Sluts, Whores, Skanks, and Tramps

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The word slut has many synonyms: hoe, whore, skank, tramp, promiscuous.

By age thirteen, I’d been called all of them.

By age thirteen, most girls I knew had been called all of them, by other girls, especially by boys, and even by authority figures. The words came down on us for many reasons:

  • We had breasts.
  • We wore a shirt that didn’t hide our breasts.
  • We wore shorts that showed our legs. (That’s what shorts do.)
  • We liked a boy, and another boy didn’t like that we liked that boy.
  • We liked a boy, and another girl didn’t like that we liked that boy.
  • We liked a girl, and no one liked that.
  • We were raped, touched, sexually assaulted.
  • We told someone no.
  • We told someone yes.

The list goes on.

When I was a teenager, I faced my abuser in court. The defense called me promiscuous. It was because of my supposed, thirteen-year old promiscuity that my abuser walked. Now, at age twenty-five, I am still called these words. Every woman I know has been called these words. People I know use these words. People I don’t know use these words. But other than our femaleness, the women who are called these words have nothing in common:

  • We are black and white and brown.
  • We are virgins and not.
  • We are fat and thin and muscular.
  • We have big breasts and small breasts.
  • We are adults. We are children.
  • We wear all different kinds of clothes. Some of us wear burqas.
  • We say yes and no.

The list goes on.

If every woman has been called these words–regardless of her sexual activity; regardless of her clothes–what does that tell you?

It tells me that something is wrong with the words–with the world. Not with the women.

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12 thoughts on “Sluts, Whores, Skanks, and Tramps

  1. Emmy says:

    I think there’s something wrong with those that use the words, that’s where the focus of blame should be, not with those that receive them.

  2. Reblogged this on Speaking of Freedom and commented:
    A blog post from a sister.

    Yes, the title is provocative. Take a minute to read it. It will provoke your thoughts.

  3. robertking23 says:

    Thanks for reposting this Maggie. This is very troubling, but all too real for too many women. Growing up, i remember girls being out of their name, but rarely would boys, including myself, check other guys when they would demean a girl with these words. It was just assumed that girls who wore revealing clothing were fast; nobody everever challenged that assumption. It is your part of the culture of blame and shame which you’ve talkedhad about. I’m so glad that you are speaking up about this damanging, hurtful practice. Your article reminds me that men have to speak up against this too.

  4. Hey Maggie…I’m late to the party. But I’m here. So here’s mine. I believe it is our inadequacy that causes us/them to create this hideous labels. The white-male-casting of our world makes anything un-white-male = negative. I’m not saying a person who over indulges in anything is doing themselves ANY justice, but I’m concerned when the unaffected get so preoccupied with her vagina….or other parts. I know that she (whoever “she” is) must be allowed to get to know herself…then determine how much of us she wants us to know. Then, and ONLY then can SHE determine who she is….and with honor and respect we must refer to her as that. Much love sis….we’ll chat soon.

  5. trenhouston says:

    This was a great thing to share. I found that in my adult life I am still overcoming being a molested child. I’ve recently wrote a poem about the changes that I’ve gone through and the evolution of someone focusing on blocking it. Thanks for sharing! (DatDamn_Nish on twitter)

    • oliviaacole says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here, and thank you for reblogging. It’s so important to have dialogue about these things.

      • trenhouston says:

        Please read my poems “clothed in decency” and “old pains” and share if you like. I’m just getting a feel for WordPress and finally put something together. Thank you love

  6. trenhouston says:

    Reblogged this on NishaSays and commented:
    Truth.

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