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Posted by Ishika Tiwari

A few days after I became active on my Twitter page with feminism as my political stance, the first troll found its way to me, labelling me as a ‘vaishya’(slut). I had known this, seen it highlighted by many before, and expected to see it coming. Apparently this word is used a lot online; according to an article on the Time, women on Twitter are called slut or whore 10,000 times a day- not only by men, but by holier-than-thou women as well.

Who is a slut?

If one consults the Cambridge dictionary, or the Urban Dictionary: all definitions seem to point towards women who are free about their sexuality and preferences, bold in their presentation of self and have full autonomy over their bodies and choices. But the digital world of disparages have additional definitions of who they presume to define as a ‘slut’- A woman speaking for her rights; or one who speaks against injustice or even against CAA, NPR, NRC; a woman who is politically active; a woman who voices her desires or helps others in doing the same: that woman is chosen to be titled as a slut.

the digital world of disparages have additional definitions of who they presume to define as a ‘slut’- A woman speaking for her rights; or one who speaks against injustice or even against CAA, NPR, NRC; a woman who is politically active; a woman who voices her desires or helps others in doing the same: that woman is chosen to be titled as a slut.

If there’s a woman with free will and she selects partners or even a partner, she’s a whore. If she’s surviving any onslaught and is self-affirming, she’s a Randi. If she thinks, we can do better than this government, she’s a slut.

Image Source: Pinterest

Is Slut Really A Bad Word Then?

Or is it that misogynists use it as a tool of disparagement and hatred, when people (read powerful women) or situation, according to them, are getting out of their hands? 

Slut, in its original meaning, is an archaic thought used to vulgarise women, to make them feel bad about their bodies, desires and choices they make. So if Miley Cyrus twerks, it’s called slutty behaviour; if Swara Bhaskar does an art performance on masturbation in her film, she’s trolled; if Michelle Williams makes a choice for her body, she’s bad; if Deepika Padukone stands in solidarity with JNU, she’s anti-national: All recapitulated with that one word: ‘slut’. 

Also read: Tryst With Kink: Brushstrokes Of BDSM On My Sexuality

A redefinition is taking place though, that a slut is simply a woman who is unapologetically, radically practicing what she loves. The patriarchal intention of the word must be dissolved to release the hurt it perpetuates. 

It’s a defence mechanism of the silliest kind used by masked trolls and acerbic people, and if we think slut is a gaali/slang, then we are participating in a misogynistic narrative. A slut’s life is hers to live, it cannot be compared, judged or disparaged- slut is a woman who is free in her deportment. So, revisit, redefine and bring forth the inner slut in you.

If seen only from the male gaze, it’s a sexual term, but is sex such a bad thing if it’s not confined to your bedroom?

We know that sex is as old as creation, it’s life affirming, it’s pleasure oriented, and a powerful driving force. Desire creates, and in India it has been acknowledged since ancient times. Left handed Tantra (vaamachara) incorporates the practice of sex as a means of liberating the body and mind. Sexual desire was not maligned or demeaned in India, it was celebrated in the Kamasutra which were made available to be practiced by all genders, for sexual fulfillment. Similarly, the divine feminine/sacred feminine practices recognised an all encompassing vision of women as multidimensional beings. Goddesses were not perfect, but flawed and flourishing with unique traits, especially ones highlighted by the Indian Tantric traditions like, Matangi and Chinnamasta: who were the opposite of what the predominant narrative for Goddesses/perfect women was and is, even now.

Image Source: Laffaz

Feminist revisionist writers like Suniti Namjoshi, P Lalitha Kumari, Meena Kandsamy and a few others have taken this popular male narrative and have acceded to a deconstruction through reconstruction formula, by revising patriarchal tropes of perfect women and using it for perverse liberation narratives with transgressive female characters. Poet and activist Meena Kandsamy, for instance, writes this in her poetry collection, Ms Millitancy addressing the self-righteous-

“To the Moral Police
This woman she is a slut. And that girl over there, she is the glutton.
And I am a bitch with tattoos on my lusty thighs.
This dark lady has storm in her speech.

Sure as sluts, we strip random men.
And, yes my dears, we are all friends.”
(Backstreet girls)

Research Scholar Gloria Alpini, in her paper titled, “From Female Archetypes to Female Stereotypes. Myth and Fantasy: Alienating Modes of Representation. An Interdisciplinary and Comparative Approach to ” le fantastique féminin” talks about the metamorphosis of women in the fantasy genre from perfection to perversion, which leads to a liberation from predominant narratives using the tools of language and representation. Through the use of this ‘perversion’ of the male-centric envisioning of a woman, from Madonna or Whore, to both and many more, revisionist scholars in academia; writers in publishing; and women like us online, are writing and creating extensively on accepting our multidimensional selves; through pages like Hatecopy, Ladyist, Art Whoring etc. on Instagram and other social media platforms.

Also read: Slut Shaming and The Friend Zone: Two Sides of The Objectification Coin

Today, if we are called a slut/Whore/Randi/Hooker/Hoe/Harlot/Vaishya- know that the meaning and expressions associated with the word have been assigned by those mired in hateful lives. It’s a defence mechanism of the silliest kind used by masked trolls and acerbic people, and if we think slut is a gaali/slang, then we are participating in a misogynistic narrative. A slut’s life is hers to live, it cannot be compared, judged or disparaged- slut is a woman who is free in her deportment. So, revisit, redefine and bring forth the inner slut in you.


She/Her. Bachpan se feminist-stoked by literature and events. Now a Freelancer by Kali’s steps; contributing to a few review, research and opinion websites in India and UK. When free, Ishika works on her path for women empowerment and exploration of the aesthetics of desire and sexuality. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter and on her own Blog.

Featured Image Source: GQ

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