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A Slut Manifesto

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We live in world where women, commodified, are celebrated for dressing "like sluts" to sell things, but everywhere are slut-shamed if they dare speak up to defend themselves, protest rape and sexual assault, or fight for fundamental rights. This is wrong.

Slut-shaming, which is what Rush Limbaugh attempted last week, is like a national sport: we embarrass, insult or otherwise denigrate girls and woman for their real or extrapolated sexual behavior, including for dressing in sexual ways, having sexual feelings and/or exploring and exhibiting them. Entire industries are based on this idea.

Rush Limbaugh did us an unintended service, however. He made this clear to everyone, when he repeatedly called Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute and asked her to make a sex tape for him: every woman, even one simply speaking civilly and intelligently in her own interest, can be called a slut for no other reason that she's a woman. That's because the defining characteristic of a slut is not her sexual behavior - it's her gender. In this way, more people now understand that a slut is any woman who wants, on her own terms, to control her reproduction (for whatever reason), build a life, earn a living of her own, dress how she wants, and take care of her health and her family.

Every woman knows the word slut has power. Whether you love it or hate it, the word 'slut' is an evocation of a gender double standard used to control women and no woman alive hasn't thought about what it means to be labeled in this way. In some cultures, where honor killings take place, it is a matter of life or death.

If you're a "good" woman, don't kid yourself. It means you've spent your life and will continue to spend your life calibrating your appearance, speech and behaviour so that you are not a slut. By not acknowledging how the word is used you are embracing its power over you and other girls and women. And you will pass that corrupt and misguided abuse of power on to your daughters and mine. That's because you know, deep down, that at any point that word can be used against you. Every woman is a slut waiting to happen. Women who abhor the word, find it vulgar, and fear it, the ones who slut-shame others, gain a little bit of power by participating in a system that denigrates them.

Other women, and their male allies, reject the power of the word and the social structures that perpetuate its harm. (Something tells me Sandra Fluke understands this and Rush Limbaugh doesn't.) These women and men know it for what it is - a word used to control women and their bodies, and it is useless as a weapon against them. These are the people transforming the world by using social media to coalesce and change culture. Here is why:

A "Slut" Manifesto

BECAUSE we know what's best for us and yes, we do "deserve better"
BECAUSE we know that we are more than our wombs
BECAUSE we believe no double standards, including sexual ones, should exist
BECAUSE we believe we have the right to control our own reproduction
BECAUSE we will not be complicit in our own oppression by conforming to perversely-constructed rules about how women and men should behave
BECAUSE we understand basic science, embrace diversity, and are part of the modern world
BECAUSE we believe that how we dress does not give a man the right to rape a woman, spit on a female child or publicly strip another human being to humiliate them
BECAUSE we will not be silenced by bullies and thugs and will speak openly, politically and with conviction about important issues that affect us in the public space
BECAUSE we are justifiably angry
BECAUSE we, and the men who think as we do, are the future and will transform this planet

We will speak, write, march, run for office and vote.

So, even if the word 'slut' makes you uncomfortable or you think it is crass, consider these ideas: Don't sleep with mean people and don't vote for sexist, racist, homophobic ones who want to deny you of your human rights.