When I was in high school many years ago, being called a slut was one of the biggest insults a girl could receive. I remember at the time being acutely aware that a simple string of letters could literally make or break someone’s high school career. Being branded a slut was like a sentence of doom, which was difficult to change and impossible to forget. Yet, I often found myself wondering what was so wrong with being a sexually active, aware and responsible school girl. After all, wasn’t high school exactly the time when young people should be exploring their sexuality?

Slut-shaming is a relatively new phrase and one that is being used more and more. Basically, slut-shaming refers to the insults that are given to women who are openly sexual or sexually active.

Calling a woman a slut can be incredibly hurtful, and can even lead to feelings of inadequacy or low self esteem.

The recent spotlight on slut-shaming endorses a new wave of feminism where women are no longer going to be shamed for enjoying or pursuing sex.  In fact, hopefully the word slut will become an empowering name rather than a shameful one in the near future.

Women who openly enjoy sex, enjoy various sexual partners or are sexually curious have long been branded sluts. There is the obvious inequality that this indicates, where men have permission to be sexually open, but women do not; though this has been a double standard in our society for generations and one that we have grown used to. But what is even worse is when women use the word slut to shame or insult one another. Not only does this cause pain or hurt, but it sends a subtle message which we have heard for years: women are not allowed to be sexual.

This is sad because it is only now being proven that women are far more sexual than men, as indicated by genital response measurements taken whilst being shown various images. This means that women respond sexually to a wider variety of visual or imagined stimuli than men. If we were meant to abstain from sex or “save ourselves” for “the one”, then surely we wouldn’t respond in such a manner?

Because female sexuality has largely been ignored or controlled by myths, we have allowed ourselves to be duped into believing that our sexual pleasure is irrelevant at best and wicked at worst.

So, next time you encounter the word slut, think twice. Think about what this means to you and about your interpretation. If you are thinking about calling someone a slut, ask yourself why. Is it because you don’t like the person, or is it because you want to feel superior? Maybe it’s because you secretly desire to access your own inner slut? Whatever the reasons, it’s time to stop using the word slut as an insult, and even more importantly, stop using female sexuality as a measure of validity or worthiness. A woman’s sexuality is one of the most beautiful gifts that life has to offer her, so it’s time to stop making her feel ashamed for enjoying it!