This is a guest post from my friend Sarah in response to Rush Limpballs’ latest antics and this article about whether we can reclaim the words “slut” and “ho”, or whether we should ditch ’em entirely amongst ourselves.
When I was in my twenties, I *was* a slut. I was not ready to settle down, and I claimed the hate term for my own as an act of personal and political aggression:
“Yes, that is what I am. You want to pass judgment on me? You want to make something of it? Just try. I’d rather sow my wild oats now than tie myself down before I’m ready, try to repress myself, then break up my family ten or twenty years down the pike when I have the midlife crisis everybody jokes about. Being a slut now seems rather more responsible and self-honest than the alternative. Oh, and you want to call me a whore, too? Go ahead. I’ll give you too much information about the year I spent as a pole dancer, or the occasional rent-a-whip gigs. You don’t get to make me feel ashamed of myself. Only I get to do that. Your offended morality is your problem. It’s not like I’m trying to proposition you, is it? Oh, and about the words “bitch” and “dyke” – I’m already there. I don’t see any problem with being either of those, either.”
It’s not like I’m forcing you to be me.
I chose my life with open eyes and paid quite dearly. I was nineteen when my mother opened my mail and found out about the affair I was having with my girlfriend. My parents gave me a choice: house arrest, “deprogramming,” family counseling, a possible making good on Mom’s threat to take me to the back alley doctor she knew in Dayton who performed clitoridectomies, and acceptance of their control over my life; or disownment. It took me three seconds to disown myself. I was raised upper middle class, and there was a bit of culture shock when I went from being a sophomore in a small private college to being homeless, but hey, freedom isn’t free, right? I was my own person, though, and I vowed to live my own life and nobody else’s idea of what my life should be. I also chose to be unashamed of my choices. They involved consenting adults. Therefore, nothing to be ashamed of. If my choices also involved broken hearts, or other harmful effects, that was another matter, but it was my own business and I would face it like an adult.
I got called a lot of things. I’m sure you’re *really* surprised to hear that, right?
I’m married, old, and settled now, and I’m still not ashamed. (I’m also still bisexual, for the record; monogamy does not make me straight, it makes me monogamous. But that’s another discussion.) I think words like “slut” and “whore” and “bitch” (all of which I’ve been called) are ugly and hateful, but that’s part of what gives the reclaimer power if she owns and uses the words (and I did). It’s the power to take them and throw them in the hater’s face. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the ugliest face of all? Not mine…
Let’s talk a little about the argument of “why should I pay for a slut’s birth control if I don’t approve of her moral choices.” Shall we? (We’ll have to pretend that we DO have socialized medicine like every other civilized country, of course, rather than private insurance that has merely been required to provide family planning services with no co-pay.) First of all, from a pragmatic standpoint, birth control is a lot cheaper for taxpayers than children being raised in poverty or put through the public adoption/foster care system (private adoption may save a little money for taxpayers, if it gets no subsidy) or, heaven forbid, abortion. But second, and more importantly, a huge number of women are on birth control pills for medical reasons, and another large number of women on birth control pills or other prescribed methods of contraception are married, and then there are the unmarried but monogamous, and then there’s, well, everybody else, including a few sluts and a few sex workers.
You don’t know whose birth control you’re paying for. You don’t get to pick and choose. You might be chipping in a fraction of a penny to all of them, or maybe a dollar or two for just a few. And guess what? The sex lives of other women, or the lack thereof, are none of your business. Family planning is an aspect of health care. Your sole concern is health care. If you are that worried about the sex lives of other people – most of them total strangers – frankly, that’s a little sordid. You might want to talk to someone about that.
Mind your own business.