We tell children that words can never hurt them, but the recent comments of Rush Limbaugh suggest otherwise. While it appears Limbaugh is the one most harmed by his words, it prompts us to consider our personal role in such name-calling.
Fluke, a Georgetown University law student, is an advocate for the school including contraception in its healthcare package. In response to Fluke being outspoken about the need for women to have the power to decide the terms under which they want to be sexually active, Limbaugh called her a "slut" and "prostitute." He went on to say that "If we're going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch." Rush Limbaugh's Bold Remarks On Relationships & Marriage
I do not intend to minimize Limbaugh's comments, because they are indicative of a larger systemic issue. However, I do think it's worth considering that historically, calling a woman a slut or a whore would quickly shame her and quiet her voice. That reaction is far from what has happened in this case. Fluke has maintained her stance and even received a sympathetic phone call from President Obama.
What immediately came to my mind when hearing Limbaugh's comments was the latest movement to reclaim the word "slut." Last year, SlutWalks occurred all over the world in an attempt to draw attention towards the perpetrators of rape rather than the victims. Women are often blamed for sexual assault for dressing a certain way — like sluts. How Sandra Fluke Relates To 'The Myth Of Feminine Evil'
This movement attempted to reappropriate the word slut, and reclaim it so that it would not have the same power it had previously. If (as was heard at the initial SlutWalk in Toronto) "We're here. We're sluts. Get used to it!" then there's not much sting in calling someone a slut.
But are we there yet?
Another school of thought would argue that rather than reappropriation, calling each other and ourselves sluts is a manifestation of internalized oppression. So rather than men saying "She's a slut because ____," we begin to say it to each other and ourselves. We don't need men (or Rush Limbaugh) to say it, because we've beaten them to it. Can A SlutWalk Change The Attitudes Around Sexual Assault?
Questions to Consider:
Have you ever called a girlfriend a slut — "How's it going, slut?" What about whore?
What does it mean when we as women use those terms of "endearment" for each other?
Do you think it's ok for women to use the term?
Have you ever heard someone call another woman slut (or other term), and you had a hunch it was really an attempt to call them the traditional meaning of the term masked as a reappropriation? Get Comfortable With Yourself And Sex [Video]