Pink Calls Herself a "Reformed Slut": Why Do Sluts Need Reforming?

Pop singer Pink has a new interview with Glamour in which she discusses being a mother, her “mama bear” love of her child, and things that have changed about her life since she first became active in 2000. 

In her interview, she refers to herself as a “reformed slut.”  Pink’s word choice seems like a flippant joke, but considering the star’s reputation as a “bad girl,” ends up sounding rather tone deaf: being a “slut” does not require reformation, and changing from “bad girl” to maternal figure is perhaps the least subversive transformation in feminine archetypes. 

Since the release of her EP, The Truth of Love, media outlets have highlighted Pink, the bad girl of 2000s. Pink discusses a number of changes in her life with Glamour:  the birth of her child, Willow Sage, and how protective she has become, her separation and then return to Carey Hart, her husband, and even Joey Fatone’s crush on her in the early 00s. It’s clear that Pink has transformed her image, and her personal life, from a no holds barred party girl to a devoted and caring “mama bear.”  Her discussion of being a “reformed slut” predicated significant conversations about the challenges of being a mother, and in a long-term committed relationship.

Though her intention is to reclaim “slut,” rather than disown the term, it seems that she only gains legitimacy from distancing herself from the word. 

The bad girls of five years ago has grown up. Pink’s perspective on the world has changed, just as her music has: her latest album has less of the rage that characterized her previous songs, like “So What” nor the devil may care attitude of “Raise Your Glass.” Pink’s image has always been about being a nonconformist in a conformist world, but it’s not that surprising that there are limits to nonconformist behavior. For Pink, being subversive has always been more about owning a cool t-shirt than creating real challenges to the sexist dominant culture. 

Of course, Pink’s not all bad: without her pioneering as an intense uncompromising female vocalist, it’s unlikely that women like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry. Depressingly, one of the things that makes Pink stand out the most should be something that all pop stars have in common: she can actually sing, unlike corporate lab made vocalists like Taylor Swift and Lana Del Ray. Pink’s image, as far as mainstream pop stars go, was fairly fresh and empowering, so to see her move “beyond” it to a more domestic archetype is especially disappointing. 

Pink’s music has always been about celebrating who you are, as long as who you are is interesting to Pink: that’s what drives her ostensibly feminist pieces like “Stupid Girls,” which features a mocking portrayal of the “stupid girls” who engage in bulimia. 

It’s unlikely that Pink was making a comment about the hook-up culture and changing standards of feminism when she discussed her reformation: her idea of a “reformed slut” sounds more like a quip than an ideology. However, her casual dismissal of an image — the woman in charge of both her sexuality and her life — that was liberating, if not particularly thoughtful or original, is disappointing for the millions of young women who Pink taught that it’s okay to be in charge of your sexuality.