be kept too far from mind:

"THIS world is a strange madhouse. Every coachman and every waiter is debating whether relativity theory is correct. Belief in this matter depends on political affiliation."