Slut-Shaming

Why Consciously Awake Women are Virgins AND Sluts

I remember the first time someone called me a slut.

I was 12 years old. It was 7th grade. And I had just completed my usual 7:30am routine in the bathroom mirror.

Partial ponytail affixed to head via fuchsia scrunchie? Check.

Strawberry ChapStick plus Lisa Frank lip gloss? Double Check.

And that day…a fresh coat of Wet ‘N Wild blue eye shadow and mascara from a recent trip to Drug Emporium.

I stepped out of the girl’s bathroom, ready to take on Algebra, when these two guys (one of whom I had the HUGEST crush on) started giggling.

“What?” I asked, attempting display my best “I-don’t-really-care-what-you-think-of-me” attitude.

“You look like a prostitute,” said one of the boys.

I’d never heard that word before, but it didn’t sound very good.

“What’s that mean?” I asked, again with my signature teenage faux nonchalance.

“You know…a slut. A whore.”

I wanted my face to melt off right there. I was shocked that anyone would think of me that way. I’d never even kissed a guy. Hell, I hadn’t even started my period yet (though if you had asked me back then, I would have pretended otherwise).

I rolled my eyes and walked off in a dismissive huff.

But his words stuck with me.

There I was, the epitome of society’s definition of virgin, yet already bearing the cultural shame of being a woman who engaged in a lot of sex. To add even more confusion to the mix, part of me liked being thought of as someone who was sexually precocious. I yearned to doff the “little girl” image, but I also knew I wasn’t quite ready to “go all the way.” All of this because I decided to experiment with a little makeup.

And so the began the split between my innocent self and the one who felt desire.

Fast forward several years later, I still sometimes feel myself yo-yoing between the poles of virgin and the slut. Breaking the bondage of shame is a slow process requiring a lot of compassion. However, freedom is found when we embrace the whole of who we are as women.  We can do this by stepping out of the current cultural definitions of these words, and rediscovering the roots of their true meanings.

First let’s look at the word virgin. Most of us think of a virgin as a woman who has never had vaginal intercourse. However, the original Latin meaning of virgin was a woman who was not betrothed, married or bound to any man. Essentially, she was a whole being and sexually autonomous. It was later, when the patriarchal creators of history, religion and culture tried to strip women of their autonomy, that the term came to mean “a woman who was undefiled by sex.” Virgin then became (and still is) a social requirement for a woman to be marriageable and it is up to her father to protect this “virtue” before passing her on, like chattel, to a husband, who then carries the burden of guarding her virtue. At no point within this exchange is a virginal woman erotically free, but must engage with her sex only in relationship to the men around her.

To deter women from losing their patriarchally-defined virgin status, society then created an image of the “dirty” woman with loose morals known as slut. However, the first known use of the word slut was not in reference to women, but to men. In 1386 Geoffrey Chaucer used the word sluttish to describe a slovenly man. It didn’t take patriarchy long to refer to women with “slovenly” reputations as sluts but the term’s definition did vacillate for several centuries. Even in the 17th century when Samuel Pepys used slut to describe a young servant girl, it was with affection, not rancor. These days though, slut is used almost exclusively to describe a woman who enjoys sex at her leisure—and if the term does refer to a man, it is almost always accompanied with the descriptive qualifier “male” in front of the word slut.

Going one step further into our inquiry, we can look at the etymology of whore, a term often used as an interchangeable epithet for slut, and find its roots in the Proto-Germanic word “horaz” meaning “one who desires.” But again, in keeping with the ideals of modern patriarchy, to display even the slightest inkling of passion or desire, is to betray the revered ideal of virginal womanhood and thus be branded the pejorative interpretation of slut or whore.

All these words, virgin, slut and whore, in their modern day iterations, present a starkly different range of femininity based in shame. They are not who we are, but shadow aspects born out of oppressive dogma meant to dominate—not to liberate.  In freeing the roots of our language, we too, as women, find ourselves freed from the internal split created between these archetypal aspects of ourselves. The virgin and the slut teach us that both our sexual autonomy and desire are not just acceptable, but noble guides on the heroine’s journey. In embracing them not as foils, but as partners, we embrace the totality of all that is “woman” and discover that our erotic feminine essence is not born of original sin, but original wisdom.

SLUT

 

I was a Virgin for a long time.

 

Perhaps you think

I mean

I took 21 years

To let a man Penetrate me

 

Measuring

My Worthiness

By the diminishing inches

Of his Cock?

 

No.

 

I mean a Virgin

In a language long forgotten:

Lost in the ashes

Of burned witches

 

Or lost in the silenced vows

Of Brides of Christ,

Whose names were erased

In canonical Genocide.

 

I was a Virgin.

 

A woman unto herself;

Whole; Unshackled; Owned by No One;

And in this way

We’ve always been Virgins.

 

Our Women’s wisdom,

Written in our Mother’s bosom,

Survived the translation migration

From Page to Pyre.

 

Observe your Holy Rights.

 

Do I deserve to be attacked,

Unwritten from history,

Because I fucked my way

Through the Zodiac?

 

Keep your righteous indignation.

Your taunts and jeers

Only urge my Vestal Reclamation

And the resurrection of my Erotic Innocence.

 

We. Are. Coming.

 

So here I stand:

Palms stretched, legs spread,

Re-Virginized once more,

While making love to the Sacred Whore.

*****************************************************************************************************************

Follow Slut Positive on Twitter: https://twitter.com/slutpositive

References:

Willful Virgin by Marilyn Frye (The Crossing Press, 1992)

“An Informal History of the Word ‘Slut,’” by Donald D’Haene, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/donald-dhaene/slut-walk_b_1771218.html

 

SLUT: A Poem

Penitent Magdalene  by Titian

Penitent Magdalene by Titian

I was a Virgin for a long time.

 

Perhaps you think

I mean

I took 21 years

To let a man Penetrate me

 

Measuring

My Worthiness

By the diminishing inches

Of his Cock?

 

No.

 

I mean a Virgin

In a language long forgotten:

Lost in the ashes

Of burned witches

 

Or in the silenced vows

Of Brides of Christ,

Whose names were erased

In canonical Genocide.

 

I was a Virgin.

 

A woman unto herself;

Whole; Unshackled; Owned by No One;

And in this way

We’ve always been Virgins--

 

Our women's wisdom,

Written in our Mothers' bosom,

Survived the translation migration

From page to pyre.

 

Observe your Holy Rights.

 

Do I deserve to be attacked,

Unwritten from history,

Because I fucked my way

Through the Zodiac?

 

Keep your righteous indignation.

Your taunts and jeers

Only urge my Vestal Reclamation

And the resurrection of my Erotic Innocence.

 

We. Are. Coming.

 

So here I stand:

Palms stretched, legs spread,

Re-Virginized once more,

While making love to the Sacred Whore.

The Nobility of Sex, a.k.a. 7 Non-Sexual Tips (Plus 1 Video!) to Spice Up Your Sex Life

Photo by Lianne Viau

Photo by Lianne Viau

Originally posted October 22, 2012

READ THIS ARTICLE ON ELEPHANTJOURNAL.COM


“The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, and plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.” ~ Audre Lorde

Yup. You asked for it (even if you won’t admit it). Another article on everyone’s favorite topic: SEX!

(End of snarky intro)

I’ve noticed a trend on elephantjournal.com these past few months of authors and readers decrying the popularity of more ‘salacious’ and‘fluffy’ content and ruing the fact that ‘deeper’ and ‘more meaningful’ pieces often get overlooked. I have also seen a number of people complain that all this talkof sex is empty if you don’t also mention love.

The argument goes that all you have to do is put up a picture of a scantily-clad woman, have a title promoting the ‘3 Easy Steps to Being a Mega Sex-Machine’ and bandy about the words cock and pussy and BAM! Instant ele hit.

Now look: as a sexuality writer, I will be the first one to roll my eyes at some of the schlock that gets published. All the tips and tricks to snag a husband, make her come like a volcano or lose weight so you aren’t a flabby troll who can’t even get laid by a blind man can actually be damaging, prey upon our cultural insecurity and push our sex back into the shadowy recesses of shame.

However, when my work (and the work of my very talented ele peers) are linked to these complaints, I have to speak up. To question the journalistic validity of an article simply because there’s a ‘helpful’ list or it focuses on sex or there’s only a video and little writing is not only blatantly arrogant—it’s downright insulting.

I’m truly sorry that every single piece on elephantjournal doesn’t get the kind of attention it deserves. I have read and re-posted some gorgeous pieces that unfortunately got lost in the electronic fray. However, that is the nature of being an artist. We may create many, many pieces, but only one becomes a Guernica or a Mona Lisa.

In my opinion, I don’t think people are tired of hearing or talking about sex. In fact, I think we are actually starving for frank, in-depth conversations about sex. I think what people are tired of is SEX-SATIONALISM—that is to say, the titillating ‘tee hee hee’ that sits on top of our own sexual shame, hunger and insecurity. We get a ‘hit’ when we Youtube search for various ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ and pop-star lesbian makeouts (and no thank you, I do not need to see a busty woman when purchasing an automobile or deodorant). We become sex-crack junkies, opting for the quick fix in the syringe rather than making the more vulnerable choice of asking directly for the sex we want.

Also, many people tired of SEX-SEXSATIONALISM are erroneously suggesting that sex is meaningless unless there is love attached. The assumption is that love is greater than sex and that sex simply for the pleasure of sex is somehow vacant.

Are you kidding me?

First, sex without love simply doesn’t exist. Love is everything. It’s in everything we do. We are love. It is impossible to escape it, whether you are fucking, eating, pooping, walking, crying or writing. Our capacity to allow ourselves to feel it may fluctuate, but the truth of the matter is that love is the ineludible breath of orgasm. Even when we feel dead and disconnected from the world, love is there—we are often too proud to accept it, but it waits gracefully and patiently for us to acknowledge it.

Second, it is my belief that we are confusing romance with love and sex. We have this belief that sex is only OK as long as we do it ‘tantrically’ with someone with whom we are ‘in love’ and to whom we plan on making a lifelong, monogamous commitment. Balderdash. Some of my deepest and most transformative life experiences were one-night stands, bathroom sex and sex with people who were already in committed relationships—all of which were saturated in love. 

I actually think romance and other ‘rule-based’ excuses for sex are poisoning our ability to fully open. They sit on top of our pleasure, like an angry schoolmarm, punishing us for enjoying anything that deviates from a prescribed code of social respectability. To connect to our sexual authenticity, we need to strip sex down to its barest essentials: you, your partner and the sensation at the point of connection. That’s it. I am not tossing off sex with a committed partner. I give thanks every day for the gift of my Beloved. But I had to peel off the layers of what I thought my sex and love should look like in order to recognize and receive him.

Third, having sex simply because it feels good is not only OK—it’s the most noble reason of all. We have somehow adopted the myth that pleasure equals "lack of self-control" and that denial equals "being a good person." Perhaps this is a throwback to the "martyrdom makes you a saint" dogma espoused by many popular religions. However, in my mind, nothing is more noble, innocent and pure than surrendering to the pleasure of our bodies. The pleasure we feel of a soft cat's fur under our fingertips. The pleasure we feel of a ripe fig bursting between our teeth. The pleasure we feel of warm sun against cool skin.

And yes, the pleasure of sex. The sparks of electricity that ripple across the small of my back when my lover licks my ear. The glow in my heart when I connect intimately with another person. The curious bliss of deepening relationship. The playful thrill of adventure. The stirring of the soul in creating new life.

I neither trust nor enjoy sex if I or my partners have other agendas—romantic or otherwise. If you are having sex to impress someone, make your ego feel good, negotiate a transaction (i.e. I will eat you out if you suck my cock), disassociate from life, snag a relationship or anything other than surrendering to the pleasure found in our exquisite and miraculous bodies, then it’s not an act of love, but manipulation.

Now, I cannot help but notice that a great majority of our sex writers at elephantjournal are female and that most (if not all) of those who are ‘sick of sex’ and wanting more ‘spiritually enlightening articles’ are male. This, to me, is an indicator of the taboo surrounding female sexuality and the continuous sexism that blankets the more feminine spiritual paths.

 Audre Lorde says:

“The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives.”

The world of sex is feminine: dark, uncertain, combustible, frightening. It is a spiritual path that pulls us down into the mud of humanity before we can push off the ground into the more celestial (and masculine) realms of consciousness. So when I see my fellow sister-authors (and brothers as well) gather the courage to share their erotic opening with the world (yes, that includes E.L. James, regardless of your opinion of 50 Shades), I want to scream from the rooftops “Write on! Your expression is my inspiration! Your voice is my healing!”

We each have our niche—that thing that calls forth from us our greatest power. Yours may be vipassana. Someone else’s may be crocheting. Mine is sex and orgasm. Perhaps if I wrote about cookie baking or child rearing, you might be able to categorize me in a socially acceptable binder full of women.

I genuinely pay tribute to the vibrant community elephantjournal fosters and the myriad of voices that come out to play. Questioning and challenging are important and encouraged—it spurs personal and social creativity. But writing off other people’s work as cheap or ‘simply trying to make a name for themselves’ is simply disrespectful.

So. For those of you who are tired of reading about sex (but not really) and need a list and a video to satiate your ele appetite, I humbly offer you 7 Non-Sexual Tips (Plus 1 Video!) to Spice Up Your Sex Life:


1. Chew your food slowly. Savor the experience. Use all five senses and allow the flavor to slide over your body.

      2. Express gratitude. When you come from fullness and approval, it expands your capacity to receive.

      3. Do something loving for yourself every day. If you know how to love yourself, you will take nothing less from anyone else. 

      4. Practice service. When you recognize your abundance and allow it to spill over, your joy transforms you into the most attractive person in the room. 

      5. Break the rules. Violate the ‘No’s’ and ‘Can’ts’ in your life and you will be bold enough to do it in the bedroom. 

      6. Surround yourself with beauty. When you know what gives you pleasure, you can recognize it and ask for it.  

      7. Laugh. It takes the pressure off to perform and connects you to the crooked perfection of life.

PLUS! Obligatory humorous sex video!