So we wrote some weeks or months ago (I don’t have a good concept of time so I don’t really know) about sluts. Since then, I’ve read a book called White Trash (fucking riveting) and they mentioned a lot about class and at some point Bill Clinton and his ’98 sex scandal came up. This prompted me to want to delve back in time to revisit it with my new adult eyes and adult mindset. While looking into it, I came across this 2015 article. It catches up with Lewinsky in her then 40s to see how it affected her life. Feel free to read it before continuing here.
Slut; The Play
But so, apparently the Time dude interviewing her is hanging out with her in a play titled SLUT. In a nutshell, it’s about a girl who is sexually assaulted, reports it, then instead of getting help, she gets hella slut shamed. And so Monica Lewinsky, Queen of Slut, is like “Wooooowww this what yall still doin’ ?!” She didn’t really say that but it was definitely the vibe in the room. So the article blatantly asks, Why is the word slut still so potent ?
The History of Sluts
Time gives a nice little history lesson on it that I’mma just copy and paste for the one time:
“Slut didn’t begin as a bad word — or a word for women at all — but merely an “untidy” one. Chaucer (yes, that Chaucer) put it in print in the early 1300s, referring to a sloppy male character as “sluttish” in The Canterbury Tales.
But if the word was used for men more broadly it was only for a second: by the 1400s, it had morphed into a term for maids and unkempt, dirty women (like actually dirty, not sexually dirty). It wasn’t long before that notion was infused with sexual connotations. Today, the term is defined by Oxford Dictionary as a woman who “has many casual sexual partners” or one with “low standards of cleanliness” — though it’s clear that in our modern lexicon, those two might as well be one and the same.”
Sluts and Lewinsky
Time also said this:
“In Monica Lewinsky’s case, that label is the reason she still can’t find work, and has largely stayed out of the public eye for close to a decade. As she said in her TED talk this past week, “It was easy to forget that ‘that woman’ was dimensional, had a soul and was once unbroken.”
Back in 1998, Lewinsky was condemned by the left and the right, by men and women alike, even self-proclaimed feminists (including the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, whose columns on the scandal of President Clinton’s affair and “slutty” Monica Lewinsky won a Pulitzer Prize). Today Lewinsky would be likely to have defenders: there are simply more avenues to push back against a singular media narrative; and we have a new language with which to talk about it.”
So I’m wondering why is it that as a culture we cling to such irrelevant titles ? Slut is fairly subjective and mostly invalid but it still creates such a powerful stigma that follows women forever. Even if slut was a horrible, wretched, verifiable name for women who are either scantily clad or sexually liberated, why does it prevent them from living such a full life in the eyes of many ? What does what a woman puts in her mouth or vagina have to do with her quality of work or how she chooses to raise her children ? And why are men not held to the same standards ?
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