I Want To Be a Slut: A Declaration of Promiscuity

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Follow me on Instagram: @evyan.whitney

*This is a continuation of a previous post.

When I was 14, I was completely transfixed by the idea and actualization of the slut. I wanted to be promiscuous so badly—not just because I wanted to get a taste of the sexual power that seemed to come with promiscuity, but to get closer to what I was racing to become: A woman.

I did everything I could to embody the slut, almost to the detriment of my reputation. Because as I soon found out, to claim the word slut for myself was a double edged sword: I had “sexual power”—well, as much as a clueless, naive, adolescent girl can have—but that also meant being subjected to objectification.

I learned the hard way of the repercussions of hinting at a sexual maturity that did not (could not) exist, and for the rest of my teens, well into my twenties, I returned to a state of erotic innocence, trying my best to stay within the bounds of modesty and chastity—even after I got married.

But lately I’ve been feeling like I’m being sucked back in to sluthood again, feeling an undeniable calling to experiment with some of the same things that nearly destroyed my character back in high school.

And it all started with Instagram.

I’ve gotten into the bad habit recently of perusing through my feed at late hours of the night as I try to find sleep. One evening in particular, I was laying in bed doing my usual mindless swiping when I stumbled upon her profile.

She was what I guess you’d call an “Instagram model.” She was stunning, her body stacked with deep cleavage, a perfect round ass, and big pouty lips. In this particular picture, her leg was positioned strategically up to hide her vulva and her nipples were hidden by her forearms which were held up to hold her phone. She posed in front of a mirror, smiling coyly, her caption self-celebrating.

At first glance I had two reactions, each coming from completely different parts of me.

1. Wow, why would someone take a picture of themselves like that? That’s not very classy.

2. Ah, there she is! A sexually liberated woman!

Now, that first reaction I’m familiar with. That’s a voice I’ve heard before, one which stems from my previous fucked up history with the word slut and any kind of sexual expression that involves women brazenly wearing their sexuality on their bare chests.

It was that second reaction that really piqued my interest. I had no idea where that voice was coming from, this quiet but powerful feeling that seemed to say Yes. Suddenly I felt led by an intense curiosity to learn more about this woman—who she was, what she did, and what possessed her to show off her body in this way. I perused through all of her pictures, continuing to swipe for the next hour.

Very quickly, I was becoming entranced by the slut again, and I didn’t know it at the time, but that was when I began to uncover my inner slut.

And not just uncover her, but unlearn my own deeply embedded slut shame. Because while I was fascinated by this concept of indecent sexual ownership—mostly because it was such a far cry from my own shy, coy sexual expression—with each new profile I found, I continued to wrestle with feelings of judgment.

The lewdness of their photographs; the way they posed scantily clad, sometimes wearing nothing but cutesy little hearts over their nipples; the unapologetic gazes they give that invite you to look. . . seeing all of this, I couldn’t help but feel disturbed. These are the women my mother had warned me about—harlots readily making themselves objects of sexual desire, sluts totally unashamed of their sins.

As I dug deeper into this world of wanton sexuality, both my curiosity and criticism grew steadily, confusing the other simultaneously.

Until I saw this photo (and since it’s not totally safe for work, I’ll describe it for you).

It’s your typical “Instagram Model” pose—posing with your booty on the bathroom counter as you look over your shoulder and into the mirror in front of you—but plastered inside this picture is a field of text that she, the model, had received from an ex-boyfriend. In this text, he was calling out her open sexual expression. He was slut shaming her.

The caption:

“We live in a world where our sexuality is governed exclusively for male consumption, where we are taught that desperate women take off their clothes and powerful women leave them on — because why else would a woman be naked if not to appease the male gaze. [. . .] Every nude I take is a radical rejection of the patriarchal ownership of my sexuality, my body, my worth. It allows me to take my sexuality back for myself, creating and evolving its meaning on my own terms.”

Let’s pause for a moment.

You know when you happen upon something big—a truth, a piece of information, an inner knowing tired of being ignored—that illuminates a hidden part of you? When those deep, dark pieces that need healing from you finally get challenged in one quick moment? And it happens so quick, this flash of enlightenment, that if you’re not totally present you’ll miss it. But if you do catch it, you feel unsteady on your feet, dizzied by the flash of “Aha!”—do you know what I mean?

That’s what reading that caption was like for me.

It seems a little silly that some random Instagram post could create such a catalyst within me, but it did. Those few sentences shook the bones of the beliefs I had about my sexual body, and it opened my eyes to my own internalized slut shame. Suddenly, my entire perspective on how I saw the immodest sexual expressions of others was changing. Just like that.

It took me about two weeks to process all of this, and in that time I grieved all the power and sexual ownership the fourteen-year-old me had given away so freely to boys who did not respect it, when I was thrown into sexual expressions that were not mine, situations that I did not fully consent to.

At 14, the voice of my budding sexuality never really belonged to me; it was stifled and warped by the male gaze.

That’s why I want to be a slut

I want to be a slut to reclaim all of those years where my sexuality was stifled by the dominant narrative that says that my erotic identity can only be legitimized by the hands of a man.

I want to be a slut to help change the notion that says that I’m more powerful, more respected, with my erotic self hidden.

I want to be a slut because I love my sexual body and I want to flaunt it as an act of radical self-love.

I want to be a slut to challenge the male gaze and to take my sexual power back as a queer person of color.

I want to be a slut as a way to claim my sexual agency.

I want to be a slut because this kind of audacious sexual ownership and celebration has always seemed off limits to me.

I want to be a slut because I am trying to reclaim that word.

The word slut (and its many synonyms—whore, harlot, nymphomaniac, promiscuous, and fallen woman) has been used for years to describe a woman with voracious sexual appetite. Essentially, it’s a word that’s been used to cut down the erotic expressions of healthy, sexually curious women, and it has deep roots in misogyny, sexism, racism, and rape culture.

That meaning has yet to change for the rest of the world, but it’s taken on a new meaning for me.

A slut is a woman whose sexuality belongs totally to her and no one else’s. It’s someone who celebrates and is an activist for the sexual expressions of others—including the ones our culture has taught us to shun, like strippers and other sex workers.

A slut is a feminist. A slut’s sexuality is sacred. Her body is one of the last remaining temples used to worship her holy magic.

To be a slut means to own your sexual desires.

To be a slut means to take up space with your erotic power.

To be a slut means to be a sexually liberated woman.

© 2017 SLL / Fueled by orgasm and fierce self-care