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Slut: Guilty or not?

By Yetunde Arebi

They began as a fun loving pair, basking in their own world. For the two or so  years it lasted, Kanye West and ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose, were one of the most reported celebrity couples in the music industry in the USA, especially buffeted by their free-style lifestyle.

love
love

The connection was powerful as they were publicly often seen doing their own things, from swigging bottles to wearing similar clothes and groping at each other. It was so obvious they were an item. Unfortunately, things went South and the relationship came to an end. And though both have since gone on to other relationships, what has not ended between them is the war of words which has given rise, or rather, added muscle to the #SlutWalk movement.

An unsolicited advice from Rose to one of the little Kardashian girls (Kanye’s in-laws), allegedly stoked the controversy, which ended with Kanye crossing the line. During an interview, Kanye took a swipe at Rose declaring that he would never have dated her if Kim, now his wife, had accepted to date him when he first approached her. He went further to say that after being with Rose, he had to take 30 baths before he could feel worthy enough to be with Kim. Rose would not let this pass without some bloodletting of her own, and so went on to reveal some secrets about Kanye’s sexual preferences.

A battle of love and shame that would spread to other casualties began.

Falling in and out of love has its peculiarities with individuals involved. It is not in all cases that the parties walk away on mutual terms, patting each other’s shoulders for a job well done. Depending on which note a relationship ends, the fallouts may be good or bad and of dire consequences. Unfortunately, this is often targeted at the woman. This is part of the male dominance, superiority and inequality, that has carved itself so deeply in our social psyche and often, affects the equation in relationships.

It is very easy for a woman to get labelled after a relationship, while the man, who might actually be the guilty one, walks away with his shoulders high and even a feather to his infamous cap. The most popular of these labels is the ‘slut’. Whenever I hear this word,  I have mixed feelings, more positive than negative in most cases. For, if one digs deep, often, it is used to cover up rather than to reveal what actually went down between a pair.

More worrisome for me is the fact that even women use this unkind word against one another when it suits them. So, who is a slut? What makes one a slut and another a saint? Is it the number of men a woman has had sex with? Is it with whom she has done it with? Could it have to do with how and where she’s had sex? Or does she become a slut simply because someone or some people say she is?

According to Longman Dictionary, slut is an offensive word for a woman who has had many sexual partners. Also an offensive word for a lazy, untidy woman. A woman is sluttish if she also exhibits these traits. Wordnet also describes slut as a term used for a woman or girl who is considered to have loose sexual morals or who is sexually promiscuous. In a discussion with some male friends, we tried to analyse who a slut is or what makes a woman a slut, and they had the following to say. A woman who is greedy for male attention and company is a slut, even though she does not necessarily sleep with them.

A woman who sleeps with many men is a slut (not necessarily for prostitution) just as another who sleeps with only one man and is brazen or brash about it is a slut. A woman who loves to flaunt her body and sexiness before men (flirting) is  also slut.

And their conclusion is that, most times, such women deserve what comes their way. (Hmm!) My take from this is that while it is a win-win for the man, the woman loses whichever side of the coin she chooses. This to me sums up why high sexual atrocities perpetuated against women are high, why the culprits get away with it most of the time and why victims are blamed for crimes against them.

I believe the answers are shrouded around the sexual act itself. Kindly share your views on this with me, please. There is no doubt that religion as well as, societal and moral values place a high premium on women in terms of sexual responsibility and expects that they remain chaste at all cost.

Regardless of our level of westernisation, feminism and sexual revolution, young girls are still enjoined and appreciated in many societies to remain virgins until the wedding night. Once married, women are also expected only to open their thighs for their husbands alone.

The Bible condemns both fornication and adultery in the strongest terms while the Qur’an places responsibility on women to guard the secrets of their men which God has kept in their care. For the sake of decency, harmonious and peaceful co-existence, societal and moral values are strict on issues of sexual conducts. In fact, to curtail such excesses, many communities implore certain checks and balances such as swearing to oaths by women and public disgrace of young girls and families founds to have been deflowered before the wedding night.

However, there is no doubt that the above is far from the reality of things today. Most relationships now thrive on sex and sexuality. In fact, without sex, most people don’t believe they are in a relationship. The sexual act has become a sort of sign of confirmation that a love relationship exists between a couple; thus, if we are dating, then we must have sex. Besides the need for casual sex, many in what they believe are serious relationships also insist on having sex, even if only once or twice before marriage to test sexual compatibility, as they say, while some others even insist on pregnancy as a condition to warrant or deserve marriage. Truth be told, very few couples find a way or get around sex before marriage.

Sex has thus become a part of relationships that we cannot wish away. Yet, we forget that for the woman, sex is more complicated than for the man, and this has nothing to do with who enjoys it better. Before the average female decides to have sex with a male, a lot of consideration must have gone into it, no matter what anyone may think. From summoning up the courage to undress before another person which is no easy feat; due especially to trust issues, to psychologically giving of a part of one which cannot be recovered. The decision to have sex is a serious battle for any female.

And when one considers the fact that not all relationships will end in marriage, and not all marriages will also last a lifetime, it calls for caution how we handle sex and sexual matters. That a man is permitted by society to bump around does not mean that he is not guilty of same and must not exercise caution in the pursuit of his amorous desires. People split for diverse reasons and depending on the circumstances leading to the separation, the lovers may remain friends or become sworn enemies. It is therefore not uncommon to find one person badmouthing the other and spreading false stories in order to score cheap points.

As usual, men are usually the culprits here and reason are not entirely hidden. A woman will become a slut if she plays too hard, or if she agrees after playing a very difficult and long waiting game.

This reminds me of a young undergraduate who almost dropped out of school simply because she discovered that a guy she finally accepted to date and slept with had actually taken out a bet on her with his friends. She became a target for slut shaming simply because some group of guys felt she was too cocky and arrogant and plotted to have her cut down.

In a related story, a friend became an object for slut shaming when she discovered that the guy she was investing time and resources on was not even close to the man he portrayed himself to be. He had no business or financial potential, yet went around touting himself as a business man. Even the fleet of cars he drove about belonged to his parents and close friends whom he was simply living off on.

On discovering that she had unveiled his mask, he went to town to slut shame her that he was dumping her because he was sure that she had other lovers and could not make a good wife. Only those who know him as the black sheep of the family knew it was a cover up for his uninspiring and unsuccessful life. Women who slut shame other women often do so out of envy, jealousy, inability to decode what makes the target tick, the need to put the other woman down and the desire to outshine the other woman.

Excluding prostitution which is now becoming rather difficult to define in the face of contending issues and personae involved, the word slut, could be sharing a similar fate, especially considering the fact that it is more often used in derogatory terms to label, discredit or dishonour a woman, rather than the actual truth.

 


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.