Monday, June 26, 2006

Slut

Slut


This post follows from a very interesting comment, following up the thread about hogging. The comment moved beyond the "hogging", to focus more on the nature of relationships and where sex fits into the relationships.

As a practical matter, my view is that sex in a relationship belongs at the point at which both partners want it. In some cases that might take years(groaning at the thought of that), in others it will happen on the first date. I don't see this as a value laden result. Some people want to have sex sooner with new partners than others. Some folks are only looking for a sexual relationship and not an emotional, friendship based or long term relationship. If that's what they want, either because they love sex or feel the need urgently for sex, or some other motivation, and their partner is on the same page that's fine.

I find the term slut to be socially degrading term which is very loaded with gender based differentiation. It is a highly charged word, much like cunt, bitch and similar male dominant terms intended to demean and disparage women.

As many have pointed out before me, if a woman sleeps with a succession of different men she is a slut. If a man sleeps with a succession of different women he is a stud, player, bon vivant and idol to many men. Is there any value judgment difference between the serial sexual encounters by a man and a woman? I don't think so. I've met many people who've expressed that their sexual engines require sex at very different frequencies. Some folks are more than satisfied with sex on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. Others require it on an almost daily basis, and still others are totally dissatisfied without several sexual encounters each day. I don't know whether those at either end are suffering from some condition which can or should be remedied, though I really don't care as long as they are satisfied with their situations and have partners who are similarly satisfied.

I've met a number of people who are wonderful people but for whom sex has no part in their lives, and they seem not to miss it. For me this would be an exceptionally painful and empty existence, but they seem to fill their lives with other things which they say replace any interest they have in sex. Whether these folks are lying to me or to themselves I don't know. But, I suspect there are many, many people for whom sex is a much less central part of their beings than it is for me. For others, the urges to have sex grow with abstinence to the point where they crave a sexual event to obtain some sense of release. In many of these folks when the urge reaches a certain level they shift their orientation about relationships somewhat to enhance the possibilities of having sex. Not sure if this would be called compromising values, changing standards or going out with the intention of getting laid. But, this is clearly a common experience, at least it was from the guy side(when I was in college... and as far as I've been able to tell for guys well beyond college). My experience from the girl side is considerably less extensive and much more anecdotal. However, having spoken with enough friends who are women, who have opened up to me about their sexual urges and activities, I know that this intense need for sex is physically imprinted on many women too. I have no way of quantifying this urge or the resultant behavior, but would assume that it probably doesn't vary that much from what I know in a more personal way from the guy side.

So, if we assume that men and women both have their sexual needs distributed on a normal curve, like so many other characteristics, like height, weight, head size, shoe size, etc... then there will be people spread out along the spectrum of sexual needs(which tend to get stronger by celibacy.. particularly unintended celibacy), with differing needs to "get laid".

Into this breach our Judeo-Christian, Islamic, and other modern religious heritages have projected a required marital bonding as a precondition to sexual intercourse. The rationales behind these religious requirements are understandable if not rational or appropriate. One need only look at a married couple in which the partners have no real feelings for each other in a sexual sense and are then locked to only each other, effectively killing both of their sexual exploits apart from intercourse required for intended procreation.

Built up on top of these religious restrictions are a series of moral values and heavily laden terms which seek to restrict people to the religiously restricted sexual activities and to ostracize, humiliate and demean those whose activities are inconsistent with the religious rules. Slut is just such a term. It's dictionary definition means a promiscuous person or one whose personal appearance is untidy. The definition is gender neutral, but I have never seen the term applied to men except in the rarest of cases.

In practice a slut is a woman who sleeps around with many men, a woman of questionable morals relating to sex, a woman who dresses in a fashion that suggests that she either sleeps with many men or is of questionable moral character. I find this term completely offensive, since the guy version of someone who sleeps with many women would include a Don Juan, Casanova or Stud which are terms of admiration rather than opprobrium. A guy who dresses in a fashion intended to display his sexuality and body in a fashion which would be attractive to women is considered very positively by most. On the other hand, a woman who dresses provocatively is often called a slut, presuming that the suggestive dress corresponds with a looseness of morals and sexual control.

I wonder if the current climate with AIDS and other STDs has affected the positive connotations of the guy-slut and leveled the playing field. For some reason I wouldn't feel quite as negatively about the term if it was applied to both men and women equally. I would still find it offensive, just not as awful.

Perhaps the thing about the term slut that I find most offensive is the way it is applied by people who generally don't know whether the woman in question is actually promiscuous or not. Guys have a way of telling their friends things in a way which makes them seem more important and studly then may be the fact. This is even more true when sexual performance and partners are involved. In my experience the guys who talk about their conquests are likely lying about much or all of what they claim to have done. Those guys who have a full, rich, sexually charged relationship built on trust and strong emotional content don't need the positive reinforcement of their male friends that what they're enjoying sexually is a good thing. They know it in every fiber of their being and want to do whatever possible to maintain, sustain and grow that relationship. Telling a bunch of horny guy friends about the wonderful sex you had on the bed, kitchen table, couch, floor, in the pool and hot tub, in the car or wherever it took place is a sure fire way to make your partner the subject of snide comments, bad labels(like, but not limited to slut) and other guys hitting on them in an effort to get the same amazing sex you've described to them. Those guys I've known who've had a good thing going will go to any lengths to not talk about their sex lives apart from occasional amusing incidents at their own expense.

In my own distant past I was exposed to a woman with a very high level of sexual need, and she was probably as close to the classic nymphomaniac as I'll ever come. Thankfully, my body was at the peak of its physical sexual powers(though not skills) and allowed me to keep up with her for some time, until eventually I began to resent the need to perform every morning, noon and night. Looking back on that period through the filter of stretches of no sex I wonder how I could ever have felt that way. But, I know that I was constantly tired, and when I absolutely needed some rest(sleeping in my bed or hers was only restful after an hour or more of sex) I would head up to the library, find a carrel deep in the bowels of the stacks and sleep there. While this gal was my ideal partner prior to meeting her, after a few months the fantasy was replaced by a physical reality that very different. To be fair, that semester was one I made Dean's List and had my highest GPA by far. After we broke up I lost touch with her, but I never have referred to her as a slut and couldn't imagine ever doing so. During the time we were together we were committed to each other deeply(not that I had much energy to find or woo anyone else even if I had wanted to). During that time about the most I shared with my roommates was that I was extraordinarily tired and occasionally to lie for me when I was going to sleep to tell her if she called that I was at the library or some school event. They were able to draw their own conclusions from the sounds coming through the walls, but they were my close friends and didn't talk out of school to others.

Why did I give this elliptical story which probably doesn't put me in a very good light? Good question. Not really sure, but it seemed important to show that just having a lot of sex does not make one a "slut". That having a LOT of sex may not be the most desirable thing. That a man and a woman who have a lot of sex with each other are not slutty. That people who are getting intense sexual satisfaction are unlikely to brag about it or tell others how wonderful they have it. Why talk about something that you know you have which might disappear if you talk about it to others because it hurts your partner and your relationship.

Nah.. its probably me just bragging... after the fact.

But, an important point if you go back and reread my description is that there was no description of anyone else talking about my partner as a bad woman, a sex maniac, a slut or any other such derogatory term. She was my girlfriend and we did a variety of things in public in addition to the private activities. As a part of a caring full relationship, the sexual gymnastics were only one element of the relationship, albeit a very important and time and energy consuming one. To this day none of my friends who knew this woman through me have ever made a negative comment about her.

Perhaps the answer is that because I did not treat her or consider her a slut I did not allow, abet or enable anyone who knew me from treating, considering or calling her a slut.

In the comment that set me off on this elliptical orbit there was a statement that some guy had told the commenter that a girl having a one night stand isn't a slut, but a girl having ten guys in one night is a slut. Of course this definition was provided by a guy looking for a one night stand... and thus not a reliable source of a definition. In my experience women and men who are truly acting in a "slutty" manner are not defined by the number and frequency of their sexual activities with different partners. Rather, it is the way in which they treat others or allow themselves to be treated by others.

In college I knew a girl who enjoyed having sex with many guys in one night. I never had sex with her and we weren't sexually attracted, though we were good friends in a group of guys and girls who would hang out, go drinking, dancing, etc. on a regular basis. Much of the time this girl would have a single boyfriend and there was nothing weird about it to my knowledge. On occasions, however, she would entertain a visiting hockey team or baseball team, to my knowledge(second hand though fairly reliable) and have either oral sex or intercourse with as many as a dozen guys. While it was known generally in the campus about a girl like this, I don't think that more than a few actually knew who this girl was. To my knowledge no one ever called her a slut, and none of the multiple partners, who were all from colleges that were pretty far away, ever bragged about it on campus. Of course, the knowledge that she would have prodigious serial sex on occasion did have a profoundly odd impact on me. One, it suggested that she must be incredible sexually(though on getting older and wise I suspect that not necessarily to be the case). Two, I didn't want to be just one more notch on her bedpost, and compared with some of the most impressive physical specimens at various universities. Three, I didn't want to screw up our very friendly relationship with the weirdness that a sexual relationship would wreak on it.

Again, not clear what this has to do with the main thrust of this post. I suspect that I included it to give my bona fides as to the extremes of sexual conduct and the way in which actual sexual promiscuity may not be directly related to whether a woman is called a slut.

I also knew women who wouldn't put out, both because they wouldn't do so for me and for other guys I knew, or because I became their non-sexual friends and they would confide to me, who were known as sluts. Most of them really despised the reputations they'd gotten, though I suspect that most earned it for being cock-teases(women who would attract a man with attention and the suggestions that they would get sex and then leave them unsatisfied). I imagine the guys opted to call the woman a slut to get even for the teasing. One gal in particular was known as Hoover for the ferocity and suction of her oral sex. I never witnessed her skills directly, and a friend who went out with her for some time said that the nickname was ill conceived and inappropriate, but she liked the concept of being known for giving amazing oral sex, even if it wasn't true. So, people's relationships with names that most would consider demeaning and very negative is not always rational.

Well, I've talked around Slut now for some time and I think I only have a few conclusions. The term is as a rational matter a negative, hurtful one which is inappropriate in almost every case. The term is even more reprehensible because it is applied unevenly to women and men, with men glorified for the same conduct that causes the women to be vilified. The term is generally applied in a hateful way by people who don't have any first hand knowledge of the woman, or if they do, in an effort to get even with them for some actual or perceived slight. And, the term should be shelved as being too emotionally charged with hate and disrespect to have any true meaning.

4 Comments:

Blogger emily pound said...

Hi Huge,

Thanks for this great post. I'm flattered to have gotten your wheels spinning on this. The guy who made that statement to me was actually a guy I had been seeing for awhile, more of a fuck buddy than a boyfriend (because he basically just used me for sex). He was the very rare semi-regular sex I got back then.

I have always thought that the word "slut" is a big misnomer. It is a moral judgment, usually made by someone prudish or arrogant. For example, one friend of mine took great pleasure in making guys wait to have sex with her. I honestly don't think she liked the sex, she liked the power she had making them wait for it. She would brag about it and say, "I made him wait for _____ (whatever length of time) before I let him fuck me." Even then, she would "make" him use a condom, etc. even though she was on the pill. (This was long pre-AIDS). Then, other girlfriends of mine who never had to worry about their supply of sex due to the constant presence of panting boyfriends, would call other girls sluts if they dared to eye their boyfriends, their property. I think women use the term more out of jealousy than anything else. If you ever hear anyone say anything negative about a woman, the word "slut" is usually in there.

I have always been a very physical person. It has sometimes led me to make unwise decisions. :-) But I never looked down on myself because of them. What are you supposed to do when something is overpowering you? You can't ignore it forever. Some women, I guess, manage to stifle that part of themselves. I have never been able to. Nor would I want to. I love that affectionate, sexy, giving, lively, erotic, sensual, soft and wet aspect of myself. I wouldn't trade it in a million years.

26/6/06 3:19 PM  
Blogger hugehugefan said...

Dear Emily:

Having a strong sex drive and an urgent need to have sex is not a bad thing. It is not a thing to be hidden or suppressed. But, and you knew there would be a but, the key is to make good choices not driven by the male lower head or equivalent female driver.


No matter what anyone else might say, there really is nothing like great sex, and if one needs it, that amazing buildup and volcanic release after a too long hiatus is a mind and body blower of the first order. When I have an experience like that the waves of pleasure, release and relief can wash over me in different phases.

First, the immediate physical feeling which expels all those bad vapours in a rush of mainlined passion and spunk.

Second, the body's glowing warmth which follows the explosive orgasm. This phase can last for seconds, minutes or hours, depending on the situation and the partner. I think many guys go to sleep after they reach an orgasm partly to extend this glow feeling and sleep within it.

A third phase is a lightening of feeling with the intense pressure of pent up horniness which has been sitting heavily on mind and body for days gone. More than a great feeling, it is the absence of the uncomfortableness and urgency which has been like a miasma on and around the mind and body.

The fourth phase is the recognition that the feeling was so wonderful that it needs to be experienced again... and the cycle resumes..

27/6/06 7:12 AM  
Blogger Charlotte said...

The same word means different things to different people. Surely 'President' Saddam Hussein, 'President' Abraham Lincoln and 'President of the Chess Club' don't connote even the same thing in your mind.

So too, the word 'Slut' has many connotations. Yes, there are a great many people to whom it is a four letter word, but there are women who are as proud of their accomplishments as and 'Stud', and will happily wear the term 'Slut'.

As for double standards, this is far from the only one in the world and, I'll be honest, I'll take being called a slut if it meant equal pay and equal opportunities.

Social change takes time: approximately 3 generations. We're into generation 2 of gender equality. By the time my baby grows up, I'd be willing to bet that 'studs' and 'sluts' are held in the same regard by a majority of people (what that regard will be is a up for debate).

28/7/06 11:08 AM  
Blogger hugehugefan said...

Dear Char:

So glad you're back posting. Your comments about the different meanings of words are as usual dead on. But... I love But(and of course butts-bigger is better), none of the meanings of President are hurtful and hateful. Slut has a hateful and hurtful meaning that cuts to the quick for many people in a way that other words are unable. Other examples of such highly charged words are cunt, nigger, kike, homo and FAT. While there are many who embrace these words in a positive way, the pain to those who are not able to be as positive about these words of hate and anger and fear counsels caution in their use.

I hope your comment about the generations to make the changes complete is accurate as this would put us on the cusp of the actual shift of society onto a more even keel. The fact that the US is actually talking about a serious candidate for President who is a woman suggests that society has begun to move, which is a hopeful sign.

What an interesting point, that if Stud and Slut are considered equivalent terms will it be as a hate word, positive term or something neutral. In my view Slut will not lose its pejorative meaning in several times three generations. Words of hate are held onto by those who hate because they are incapable of rational thought and analysis and explication of their venal emotional ways. I hope you're right instead of me.

Huge

28/7/06 1:08 PM  

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