‘Hey slut!’ my girlfriend yelled at me as I greeted her for a coffee.
‘I’m reclaiming the word’ she informed me as I sat down opposite her in my denim-on-denim ensemble.
‘Yeah, I gathered as much’ I bemoaned partially because I knew where this conversation was headed and in no small part because the cafe she’d insisted on meeting at didn’t do soy milk.
‘It’s fine’ she said ‘I don’t know why it’s such an issue for you. Just get skim milk. Same, same Lou.’
This is why I needed a boyfriend, not for any other reason than to avoid these type of catch-ups. I imagined friends of old calling me up wanting to meet for a dairy laden latte and I’d be all ‘oh I’m sorry, I’d love to but I have a boyfriend and he has a penis I need to attend to…yeah, I know, it is a shame, but what you gonna do?’
‘You’re a slut Lou! I’m a slut Lou! We’re all sluts! Isn’t that great?!’
I looked at my tea delivered with nothing but a lemon wedge to mask its tea-like flavour.
‘I’m not a slut.’ I said as I eyed a woman leaving the Vegie Bar with a take-away coffee which I was certain was a soy coffee, probably a flat white by the looks of it; after all, we had the same shoes.
‘But of course you are’ my friend interjecting my hypothesis.
‘You’re a woman and you have sex, ipso facto you’re a slut Lou.’ I watched as she slammed her fork into her crumbling tower of cheesecake and I enjoyed the last bits of my lemon wedge.
‘The fact we have sex didn’t make us sluts, an ingrained misogyny in the lexicon did.’
My biscotto wasn’t hitting the spot but then again biscotti never did and yet each time I was still surprised by my little realisation.
‘No Lou you’re using traditional definitions. It doesn’t just have to be a woman who has multiple sexual partners at any one time Lou; it can also be applied to woman who just has sex in the winter in lieu of escalating electricity bills such as-‘
‘-so help me god do not even finish that sentence.’ I commanded, discreetly rubbing my new hot water bottle I’d only bought hours earlier in my bag; the only rubber in anyone’s life certain to stave off winter madness and combat escalating electricity bills.
Annoyed and scratching at her Henna tattoo from a hens night past she turned on me ‘I just don’t see what you’re problem is. Everyone’s talking about it! Come on Lou, Slut Walk – it’s what this is all about!’
‘You want the truth as unpopular as it maybe I just don’t believe in the word slut. There shouldn’t be such a word. It’s always been a bad word with bad connotations. You can’t reclaim a word created to be negative. I’ll concede that perhaps you can rehabilitate it – ‘
‘-Amy Winehouse was rehabilitated.’
‘Yeah, and it’s worked to startling affect hasn’t it?’
‘-What about cunt? That was reclaimed and it’s the same as sluts.’
‘What? That in a lot of ‘sluts’ have cunts?’
‘That’s a very simplified way of looking at things Lou but yes most ‘sluts’ do own a cunt but also that the word was reclaimed.’
‘If you want to get in a tit for tat about the word cunt – ‘
‘Ha! You said tit!’ squeeling like a school girl.
‘I also said tat but where’s its credit…’ I mumbled as waitress quietly put the bill down on our table.
‘Did you enjoy your lemon?’ she asked
‘Yes, yes I did. Thank you very much.’ She smiled as she took the lemon wedge and empty tea cup away.
‘Well someone’s got a cunt and that someone definitely likes a girl who enjoys a good lemon wedge…’ my friend languished back in her chair.
‘Shut it’ I said as I hunted around in my hand bag for my strawberry lipgloss.
‘I reckon you could slut it up with her good time.’
‘You’re using it as a verb now?’
‘When in Rome…’
‘That in no way applies to this discussion. We are not in a situation that warrants a deflection to the hedonistic times of ancient Rome.’
‘We are in Brunswick St…’
Neither of us said anything. Not a week earlier I’d been somewhat hedonistic just off Brunswick St…my friend didn’t need any more wins.
‘What I was getting at is that cunt is a word imbued with positive connotations until it was reappropriated for another means. A negative, oppressive means, but over time and with limited success I might add it’s started to live in a more positive light in the lexicon.’
‘So it’s kinda like the Rob Lowe of words?’
‘No, a woman’s vagina is nothing like Rob Lowe.’
‘But he was a good guy and then he shagged and filmed an underage girl and then bam! He’s on the West Wing!’
‘Ok the likelyhood of ever seeing a cunt on television over Rob Lowe…’
‘You’re missing my point Lou. I’ m just saying that women should be allowed to be sluts!’
‘How about women just being allowed to be women? You know to dress how they like as a woman, say what they like as a woman, live like they want as a woman and not be concerned with the ever present threat of being sexually assaulted or shamed? I’m just saying that seems like a better use of our energy as opposed to rebranding a word already fraught with problems.’
‘That wouldn’t fit on a t-shirt Lou.’
‘Your feminist rhetoric needs to fit on a t-shirt.’
Sadly she was right…
‘So for the walk what will your t-shirt read?’
‘Oh I’m not wearing a t-shirt, I’m just going to write slut across my breasts.’
‘Ok, fair enough. I guess I’ll just walk next to you.’
SlutWalk is happening on Saturday 28th May at 1pm, State Library and contrary to popular belief I believe it’s about how women should have the freedom to wear, say and live as they please without the threat of sexual violence and shaming. It is not about reclaiming the word; it is about taking away its meaning so that arseholes can’t use it to hurt us ever again.