“Chuckdarwin,” while criticizing the Male Privilege Checklist, wrote:
24. If I have sex with a lot of people, it won’t make me an object of contempt or derision.
Two words: Bill. Clinton.
Bill Clinton suffered derision for cheating on his wife while being president. Is Chuck seriously arguing this is an example of the typical male experience? Do typical men face an angry Republican party and thousands of scandal-hungry reporters?
A few books and many scholarly articles have documented the “slut” phenomenon in US high schools – two examples are Fast Girls and Slut! Growing Up Female With A Bad Reputation. If any genuine parallel to slut-bashing exists for boys, I’ve never encountered it, heard it spoken of, or read about it in any academic source. My conclusion is that “slut” represents a genuine double-standard.
(In his comments, Chuck suggested “rent-boy.” But rent-boy isn’t a male counterpart of “slut”; it’s a male counterpart of “hooker.” Not the same thing.)
Nonetheless, I wonder if I should reword #24, because it implies that the “slut” label is applied to a woman or girl based on how many people she chooses to sleep with. In real life, it’s not that simple. Research on slut-labeling in US high schools suggests that girls are labeled as sluts for reasons other than their own behavior. The girl labeled a “slut” isn’t necessarily having more sex than other girls; but she’s usually set apart from the other girls in some other way, such as less money, earlier puberty, or being a recent new arrival.
From a review of the book Fast Girls:
White presents her victims of the slut rumor as girls whose identity was chosen for them, as opposed to one they brought on themselves. “Being a slut is not a story about the body so much as all the things that have been spoken about the body” (50). She presents the “slut” as a universal character, inevitably found at all high schools. White first proves that the designated reputation of the slut is born from redundantly similar rumors and this character exists in every school. By universalizing the slut role, White depersonalizes this image and emphasizes the lack of autonomy that girls face when, through no control of their own, they are suddenly cursed with a scarlet letter of sorts. After reading this book, there can be no plausible argument that starts with, “well she must have done something to deserve it.”
In a lengthy and sometimes drifting explanation of the Jungian archetype, White presents the slut as an unconscious rendering of the fear of female sexuality. She describes teenagers in limbo, as they attempt to compromise between messages of excessive sex as bad and their raging hormones. White states that teenagers try to make sense of this contradiction by drawing lines of good and bad. “By turning one girl into the slut among them, the kids try to reassure themselves that they are on the right side of fate: they are good while she is evil… They have the right kind of desire while she has the wrong kind” (59).
I think I’ll rewrite #24 to say There is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.” But I’m open to suggestions, too – let me know what you think.
(This is one of a number of posts responding to Chuck’s critique. You can use the category archive to see all posts related to the Male Privilege Checklist.)
“Bill Clinton suffered derision for cheating on his wife while being president.”
Actually, I’d say “for cheating on his wife and being exposed.” The privilege here goes on several levels: a woman would suffer contempt, humiliation and scorn, a man is merely worth laughing at rather than socially rejecting. Similarly it would be interesting to compare the portrayal of cheating men and women in media at large, whether or not they get caught. I bet there would be a pattern easily noticed.
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Isn’t the male term for slut man-whore? I would think of him as a man-whore and I think everyone I know would as well.
I can tell you that right now: people left and right would have been jumping to her defense, talking about how stressed out she must have been, how her partner in hanky panky had undoubtedly been coercing her, and how much Bill had been emotionally neglecting her.
Phil: Funny, but I don’t think any of the people accusing her of having slept with Vincent Foster were being that understanding.
Here’s another reason why slut is a word with no comparison for men.
Its a method of shunning and cutting off women from much needed resources.
Any woman with a child born out of wedlock carries “incontrovertible proof” of what she is. This means that when she applies to rent an apartment, she will likely be denied, particularly if she’s young. When she applies, the thing that happens is, well you know Daddy has to be involved somehow. He’ll be there all the time… So not only will she carry her own “sins” but the imaginary “sins” of the childs father as well. That one “sin” carries over and pollutes every other aspect of her values or character, with zero requirement on a landlords part to prove that. Older women have it a little better, people may believe she’s been married (and they ask) or the woman may have a lengthy employment with one particular employer, thus showing that drugs and laziness (and the ability to pay rent) aren’t necessarily a problem. Its the old “if you’ve sinned against one commandment, you’ve sinned against them all”.
I’ve worked (and currently still) as a superintendent, I’ve listened to landlords say this. So the next step for a “slut” is to apply to the crackhouses, they’re cheap and as long as you don’t burn the place down no one cares. Living in these places frequently cuts a woman off from family and friends( can you imagine visiting your daughter there every sunday for dinner?), and is used as further proof of her degraded character. Why would she live in a crackhouse if she doesn’t use it?
“Here’s another reason why slut is a word with no comparison for men.
Its a method of shunning and cutting off women from much needed resources.”
— Not in the US. They don’t get cut off from resources, rather they are given them – HUD, WIC, Food stamps, special job training, special scholarships, you name it.
Single women without kids? Nope. But get knocked up and you’ll get all kinds of help. That’s why some have made a “career” of sorts out of multiple kids by multiple “baby daddies.
“Any woman with a child born out of wedlock carries “incontrovertible proof” of what she is. This means that when she applies to rent an apartment, she will likely be denied”
— Again, not in the US. They get first priority with HUD, Section 8 housing and other public housing. I’ve also never seen or experienced a baby mama having any trouble renting a private apartment/house provided she could afford it. The baby daddy might have some trouble, but oh no, not the baby mama.
Single mothers get priority for housing in Canada too. The problem is, so little new housing has been built and what’s available is frequently in such a state of disrepair that much of it will have to be torn down in the next ten years. Toronto is probably the most recent example of mismanagement, other cities will soon follow. Frankly, animal welfare wouldn’t let dogs be kenneled in some of these “homes” but we can warehouse the excess Canadian population in them. The end result is that single mothers can wait several years to find a geared to income unit. I’ve noticed lately that while single mothers are offered training programs, welfare has made it increasingly mandatory to complete the highschool credits. Failure to comply results in being cut off. We don’t have food stamps here and I’m not certain how much a single mom pulls in on each cheque. Its probably equivalent to what I make, maybe a bit more with the child tax benefit. We have our share of career baby mommies too, though with the tightening of regulations, I don’t think many women are going to choose this route much longer.
False dichotomy. It’s quite possible — in fact, it happens all the time — that people are simultaneously cut off from some resources while others become more accessible.
I also wonder if you’ve ever actually been on section 8 housing, or known anyone using it. Most folks — including people with children — are on the waiting list for years before they get any help. In many areas (Chicago, for instance), there’s no preference for families with children. The picture you’re painting, as if single women with kids and no jobs are on easy street, is simply bullshit.
Pillow, housing “developments” are well on their way out down here. What section 8 does now is put people in regular houses and apartments, many of them very, very nice. Many previous “projects” were torn down and the residents relocated to much better homes in much better areas. Often bringing their crime with them, unfortunately. When you have generation after generation being born without fathers, that tends to result in juvenile delinquency which later turns into adult hard crimes. Its a mess.
Curiously, a major piece of research (pdf link) was just released about the connection between housing vouchers and crime. What they found is that the causality is just the opposite of what people assume. It’s not that people with vouchers move into a neighborhood and bring crime with them. Instead, it’s that neighborhoods that are “on the way down” have increasing crime rates — and that those neighborhoods are also the most likely to have section 8 housing available. But the crime rates were going up before the voucher folks moved in.
New poll: What would you find in Amp’s basement?
1) A team of social scientists eagerly awaiting Amp’s instruction.
2) A time machine.
5) Someone who signs her internet posts with the words “garden variety.”
In my area (SF Bay) you can’t even get onto the waiting list for Section 8, regardless of who you are or what your situation is, and the waiting list if you are on it is elephantine. Not long ago there was a lottery to get on the waiting list which we lost. And most people lost. (I know this because I have a disabled son on SSI.)
Everyone talks as though there are hordes of folks with Section 8 vouchers which are handed out like popcorn. Here they come, in their numbers! Well, maybe there are somewhere else, but not here. Section 8 is all but dead here unless you’re already on it.
I’ve read research that shows that roughly 75 percent of children of single parents (not just mom) turn out to be well adjusted, regular people. Perhaps the number of generations of single parents plays a factor. I’m sure economic status also plays into it, and apparently people in government do so as well. Which is why Canada and the U.S put programs into place to alleviate the worst aspects of poverty. What the government can’t legislate away is the SHAME of being poor or a single and unwed mother. SHAME is rarely a good motivator. CCC are there other factors contributing to the lack of education of Black youth? For starters, a highschool education means nothing if you can’t find a way into college at the very least. Can you see any other factors causing Black youth to sell themselves so short?
“What the government can’t legislate away is the SHAME of being poor or a single and unwed mother.”
Nor should it. And unfortunately it doesn’t have to here in the States where being a “baby mama” is practically a badge of honor! These girls feel no shame whatsoever. Rather it gives them a sort of twisted sense of status to have been knocked up by some “baller”.
There is no shame in being poor but there is shame in being a “baby mama” in any sane society, which mine is not.
“SHAME is rarely a good motivator.
Not in the West, anyway.
What section 8 does now is put people in regular houses and apartments, many of them very, very nice.
When you know what you’re talking about, please get back to us.
Also, consider the relative shaming of Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, in proportion to their relative power, public visibility and the extent to which they’ve chosen that visibility (not that being in the public eye, or choosing to be in the public eye, justifies being shamed for promiscuity – but it does make it inevitably more likely and more severe, which means it’s still a relevant modifier). You’ll notice that Lewinsky is known *only* for being that woman Bill Clinton had an affair with, whereas while the importance of the affair alongside other events of his presidency is certainly overstated Clinton’s legacy is at least debated.
“You’ll notice that Lewinsky is known *only* for being that woman Bill Clinton had an affair with …”
Because that’s all she’s done of any note in her life (or likely will do in her life). I saw a small article about her trying to sell hand-made purses years ago, but I guess that didn’t go over well.
What else should she be known for?
If any genuine parallel to slut-bashing exists for boys, I’ve never encountered it, heard it spoken of, or read about it in any academic source. My conclusion is that “slut” represents a genuine double-standard.
I wouldn’t disagree that a genuine double standard is involved, but there is a genuine parallel to slut-bashing for boys: it’s fag-bashing. As you go on to concede, “slut” isn’t tied to how much sex or how many sexual partners a girl has. But the implication is that a slut is polluted through having been (or wanting to be) penetrated. Once a woman has been penetrated, especially outside of marriage, she’s assumed to have been penetrated by everybody. This is why Rape Culture has so much trouble believing that a non-virgin has being raped: once a woman has said “Yes,” she can longer say “No” ever again. And once a woman has been polluted by being penetrated out-of-bounds one time, she’s polluted forever, even if she’s never penetrated again. She’s chingada.
The same thing goes for fag-bashing. Boys who are harassed as fags in school may not be gay (and may not be sexually active even if they are), may not be particularly effeminate, but they’re being abjected as penetrated and therefore polluted. Just calling someone a fag is performative, a stand-in for actual penetration. C. J. Pascoe’s Dude, You’re a Fag gives a good description of how this works out in practice. Some “progressive” males have been trying to rehabilitate “faggot” for their own use by keeping the abasement and penetration figurative and performative.
“I wouldn’t disagree that a genuine double standard is involved, but there is a genuine parallel to slut-bashing for boys: it’s fag-bashing.”
That’s where I’m just dumb-founded with regard to Ampersand.
I would bet a large sum of money that he was picked on in high school in just that way. Probably severely.
But he won’t even acknowledge it. Only women have trouble in their lives. Only women are worth anything.
Let’s see if this even makes it through the “filter” LOL. At least Ampersand read it.
“fag bashing” is indeed a problem for boys and men, but it has much more to do with some perceived failure to live up to the ideal of masculinity/”real man” behaviour than it does about sex or sexuality.
There are definitely problematic elements centered around masculinity and being a man in our culture, but this particularly topic seems to be focused on the “slut” phenomenon and the double standard around it.
That’s really interesting. Thanks for posting that.
Long time reader; first time commenter.
I don’t know if “fag-bashing” is a parallel to “slut-bashing,” because girls/women can be (and are) “dyke-bashed” for all of the distaff counterpart (so-called) failures of “fag-bashing” in boys/men: (perceived) failure to be appropriately feminine, and for not making herself sexually/romantically available to boys/men, even if she does not identify as lesbian or bisexual.
Of course, the irony here is that if she does have a romantic or sexual relationship(s) with boys/men, a girl/woman risks “slut-bashing” instead. There’s really no winning.
Where does bashing of gender-noncongruent, queer ladies go then? Just not sure I parse.
“But he won’t even acknowledge it. Only women have trouble in their lives. Only women are worth anything.”
What ARE you talking? He’s written about the subject! You are a lying jerkpants.
Ugh the Clinton thing again. A document delivery man came into the office yesterday and went off about “slick willy.” I don’t like that kind of politics and I don’t think the people in our office should be subjected to that kind of language. Sure we are all adults but that is not the culture of this office. It is generally very respectful. No one just mouths off about political or any other opinions.
I thought it was obnoxious of this person to think everyone else within earshot agreed with him and despised Clinton. He felt free to speak that way because he didn’t expect to be called on it. I am sure he would have had choice things to say about SOS Clinton as well. I wish I had told him sternly that we don’t talk that way in our office. Besides, most of the people who heard him are much younger than him and had no idea what he was talking about. He needs to know that he should save his comments for those who appreciate them and not presume everyone within earshot does.
Still annoyed. I have never pulled rank in the office but I am tempted to do it in the future if this business visitor acts like that again. Of course I could have repeated the words of a friend – “What part didn’t you like – the peace or the prosperity.” It is not like I am defending everything his administration ever did but I just don’t like the automatic derision.
~Thank you for pointing out that being called a “slut” doesn’t actually mean you’re a slut; it just means someone decided that you are one & a bunch of people jumped on the train……
Nowadays being called a “slut” usually just means that you are shy/ quiet, strange, not really as desperate to fit in as some of the other kids are; or that someone doesn’t like you………. one of the most bizzarre connections that people make to you being a “slut” is not dressing in the traditional uniform of a name-brand t-shirt or sweatshirt, jeans &/ or name brand sweatpants & whatever else the vast majority of the people of the same sex are wearing at your school or college at the time (I was poor & I kind of improvised & I just wore what I liked; the result was a kind of a colorful hippie/goth thing with beads & necklaces & jewelry & lace ……….emboidery & pictures of animals & stuff & BOY did everybody INSTANTLY “know” me then!!!)
I had never done ANYTHING with ANYONE from my school (or ANY others) except kiss my boyfriend at the time on the lips a couple of times & hold hands & that’s IT……….
But a LOT of (mostly males) decided that that made me a slut & so therefore they proceeded to try & treat me like one………… which apparently just involves suddenly having permission to treat you as bad as they possibly can all the time…….. I didn’t get it until well after college ………
My crappy boy”friend”(?) at the time would always take me to his friends house, who apparently had NO other friends, to get drunk & sit around & smoke weed (which was really, REALLY boring) ………….. and the SECOND his friend (who looked identical to the comedian Carrottop but with much shorter hair) laid eyes on me, he INSTANTLY “knew” who I was; someone who he could make fun of & diss to any other girls (who rarely came over) to his house who were still desperately trying to fit in in college the only way they knew how to in high school: by wearing their name-brand or college name sweatshirt, jeans &/or sweat-pant uniforms & drinking like a fish, attempting to suck up to the “right” people & being ACTUAL sluts to whomever they can deduce is the male to be a slut to within the first 20 minutes of walking into any given room…………
I remember this one fat, angry jock chick (like the male “athletes” who just wear a lot of sports team logos and watch “the game” & drink constantly who are 30-100 lbs. overweight) came over with a much quieter but equally well-logo’ed friend & she decided she had a problem with me immediately.
So Carrot-top over there sure knew a “sure-thing” when he saw it & took them both into his room & started dissing me to her keep her happy & unfortunately I heard it all & it was just completely innapropriate because he didn’t even know me at all……… of course my boyfriend (at the time!) probably judged me the same way as soon as he saw me too:because he treated me just as bad if not worse; & I’m guessing it must be because of the name brand thing, idk ………. I was nice to EVERYBODY (back THEN) & otherwise I was somewhat quiet; I liked to have fun but having fun to me meant ACTUALLY having FUN aka being HAPPY not being taken advantage of by some gross, sick sadistic male so he can run back to his “friends” in an attempt to gain social status by checking off his grocery list of sexual acts he must make some bitch do/ do with some bitch so they’ll pat him on the head & say “good dog!” or whatever……. Peace.
obviously this was, is, and continues to be an issue which hugely disproportionately affects women, and i don’t want to come across as diminishing the female struggle against the remarkably resilient slut/virgin binary. but as a man, i have definitely been called and labelled as a “slut” or the more common “manslut”.
i don’t really want to weigh in on the bill clinton issue, i just wanted to say that i have personally been the object of contempt and derision for having sex with a lot of people.
This makes me feel old. When I was a kid, the topics were along the lines of getting across to society that some women wanted to be something more than either a sex object or a sit-at-home baby-popper-outer and cookie-baker. Now it’s not even “someone called me a slut”, it’s “there is no equivalent insult for men, so that’s really unfair”.
Anyway, I’ll play:
This is an insult that goes to the core of pressures that society uniquely places on women. So let’s see what pressures society uniquely places on men – maybe provider/achiever and protector.
So from that point of view, I nominate “loser” and “coward”. I don’t hear about too many women being called cowards.
“It happens to men too” is a pretty classic derail.
it is not my intention to undermine the core point, which i tried to make clear in my original comment.
@Penelope: Try “It’s the twenty-first century and we STILL have a double standard”?! (On the courage thing, of course women can’t be cowards. Bravery is a male virtue so women can no more lack bravery than they can lack testicles, QED. What are you, some kind of feminist?)
@steven: Did it not strike you as odd that the more common insult is “manslut”? Nobody says “womanslut”.
excellent point re: linguistic bias of the word. i don’t know if you can declare “manslut” more common at this point in time. it is definitely evidence of the insult being historically hung around womens’ necks.
on your other comment, i think you are wrong to say that women are never described as brave or as having courage.
“It happens to men too” is a pretty classic derail.
That’s generally true, but this thread is about there not being an equivalent expression for men.
So if you are NOT talking about “it happens to men too”, then it’s a derail – off the topic of the thread – here. Kind of like opposite-ville.
Actually, on the topic of “What about the Menzz”:
I find that kind of response moronic when women are talking about a complication in pregnancy, for example, and some man chimes in with, “Well, men have to sign up for Selective Service, which women don’t have to”.
Moronic, unnecessary, and devoid of logic.
On the other hand, it may be a relevant statement if something occurs with equal frequency to men or women.
Contrived, theoretical, probably useless example: “God, I have to pay my phone bill again this month, something that men will never understand”.
Real world example, that I have unfortunately seen: Woman writes political opinion having nothing to do with gender on a blog, gets blowback. “God, people are writing nasty e-mails to me – I guess that’s just the price I have to pay as a woman”. What the f%$ck does that mean? PEOPLE get pretty intense blowback.
Do what I have done – blog or comment with a man’s name – you will get the same (or worse) blowback. WTF?
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While this may be true, in turn, men are probably more likely to be mocked/have their masculinity called into question if they are a virgin, whether by choice or circumstance.
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