How slutty are you?
So you were in body-hugging Lycra when the recent Iranian earthquake struck, chatting affably with the man on the treadmill beside you? Then YOU, Girlfriend, are the reason death and devastation visited Eye-ran! "Many women who don't dress modestly lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes," thundered Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi.
And if that wasn't enough, who d'ya think was responsible for the Boston bombing, 9/11, 7/7 and 26/11? Young impressionable men nursing grievances, armed, groomed and sent to their deaths by global terrorist organisations? You couldn't be more wrong. Women are responsible, because women are the root of all evil. Disasters; natural, man-made, past and present, are all down to women. Take it from the people who know: Indian politician Vijayvargiya wisely warns women, "Your provocative dresses are responsible for all deviations in society." Muslim leader Tajeddin Hilali worries that "Women possess the weapons of seduction and temptation that can lead us to ruin." And if you thought such 'wisdom' was the preserve of the East, check this out: "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner." Thus was Paradise lost, according to The Bible. And Bible-bashing Middle America lives by these rules.
Looks like we are just trouble, huh? They tried to tell us nicely we were stepping over the line when we dressed how we liked, thought how we wanted, even said what we thought (just like them, the nerve), but we didn't listen. So we got a little rap on the knuckles, a bit of locking up, selling into slavery, a dunking or two. But we are not known for our brains so we carried on, on and on and on, trying to get a fair deal. But who likes a woman who doesn't know when to shut up? Understandably, they had to get tough, it pained them but they did it for us, out of the goodness of their superior hearts. So now when we transgress, say with clothes, we might expect to be taught a lesson by the likes of the late, great Ram Singh and his hellish homies. Or if we go so far as to take a lover, we might be gently reprimanded with a stone or twenty hurled at us in lady-lovin' Saudi Arabia. And if we actually start speaking our cotton-pickin' minds, like Joan of Arc (that peek-a-boo chain mail tunic? She had it coming) or Malala Yousafza (the one that got away, yay!), the kindest thing that can be done for us is to put us out of our misery.
I bet you're thinking- she's out of Oreos. Why else is this meek, forever-pregnant mom of many (two actually, and not that meek, but never mind) spewing fire and brimstone this fine, springsy morning? This mother of a beloved three year old girl has been trying to make sense of a world which allows vulnerable little lasses of three and five to be savaged in the very cities she felt most at home in, and that has left her mightily shaken. But fierce though I'm feeling, let me make shiny-mirror-clear that the 'they' of my diatribe are NOT men. I adore men, nearly as much as chocolate (turkey baster and sperm bank? No thanks). 'They' are the twisted sub-human souls who blight our landscape, quite often men but not impossibly, women. And it's they who have decided to tar us all with the Slut Brush. There isn't a woman who doesn't figure on the official, global, endorsed-by-creeps-everywhere Slapper Index aka. SLUT (S-slatternly, L-Loose, U-uninhibited, and T-tramps) Scale, but only some of us are a super-serious threat to mankind. Not sure how much of a danger you pose to the world and whether you should kill yourself already? Well, you can filch your own copy from the back-pocket of the next scumbag you bump into, or you can read on...
Garden variety or Microsluts: so slightly sluttish that only thin-skinned creeps could be troubled by them. She will lead you up the garden path but won't let you past the front door. A tepid tease and no more, registering a mild 2.0 to 3.9 on the Harlotry Index. Resulting in disgruntlement and higher porn-consumption in men. Environmental damage limited to trembling of indoor objects. "No damage to buildings". I would've proffered myself as an example of microsluttery but a recent transgression in the form of a leggy Facebook profile pic has put paid to that, so, Tina Fey, 30 Rock star and Sarah Palin impersonator extraordinaire who abstained from sex till she met her husband in her mid-twenties will have to do as our Garden Variety Slut pin-up.
Next, we have the "light to moderate" practitioner of harlotry, or the Stealthy Slapper, who, at a 4.0 to 5.9 on the SLUT Scale poses a moderate hazard to mankind's health. The sneaky slut pretends to be pure when really you know from her hint of cleavage and uncovered legs that she's sleeping around. Oh, Ok, maybe just with her guy but what's the difference? If she'll do one, she'll do 'em all. This form of sluttery results in untold grief in frustrated men at not being party to favours, leading to sexual harassment or worse. "Can cause damage of varying severity to poorly constructed buildings". Repercussions felt by everyone. J-Lo's gotta be our pin-up girl for this one: "People equate sexy with promiscuous. They think that because I'm shaped this way, I must be scandalous - like running around and bringing men into my hotel room. But it's just the opposite."
Higher up the Index is the Slut Major or the Unapologetic Irredeemable Harlot; those monstrous fabric-of-society ripping women who kiss and hug and God forbid, neck, with their partners in public. They may even, no, they definitely, have more than one man on the go. Take it away, Jessica Alba: "I don't think a girl's a slut if she enjoys sex. I could have a one-night stand. I don't need to cuddle and do all that stuff because I know what it is and I don't try to make it more". An earth-shaking, burn-at-the staking 6.0 to 7.9 on the SLUT scale, these women cause death and destruction wherever they go. And those insecure slobbering creatures who wilt in the face of this uninhibited sexuality, tend to hit back only when reinforcements are at hand. "Damage can be caused far from the epicentre. Strong to violent shaking in epicentral area. Death toll ranges from none to 25,000". Heartbreakingly, in this case, death and destruction does sometimes follow. So many women around the world have suffered tragic consequences as a result of flouting the 'rules'. And millions of girls are traumatised as a result, knowing they will always have to hide the light of who they really are under a bushel.
And finally (drum roll) at a HUMONGOUS 8 to 10 on the SLUT Scale are the Real Whores or sex workers of the world. Known on the Index as Epic or Great Sluts (for their skills or size? They really aren't that big and scary), they are outside the pale of society and even the Sisterhood will sometimes pretend they don't exist. But they do, and they always have. It's the oldest profession in the world, because there's always been a demand for what they supply. Men who go to them have, well, other requirements. It's not a slap in the face for us Garden Variety Microsluts. It would be easy to sacrifice them to save ourselves. Look what good girls we are, we could simper, compared to them. Diss 'em, demonise 'em, spare us. But I think it's time we stuck together; time to cut every slut, real or perceived, some slack.
And that, Girlfriend, is the SLUT Scale, but have you noticed there's a certain kind of slut totally missing from the Index? They are called men,. The average man, for a range of reasons, societal and some claim, biological, is a whole lot more wanton than the average woman. Western men have an average of 7 sexual partners in their lifetime to 5 for women and the gap is far greater in the East. But are they ever called sluts, slappers, harlots or whores? No. Is that because they are so slutty they are off the scale, or that society has always condoned male promiscuity while condemning women for relatively minor misdemeanours? If you're a bit of a Lad, you get called lovely, mellifluous, rolls-off-the-tongue names like Don Juan, Casanova and Lothario. Even Philanderer has a nice ring to it. And what do we get? That short, staccato, venom-dripping 'slut'. Even language is unfair to women.
We aren't asking you to rein it in though, guys. We know you couldn't keep your little friend in check, if you tried. We just want the same freedom, not necessarily to sleep around, but to do our own thing, without being judged and found wanting and often, very often, being punished out of turn. In the immortal words of Christina Aguilera, "If you look back in history it's a common double standard of society. The guy gets all the glory the more he can score while the girl can do the same and yet you call her a whore. I don't understand why it's okay that the guy can get away with it and the girl gets named."
And ladies, might I suggest, that since we are sluts whatever we do (simple equation, ovaries=zero morals) we might as well enjoy it. So, shuck on that mini-dress, Girl, and work your way through the men on your Facebook Friends' list (Not that I'd ever do that. Honest, Guv).
More about Shreya Sen-Handley
Shreya Sen-Handley is a former journalist and television producer, who now writes and illustrates for British and Indian media.
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