Is swearing that bad? Really?
There was shock and outrage after Melissa Leo accidentally said “fuck” during her acceptance speech for winning best supporting actress at the Academy Awards.
[Dame Helen Mirren] was shocked by the uproar the utterance caused, and thinks people put far too much stock in rude words.
“The whole drama of swearing is so overblown. It’s idiotic that it’s made into such a big deal,” she said.
“I think [Melissa] was totally over-excited. She was trying to show how rough and raw she is and it was a terrible mistake. I do think the fuss is completely out of order.”
I’m firmly in Helen’s camp with this one. After all, what is a word but a collection of letters which become sounds? There’s supposedly nothing wrong with the sound of “sh” and “it”, but put them together to become “shit” and suddenly it’s this horribly bad thing?
Over time we have placed meanings on those sounds, with the meaning changing as more time passes. The word “slut” is a perfect example of this. From the 15th Century through to the 18th Century, slut was used in reference to a woman who worked as a kitchen maid.
After great pleasure there, and specially to Mr. Crumlum, so often to tell of my being a benefactor to the School, I to my bookseller’s and there spent an hour looking over Theatrum Urbium and Flandria illustrata, with excellent cuts, with great content. So homeward, and called at my little milliner’s, where I chatted with her, her husband out of the way, and a mad merry slut she is. So home to the office, and by and by comes my wife home from the burial of Captain Grove’s wife at Wapping…
My wife called up the people to washing by four o’clock in the morning; and our little girl Susan is a most admirable Slut and pleases us mightily, doing more service than both the others and deserves wages better.
Both of the above quotes come from the diary of Samuel Pepys in February 1664.
The comparison to today’s mainstream meaning is startlingly different:
The accepted denotative meaning is a sexually promiscuous woman or “a woman of a low or loose character; a bold or impudent girl; a hussy, jade.”These definitions identify a slut as a person of low character — a person who lacks the ability or chooses not to exercise a power of discernment to order their affairs, such as a cad, rake, or womanizer. The adjective “slutty” carries a similar connotation but can be applied both to people and to clothing and accessories, such as Halloween costumes.
This definition of course implies that being a slut is a bad thing, definitely not something that a woman should be, and also implies that a man cannot be a slut.
While searching the Great Internets for the Pepys’ diary entry, I came across this article on Jezebel.
A slut without shame is not a slut at all, and a queer slut is, mostly, freed from all of the still-in-effect stigmas and judgments of straight straight-up sluts. This is because the shame of “slut” is specifically about the fear and subsequent judgment of women making themselves available and in some ways vulnerable to men. But we’re not so much worried about a so-called slut’s emotional well-being as we are afraid of her being used up, spoiled, pregnant with a fatherless baby — because all of that stuff is bad for women, individually and collectively.
The very idea of “slut”, using today’s definition, is surrounded in shame, it makes sense that if you feel no shame about the number of sexual partners you have had, then “slut” loses all meaning for you. I wonder if this is even more so in the Queer community because there isn’t the male patriarchy towering over above you, judging you as a woman with unrealistic ideals. Maybe there is also an acceptance that in order to fully discover your sexual identity and to know your true self, you need to have a large number of sexual partners. Whereas a straight woman, or a queer woman who has sex with men, is placed into a box and constrained by the “acceptable” number of sexual partners, if they exceed this number they should be ashamed of themselves. But men aren’t placed anywhere near this box. If they happen to have a large number of sexual partners, then they are congratulated by other men, because they have shown that they are a “true” man. And, sadly, a lot of women are accepting of this complete double-standard.
So be proud of the number of sex partners you have, totally contradict those who would call you a slut and feel no shame!! There is absolutely nothing wrong with consensual, safe sex. Go out there and spread the love!!
And to get back to my original point: Fuck, it’s just a bunch of letters and sounds people!!