We had a student presentation today — the kids were part of a local anti-sexual assault/relationship violence group — and they got shy when it came time to compare “words used to describe girls who have sex” and “words used to describe guys who have sex.” They made a whiteboard T-chart with “slut” and “whore” on one side; “stud” and “playa” on the other, then stalled out. Everyone looked confused.
I think it was because high school kids are just coming into an understanding of the power differential between men and women. They lack the necessary context to understand why female sexuality is judged and scrutinized so harshly. So I stood up and said, ” One of the most freeing moments in my life was when I realized that there’s no such thing as a slut — there’s only consensual and nonconsensual sexual activity. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the words “slut” and “whore” used to make girls and women feel small, I could send a private plane to pick you all up and take you to my well-appointed villa on SlutWhore Island.”
Then I sat back down, having made my own day.