In response to your article, “1 Girl 5 Gays: What Makes A Guy A Slut?” (as featured on HomoRazzi.com) I completely agree with your initial statement that “each person has his or her own interpretation of the word ‘slut’ and as societal norms and definitions change, so, too, will opinions.” I would expand upon the idea that the meaning of the word ‘slut’ changes as societal norms change and where you live, i.e. what country and culture (especially in a religious culture).
I also concur that someone who has a lot of sex with multiple partners, or frequent sex with one person is not, de facto, a slut. The issue is that some people have higher sex drives than others.
So what makes a guy a slut? You wrote, “you become a ‘slut’ when you lose control of your own actions – when you begin to abuse your body.” I don’t agree with this definition. In the next paragraph you go on to say, “I have to disagree with JP’s correlation and say that the moment you begin to lose self-respect for your body (as a direct result of your sexual actions) is the moment you become a ‘slut’.” What is the difference between losing self-respect for your body, and losing control of your actions in the realm of having sex?
Losing self-respect could mean that you don’t care about having bareback sex and the possible health implications. It could mean having sex with someone you don’t find attractive because you need sex so bad, you don’t care. It could mean getting fucked by a stranger in a dark room at a bar or bathhouse, again with no consideration of looks, health status, etc. And it could mean you allow yourself to be abused or hurt physically to find sex.
A loss of control could happen when you are drunk or high and are unable to make a choice you would have made sober. Any of the above situations for loss of self-respect could also apply here. I would argue that abusing the body doesn’t make one a slut. Abusing the body (and the mind for that matter) fall under the realm of psychology, personal and mental health.
We are still left with a contradiction the begs the original question, ‘What makes a guy a slut?’
I don’t know if we could ever come to a universal consensus for a single definition of the word, ‘slut’. It is a loaded word that is currently affected by social mores and individual prudishness, upbringing, class, religion and one’s level of healthy sexual self-esteem.
Perhaps it’s safe to say that when someone calls another guy a slut they’re either jealous of the amount of sex that guy is having, or due to their sexual and/or religious morals, they believe he’s having more sex than he should, hence he’s a slut. And there is never a quantification for a ‘should-statement’. We are still faced with the question of how much sex is too much? Having a very open mind on this subject, I would state that too many people have far too many hang-ups about sex and the freedom and pleasure that great sex can bring two (or more) people.
If we look at the etymology of the word, according to Dictionary.com, we discover:
c.1400, “a dirty, slovenly, or untidy woman,” probably cognate with dialectal Ger. Schlutt “slovenly woman,” dialectal Swed. slata “idle woman, slut,” and Du. slodder “slut,” but the ultimate origin is doubtful. Chaucer uses sluttish (late 14c.) in reference to the appearance of an untidy man…. Meaning “woman of loose character, bold hussy” is attested from mid-15c.
So the history of the word tells us it’s rooted in the concept of being ‘dirty and untidy.’ It then later refers to loose morals and in most cases with reference to a woman. The word ‘slut’ is therefore rooted in heterosexist and patriarchal dogma, which are still dominant influence in our society and culture. As an aside, I wonder if straight guys call each other sluts? My experience and intuition tells me that gay men will use ‘slut’ as a label, but straight men will probably glorify another straight man’s ‘promiscuity’.
To assume that I can wrap up the word ‘slut’ with a single, contemporary and North American definition would create controversy. But here’s my attempt:
Slut is a label in the gay world that is usually applied by someone else who is judging another person’s sexual choices, behaviour, quantity and frequency of sexual activity. Most times it’s a negative label, but sometimes used jokingly. It can be used as a condemnation, e.g. ‘I would never have sex with him, he’s such a slut!’ As a compliment/joke/admiration, ‘Oh my god, you slept with him? Wow, you are such a slut!’ The understanding of the word is not universal.
Just as some gays reclaim the words gay, fag and queer, sexually active and sexually content individuals could easily do the same thing, reclaiming ‘slut’ to diminish its power and lack of clear definition. As a self-proclaimed slut friend of mine once said, “Do you know how much work it takes to be a slut? People call me a slut because they’re too lazy to meet the guy they want!”
© 2012 Darren Stehle. All Rights Reserved.