Sandra Fluke heard it when she talked about insurance coverage for birth control. Sara Brown from Boston told me she was first called it at a pool party in the fifth grade because she was wearing a bikini. Courtney Caldwell in Dallas said she was tagged with it after being sexually assaulted as a freshman in high school.
Many women I asked even said that it was not having sex that inspired a young man to start rumors that they were one.
And this is what is so confounding about the word “slut”: it’s arguably the most ubiquitous slur used against women, and yet it’s nearly impossible to define.
n. a conversational hint that you have something personal to say on the subject but don’t go any further—an emphatic nod, a half-told anecdote, an enigmatic ‘I know the feeling’—which you place into conversations like those little flags that warn diggers of something buried underground: maybe a cable that secretly powers your house, maybe a fiberoptic link to some foreign country.
There is no room in my heart for important men who surround themselves with flowers. Take the garland of wives and daughters from around your neck. That you feel safe they would not choke you makes me sick.
n. the frustration of knowing how easily you fit into a stereotype, even if you never intended to, even if it’s unfair, even if everyone else feels the same way—each of us trick-or-treating for money and respect and attention, wearing a safe and predictable costume because we’re tired of answering the question, “What are you supposed to be?”