6.4.07

The transformation of a slut

Confession: I have used the word 'slut' whilst referring to another woman. I have regretted using it.

In fact, I regretted using it within ten seconds of it having escaped my lips. It wasn't about what she wore. I wore less. It wasn't about make-up. She used none. In retrospect, it was about anger, and a shade of envy.

This is about four years ago. I was sitting around with a couple of young male friends. They were talking about the difficulty of getting girls to attend parties. They asked me, half joking, if I could get them through to some girls.

And stupidly, sanctimously, I shrugged and said, 'I don't know any girls who'd go out partying with strangers. Well, maybe I know one. She's a bit of a slut.'

The boys reacted unexpectedly. They exchanged glances and one said 'Shhh. Don't ever use that word for a woman.'

My humiliation has rarely been so complete as it was in that instant.

What had been going on in my mind? Did I disrespect girls who went out with boys too soon? But I too have hung out with men, when introduced through other friends. What did I disrespect about the girl?

It took years for me to figure out what and why. I envied the girl a little. She did what she wanted. She seemed not to be afraid of being judged by her family or other people like me. It is a different story that a lot of her recklessness and defiance was rooted in her fear of being judged by her own city-bred peers, of not 'fitting in' in glamourous circles. But I did not judge her because of her fears; I judged her because of mine.

There was another reason why I was so flippantly moralistic. The man who shushed me had not been paying enough attention to me. And I craved his attention. I wanted to win his approval, somehow. To show that I was better than those 'easy' girls he hung out with. After all, all my life, I had been told that men like girls who play hard-to-get; that they respect girls with the hands-off approach.

Unfortunately, the effect was opposite to the one desired. But the good thing was that I was immediately chastened, and flung into self-reflection. Here was a man I liked and, in an uncomprehending, instinctive fashion, respected. And whose respect I may have lost.

I began to think about why I respected him - not because he partied, not because he swore and provoked and argued. Perhaps, because he was one of the few men I'd met who was neither awkward around me, nor aggressively friendly. He seemed to ask nothing of me and never crossed any lines - physical or social. And never once did I fear either him or his morality.

Never again has the word slut crossed my lips, or even my mind.

In fact, when a bunch of us journalists were outside a restaurant, an acquaintance leaned over and whispered - 'See those girls? They're sluts!' - I was surprised.

The women being referred to were in tight jeans, skirts and halter tops, lots of mascara, no male escorts.

I asked, 'How do you know?'

'It's obvious.'

I simply noted that the clothes were very smart, and considered asking them where they shopped.

'See! They're waiting to get picked up,' she continued.

'Are they?' I said, in a deliberately bored voice, and turned away.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Annie, we often use the word slut in a derogatory sense. Not surprisingly, since most abuses in most cultures derive from the female of the species. In Hindi notably, all the abuses for men or for women are derived from the female genitalia. And no one has paused to ask why... Even when we refer to women as "females", we are reducing them to genderless people, something which we don't do to men; we never refer to them as "males". Uunless women begin to understand how patriarchy influences langauge and object to it, things aren't going to change.

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  2. @ Annie: I think the very fact that you have so fearlessly dissected and analyzed your action is commendable.

    The point is, we need to really start reasoning with ourselves before we arrive at conclusions that we are all so used to arriving at.The moment we do that we will realize how irrational we are.How gullible we are to the conditionings of an opressive society.

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  3. Ya i get the point you are trying ta make..We all do that instantly...Widout any thought...
    and yes..it mostly coz somewhere deep in our hearts we do envy them..
    Coz they are coool may be..better than us in some kinda way
    nice post!!

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  4. would it have made a difference if she'd said, "look at those girls, they're hookers"? because while being a slut maybe negotiable being a hooker is either true or false.

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  5. I'm glad you are able to pen his down. All women i know are guilty of passing derogratory comments on/about other women. When we do it to each other how do we expect better out of men. Smart does not equal slutty. Comfort is not even a consideration when it comes to dressing options for women. I have been eve-teased more in salwar kameez than in western attire. i believe most of the men analyze a girl in salwar kameez as timid and meek and an easy target however someone wearing jeans as per them might be more outspoken. this is just one sect of eve-teasers though for other compulsive eve teasers who view women as objects clothing doesnt matter. they will tease no matter what you wear and i believe that.
    Women first have to stop putting each other down and then pin point fingers at the guys doing so.

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  6. After reading this blog and a few minutes of retrospection i realised how often i used the words SLUT and BITCH on other women derogatorily.Thanks for throwing some light on my arrogance if you may call it that.I'm sure those words will never even cross my mind again!

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  7. Anonymous1:44 am

    Is it ok if i think of some women as sluts in my sexual fantasies?

    Some sarcasm intended.

    I'm posting anon as i dont have a blog.

    - Arjun

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