I Say So: Slurs – Part One

Caution: Opinion

Written by Maggie Lindenthal-Cox

Let’s talk about hatred. Sometimes, hatred is justified, and sometimes it is not; you would not hate someone just because they accidentally bumped into you. But unjustified hatred is often far more complex than just bumping into someone. Sometimes, hatred manifests in the form of misogyny. If you do not know what misogyny is, it is the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. Now, I talk about misogyny a lot, because it affects my life every day, and because I feel very passionately that it is not often adequately addressed. To be honest, I’m tired of talking about it. I wish I did not have to argue why I should have basic human rights. But I do, and I am going to, because not all misogyny is as blatant as people expect it to be. It does not often appear in the form of an old white man yelling about how he hates women. Although sometimes it does, most often this hatred manifests in smaller and less noticeable ways. Even I had internalized misogyny until very recently, and it was hard to shake those ideas that I was somehow lesser because of my gender. When something has been ingrained in you since the day you were born, it can be hard to distance yourself from those ideas. I get that. It is difficult-if not impossible-to separate yourself completely from that feeling of male superiority. Misogyny is something that we are all taught, and it is something we must all unlearn again. For me, it manifested in the form of my feeling superior to other girls. As a twelve year old, I thought that because I did not wear makeup or bras or brush my hair that I was somehow better than the girls who did all of those things. I very much conformed to the idea that the more like a boy I was, the more superior I was to other girls. I have a very different mindset now, as I have become a radical feminist who believes that everyone, regardless of gender, should wear the clothes and makeup that they want. I am a firm believer in “you do you” because honestly, why should anyone else care what you wear or do with your body? However, at twelve years old, what I failed to realize was that very fact. What you wear and how you present yourself is your choice, and no one should shame you for wearing (or not wearing) makeup.
I would specifically like to talk about the word ‘slut’ because it is used very often in our society to perpetuate misogyny and male superiority, and it is, in my opinion, as terrible a word to use as the ‘f’ word or the ‘n’ word. You may not consider the term ‘slut’ to be a slur, but I do, and here is why: in the same way that homophobic slurs (namely the ‘f’ word) are used to dehumanize an entire group of people, the word ‘slut’ is used to reduce women to their sexual history. By calling women ‘sluts,’ we turn these women into nothing more than objects to be conquered by men. A woman who has an opinion that does not perfectly align with the male worldview suddenly becomes a bitch. In order to create the equality we all feel women deserve, we need to stop using words like ‘slut’ or ‘bitch,’ even if we just use them as jokes. When women use these words, we justify men who would use these same words to degrade us. ‘Slut’ needs to be eliminated from our vocabulary as a socially acceptable term. Instead, we need to remember that saying the word ‘slut’ is just as bad as saying homophobic or racist slurs.