There’s no insult in the English language like “slut”: hurled as abuse, it can have a devastating impact. Being designated a “slut” can be reputation-ruining; however, it can also be taken as a compliment in certain situations, as a signifier of sexual attractiveness. A “good slut” is someone fun, sex-positive, and sexy — such a Samantha! Such a Jessa from GIRLS! Tequila shots for all my sluts! A “bad slut,” on the other hand, is someone who deserves the full force of our collective scorn and disdain. What’s the difference, though?
The word “slut” can be used punitively, aggressively, shamingly, chidingly, in seemingly congratulatory manner, jokingly, with complete vitriol, etc. In short, it has no real, clearly-defined meaning. It’s a collection of (sometimes contradictory) connotations huddled around an empty set, its only true defining feature being a murky connection to sexual impropriety. According to the dictionary , a “slut” is “a promiscuous woman; especially: PROSTITUTE.” (Definition b: “a saucy girl: MINX”). Apparently, it comes from the Norwegian word for “impure liquid,” which makes sense, because we sluts are constantly stewing in a collection of impure sauces, like those of the bog from which Grendel emerged.
So, fine, we can all agree that the denotation of “slut” is “a promiscuous woman” — but what even constitutes promiscuity in our era of ever-dissolving sexual prohibitions? Casual sex hasn’t been a taboo (or even a source of deep-rooted, lingering shame! Woohoo!) for a long time, now — and, yet, the designation of “slut” lingers on as something we’re still permitted, if not tacitly encouraged, to call women who don’t have sex the way we think they should.
Enter slutformula.com , a website I came across this morning, that was probably crafted by an angry 15-year-old who lives in the stomach of a Balrog. It claims to contain “the official Slut Formula.” Through some sort of complicated algorithm (misogyny x cum-sock/I hate vaginas), the site’s author alleges that they’re able to calculate your “Sluticity Value.” Here’s a fun bit of reasoning that accompanies the calculator:
Why the Slut Formula? Why does it only apply to Women?
Women can pick and choose who they sleep with while men aren’t nearly as picky and must constantly prove themselves while doing the attacking (ex: typically men approach women, not the other way around). Sluticity corrupts, and absolute sluticity corrupts absolutely. With provocative female attire, strict sexual harassment laws against men, and this innate ability to control them via vagina, women are the ones who must accept this responsibility and not abuse the power. if they do they will earn such titles as slut, whore, cock gobbler, etc.
The website, obviously, is a stinking pit of troll-feces that any woman with an ounce of self-awareness would likely know better than to take seriously (case in point: in order to not be a slut at all, at age 28, you can have had, at most: 3 sex partners, 5 kissing partners, and 5 oral sex partners). However, it didn’t just hop out of a void, wielding a graph that shows a “linear relationship of sex and slutdom for a female.” There are unspoken assumptions and deep-seated values in our society that create an environment in which less blatantly swinish iterations of this line of thinking proliferate.
Last week, Jezebel staff was discussing a recent psychological study that finds that college students who have meaningless sex (which is defined here as “sex with someone the respondent had known for less than a week”) are more likely to exhibit “psychological distress.” As lead researcher Dr. Melina M. Bersamin told Business Insider , “casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress.” The idea that casual sex isn’t always emotionally or physically fulfilling is, obviously, neither shocking nor new. But if casual sex is supposed to be the millennial’s playground (no one steal this phrase and use it to name your nightclub because I am having it trademarked), shouldn’t we at least be cool with it? Why does it cause us so much distress?
The general consensus was that casual sex isn’t necessarily easy to be casual about. It involves navigating a veritable minefield of pleasure, expectations, desire, miscommunications, muddled emotions, fun!! (let’s not forget), but also of judgment and shame. Taking up the Mantle of Sluticity is not always a simple task, because it’s caked with centuries worth of fears and myths and horrible assumptions re: sexually active women. So how does one even go about being successful at casual sex without experiencing emotional consequences? What makes The Perfect Slut?