… People who are unafraid to dole it out in large dosages.
I’m talking about sluts.
But more on that in a minute.
It’s been a few weeks now since that horrid little man went on a shooting spree out in California. That, in itself was bad enough. What came after, when his misogynist rants were uncovered, and what shook out of that are separate animals.
Unfortunately for me, those separate animals have been talking the tall grasses at the edge of my strangely arranged mental geography as of late. It’s taken them a while to come nearer from the edge. Sometimes even my thoughts have flight distance issues.
But the aforementioned insanity has been poking around inside my noggin for weeks, and maybe, just maybe, it’s become comfortable enough to show it’s shaggy head around these parts.
(Or I could go on belaboring the metaphor…)
I’m hesitant to say that something good came out of the events, (mainly because that kind of desperate positivity makes my jock itch,) but, if one could say anything “good” came out of the nasty event, I suppose one would say it was the spotlight being thrown on an issue that flies so below the normal radar in this country that one can easily come to believe it is the ground itself: Misogyny.
If you don’t know that word, go and look it up. I’ll wait…
… Now that you’ve Webstered up, I’ll continue.
Misogyny is one of those things that, probably most people – if they’re not women – don’t take time to think about. You’d hear someone railing about, “this male dominated society,” once in a while, but more often than not you’d hear jokes about the kind of person who would say something like, “this male dominated society,” with a straight face.
That’s how pervasive this shit is in America.
And I just don’t get it.
And I never have. Maybe I’m a mutant or something, but since I started thinking about other people in any kind of meaningful way, I’ve never – beyond obvious physical differences – seen women as anything other than just as capable, smart, funny, crazy, strong, name your preferred adjective. So, I don’t get misogyny. And I have a hard time understanding people who think in that particular mode. It would be easy, because I don’t get something, to allow myself to begin to believe that that thing does not actually exist. It’s easier than most of us would actually like to believe, and you probably know at least one person, more than likely a close friend, who has created their own blind spot in this very fashion. Thankfully my almost obsessive need for intellectual rigor works as a sufficient check on that tendency of thought, and acts as a bulwark against sleep…
So, even though I don’t get the concept, I know it exists. And if you’ve been on the internet, or twitter in the last month, the odds are good you know it exists too.
(But Tess, you may be saying, what about the sluts?…
Slow down Quickdraw, I’ll get to them in a minute…)
The conversation about women and misogyny has seen an upsurge in volume in the last month. Unfortunately, as I surf and watch, I am beginning to see it being subsumed again by useless, only vaguely entertaining “news” stories. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this now.
Partly, I’m annoyed by our collective, forgetful, lazy mental behavior, and partly I hope this, will in some small way, rekindle the conversation in people’s minds.
(Although, really, check out #YesALLWomen No, really. Go, do it now. I’ll wait…)
(But Tess, the sluts…?
…Shut up kid! I’m working here.)
Mainly, the conversation we hear about misogyny runs in one of two channels. Either it is of the, “Yes, misogyny is bad. No one should do it. Now what about Kimye?” or it turns into a delineation of bad behaviors that have been perpetrated upon whomever is leading the conversation at that time.
I’m not sure that second one has the desired effect, and I know the first one is as useless as a Nerf strap-on.
It’s one thing to raise the question, and to educate, (again, go check out #YesALLWomen ) but what are we trying to achieve? What, in the end do we want and how do we get it?
Those are the questions I have been asking myself lately. I have been wondering how we, if we want equality in thought and action, take on a mindset that seems so deeply rooted in our culture; and in many other cultures throughout the world? How does one, or even many, dismantle so monolithic a structure?
At the risk of falling into the metaphor pit once more, I think I have come up with a solution.
Misogyny is like an old, dying tree hanging over our collective roof.
It’s dangerous, but if you cut it down at the base it will crush something when it falls, and probably leave an ugly stump. And that stump will just send out more shoots a couple of years down the line.
No, that won’t do. But we still need to get rid of it before a storm crashes the damn thing into the house and impales the children with jagged and broken branches.
(Sorry, I have a metaphor problem. Sometimes I just can’t stop.)
The way I see it, you’ve got to cut the damn thing down, bit by bit, branch by branch, until it’s almost flush with the ground. Then you take a grinder to the gnarled remains and plant something better in its place.
(What does this have to do with sluts?…
…Simmer down, I’m getting to it…)
The way I figure we accomplish this is by pruning and planting at the same time. To wit, when one sees misogyny in action, one should call it out for the bullshit that it well and truly is. Use logical arguments if you have to, but do it.
(Don’t worry about convincing the misogynist. You probably can’t. Your job is to convince the other people watching.)
The second part – the planting part – involves telling our stories. Good ones. Bad ones. Embarrassing ones. Tame ones. But the stories that chip away at some part of the misogyny monolith.
No, I did not say it would be easy. But connection isn’t easy. At least, it never has been for me.
So, to that end, let me tell something of my own story. Let me tell you my thoughts on sluts.
…Really kid? You should get that checked.)
I love sluts. Love them.
I think sluts are wonderful. and I don’t confine the term to females alone. I, myself, am proudly a male slut, and have been since, oh probably, puberty. Can’t and won’t use the term “stud”, because it’s 1) about forty years too old, and 2) I generally think it is demeaning to use livestock as a metaphor for mine or another human being’s sexuality.
(Also, I don’t share some of the more insidious taboos concerning one of the most basic aspects of the human condition.)
Sluts are awesome.
Especially if you were an average looking, yet painfully shy and socially awkward teenager like I was. If it wasn’t for sluts, my life would have been so much less rich than it has been, and that is a fact.
(Now, if any of my ex-partners are reading this, take heart. 1)Not all of you were/ are sluts, and 2)I’m not going to name any names.)
So, I think it’s time to retake that epithet, by force of arms if necessary.
How does one know if one is, in fact, a slut?
Good question and I am so glad you asked.
Firstly, I think we need to create a baseline for the term – as a fundamentalist Christian and an L.A. Rent Boy probably have widely varying views of what constitutes, (what would it be? Slut-hood? Sluttiness? Slutity?) Sluttery. (Yeah, sluttery works.)
Pretty much a slut is anyone with a healthy libido,(and that is a wide range,) that indulges that same libido.
Nymphomaniacs are not sluts, they have a mental disorder. Same with people who are libidinous in order to fulfill their flagging sense of self worth, or to gain approval. People who have sex for material gain are not sluts; they’re whores. And that is a whole different post.
You’ll notice I didn’t restrict the activity of sluts to promiscuity. The reason being, if one is honestly promiscuous and not engaging in sex for other motives, then one can be a slut, but one can also be a slut if one indulges one’s libido only with one partner. I’m a slut, and I’ve spent the majority of the last 12-13 years in only two monogamous, long term relationships.
[I know, that sounds strange, but in the original usage, the word slut, was a verb not a noun. To slut oneself was not to prostitute one’s self, but to over indulge. One could slut one’s self with drink, dance, revelry, sex, or basically anything. Over time it just came to be associated with sex, primarily. Over still more time, the verb usage shifted to noun/ adjective form.]
(So, we have a baseline from which to work, but generally, if you think you’re a slut, you probably are…)
It’s a broad definition. Many of you may find yourself falling into it. This is not accidental.
The trick with connection is to find what we have in common. I know that sounds simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy…
Anyways, I’m not saying come out as a proud slut to your family during Thanksgiving dinner, while someone is carving the turkey, but if you’re a slut like me…
Own it and do not be ashamed. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
Speaking of shame, and a facet of misogyny that women often partake in, whether they realize it or not, can we just stop it with the slut shaming?
I mean, seriously. What-the-actual-fuck?
There is no logical reason why liking sex and engaging in it, as much, and as often, and with as many partners as one likes – so long is one is honest and careful – no reason why that should be shameful. And damn sure no reason why it, or the implication of it should be used to shame another human being.
Fucked up thing is, I see women doing this more than men.
Stop. That. Shit.
I mean it.
And if someone around you thinks it’s okay to engage in that kind of hateful and hurtful behavior, tell them it’s not cool. Hell, smack them in the back of the head for being an idiot.
What I’ve generally noticed is this: people who engage in slut shaming tend to either be jealous, or covetous, or some mixture of both.
Let’s face it, wanting something you feel like you can’t have – whether it is that person or that person’s life – churns up all kinds of nasty feelings. And, have you noticed that, as a culture, we tend to like nothing better than to relieve ourselves of those nasty feelings by dumping them on someone else?
(don’t believe me? just take a minute out of your day to watch people waiting in a long line at a gas station or a liquor store, or wherever. Watch the people and watch how they treat each other. Then watch how they treat the clerk. Then ask yourself if the clerk realistically did anything to deserve the level of disrespect he/ she is surely receiving at some point. Don’t practice this everyday. Your head may explode from the accumulated rage…)
So, slut shaming, don’t do it.
I know where you live…
(no, that is totally not me in the bushes wearing night vision goggles…)
It is often so difficult to boil my thoughts down into the tl/dr version most everyone in our speed obsessed culture seems to want, but I’ll try with this:
I love sluts.
I am a proud slut.
Knock off the slut shaming, because it’s not cool or particularly funny…
(…and because I totally know where you live.)