There was a recent post on Feministing about reclaiming the word “slut,” and I have to admit it struck me in the wrong way, which used not to be the case. When I was a teenager, I used “slut” and “bitch” frequently to refer to myself, which I considered reclaiming. Now more power to you if you still want to do so, but I kind of get the heebie jeebies when I hear it. Why? For some reason, those words seem more steeped in the patriarchal culture than other reclaimed words like “queer” or “dyke.” They just seem inherently hateful. Of course, no word has inherent meaning, but I wonder if others get this sense as well. With all the fake, anti-feminist “girl power,” the weird combination of purity balls + “slutty” grade school girls’ clothing, etc., I wonder if the “reclaiming” really is that, or if it’s just part of a mainstream attempt to use feminist language to keep girls firmly rooted in patriarchal thought. Ideas?
Anyone who’s done much activism or kept up with the academic debate regarding gay marriage in recent years has come across the insulting “gay marriage is a slippery slope that leads to polygamy, marrying animals, etc.” argument. Now, this is a stupid argument. Of course it’s stupid. But why is it stupid? And what should the response be?
I think one common response to this argument highlights a larger problem regarding our culture’s attitudes towards sexuality. The thing is, a lot of people have a tendency to respond directly to that argument by saying “of course this won’t lead to polygamy or marrying animals! Gay marriage is clearly different from these things, and let me tell you why.” The problem is that if you argue that way, you’ve already accepted the premise. You’ve accepted that there is a category of bad things that includes polygamy, marrying animals, and presumably other practices as well, and that this category < gay marriage. Read the rest of this entry »