Slut — 1: a slovenly woman : SLATTERN 2a: a lewd woman; esp : PROSTITUTE b: a saucy girl : MINX

Ah, “slut.” A compact little word, forceful even in the way it sounds, starting out with a hissing sibilant and pushing off of the tongue through the L and U, and then that nastily crisp T. “Slut.” Say it a few times out loud. Roll it around in your mouth. “Sssslut.” “Sss…lllut.” Say it again. Notice that it’s difficult — almost impossible, in fact — to pronounce it neutrally. It’s got a sneer built into it, that word. It’s not as twangy and unthreatening as “tramp.” It’s not as easy to yell as “whore.” “Whore” is built for screaming rage and dishes flying through the air, with a nice gusty H at the front and a big old roaring R bringing up the rear. Not “slut,” though. “Slut” is muttered. “Slut” is whispered. “Whore” comes in like a punch, but “slut” tingles, like a slap. “Slut” hides behind the teeth. “Slut” is for when your back is turned.

“Slut” is for when you don’t act like a lady. “Slut” is for when you sit with your legs apart. “Slut” is for when you wear it short, tight, without a bra, cut up high and down low and around the side, because, see, “slut” is also for when you have the nerve to enjoy your body in front of women who hate their own bodies. Don’t strut. Don’t dance with soul, or lick your lips. Don’t look too good; don’t think you look too good. Digging your own self is slutty. Making your own good time is slutty. Who do you think you are, anyway? Knees together, slut.

“Slut” is for when you forget to hate and fear boys. “Slut” is for when you talk to them, flirt with them, hang out with them and watch kung fu movies, pretend they don’t suck at guitar, sit on their laps, cut their hair. “Slut” is for when you don’t remember that you can’t have a male friend unless he’s your brother or gay, because your male friends want to fuck you, and you can’t handle that. “Slut” is liking sports and belches and messy apartments — or, rather, “liking” those things, because you couldn’t really like those things. You just pretend to like them so that you can get attention from men, because you have no personality of your own, and even if you did, men only want you for your action anyway. That’s pathetic. Get a life, slut.

“Slut” is for when, in spite of everything you’ve learned from Cosmo and your sorority sisters, you just love men, for when you want to look at them and talk about them and burrow your nose into their necks and lick them from head to toe and hop right on them when they walk in the door like that scene from Raising Arizona where Holly Hunter clings to Nicolas Cage like a wood tick. Ugh. That’s so undignified. That’s so unfeminine. “Slut” is for walking down the street and talking to a friend on your cell phone and watching a cute boy walk past in the opposite direction and looking at him and looking away and looking back and then turning around in mid-sentence to keep looking. “Slut” is for thinking of stubble burn and biting your lip. “Slut” is for remembering the way your first true love used to pin you up against his car door and flushing clear up to the roots of your hair. “Slut” is for big hands and deep voices. “Slut” is for on top of you and under you and behind you, in the closet, on the floor, under the piano. “Slut” is for liking it. “Slut” is for wanting it. “Slut” is for going after it. Men hunt, women gather; men chase, women wait. Look it up, slut.

“Slut” is for kissing boys with tongue. “Slut” is for kissing lots of different boys with tongue. “Slut” is for craving kissing lots of different boys with tongue. That’s not right, you know. It says so in the Bible, and in social hygiene films. “Slut” is for loving sex. “Slut” is for needing sex. “Slut” is for thinking sex isn’t shameful. Sex is for married people, for diamond owners, for nice girls in twin sets whose mothers hid the Erica Jong, for people totally and completely, like, in total and complete love, and it takes place behind closed doors, with the lights out. Sex isn’t fun. Sex isn’t casual. Sex is a deadly serious, disgusting, dirty, degrading business. Just lie there. Don’t move around. Don’t use your fingernails or moan or anything; that’s slutty. Don’t get on top. Don’t go down. Going down is really slutty, especially if you like it as much as he does. Ew. That’s so gross. Only a slut would like that. That’s so sickening. I bet you masturbate, too. Ew, I can’t even think about that. That’s so foul — touching yourself down there like that? That’s — well, it’s dirty and sticky and gross, dude! Nobody does that. Well, boys do, but that’s different.

“Slut” is for sex outside a committed relationship. Sex outside a committed relationship is a cry for help. It means you have no self-respect, obviously. You’re, like, a total nympho, man. I can’t believe you would even do that. God. Don’t talk about it. Don’t think about it. Don’t miss it. Don’t daydream about doing it with Josh Hartnett in a waterfall. I mean — yuck. That’s totally slutty. Are you, like, desperate or something? Why else would you just have sex with a guy? That’s so wrong. You’re so wrong. You’re such a slut.

“Slut” is for fucking on the first date, giving head instead of your number, not caring if he calls, caring if he calls but fucking another guy to pass the time. You do that stuff, well, clearly you’re a slut. What’s even worse? You, like, enjoy it. It’s so show-offy, too. Like, “look at me, I think I’m a guy,” like Samantha on Sex & The City, like, get over yourself, hon. And, I mean, Samantha brings home at least one new guy every week, but she’s, like, obviously so miserable and empty inside because she never settles down. Don’t you want to get married? How do you ever expect to get married if you keep slutting around? You have to save yourself. I mean, no man’s going to want you if you’ve slept with, like, a million other guys before him. You’re used. You’re dirty. He’ll fuck you, but he’ll never bring you home to his mother, because you didn’t stay pure and go to bed only with guys you loved. And you can’t have more experience than your husband; that’s just not done. What if he gets insecure about it? You’ll scare him off. You don’t want that, do you?

And you’ve probably got diseases. I bet you don’t even use protection. Remember? How you have no self-respect? And don’t use condoms and birth control, because you just want guys to like you, so you just fuck them? That’s so sad. I feel really sorry for you. Yeah, you say you enjoy it, but it’s just a compulsion, and it’s pitiful, really.

Just stay away from my man, okay? Don’t even talk to him. Women have to look out for each other, because men would never look out for us, because we don’t deserve their respect and fidelity. We women have to stick together. If he steps out on me with you, that’s not his fuck-up. It’s yours. I mean, you’re the slut here. You obviously came onto him all barracuda-style and lured him into bed, so I blame you completely. So just don’t even go over there to talk to him. He’d never treat me right, and if I left you two alone, something would happen.

God, I can’t even look at you. You just prance around acting all carefree like you don’t care what happens, like it doesn’t matter, like you have the right to sleep with whomever you want or something — you make me ill! I hate you! Fuck you, slut!

If you found yourself nodding along in sincere agreement with any of what’s written above, you have a serious, serious problem and need to report to your nearest therapist for a course of self-esteem rehabilitation and double-standard deprogramming. The rest of you may continue to wear your sluttishness with pride. Here endeth the lesson.

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Sarah D. Bunting, also known online as Sars, is an American blogger and journalist, co-founder of Television without Pity. She has written for a number of magazines and journals, and has received coverage for her website Tomato Nation.