Slut. Skank. Harlot. Trollop. Whore. Tramp. Floozy. Or, my favourite, Neo-Rennaissance lady of the evening.

Doubtless you’ve heard all or most of those in reference to girls and women, typically those who are dressed in a provocative manner.

And if you’re a woman or girl, I would bet you dollars to donuts you’ve been referred to as one of those at least once, even if you don’t know it.

Except the last one — that one’s a bit too convoluted to be used in ‘normal’ conversation.

We all know what these words are meant to convey. They’re meant to convey the idea that those who are using those words are above those being referred to, and the recipients of the slurs are overly sexually promiscuous.

More often than not, the use of those slurs occurs solely based on physical appearance.

Dressed in a miniskirt and tube top? And you have large breasts? Congratulations! You’re a slut!

In other cases, the physical appearance isn’t so much the body and how it’s covered (or not, as the case may be). Instead, it’s that the woman/girl is dressed in a way other girls/women don’t agree with.

Wearing Lulu pants and Ugg boots? Congratulations! You’re a whore!

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am guilty of using these phrases. And often based on nothing other than what she looks like and what she is wearing. Perhaps it’s been a reaction based on my lack of a romantic life, and jealousy that men/boys who don’t seem worthy have managed to secure partners. I see women/girls who are too good for the men/boys they are with, so I lash out at them in my mind.

But a recent experience at West Edmonton Mall really made me think.

I was walking through the mall and in front of me was this girl wearing what appeared to be a tight, midriff-baring top underneath a mesh or knitted top. Whatever you call it, you could see her physique through the top layer, along with the fabric covering her breasts. She was also wearing fairly tight jeans. She was attractive, at least as far as her body was concerned; I never saw her face.

As I’m walking, I hear a comment from behind me. Something along the lines of “She’s a slut.” I didn’t turn around to see who made that comment, but I presume by the timing of the comment and when the girl walked in front of me that it was directed at her, based only on her appearance.

And it made me think.

Hearing words like the ones that sometimes bounce around in my head be uttered out loud in (presumably) the same manner I have used them really struck me.

It struck me because it forced me to confront what I’m doing when I use those words, even if the person they’re directed at can’t hear me.

More to the point, it made me wonder what, really, those people who are addressed with those slurs did to deserve those slurs being directed at them.

Even if they have a reputation as someone who sleeps around, so what? Why must the idea of a woman enjoying sexual pleasure be something taboo?

And what does apparel have to do with anything, either?


It was a rather enlightening experience to overhear those words. They were (presumably) without provocation, and clearly uttered with malicious intent.