[trigger warning for assault and strong language. And sarcasm]
There I was, reading the paper, sipping my coffee, toying with the idea of sneaking out for a cigarette, when I saw something that made me choke on my long black.
I didn’t see the billboard in Parnell. (Does anyone have a picture?) Which is lucky, because likely, I would have spat at it, or something.
The image was of an intricately iced cake top that included the words “Backstabbing Slut” surrounded by iced flourishes. Underneath these words the rest of advertisement stated, in part: Top Chef. Just Desserts. They make desserts, not friends. 8.30 Mondays”
But, according to the advertiser (TV Four), it’s humorous. It’s funny!
The “Backstabbing Slut” line has been used with humour to promote the reality show “Top Chef: Just Desserts”. The line is written as a crafted, handwritten style, subtle message on a cake, and not as a blatant headline. You have to fully engage with the communication to absorb it….Anecdotal evidence suggests the word ‘slut’ is increasingly being used as a throwaway humorous line, in the same way as ‘slapper’ or ‘bugger’ is, as opposed to a nasty insult – especially amongst younger people. US reality shows contain regularly use of the phrase as a light-hearted form of insult. Teenage girls in New Zealand now frequently use the phrase as a humorous insult.
At the risk of coming across as a boring feminazi with no sense of humour, thank God the ASA saw sense.
Look, I don’t care what they are doing on US reality TV. I don’t care what teenage girls are saying to each other, though I would like to have a word with these girls that are using it as a “humourous insult”. Just because it is humourous, doesn’t stop it being an insult. It is still fucking offensive.
I am embracing the word Slut. Reluctantly. As I have written, I’ve been called it a number of times, and I will be marching for my right to do what I like with my body without judgement or threat of violence.
But like any re-claimed word, other people using it is always problematic. To me Slut is a nasty, nasty insult. Not just because of what it says about the recipient in particular, but what it says about women in general. That idea that liking sex is bad, that being confident and willing and experienced is inherently unwomanly. And an unwomanly woman is worthless.
“The word ‘slut’ is an act of violence. Not just metaphorically. It gives permission for people to rape us, and the person who wields it doesn’t have to lift a finger…“
I am not the language police. I am not going to tell you what you can and can’t say. If you want to reclaim it for you, then fantastic. But if you are going to use Slut, even in jest, it behooves you to remember that it’s a word filled with misogyny and hate. Like other offensive words, it pays to be careful when you say it. Because you might think it is funny. But the person you’re saying it to might remember when someone said it when they were being demeaned, ridiculed or just before being kicked in the stomach. And to some of us, some of the time, that’s exactly what it feels like.