Lesbians are not exempt from being called “sluts”


I have to respectfully disagree with a piece on Jezebel.com today, "Why Queer Women Cannot, By Definition, Be Sluts." Now, I’d never use the word "slut," but I understand why the writer, Kate Carraway went with that description: It’s much more enticing than "promiscuous."

Without a doubt in my mind, there are just as many promiscuous queer women as there are straight women (and gay men as straight men, for that matter). Carraway argues that we can’t be sluts because we embrace our sexuality, no matter how many partners that includes. She writes:

…"slut" doesn’t exist as an idea without its association with shame. A slut without shame is not a slut at all, and a queer slut is, mostly, freed from all of the still-in-effect stigmas and judgments of straight straight-up sluts.

But these fears don’t — can’t, really — translate to the lesbian community. And perhaps it’s because of this that gay and bisexual women are "allowed" more than the straight girls. The virtue and bodies and numbers (the numbers!) of straight women are still — errantly and irrationally — made to be everybody’s business. But in the canon of queer-girl narratives (be they public or amongst friends or within a community), a lot of sex with a lot of people is understood to be normal and important, a dominant rule of self-discovery.

Sure, maybe when you’re coming out — but eventually, we are just like everyone else: We want a relationship that we’re secure in. Oftentimes, that means being someone’s one and only. Other promiscuous people of any sexual or gender identity might not work for us because they are unable to commit. We’re, unfortunately, not exempt from this. We’re not "special" in that way. In fact, many bisexual women are still considered "greedy" or "slutty" just on the basis of identifying as bisexual.

And it should go without saying that we certainly have representations of this on TV and film, starting with the obvious. (Read: Not people I am saying are "sluts," but that tend to be promiscuous and are largely not ashamed of it.)

Shane (The L Word)

Whitney (The Real L Word)

Tila Tequila (A Shot At love)

Elaine (Boogie Woogie)

Sam (Exes & Ohs)

Carraway’s short piece concludes with the idea that Shane isn’t a slut — she’s just being masculine. And "it’s understood that there’s pleasure happening throughout all of this, but it’s safe, educational, and importantly not destructive in the way that girl-on-guy slut-stuff always will be to the shamers. And so any busy queer girl is not a slut. Because no matter how readily we reclaim words like dyke or whore or cunt or whatever, there are other people who say these words and mean them, and they mean them not for us. They mean these words in another way, a way that is hard and unforgiving and reserved for a different kind of girl."

There is no shame in being who you are. So if who you are likes to spread the love, then so be it. And, sure, that’d be great if we were somehow exempt from being referred to as "slutty" or any other fun similar epithet, but it’s just not true.

Readers, I’m curious as to your thoughts: Do you think queer women are able to sleep with as many people as they’d like and are simply experimenting with their sexuality? Or are they also held accountable by the same terms that straight people are?

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