What do you mean by a 'Slut'??

September 26, 2011
I hope you remember that Delhi witnessed the much talked about 'Slut Walk' in July 2011.  The title had some how been toned down by adding 'Arthat Besharmi Morcha' (means Shameless Walk). I think this was necessary.  Keeping in view the societal norms, it was wise to clarify what was it all about.

It's good that technology is being used to garner support for a common cause.  It's technology which is spreading word far and wide.  But, we must try and customize things as per our society, our cultural sensitivity.

Although I support this or any cause which talks of a good social change.  But in the same breath, I don't think the word 'SLUT' had anything to do with it.

As you know that it started in Canada, where a police officer said in a speech to university students "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." It was surely unfair on this man's part to make such a comment, as he put the whole blame on the girl who doesn't dress appropriately.

What is the appropriate dress?

Isn't it different for different countries?  Forget about countries.  Even within a country like India, where the urban- rural divide is so huge that we cannot bring out a uniform code.  Now this whole issue gives birth to  a few questions.

Secondly the use of the word 'slut' doesn't hold the same meaning here in India.  It's meaning and perception is derogatory and could have been avoided.

Having said that, i checked the meaning and am writing my perception of the word also.

"A promiscuous female is sometimes pejoratively called a slut, while a promiscuous male is glamorized with names such as 'stud', 'ladies' man', etc"

Do you see the contrast? I'm sure you do!  This is the first reason why 'slut' could have been avoided.  The fight could have been on not being looked down upon by the society, in case a woman chooses to have intimate consensual relationship with men.   

My perception of the word 'Slut' -  was a 'prostitute'.  I'm sure many readers would agree that if they didn't check up the dictionary, they would believe that slut means a prostitute. 

For this reason as well, the word must have been avoided.  Because, even a prostitute is in a profession.  No girl can be in such a profession out of choice, rather most often than not, she would be forced to sell her body for money, which may be needed by her family.  So before carrying placards or making your body a canvas to write "SLUT" on it, it's better to think about it first.  Are you not insulting another set of women, in order to achieve your goal?

Thirdly, what I've understood of the the whole scenario is that "slut' word has been used to first soften down the meaning, by making it a slang.  What purpose does it solve, I wonder?  We all know how the word 'bitch' has lost its derogatory tone in last 10 years or so.  It was shocking for me 2 years back to hear two giggling teenager girls calling 'bitch' to each other.  We now know, it doesn't hurt that much.

Are we trying to do the same to "slut"? Can you find any reason? let me know!

Fourthly, I read the views of an author that, the shock which is intended by using such a word in our conservative society is intentional.  It's a rebellion of the social nature.  When you want to shock your people, you do it by doing something weird.  Remember that young girl of India, who paraded in her undergarments to the police station to report about her in-laws who were harassing her? 

Somehow, it didn't shock me.  It kind of left me thinking that a little more indigenisation  could have been done to the word 'slut' for this walk against the social evil of blaming the victim as the catalyst of the crime thrust upon her.

I support the cause wholeheartedly.  And I wish that this article may be read when this event is organized in other places in India.  If possible, pl share it.



RESTLESS

18 comments:

Kumar Bibek said...

I kind of was aware of the exact meaning, but, nevertheless, people tend to use fancy words and then, it brings in trouble. But yeah, I do believe that the usage was intentional.

One un-related point: It's always difficult to comment on your website for me. :)

Archana Chari said...

The sole reason why such walks are spoken on widely. Its a charm that no media spoke on it!

neethaprasad said...

"A promiscuous female is sometimes pejoratively called a slut, while a promiscuous male is glamorized with names such as 'stud', 'ladies' man', etc"so true. great attempt .keep writing..all the best.

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

A slut like man is not generally called a Stud. More appropriately, he's labeled as a Casanova.

And English language has been sexually harassed since many years, it is high time that we stopped sexualizing English words. I cannot find that article that had wonderfully articulated this concept, but words like bitch and ass have been vandalized and now I even fear calling a bitch a bitch. :P


Cheers,
Blasphemous Aesthete

Prathama Raghavan said...

I was for using the word slut for the walk actually, because I felt that if a woman had sexual relationships with many men, she had the right too, it didn't mean she could be/deserved to be raped or called derogatory names. In a way the idea of calling it slut walk was affirming female sexuality and trying to take out the 'pejorative' associated with the word slut. What do you think?

Watch this video on Slutty Feminist's blog which explains why slut was used for another perspective.

http://sluttyfeminist.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-am-slut.html

Thanks for the perspective.

Sandykundra said...

its as age old perception which will take a lot of time to change but we must continue to protest. and yes i always thought slut was slang for prostitute

PK Talli said...

more than these walks, we need self defense and awareness in indian women. not everything that is done in the west makes sense in india. does the pervert who harasses a girl on a crowded street care about such walks? NO!

cheers
chintan
http://chintangupta.blogspot.com

RESTLESS said...

Absolutely! this is the point i wanted to make that a way of protest in the west may not hold as good in India, and it might need some change of expression.  tks for your comment!

RESTLESS said...

Sandy Kundra, yes... i knew that most of the people thought that slut means a prostitute.  Rightly said, the age old perception that a girl is responsible if she gets raped will take time to change, but we must make our point clear. thanks.

RESTLESS said...

Prathama,

I agree with u completely on the first point. It is the and must be the choice of any woman to decide with whom she wants to be. And having multiple partners at one time or at different times is absolutely her choice and her value system and beliefs. That doesn't give the right to the society to label her as a slut.

In fact, i am for the real sluts too. A girl in the profession of prostitution also need not be ridiculed.

But, now, here in our country, still this word carries a lot of stigma, a lot of shame. How can u just paint yourself in the colour of an already advanced society. We must customize things before we accept them. Seeing the sensibilities of the public at large, a word like slut could have been avoided.

We can't shame them, or shock them... they can't even read what u have written on the placard.... they just know bodies....female bodies that's it.

hope i made my thoughts clear to u on why i believe, slut word could have been avoided.

thanks dear for your time!

RESTLESS said...

BA, i don't know what to reply on this :D

RESTLESS said...

Thanks Neetha prasad!

RESTLESS said...

I didn't get that? Media didn't speak about what? Slut walk was all over there.

RESTLESS said...

Kumar Bibek, so sorry for the trouble you have to take to post comment on this blog.

Thanks for the comment!

Jack said...

Restless,

I had read this post and recent posts yesterday but wanted to give comment only after thinking it over. I checked Oxford Dictionary and I am not going to give what it said as that is again a debatable point. We all just go and follow what becomes a trend. Why can we not have a march for Empowerment and Safety of Women? Because it has not been done anywhere so far. So Slut Walk it was. Now coming to dress, it is prerogative of one to dress as he or she likes as long as it is not vulgar. I know VULGAR again will vary from thinking of person to person, but we may take a general view. Would you accept a male dressed in tight pants outlining his private parts? At least I will not. Similarly low waist jeans which expose more than desired when a person bends should also fall under the same category, unless that person is careful not to bend at all. It is upto one to set limits for self. However if a girl is dressed little provocatively it does not give right to males to pass comments or anything more than that. The idea of these marches was to drill that in the minds of people but as time passed the main cause got lost in making a show of these marches. I support EQUAL RIGHTS for women with responsibility on society to ensure their safety. 

Take care

RESTLESS said...

I think dress code varies from place to place. Somewhere showing mid riff is a no no and somewhere else it may be fine.

Yeah, we cud have a march on safety for women in delhi.

tks..

Indianhomemaker said...

Many marches have been held by women in the past, but none seemed to have provoked the kind of discussions, debates, questioning of terms like 'slut', the blaming of victim and the part women's clothing pays in 'provoking' sexual crimes of themselves.

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