Watch One Woman Challenge Society's Definition of the Word "Slut"

Source: Hannah Witton via YouTube

What does "slut" mean, anyway?

The term has been long used to punish and shame people, overwhelmingly women, who dared to express their sexuality in a way society deemed unacceptable. But while the potency of the term is clear, there has never been a clear definition of it.

Enter YouTube star Hannah Witton, who in an attempt to define this pernicious terms once and for all, created a video that proves an important point about the very idea of a "slut."  

Over the course of the video, Witton changes into four outfits, asking a question she says many women ask themselves or each other before leaving home: "Does this make me look like a slut?"

Or this?

Maybe this?

How about this?

"But, why do we do this? Why do we need to reassure ourselves that we don't look like sluts? What is so bad about looking like a slut that you want to disassociate yourself from that?" Witton asks. "When we ask our friends, do I look like a slut, what are we actually comparing ourselves to?"

Virtually any of Witton's outfits could be seen as "slutty" by one person or another — and that's precisely the point. More often than not, deploying shaming tactics are not so much about describing any actual wardrobe as they are about policing female sexuality. That's something Witton interrogates, questioning if one can really tell anything about the behavior, sexual or otherwise, of someone from the way that she dresses. 

Source: YouTube

To get more clarity, Witton then took to social media to ask what others thought "slut" means. And the negative responses were quite telling:

"A slut is someone who knowingly uses sex to manipulate people."

"A woman who has sex with countless amounts of men."

"A slut is someone that has way too much sex or someone that dress really provocatively that they can make you think that they are having way too much sex."

"Cheats on you during a relationship and goes behind your back."

"A 'slut' is what every man hopes a woman becomes when they are alone together."

In the video, Witton goes through and dismisses each of these horrible definitions, in the process exposing the reality that there's no unified definition of the word after all. 

"People's sexual behavior is none of your business and people can sleep with as many or as little people as they like," Witton said. "And, we also can't determine whether or not someone is a slut from the way that they dress ... there is no correlation and also there is no such thing as a slut."

In recent years, there's been a move to reclaim the term "slut" and transform it into a more empowering expression and affirmation of one's sexual autonomy, something Witton acknowledges. But until the word either goes away or loses its derogatory meaning, it's important to continue to challenge the absurd cultural double standards that continue to stigmatize female bodies. 

h/t Upworthy

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Derrick Clifton

A reporter, news commentator and speaker on issues of identity, culture and social justice, Derrick is a graduate of Northwestern University. Web: derrickclifton.com

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