Hester: The Joys Of Slutting

Hello, Swarthmore. You have a new sex columnist, now! It’s great. You can call me Hester, your humble village slut. And, while I am aware that Hawthorne’s novel is not exactly about sluttiness, per se, I would venture that it kinda is and that Hester’s kinda badass and so there you have it. You should know that I am writing from a (mostly) heterosexual, cisgender female perspective, I have had lots and lots and lots of (mostly) good sex, and I am in a (mostly) monogamous long distance relationship.

For this first column, I want to return to the word slut. If you haven’t gotten it by now, then I’ll need to make it clear for you: I am one of the (many, many) women who has reclaimed the concept of sluttiness. If you don’t believe me that other women have, Google “SlutWalk.” I think there is immense power in simply not letting this word do its intended job of policing women’s sexuality and reinforcing a double standard. Language is constantly shifting, and I intended to shift slut firmly over to my side (i.e. the sex-loving feminist side).

However, I haven’t really been slutty in a while. At least not in the casual sex sense of the word. I’ve been in a relationship for the past year-ish, and was in one before that. Of course, I’ve found ways to be slutty within the context of said relationships, but, sadly, the joy of sleeping around is not currently part of my life. I wholeheartedly believe that the sheer amount of casual sex I had in high school and at college was extremely important to the formation of my sexual identity, and even, to some extent, the formation of myself. It’s not that casual sex is should be the be-all, end-all of one’s self-worth, but I do think it can be a very valuable practice when done correctly.

Here are the reasons I think going through a slutty phase (however long or short) is a very good thing:

Sex for the Sake of Sex

Sex is serious, but need not be serious always. You seriously need to make sure both you and your partner are consensual (and keep tabs on the encounter to make sure that that doesn’t change), and you seriously need to use protection. You do not, however, need to be having sex with someone you’ve been dating seriously in order to have a fantastic time. It was through casual sex that I found out just how much I love the act of sex. It is not necessary for me to be locking eyes with the man I could spend the rest of my life with to scream with pleasure and dig my nails into his back. It’s just not! There are definite perks to having sex with an SO, but for me, one night stands solidified the fact that I just really like giving blow jobs — whether it’s to the man of my dreams or the man I just met.

Practice

You know what, it’s true. If you’re having a ton of sex, you’re bound to get better at it. And by “get better,” I mean a lot of things. You’re going to figure out what you like. You’re going to become increasingly comfortable with asking for what you like. And you’re also going to learn new things. New people often come with new ideas or new tricks that you may not have been privy to in the past. And while you may not ever see them again, you may now know exactly what type of tongue swirl to ask for in the future.

Being in Control

I think sluttiness should be about picking out someone you find attractive, deciding that you want to make out with him or her (and perhaps more) and going for it. It should not be about passively slinking around, hoping to be preyed upon. This is the way in which sluttiness is most empowering, especially for women. Women often find other people attractive and want to bed them. It happens! You’re in control of your body and its wants, and if it wants that sexy Swattie over there, then there is no shame in going for it (let’s be clear: go for it in a cool, flirtatious and awesome way, not an overt, rude and offensive way).

So, this is a radically sex positive column. I think that if you want to be having a whole bunch of sex, then you should go out there and have it, with whomever you want and however you want, as long as you both are psyched on the idea. However, it wouldn’t be fair to let you all go forth into the Swarthmore night without making at least a brief mention of the potential pitfalls of sluttiness.

I’ll say it again: use protection. As you might know, STIs can still be contracted even with condom usage—and that’s a risk. There will always be risk involved in sex, and it’s heightened when you’re having sex with someone you may not know well, or someone you haven’t had an opportunity to get tested with. Therefore, in this inherently risky business, it is always best to take all precautions to minimize said risk. Also, it’s totally possible that the sex that you have with that dude that you met outside Olde Club next to that weird tree is not going to blow your mind (now that I think of it, would anyone be interested in a column about what to do if your hook-up goes south?). Even the sluttiest, sex-loving-est slut isn’t always going to have foolproof hookups, so you must roll with it. It will probably lead to a good story for your close friends. And finally, I’ve seen it happen many a time that a fellow slutty gal pal will begin to feel discouraged when the fellas and/or the ladies are not banging down her door Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will happen that maybe sometimes you will not be getting any ass. Look at those nights as wonderful bastions of alone time in which you get to wear your ugliest, comfiest sweatpants and drink tea. While I do argue that being a big slut can absolutely lead to a heightened sense of self-awareness surrounding sex, I would never go so far as to suggest that it defines a person, and I caution against that line of thinking.

I wrote this column because it seems to me that in our times, a woman in a monogamous, long-term relationship does not need to be told that it’s cool that she’s having a ton of sex all the time. However, I think anti-slut sentiment is still alive and (not so) well and needs to be destroyed. But what do you think? Is slut a positive word? Can it ever be? How important is sex to your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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71 comments

  1. 0
    Barney Stinson says:

    I am pretty surprised at the backlash this column is getting. While I can understand concerns about adding the voice of another white-cis-het-femme to Swat’s sex column conversation, I think the frustration could be turned more productively into brainstorming (or starting a conversation on) ways to make the Swat community/the DG a safer place for future queer/poly/of color/male/etc. Carrie Bradshaws.

    I understand this to be the main gist of Hester’s article:
    “There is nothing wrong or unnatural or weird or sick about wanting to have sex. There’s nothing wrong or unnatural or weird or sick about having sex. The act of sex is a nice one! Sex can be fun! Sex can be silly! Women also have sexual agency! Use a condom! Also, your sexual choices don’t have to define you. Also, you might not get laid every weekend. kthxbai.”

    And I guess I’m really shocked at the fact that this is SO controversial here. I am surprised and disappointed that so many people think that women who have casual sex must be emotionally damaged in some way. Yeah, casual sex can be a way for some people to deal with or ignore their issues with intimacy, with self confidence, with power. Casual sex can also be a way to have an orgasm with a pal without necessarily being in a place for a relationship. The “casual sex means you don’t respect yourself” trope has been exploited a lot. I actually do believe that there are some cases where that is exactly what’s going on. However, more often than not, that trope is related to the fact that a lot of Western society has held chastity and virginity (except in the case of marriage and baby-making) in high regard in order to perpetuate the model of sexually (and otherwise) subservient women. We are still working to break free of the “women are submissive objects” thing. And a lot of sex-positive feminists (this one included) feel that part of achieving equality is establishing women as people with [sexual] agency, not as [sexual] objects. So, while there are a lot of things that feminists have to focus on, a lot of major problems in the world, it is not wrong or “feminist-lite” to identify as a feminist in your sex-positive column. It’s not an activism column, it’s a sex column written by a feminst.
    By talking about her own “sluttiness” (Yeah… I really don’t love that word), Hester is making a space where it’s okay to have and enjoy sex, whether casual or not. She talks specifically about “anti-slut sentiment” and how she wants to start conversations about different people’s relationships with sex. To that end, continue and good luck, Hester!

    1. 0
      Hester says:

      Barney!! Thank you. Where have you been all my life. I, too, was surprised by the backlash. And I agree — I hope very much that the next columnist might be of color or queer or male or some combination thereof (though, I never explicitly state that I am white, soo).

      I’m interested to hear more as to why you don’t like the word slut. I can completely understand why someone wouldn’t, but I’m interested to know your specific take. I feel like one thing this column was missing was an acknowledgement of the very real pain and hurt that women (and even men, I’d imagine) have felt surrounding the use of the word slut. It has hurt me a lot in the past. However, jumping on the reclaiming bandwagon has helped soothe said hurt. … and maybe it’s not even about painful connections for you. I’m curious! And thanks, again, for your level-headed reading of my column.

  2. 0
    Starry Eyed Freshman says:

    As a somewhat starry eyed freshman who has only had bad experiences with casual hookups, learned from them, and is wondering if she will enjoy casual sex at some point, I appreciate all the comments and the article even if some of the comments are unnecessarily snarky. I am pondering my sexuality and whether or not my “mind, body, and spirit” are too connected to have casual sex and if that’s okay for me (sex as a religious experience is very important to me, but I’m not going to be in love all four years here). I do really want to have casual sex if I feel empowered and in it for just the sex, not any emotional intimacy.

    In a little while, when I get over my recent experience with love, I’ll consider it. Right now, I’m just going to buy myself a vibrator so I can still be in touch with my sexuality without making any rash decisions. I am respecting myself in thinking about my priorities, and I appreciate the article’s focus on fighting the double standard that women who know themselves and know what they want are not allowed to seek out lots of sex.

    1. 0
      Hester says:

      Hey, Starry Eyed. It’s awesome that you are taking the time to thoughtfully parse out your sexuality. I think you’re being really smart. I’m also super psyched that you brought up VIBRATORS! I love those darn things. My favorite vibrator brand is Lelo. They make really aesthetically pleasing (I know that shouldn’t really matter, but to me it does!), easy to use and clean vibrators in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Also, the toy I recommend to people who are having trouble coming is the Hitachi Magic Wand. It’s pretty intense, but yields AMAZING results for just about anyone who tries it. And it’s not just for people who ordinarily can’t orgasm, of course — it’s just that wonderful. I’d also recommend taking a trip into Philly if you have the time and motivation to do so. Passional, on South Street, is the best sex shop I know of in the city. It’s a fun trip, and you can get advice from the people that work there!

  3. 0
    SwatDoc says:

    I agree that the more exposures, the higher the likelihood of STIs. Not all of them can be easily tested for, either. And several are not treatable. I was not implying that only confident women or men get STIs or are involved with unintended pregnancies. I have seen the whole range infected or pregnant, from college student/grads to teens in juvenile detention centers and those raped in centers for developmentally delayed adults.

    I don’t understand the sarcasm where this is involved. Having painful herpes outbreaks, or being infertile due to undetected chlamydial infections, or being on meds your whole life for AIDS is the risk you take for being a “slut” or whatever term you want to use for multiple partners.

    And to reiterate, no testing is 100%, as much as one would wish it to be. You cannot always know when a partner is shedding herpes virus or HPV. There is no cure for herpes, it is recurrent and very painful. Genital warts are not pretty and have no cure. The HPV shot is not 100% effective by any means.

    Condoms break. These are all risks. So if you want to be a “slut”, as the article suggests, just know that there is a huge downside, and that is disease. I would say pregnancy is another huge “risk” but a baby is a lot cuter than herpes or warts!

    1. 0
      Risks says:

      Hi SwatDoc,
      It seems like your intention is to keep people healthy, which seems like a worthwhile one. Just wanted to explain why (I think) your comment evoked the response it did. I think many of us (though probably not all) at Swarthmore have undergone a lot of sexual education, and understand the risks of sex with multiple partners. Because of this, I think the people who responded saw your comment as condescending, even if you didn’t intend for it to be.
      For comparison, consider a case where I told you that if you were choosing to have sex in a monogamous relationship (rather than remaining abstinent): “If you think that you can really get away with no medical problems from [having sex], come spend a day in a doctor’s office and see…” etc.
      While I know that typically the risks for infection lower having sex with a single partner than they are with multiple partners (and if you know that you and your partner are STI free, then there isn’t really a risk, though pregnancy is still a possibility for heterosexual couples), the risks are still lower if you remain abstinent…but I think many people would take that risk for whatever happiness they derive from sex. Similarly, it seems like the people who choose to have sex with multiple partners understand the associated risk, but still choose to do it because of the happiness they derive from it. As long as they understand the risks, I think it is their choice to make.

    2. 0
      Barney Stinson says:

      The whole “All fun and games until you get those sores, discharges, and babies” is a remarkably backwards and patronizing way to view sex.

      We are all adults here, and, despite our diverse experiences with sex-ed in high school or middle school, we all know that STIs ad pregnancy are possible consequences of sharing slimy stuff (isn’t that a hot way to talk about sex?). Hester says it herself: “As you might know, STIs can still be contracted even with condom usage—and that’s a risk. There will always be risk involved in sex, and it’s heightened when you’re having sex with someone you may not know well, or someone you haven’t had an opportunity to get tested with. ” (did you not read the article?)

      Having safer sex with many people is not a guaranteed sign of disrespecting one’s body. Is it a behavior that some people engage in recklessly? Yes. Is sex an inherently risky activity? yes. Agreed. Again, we all went to middle school/high school/the internet. But by talking only about the horror stories, you make invisible the stories of people who have sex with more than one person only after they’ve been tested, only with barrier protection, only with one or sometimes two or three methods of birth control. You continue to participate in the shaming of people who just want to get laid, or find emotional and physical intimacy without a long term relationship. The sheer desire to have sex, and the desire to do it with more than one person, does not negate the desire to keep myself safe.

      I also find this comment: “I have seen the whole range infected or pregnant, from college student/grads to teens in juvenile detention centers and those raped in centers for developmentally delayed adults” a distraction from the conversation at a whole. We know (again, all being at least *somewhat* educated) that STIs exist, that STIs can be a consequence of rape, that STIs can affect anyone. To be blunt: what was the point of that sentence if not to be a “diseases are everywheeerreee” boogeyman? We have already established that safer sex is an important part of a healthy sex life.

  4. 0
    SwatDoc says:

    If you think that you can really get away with no medical problems from multiple partners, come spend a day in a doctor’s office and see the genital warts, herpes, abscesses, etc, from even “safe sex.” And the multitude of problems such as unintended pregnancy, HIV, gonorrhea of the genitalia, throat, etc, syphilis, chlamydia, etc. etc. (or all of the above) from “unsafe sex” (and broken condoms.) All fun and games until you get those sores, discharges, and babies. Do respect your bodies. I’ve seen some very nice confident young women with horrible outcomes.

    1. 0
      Hester says:

      Hey, SwatDoc. I wish I had spent more time on STIs in this column, because, honestly, to a certain extent you are right. As I mention, there can be VERY REAL consequences to have sex (with multiple partners or even just with one). That’s why, as Trust Me brings up, GETTING TESTED IS SO IMPORTANT! I make this clear in the article: casual sex is not a magical fairy world where pregnancy and abscesses and chlamydia go to die. One must be conscious of this before engaging in any sort of sexual activity, and take the necessary steps to be as safe and comfortable as possible.

      EVERYONE should respect their bodies. Not just nice young women. Come on, now.

      1. 0
        good image says:

        i love the idea of “a magical fairy world where pregnancy and abscesses and chlamydia go to die”! i just see dead bacteria littering the lawns of a fairy kingdom…

    2. 0
      Mr. X says:

      err don’t hate on the SwatDoc…y’all are absolutely right in saying you can get all that stuff from one partner…but multiple partners does increase the odds of you getting something…

    3. 0
      Trust me, I'm a "SwatDoc" ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hate to break it to you, SwatDoc, but all those things can happen even if you have sex with only one partner! Maybe they don’t teach you that at our prestigious med school? Turns out, that even if your now monogamous, totally loving, respectful partner has had a strictly monogamous sexual history and once had another relationship with a different monogamous, totally loving, respectful partner who once had another relationship with a different monogamous, totally loving, respectful partner, you can still get a disease for them. Astoundingly, excruciatingly executed moral purity does not in fact equate to genital purity! Wasn’t that a question on the MCAT?
      Your points, however, do make an excellent case for taking responsibility for our sexual education, knowledge and health. Ladies and Fellas who are sleeping around get tested once a month or with every new partner. Those of you entering something new and monogamous, get tested too. MAke a date for ice cream afterwards. Furrealsies. Make sure you know the Plan B sitch. And, you know, talk to your partner, However newly minted, about their last STI test. And SwatDoc, maybe consider some continuing professional education?

  5. 0
    A Slutfriend says:

    A few notes from an interested/concerned senior:

    1) We as a community have a tendency to quibble endlessly about how the columns here are lacking. Clearly, this topic, even if it was touched on before, is still relevant, if this mess of a comment section is an indication. We are still very much in need of this discussion. This topic is relevant not only to the bubble, but is remarkably salient right now (see Hester’s reference to the SlutWalk movement).

    2)Young women’s sexuality is clearly still perceived as threatening (see “tainted” and “desperate” comments above, slutshaming broadly, and, yahknow, THE WORLD). This conversation is important, and one I would have greatly benefited from having had access to my first semester here.

    3)On Acronyms:
    – PVI: semi-medical, can mean Penile-Vaginal-Intercourse (is there any word less sexy than penile?) or Penetrative-Vaginal-Intercouse which doesn’t presuppose a penis being involved
    -PIV: common slang acronym for Penis-in-Vagina, popular in high school cafeterias and sex columns the world over.
    -VEP: Vagina-Envelops-Penis proposed for those of us who would like to thinks our ladybits can be active participants and get in on the agency too! C’mon guys, this could totally be a thing in at least Sharples and our own swath of sex columns.

    4) Most seriously, though:
    You guys should know that despite any publicity of this fact or the comments policy generally, any gazette member with a gazette email address has access to your IP address and the email address you provide when you comment, which via swatmail addresses equates to no anonymity.
    This means writers including the Serial Monogamist have access to this information. So post smart and know the bounds of your psuedo-anonymity.
    We go to a small school. Solid conversation is important, but so is playing well with others. Perhaps the powers that be should investigate a more anonymous posting system or at least make the transparency of the current one, well, less opaque.

    1. 0
      yes, yes, yes, NOOOO says:

      Well said! Thank you for your well thought out response.

      Thank you, also, for publicizing the gazette’s commenting shenanigans. I think it’s a problem. Don’t get me wrong, an editor or two should definitely get to know the email addresses/IP addresses of commenters in case there are any problems/bullying/etc. HOWEVER, anyone with a DG email being able to circumvent the anonymity of these posts and then GOSSIP ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO POSTED THEM is really inappropriate and a misuse of power.

      This policy should at the very least be publicized and probably should be revised.

      1. 0
        Kat Clark ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

        To the best of my knowledge, the only people who see the comments in their entirety are the editors. Recently, writers have been able to receive notifications about comments on their posts and those notifications included commenters’ emails–but writers can only see the comments for their own posts, not all posts like you are implying. I’m not sure why this change was made but I am looking into it. I don’t personally feel it’s necessary for writers to receive notifications about comments on their posts.

        That being said, anyone who thinks the internet is EVER entirely anonymous is kidding themselves. “Posting smart” should apply to the entire world wide web. Even if each and every one of the editors vigilantly maintains the anonymity of our commenters and anonymous columnists (which I sincerely hope we all do, even if I am not personally a fan of anonymous attacks), if any individual in this world really wants to know where a comment came from, I’m sure they can track down its IP address. I don’t personally feel this is a policy DG should have to post because I see it as common sense. But, yes, everyone should be aware that this website is not a black hole that personal information is thrown into. Real people created this paper and real students maintain it.

        1. 0
          yes, yes, yes, NOOOO says:

          What you’ve described seems entirely reasonable! But any student (columnists included) with a DG email address can see the email address entered by a commenter and then share that information IRL etc…I know as a columnist made this information public on a different website (though I’m sure also thought that his/her private thoughts posted in a PUBLIC BLOG wouldn’t be read…)
          I’m fine with being tracked down if necessary but not so fine with being gossiped about in other forums because of what i’ve said on the daily gazette…maybe I’m being naive too.

          1. 0
            Woah says:

            The picture that you are painting is indeed a very upsetting one, but it is also a highly inaccurate representation of what occurred on a columnist’s personal blog. They mentioned that they would, if such an event would occur that they would have such knowledge, release the identity of a single commenter to a single other individual, a nepotistic practice that, while not something that should be encouraged, has been unspokenly standard for columnists and editors in the past.

            It was not actually done. There was no mention that, if such an action did occur, that the information would be made public in any way. And there was also no mention that such an exchange would be done for the purpose of personal gossip. The blogger was also called on their actions and immediately agreed, apologized, took down all offending content, and made amends with all individuals involved long before this post went up, which makes your mentioning it not exactly moral high ground either.

          2. 0
            Kat Clark ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            We changed the email settings so that writers and columnists no longer receive notifications about comments on their posts (that was only a change that was implemented this year with the installation of WordPress). As far as I know, this should mean that only the editors have access to commenter information.

  6. 0
    AM says:

    This column isn’t breaking new ground (or even covering old ground in a sophisticated way), and the comment section is a mess. I’m buckling up for the DG dramz sure to follow.

    Also, here’s to another senior who just wants to see ONE sex column that doesn’t rehash another sex column from a semester+ ago.

    1. 0
      Hester says:

      Hey AM! Any suggestions as to what you’d like to see me write about? Also, I’m pretty sure this sex column does not mirror the subject matter of either Dr. Strokes or the Bone Doctor. It is quite similar to the style of Friends with Benefits, but covering different topics. I hope you come back and read my next one — especially if I write about what you think should be written about. 😉

      P.S. I think messy DG dramz is good. It means people are thinking about the column and engaging in conversation!

      1. 0
        AM says:

        There’s a reason I didn’t sign up to write a sex column. You’re on your own for ideas — if I had ’em, I’d be publishing my own.

        But, I dunno. ‘Slut’ is a loaded word. ‘Slut’ is not a word everyone wants back or is everyone’s to have back or is just really alienating to some folks. Maybe engaging with that idea instead of waving the Feminism Lite pom-poms could be cool.

        Also, uh,

        “I think sluttiness should be about picking out someone you find attractive, deciding that you want to make out with him or her (and perhaps more) and going for it. It should not be about passively slinking around, hoping to be preyed upon. This is the way in which sluttiness is most empowering, especially for women.”

        Something there is just chapping my dainty ass. I don’t know if it’s the implicit criticism of people who don’t ascribe to the slut identity/label as “hoping to be preyed upon” —

        WHEEOOO WHEEEOOO VICTIM-BLAMING

        — or this weird new proscription of sexual behavior ~especially for women~

        1. 0
          gloria stein says:

          I really take issue with you calling Hester’s use of “slut” to be equivalent to waving “Feminism Lite” pom poms. True, this column in particular wasn’t necessarily about how to reappropriate it as a community systematically (historically and contemporarily) oppressed by it.

          As a woman, who hasn’t been called a slut for having sex, or not having sex, or not having a certain type of sex, or for just moving while having a body? This column did not go into great detail about calling oneself a slut and engaging in a discourse with the stigma of every instance of people being called non-consensually by that name. That’s incredibly complicated, and would also have been an interesting read.

          It is, on the other hand, about engaging with “sluttiness” on a personal individual level and reclaiming something societally vilified: a women’s personal sexuality. Now, feminism never stops at the individual (and I think you’re calling it feminist lite because you think Hester’s “feminism” does, right?) I read it as an introduction to sex-positive thinking through casual sexuality, not as a piece on radical feminism–BUT that does not necessarily exclude it coming from a radically feminist informed perspective. However, at the end, Hester does open the conversation up to the community at large and asks for dissent/discourse and for variety from her own experiences and beliefs.

          Here’s the thing: I get that you’re frustrated. We’ve had a wave of sex positive cisgendered straight identifying monogamous (or semi-monogamous, in Hester’s case) feminist women writing sex/advice columns in the Daily Gazette. I can see why that gets tired. But every time we have a new column about sexuality/romance, whether framed within a relationship or sexual context, the community explodes.

          Maybe that’s because we, the Gazette commenters, at Swarthmore are those type of people: always desperate for “anonymous” discourse (speaking of which, new Gazette, we need a visible comment policy. I want to know who sees my IP address.) But like it or not, these (mostly) women (straight, monogamous, blah blah blah) columnists are the people who’ve stepped forward to engage with the community and begin discussions like these.

          You didn’t choose to write a column, but you chose to respond to it and engage with it, because you wanted it to be something other than what it is. There are some problems in it–the victim blaming language is one of those problems. We’ll call Hester out. We’ll respond with our experiences in (what I’ve always hoped) is an open forum of critical thinkers, and maybe engage in some unpleasantries. Don’t call the column Feminist Lite yet and just shut down something new that apparently *is* still incredibly radical to at least some of the 20-something commenters.

        2. 0
          Hester says:

          I’m disappointed that you’re so quick to criticize the content of this column without being able to offer ideas as to what might make it more interesting for you… However, I can only write from my own perspective, and maybe that’s what you take issue with.

          However, I think you make an excellent point about the segment that you quoted. While the “waiting to be preyed upon” line was meant to encourage women to think of themselves as sexual agents (not exactly earth-shattering news, I know), I can absolutely see how it could be perceived as victim-blaming. I’ll edit the column accordingly.

          Maybe you disagree, but it seems to me that a lot of people (as evidenced by the comments) think negatively of promiscuous women. I think it is important to combat that, and reclaiming slut is ONE WAY (if you’re comfortable with it) to do so. You’re right: there is a lot more to the word “slut” than what I tackle in this column. So let’s talk about it! Or not. But yeah. That’s where I’m coming from. I promise things’ll get more meaty and exciting and theoretical and complicated in future columns, but this was an important (if basic) place for me to begin.

          1. 0
            Agree! says:

            Hester, these comments are not people thinking negatively of promiscuous women.

            Based on these comments people are HESITANT to related promiscuity to female empowerment.

  7. 0
    Mr. X says:

    I would say that the word “slut” at Swarthmore may at some point lose its negativeness, just because we are Swatties and tend to be more progressive than just about everyone else everywhere in the world. I think outside our little bubble the odds of the happening any time soon are, well, ridiculously low. Yes, there 100% exists a double standard where it is bad for women to be promiscuous and “cool” if a guy sleeps around; but for some people that double standard is merely a matter of taste. For example, I myself would probably not find the level of promiscuity stated in this article to be something that is attractive. If I see a girl throwing herself about at a party, odds are that I am going to assume she has self-esteem or attachment issues, suffering from some form of lack of attention. Also, if a girl is a “slut”, that generally assumes that she gives it up rather easily; for me at least, if something is very easily attained, the sense of fulfillment afterward isn’t nearly as good as that of a more difficult trial (though don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of guys out there willing to pick up the slack where I’ve left it off). On the flip-side its your body! You can absolutely do whatever it is you want to with it. Do whatever you want, when you want to do it, so you can live without regrets; the one caveat I will throw out there is that no one should end up hurt in the exchange, otherwise you’re no better than the asshole who says I love you just to get laid. Anyway, unless some social movement forms to empower women to own this word, don’t expect anything but judgement from a solid majority of people (in America at least). Great article though 🙂 very enjoyable read.

    1. 0
      JSS says:

      So not only do you assume that any woman who chooses to enjoy herself in a way that doesn’t fit with your preferences has issues, you expect women to be a game for you. She has to play hard to get- so you can feel like you’ve won, and really achieved something to earn access to this woman?

      There are some not-so-sexy gender norms playing into that, and some commodification of sex. But sure, why not have a woman be the pay-off for some masculine posturing, sex is totally better when it’s seen as a prize to be earned by some demonstration of male competitiveness.

      1. 0
        Mr. X says:

        If you were to take everything I said and cast it in the most negative way possible, then you have my entire argument down perfectly! I said that is my first thought when I see girls throwing themselves at guys, yes; most of my bias, which I know is a bias by the way, is due to the fact that studies are done examining this very thing (for example, studies show that girls from divorced marriages become partakers in no-strings sex). There are girls who lie for attention, girls who cry for attention, girls who cut for attention, so why not sex, too? Guys are no different in this regard. But I also know there are people who are actually just in it for the carnal pleasure, sure, and as I said that’s their business and there’s nothing wrong with it. And yes, the actions involved in trying to bed someone are very much like a game (the woman herself is not the game); both man and woman are players in this game and its more fun when it requires an effort. This has nothing to do with the fact that I am a man so get off your high horse. I am a competitive person who likes challenges; does it make me a bad person to look for that in my love life as well? I’m sorry my preferences for a woman hurt your feelings?

  8. 0
    Curious Guy says:

    I noticed this article on the gazette’s main page and something in the image caught my attention. Why is the picture for the article the scarlet A, the symbol of the new atheism movement and the Out Campaign?

    1. 0
      The Serial Monogamist ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      The Scarlet A, while it might have been taken up by the atheist movement, is the central symbol of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s seminal high school english curriculum classic, The Scarlet Letter, whose protagonist is forced to affix one to her clothes as a symbol of her sin of adultery (modernly taken up as “sluttery”). The name of this column (The Garnet Letter) and its author (Hester) are both references to the text.

      Sorry, the 11th grade english student just had to come out.

  9. 0
    Naudia Williams says:

    I think we live in a sad world when we think that female liberation must extend to promiscuity. The “anti-slut sentiment” as you call it is very much alive and well. It is that sentiment that says it is OK to have a monogamous relationship and it is OK to be (YES I WILL SAY IT) CELIBATE. I appreciate your boldness and the attempt to gain wider readership. I must however, respectfully say, I do not agree with you.

      1. 0
        Sara '12 says:

        I don’t necessarily wholeheartedly embrace all of this column (for example, I don’t think I’m ever going to be comfortable using the word “slut”–however, if Hester wants to self-describe herself that way, that’s totally fine), but it’s less that “sleeping around” is linked to “female liberation” and more about being able to make your own sexual choices without being invasively policed by people who have absolutely no business doing so.

        And that includes choosing casual sex.

    1. 0
      Hester says:

      Oh my gosh! Oh no. Okay. I hoped that this column would not come across in that way. I think it’s great to be celibate, if that’s what you want. I think monogamous relationships are awesome, if you want to be in one. I think having casual sex is fabulous, if you want to be having it. Yes, I wrote a column in defense of sluttiness, but that doesn’t mean I am against celibacy or monogamy. I think people need to do what works for them, and if having sex with a lot of people is what REALLY AND TRULY works for someone (just like celibacy REALLY AND TRULY works for someone else), then they should go for it. Please don’t misunderstand: I am sex positive but that doesn’t mean that I reject celibate lifestyles or less “radical” forms of sexual expression, or conceive of them as somehow lesser.

  10. 0
    Loving says:

    Dear Hester,

    Hooray for reclaiming the word slut. I agree that we could all use a little more swag in the hips around that word.

    However, Hester, based my experience and the experiences of my friends, (please see the bottom for my “credentials”) you are the exception in regard to casual sex – good for you, really.

    From my point of view, what Swarthmore needs is a little less reclaiming the word “slut” and reclaiming the reality of sex.

    While in theory having casual sex from an empowered place sounds great… Too often, I myself and friends who are motivated to have casual sex are moving from a place of some kind emptiness. Whether fulfillment in terms of exploring sexuality, insecurity, loneliness, emptiness, post-breakup, or boredom. And of my goodness its important to explore your sexuality, BUT BUT:

    There is a difference between a random make out and random sex.

    The reality of casual sex (not talking making out here) is that it nearly always leaves behind a little (or a lot of) broken heartedness and more emptiness than before.

    The reality of sex is that it is really powerful. Whether you like it or acknowledge it, or not. Sex can be mind-blowingly amazing and healing and deeply profound. Or, it can you devastated. Or somewhere in between. Sex creates a connection between you and that other person, again, whether you like it or not. [That is true on a biological level]

    Our body, mind, and spirit are connected, and sex has the potential to connect your whole self with the whole self of another being – WOW. Too often, we try to separate mind/body and ignore spirit all together. Sex has a way of biting you in the ass if you forget that and reminding you that it is all connected.

    TRUTH from a senior: The likelihood that you are going to find TWO whole, sober, mentally and emotionally stable, empowered individuals in Paces who want to have casual SEX (not talking make out) is SO LOW.

    Please know that I am speaking from a place of lots of experience. And I am speaking from a place of love for all of you out there. I am convinced there are few things better than sex in a loving, healthy relationship. But, outside of that context, from my experience, most people’s hearts are too fragile to positively benefit from casual sex.

    So I say: go get em tiger with the random kisses. But the most beautiful, life affirming, healing sex comes when you are in love. And dear beautiful freshman, you DESERVE to have the kind of sex that leaves you smiling for days, when you forget where your body ends, the kind where you cry because your body and mind are overwhelmed with the bliss of love. Or to at least to hope for that.

    Does anyone else agree?

    1. 0
      gloria stein says:

      You know, sometimes when I’m walking around, can’t figure out where my body ends, and I’ve been crying and smiling for days because I’m so overwhelmed with love, what I wouldn’t give for a nice uncomplicated screw and a bite on the ass. Sometimes I’d rather just get off with someone than experience every emotion ever.

      I know I’m being a little unnecessarily DG-snarky here, but Loving may be being overdramatic. They make some good points, but they’re couched in some patronizing, and not broadly applicable, language.

      Don’t get me wrong, mind blowing sex and the feelings that follow are wonderful. Incredible. But so is screwing. When we’re talking about the dangers and implications of casual sex, maybe more relevant to the discussion is mutual enthusiastic consent, safe sex (in relation to STIs, personal safety, and, in heterosexual sex, pregnancy), open conversation, clear discussion of mutual expectations, and knowledge of possible repercussions. Lots of these points were brought up in the column.

      Sex can be fun. Sex can be silly. People may want to have rough sex. This kind of sex does not necessitate love or even a relationship (and it can be the same kind of mind blowing relationship sex Loving talks about.) When I have sex with my partner who I love, I do not have Overwhelming Sex every time. If sex was exclusively mind blowing, I’d probably have it once a month and be good. Like, done.

      As for the comment about biologically linking, I don’t have the correct jargon to battle with that statement appropriately (any Bio majors want in on this XXXtra credit?), but I’m pretty sure animals (read: us) have sex for fun, too. Or because they’re bored. And they/we’re not exclusively anonymous… so I’m a little confused about that point. Do you mean we’ll always have feelings, of some complicated sort motivated by oxytocin, about people we’ve had sex with? Then please read this article: http://io9.com/5606765/myths-about-the-love-hormone-oxytocin-that-could-ruin-your-love-life (yes, it’s a pop science/science fiction website’s article, but give me a break. I’m a humanities major and I find it more accessible.)

      I should clarify: I don’t mean to say that Loving’s point, as it applies to them, is invalid or ridiculous. It’s completely legitimate to not want sex outside a relationship with a loving partner. And it’s legitimate to change your mind if that’s not what you want anymore. I’m really writing this point for the starry-eyed freshmen out there: do what you want, as long as you’re thinking safely, about consent, and mutual expectations.

      Sex *is* an important exchange, and like Generous says, it is a risk. Go into any broadly sexual/sexualized circumstance (not even necessarily PVI, PIV, VEP, or any genital-genital encounter) aware of your boundaries. Ask for your partners boundaries. Have romantic sex, crazy sex, don’t have sex, don’t think about sex if you don’t care, do or don’t make out. You know when you’re not having fun. It’s all good, within reason, as long as it’s healthy–whatever that means to you.

      P.S. Yeah, you’re probably not going to find sober emotionally mentally stable people in Paces… because it’s Paces. And Swarthmore.

    2. 0
      gloria stein says:

      You know, sometimes when I’m walking around, can’t figure out where my body ends, and I’ve been crying and smiling for days because I’m so overwhelmed with love, what I wouldn’t give for a nice uncomplicated screw and a bite on the ass. Sometimes I’d rather just get off with someone than experience every emotion ever. It’s a little exhausting.

      I’m being a little unnecessarily DG-snarky here, but Loving may be being equally overdramatic. They make some good points, but they’re couched in some patronizing, and not broadly applicable, language.

      Don’t get me wrong, mind blowing sex and the feelings that follow are wonderful. Incredible. But so is screwing. When we’re talking about the dangers and implications of casual sex, maybe more relevant to the discussion is mutual enthusiastic consent, safe sex (in relation to STIs, personal safety, and, in heterosexual sex, pregnancy), open conversation, clear discussion of mutual expectations, and knowledge of possible repercussions. Lots of these points were brought up in the column.

      Sex can be fun. Sex can be silly. People may want to have rough sex. This kind of sex does not necessitate love or even a relationship (and it can be the same kind of mind blowing relationship sex Loving talks about.) When I have sex with my partner who I love, I do not have Overwhelming Sex every time. If sex was exclusively mind blowing, I’d probably have it once a month and be good. Like, done.

      As for the comment about biologically linking, I don’t have the correct jargon to battle with that statement appropriately (any Bio majors want in on this XXXtra credit?), but I’m pretty sure animals (read: us) have sex for fun, too. Or because they’re bored. And they/we’re not exclusively anonymous… so I’m a little confused about that point. Do you mean we’ll always have feelings, of some complicated sort motivated by oxytocin, about people we’ve had sex with? Then please read this article: (yes, it’s a pop science/science fiction website’s article, but give me a break. I’m a humanities major and I find it more accessible.)

      I should clarify: I don’t mean to say that Loving’s point, as it applies to them, is invalid or ridiculous. It’s completely legitimate to not want sex outside a relationship with a loving partner. And it’s legitimate to change your mind if that’s not what you want anymore. I’m really writing this point for the starry-eyed freshmen out there: do what you want, as long as you’re thinking safely, about consent, and mutual expectations.

      Sex is an important exchange, and like Generous says, it is a risk. Go into any broadly sexual/sexualized circumstance (not even necessarily PVI, PIV, VEP, or any genital-genital encounter) aware of your boundaries. Ask for your partners boundaries. Have romantic sex, crazy sex, don’t have sex, don’t think about sex if you don’t care, do or don’t make out. You know when you’re not having fun. It’s all good, within reason, as long as it’s healthy–whatever that means to you.

      P.S. Yeah, you’re probably not going to find sober emotionally mentally stable people in Paces… because it’s Paces. And Swarthmore.

    3. 0
      JS says:

      There won’t be whole people there? What, I’m going to find fragmented people who want casual sex, or like three-quarters or five-eighths of a person?

    4. 0
      different strokes for different folks says:

      I disagree. Personally I am of the sex-only-in-a-monogamous school but that doesn’t make me think that “there are few things better than sex in a loving, healthy relationship. But, outside of that context, from my experience, most people’s hearts are too fragile to positively benefit from casual sex.” Maybe I just know people who have positively owned their sexuality? Your comment reads a lot like a milder slut shaming–girls who sleep around don’t REALLY like it and they likely feel empty afterwards. My slut friends don’t feel that way; maybe they are the exceptions because they’re super self confident.

    5. 0
      Generous says:

      Loving, thank you for putting that out so sensitively and intelligently. I also have struggled with the balance of enjoying casual sex and feeling more heartbroken over it. I feel that sex is an act of generosity (maybe more so for women than for men), and if there is no chance that the other person will give anything back to you, then it can leave you feeling very devalued. But love in any circumstance is a risk, and if we are willing to be physically intimate only with the assurance that the relationship last forever, then we will have very little love/sex in our lives (until we find that One). That may work out for some people. For me, I’m willing to risk not having things work out in order to have more sex/love in my life. But too much of that leaves me feeling taken advantage of.

    6. 0
      J says:

      “TRUTH from a senior: The likelihood that you are going to find TWO whole, sober, mentally and emotionally stable, empowered individuals in Paces who want to have casual SEX (not talking make out) is SO LOW.”

      This is true, but who goes to paces expecting (or even hoping) to find/be among sober people?

  11. 0
    Anon says:

    You shouldn’t have to be a “slut” to be in control and go after a guy you’ve had your eye on. Its what all Swat women should feel empowered to do. To the desperate swat chicks who will settle to hook up with any guy who merely even looks at you: stop it. You’re tainting us girls who actually have standards.

    1. 0
      (Not So) Desperate Swat Chick ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      My sincerest apologies!
      I’m so sorry you feel tainted by the clear discrepancy you’ve detected between your standards and mine. I never meant for my slutiness to impact you in any way! Perhaps you can look past my massive oversight with the knowledge that those guys who I’m throwing myself at wouldn’t meet your standards anyway?
      I had no idea that engaging in acts that make me feel fulfilled, wanted, and less disasterously horny but which have no impact on my own self-schema RE level of taintedness could be making you feel so sullied! I’ll be sure to consider your feelings of contact taintedness next time before I ask the guy who has met my standards (but clearly not yours) whether he wants to hit the sheets with me. You know, when I’m taking control and going after him or whatever.

    2. 0
      Hester says:

      Hi, Anon! Seems like we’re actually on the same page about casual sex — the “Being in Control” section of my column is basically summed up in your first two sentences. The only difference is that I’m using (or trying to use) the word slut in a POSITIVE way. Do you think that “slut” can never be used in a good, empowered, non-desperate way?

    1. 0
      different strokes for different folks says:

      the serial monogamist hasn’t gone away–she’s still writing columns that rarely touch on sex and give very few practical or fun tips.

      i say welcome, hester!

      1. 0
        The Serial Monogamist ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

        To both of you,

        I’m still around. A column just hasn’t come out in two weeks because of 1) break and 2) the week before my editor just got swamped, so it’s actually written but just not out. I think the first half of the extended column is actually slated to come out tomorrow, with the second half coming out on Friday.

        Different Strokes, I’m sorry that you think that I don’t give “practical or fun tips,” but you’re very right that I don’t tend to touch on sex, and I constructed the column that way very intentionally. As my pseudonym suggests, I have had a very different relationship trajectory than Hester and just feel that I don’t have too much to offer in the way of sex “tips.” In fact, if you define sex as PVI, I’d venture a guess that many to most straight Swatties have more sexual experience than I do. Also, as I said in my first ever column, Swarthmore has had almost a dozen sex columns in recent years but I was the first to tackle a relationship column beyond a single article or two, so I haven’t really felt the need to encroach on that territory.

        That’s not to say that this column is repetitive or not worthwhile or anything of the sort. Everyone approaches their sex columns with a slightly different perspective and a different voice that makes them more or less accessible to different readers, and Hester has already put her position out there, which is great. I’ll definitely be reading to see what she does next.

        1. 0
          Hester says:

          This is a teaching moment! SM actually means “PIV,” which stands for “penis in vagina.” In this column, when I refer to sex, it can be defined in any number of ways — I will always specify when the sex about which I am speaking is specifically PIV.

          1. 0
            Hester says:

            And lo, ANOTHER teaching moment! I hadn’t heard PVI before. Seems like PIV is more colloquial. I will shift my usage to PVI. I thought you had made a typo and I had wanted to talk about the PVI thing anyway, so I wanted to clarify for other readers in case they weren’t sure what it meant. Thanks, SM!

          2. 0
            The Serial Monogamist ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            Well, I said “PVI” for Penile-Vaginal Intercourse, which is the technical name, but same thing.

  12. 0
    Holden Caulfield says:

    You just made my day. But I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on the term “slut” with regards to male usage. Does anyone (not) believe that men can so forcefully claim that slut is a positive term? I’m not making a point either way I’d just like to hear what people think.

    1. 0
      Books says:

      @Holden:

      The subject of male usage of the word slut is a very tricky subject. I think it’s extremely difficult for a male to refer to a female as a slut and not have it come across as negative, regardless of the male’s intentions. Perhaps between close friends with a prior understanding of the male’s view, but in general? Unlikely. It’s the same with any reclaimed slur–coming from the original users of the slur, it’s still going to sound like a slur, no matter how it’s meant.

      HOWEVER, I do think it’s possible for males to use the word in self-reference in a positive way. I have referred to myself as a slut on a number of occasions, making it clear that I saw it as a good thing. (This has generally led to fairly productive discussions of the slut/stud double standard, though that hadn’t been my original intention.)

      =Books

  13. 0
    Alexander says:

    I think the word “slut” refers to a person who has achieved sexual liberation, a person who has decided for themselves what sex will mean to their lives. In a sex-negative, or at least, sex-uncertain culture, this can often be a difficult feat to accomplish. There is always a variety of people trying to say what sex ought to be, and how people should thus approach it. A slut is someone who has broken out of not only sex-negativism, but out of all of these pressures. Celibacy can be a slutty choice if that choice is the product of an open, healthy decision about sex; one which comes from the individual and not their religious or social expectations. I enjoyed reading this column, and I think it’s on the right track. However, I think the tone sometimes fell close to disapproving of those people who decide not to pursue sex, or who decide to pursue sex in what might be called a more “traditional” way. For example, those people that want to wait till marriage may or may not be slutty depending on where that decision comes from. Anyways, I look forward to reading more from you. Great job!

    1. 0
      Karim says:

      That’s an interesting definition of slut, BUT I disagree about your definition of what a “healthy decision” about having sex is. Social and especially religious expectations are very real for a lot of people including myself. Sometimes people need to negotiate with these influences because they feel that the decisions they make about the sex they have or don’t have might consequences for the relationships they have with other people. I don’t feel great about saying that people who consider social/religious expectations are being oppressed, or that finding sexual liberation always has to be an entirely individual matter (or else it’s ‘unhealthy’). Though maybe I misinterpreted your point.

      Anyway, good article 🙂

    2. 0
      Hester says:

      Thanks, Alex. You make some good points. I definitely do not want to come across as thinking less of people who make different sexual choices than I have — I simply haven’t made those choices for myself and therefore lack insight. However, yes: there is nothing wrong with not having casual sex if you don’t want to.

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