Here's Why Women REALLY Call Each Other the 'S' Word

looking out windowLet's talk about sluts, shall we? Oh -- did everyone just sit up at the edge of their seat in anticipation? Women seem to harbor a special place in their hearts for the "she's a slut" conversation. In fact, women slut-shame each other on Twitter almost as frequently and cruelly as men do. But here's the weird thing -- when women call each other the S-word, it's often not even about sex.

I'm going to pull out the "according to science" card for this one.  Ahem! In a recent study, researchers looked at how women use the word "slut." They found out it means different things to different women, depending on their background and values. So, what do we talk about when we talk about slutty women? There are three different things.


1. We're saying the other woman isn't "one of us." For wealthier women, it's the opposite of "classy" and can have more to do with your hair, clothes, and style than what you do with guys. It's about your failure to be a good social climber. Less wealthy women use the word for women who are snobby or exclusive, because they value being down-to-earth more.

Researcher Elizabeth A. Armstrong told The Atlantic, "If you want to make a young woman feel bad, pulling out the term 'slut' is a surefire way to do it. It’s 'she isn't one of us, we don't like her and she's different.'" And it can have nothing to do with the woman's real sexual history -- although getting slandered with that label sure does imply it.That's what stings.

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2. We're spreading untrue rumors or straight-up lying. The researchers heard a lot of stories about the girl who slept with the whole basketball team or the girl who has group sex. But the thing is, no one actually does that. The mythical sluts in those stories didn't actually exist, the researchers found.

3. We're trying to feel better about ourselves. Oh women, this is the worst. As Armstrong put it, "You can't be good unless someone else is bad." That's what's really at the root of all this nastiness among women. We're just pushing someone else down to boost our self-esteem. It's a cheap trick. 

Well shame on us! Slut-shaming doesn't elevate anyone. It just brings us all down.

Think about it -- what does it really matter to you if a woman has sex with lots of other people, really? As long as she's not having sex with your significant other, what the hell difference does it make to your life? Why do we care so much about the idea of sexual purity for women, especially since we don't care as much about the sexual purity of men?

Why do you think women call each other that name?


Image © Erica Shires/Corbis

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