So this happened. This happened a lot.
I decided to call someone out on his use of the word “slut”. I was met with resistance.
Generally, I’m willing to be diplomatic in these situations. I’m willing to open up a conversation about double standards, about a cultural context of men policing women’s sexuality and more generally, about why he feels like somebody else’s private and consensual sexual behaviour is any of his fucking business in the first place.
So we chatted. He’s nice. However, I can’t help but lose my patience when somebody plays this card.
“It has nothing to do with sexism, after all, guys get called ‘manwhores’“
I’m sorry but no.
No no no.
You honestly cannot compare the two.
Of course men can be shamed for their (real or perceived) sexual behaviour, but it’s never with the same malice as it is for women.
The word “manwhore” never sticks to a man in the same way the “slut” label will stick to a woman. The word manwhore is innocuous. You could compare it to gay people using the word ‘breeder’ as a derogatory term for straight people, or even to black people saying that white people can’t dance. None of that means that there’s a problem of “heterophobia” or “reverse racism”, and similarly the occasional flippant use of the word “manwhore” doesn’t mean that there is a problem of slut-shaming against men.
Furthermore you can’t erase sexism from the conversation, because the “slut” label is not just applied to women who have many sexual partners. It’s also applied to women who wear certain clothes, wear a lot of make up, flirt a lot, hang out with mostly guys… the list is endless. I think most women will have had some experience with the word, irrespective of their sexual behaviour. It seems the only criteria for being called a slut is being female.
“Manwhore” is also not used within a context of male entitlement to women’s bodies, the way “slut” is. It is due to this entitlement that we as a culture feel like we get a say in what women do with their bodies. There are countless examples of slut-shaming out of paternalistic concern about women’s sexual freedom, for instance the media’s reaction to Josie Cunnungham’s decision to have an abortion. The Sun’s pious fearmongering about the sexual freedom of ‘Magaluf Girl’ whilst casually ignoring the men involved. Not to be outdone, it can even be seen within feminist circles. And ultimately, it was seen when a police officer said that women who don’t want to be raped should “avoid dressing like sluts”. That’s where this leads with women.
Slut shaming against men isn’t used in a way that justifies sexual assault. Slut shaming against men doesn’t carry an undertone of anyone can do anything they want to a man’s body without his permission, because he was “asking for it” by being so slutty. The word “manwhore” would rarely be used against male survivors of sexual violence, whereas slut-shaming is widespread against women and trans* women post-sexual assault.
Finally, I don’t fucking care about the word “manwhore” simply because promiscuity doesn’t have the same negative connotations for men. Accusing a man of being promiscuous is more likely seen as a good thing. It’s more likely that he would be labelled a ‘stud’, a ‘playboy’, a ‘ladies’ man’, rather than a “manwhore”.
Of course that doesn’t mean men will always hear it as a compliment, but the comparison is flawed. The word “manwhore” is never going to have the same power over men as “slut” has over women, simply because this “slut/stud” double standard refuses to die. That’s why I don’t fucking care. Peace x