Monday, October 22, 2012

The etymology of "slut"

I've noticed that in addition to attempting to reclaim the word "slut" and provide it with a positive spin, some female commenters are still attempting to apply it to sexually successful men.  These latter efforts are both linguistically incorrect and etymologically ignorant.

First, there is the logic.  Numerous male bloggers have demonstrated why the male equivalent of "slut" is "stud".  It is relatively difficult for a man to be sexually successful with women.  It is relatively easy for women to be sexually successful with men.  It is all about the degree of difficulty involved, which is precisely why promiscuous homosexual men are not begrudgingly respected the same way promiscuous normal men are.  As the apt analogy has it, the key that can open a thousand different locks is a master key, whereas the lock that can be opened by a thousand different keys is a defective lock.  There is no double standard, there are two different standards, distinguished by the varying degrees of difficulty.

Of course, logic is dialectic and the female attempt to attack "male sluts" and "manwhores" is observably pure rhetoric.  So we know, per Aristotle, that the logic will be insufficient in addressing the issue and it is necessary to find another, more rhetorical means of convincing those who have adopted such terminology in a futile attempt to shame men out of sexual desire that their efforts are as misguided as they are ignorant.

Therefore, let's look at the definition of the word:
1.  an immoral or dissolute woman; prostitute.
2. Obsolete . a dirty, slovenly woman.
Origin:  1375–1425; late Middle English slutte;  compare dial. slut  mud, Norwegian  (dial.) slutr  sleet, impure liquid

Word Story: Slut  first appeared in the written language in 1402, according to the Oxford English Dictionary , that great repository of language information. At that time, slut  meant roughly what one sense of slattern  means today: a slovenly, untidy woman or girl. It also apparently meant “kitchen maid” (”She is a cheerful slut who keeps the pots scrubbed and the fires hot.”). By the end of the 15th century the sense “a woman given to immoral or improper conduct” had come into use, and it is the only meaning in use today. Interestingly, the same second meaning, a promiscuous woman, developed for the term slattern.
The man reason that one cannot reasonably use the term "slut" for a man is that its primary meaning is not related to its immoral or promiscuous aspect, but rather its intrinsically female aspect.  To call a man a slut is not to label him promiscuous, but rather, to label him a specific type of woman.  Hence Chaucer's choice of the term "sluttish" to refer to a man in the 14th century rather than "slut".  This has been the case for more than 600 years, which is very nearly the time in which the English language has existed.  While it is true that languages change over time, no amount of defiantly declaring that black is white or war is peace will actually change the RGB values or cause the armies to vanish.

A slut is, and has always been, a woman.  It can mean an untidy woman or it can mean a promiscuous woman.  But the one thing it cannot mean is a man; at most a man can be described as "sluttish", which is a more specific adjective than the similar, but more general term, "effeminate".  To attempt to argue otherwise is not only ignorant and illogical, but uneducated.  One might as reasonably attempt to claim that the words "mother" and "girlfriend" can be applied to a man.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as a male slut, a manslut or a manwhore.

A man can be promiscuous. He might have character deficiencies or even mental illnesses which cause or contribute to his promiscuity. Or maybe he is just promiscuous for a time. He is a poor risk for a relationship. He might have sex with many women. In this SMP this earns him admiration from both men and women.

But the promiscuous man is not a slut, and is not a whore.

Adoption of the terms "manslut" and "manwhore" are attempts by women to normalize and neutralize slutty behavior and nullify the judgment men and nonslut women impose on sluts.

Women are attempting to equalize the genders by simply pointing to promiscuous men and wail "See! Those (very, very few) men are doing it too! Mansluts! Manwhores!" This is apex fallacy at its clearest.

deti

Denton said...

Maybe it's a generational thing but I thought the closest man equivalent was a "pussyhound" or "whorehound" (regional variation). It always implied that the guy was less than what y'all term "alpha" as the implication was he was so needy for a piece of tail as not to be in control. The insult was less on his sexual active as to his constant obsession with it. My oldest uses "hound" that way. Not someone aloof and secure but someone who constantly trying to get laid.

Bob Wallace said...

The male equivalent of a slut is a cad, i.e., concerned only about himself and not his partner, My experience has been sluts and cads are both cowards.

Daniel said...

This misses the lowest hanging fruit of the rhetoric:

If "slut" is now a positive term, why do women insist on using it upon men they allegedly find to be negative?

Make up your hamster!

Booch Paradise said...

"The male equivalent of a slut is a cad"
No it is not. A slut is a slut because of a lack of self control. A much closer equivalent would be a morbidly obese man.

Stickwick said...

In my husband's native Finland, the closest to a male equivalent is pilluhaukka, which means "p***y hawk." It refers to a guy who is perpetually seeking action. It's more or less the same as Denton's whorehound, and has a somewhat negative connotation in the sense that the pilluhaukka lacks cool detachment.

I'm guessing the only way a promiscuous hetero man would not inspire "respect" is if his partners are consistently of low quality.

Stickwick said...

By the way, if you want to get a real sense of how confused women are about the usage of "slut," check out Zombie's visual deconstruction of the San Fran SlutWalks. Here and here. Talk about a hamster parade.

Markku said...

pilluhaukka

I think this is another sad attempt at stealing a pejorative about women and making it about men with zero imagination. The original word is munahaukka which literally means "egghawk". As if this hawk were all about seeking and eating eggs. Except that muna also means dick... Pilluhaukka, on the other hand, has no cleverness about it.

The old word for "manwhore" is huoripukki (= a-whoring goat) and this one goes back many generations.

Bob Wallace said...

"The male equivalent of a slut is a cad"

"No it is not. A slut is a slut because of a lack of self control."

The cads I've known have no self-control, just as sluts have no self-control. They're impulsive and self-centered.

whoism3 said...

@Daniel
"This misses the lowest hanging fruit of the rhetoric:

If "slut" is now a positive term, why do women insist on using it upon men they allegedly find to be negative?

Make up your hamster!"

I've noticed this behavior often. The duplicity of feminism comes first circle, albiet a circle that can never be closed properly.

They decry the sexual ability of great men who are sexually successful, yet wish to become that which they hate most, sexually 'successful'.. altho for a woman to be sexually successful is like an able bodied person winning gold at the special olympics. And since it is women, they must place a positive spin on the action, even tho the same action when done my men is negative, and....

is your head ready to explode yet trying to piece together this riddle? You have a greater chance of solving this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible_object

before you can solve feminist logic.

Stickwick said...

I think this is another sad attempt at stealing a pejorative about women and making it about men with zero imagination.

From what little I understand of Finnish language and culture, it seems like an apt term. (Why does it have to be imaginative?) Keep in mind this is through the filter of my husband's POV. Nordic women are very sexually aggressive, so the average man is able to score without much effort. A really desirable man scores with tons of women effortlessly. Therefore, a man who constantly chases women instead of letting them come to him seems kind of pathetic by comparison. As Denton said, it doesn't come across as alpha.

JCclimber said...

I have no problems with calling a promiscuous gay male a slut. In all the ways that matter, they out-slut the sluttiest woman.

In this I'm speaking to the "special" sub-section of the homosexual community, most of whom are quite similar to the hetero community.

The reason "pussy-hound" is pejorative, is because it correctly implies a non-alpha obsession with getting laid. A genuine alpha isn't focused on laying everything in his path, because he is successful with women and can pick and choose.

But a pussy hound is like the obnoxious horny mutt that won't leave anyone's leg alone.

Daniel said...

...Zombie's visual deconstruction of the San Fran SlutWalks...

What? Now you have to walk them too?

That's some high-maintenance, low reward sluttage going on. The good news is that most of those ladies don't appear to be capable of reproduction by terrestrial means.

E.T. drunkdial home.

The last time there was that much blinding white skin and blubber, Captain Ahab was piling the hatred of an entire race upon it.

The level of coarseness in this world isn't what is so depressing: it is that it has blinded even the innocent to what it originally was supposed to be.

The girls have ruined nothing. They wanted what they wanted and we are stupid enough to give it to them at every twitch of the pinwheel.

Trust said...

Feminists should take a look in the mirror. It is women's values that make being a stud a positive thing.

When I was single, I would never give a woman my count. Some women would be aware of some of my history bc they knew several of my partners. The one's who acted concerned about those they knew about were usually the quickest to join the club.

Forget who they honor with their words and pay attention to who they honor with their naked bodies.

Daniel said...

Feminists should never, under any circumstances, look in the mirror.

Clearing that many frozen gorgons and feral cats from otherwise livable real estate would send the nation's chiropractic bills through the roof.

MaMu1977 said...

@Markku

A few months ago, I followed a link to a feminist website. The referring website, which I can't remember the name of at this time, was talking about the same topic as today's post. When I read the comments, there was the usual blather about how "There are *no* words in the English language to use against promiscuous or lustful men! It's only the *women* who are shamed for their sexuality!" So, I ran off six words that are (still) commonly used in Anglophone countries to describe this types of men.

Cad
Bounder
Wolf
Goat
Lecher/Rake
Pervert
(Cad and pervert were listed above my comment, so I didn't actually use them in my first post.)

Suffice to say, these women were *shocked*, *shocked, I say* that there were actual words with negative connotations for those types of men! I was shocked that a website that's replete with women with degrees in the Humanities had never heard the word "lecher", before. Then I had a delightful email exchange with one of the younger posters, a woman whose Facebook page had more than thirty pictures of her post-graduation party. Despite her receipt of a degree in English literature, she swore that she had never heard or read of the use of "rake" as a male pejorative, or the use of "wolf", or "goat" (for emphasis, this is a woman *who received a baccalaureate in English Literature.*) When I reminded her about the allegory in Little Red Riding Hood, she said that the use of the wolf didn't count because "that's just a one-time descriptor!)

There are no words.

Stickwick said...

The good news is that most of those ladies don't appear to be capable of reproduction by terrestrial means.

Aw, c'mon. No love for the bearded lady?

Cad
Bounder
Wolf
Goat
Lecher/Rake
Pervert


Don't forget Blackguard. I learned most of these just by reading Jane Austen. What on earth do English Lit students read these days?

Markku said...

The problem, if you want to call it that, is that these men immediately start using any such new word about themselves as a badge of honor. And as it doesn't then cause the desired effect, the usage practically dies. I've already heard one Finnish acquaintance refer to himself as a manwhore in English, apparently because there isn't a widely used Finnish word for it yet.

Booch Paradise said...

@Bob Wallace "The cads I've known have no self-control, just as sluts have no self-control. They're impulsive and self-centered."

That may be, but that fact remains that in the area of sex women are pursued and men chase. To chase successfully is an accomplishment. To be caught is not.

Acksiom said...

Then it seems to me that the male counterparts to sluts are the 'nice guys', 'white knights', and similarly-titled men and boys who give away positive attention, resources, security, etc. to women regardless of their behavior.

'Tis chivalry doth makes mansluts of us all!

Bill said...

More terms for promiscuous men:

Casanova, Lothario, player, womanizer, satyr, sleazebag, cocksman, pimp, whoremonger...

Bill said...

More terms for promiscuous men:

Casanova, Lothario, player, womanizer, satyr, sleazebag, cocksman, pimp, whoremonger...

Anonymous said...

The male equivalent of the slut is the beta orbiter.

Höllenhund

Mule Chewing Briars said...

The male equivalent of the slut is the hearts-and-flowers boy, who shows up for the third date with engagement ring in his pocket. Somebody who is trying to date the girl all the other guys are fucking.

Somebody who is as promiscuous with commitment as sluts are with physical sex. Women in general don't care for him.

That said, there does seem to be some disapproval of the truly indiscriminate catholic trash dick - the guy who literally bangs anything with a pulse.

Martian Bachelor said...

Well, you know when someone starts waving extracts from the dictionary that they've descended into the depths of legalistic thinking, which, as Eric Berne pointed out, is thinking at the level of about a ten year old.

"It says so in the dictionary" is a variant of "It says so in the bible". The unspoken implication is that you have to believe or do something because "If it's in print, it must be true".

Harvey Mansfield was onto something when he wrote "The women's movement wanted above all to liberate women from any definition of woman".

The slutwalkers have done what they said they wanted to do, "reclaiming" the word slut for the expressed purpose of destroying it by making it meaningless. It now no longer embodies a fixed concept, but is instead a repository for transient feelings and emotions.

MaMu1977 said...

@Bill

Casanova, Lothario and satyr were used as examples of *positive* names for promiscuous men (according to the feminist site.) This, despite the fact that one of the most common complaints among feminists is that men refuse to see things through a woman's eyes. You'd think that "educated" women (people who would have been taught about the last days of the named characters, never mind the scorn that was levied at the satyr's monomania for sex), would have had enough exposure to men to realise that those words were "reclaimed" in the same manner as "queer"(for gays) and "nigga"(for black people). That is, not at all (after all, if the negative connotations behind those words were truly negated, then their users wouldn't bristle when people from outside groups used them, right?) And, as can be observed by *watching* any group of men, the guy who gets laid the most tends to receive the least physical contact (because we may "respect" a guy who's able to get the girls, but we don't know what they could have picked up in the getting.) Even when I was still active duty, I knew plenty of guys who wouldn't drink from "that guy's" glass because they "didn't know where he's been".

When I said that there were no words...

Daniel said...

Martian Bachelor - Wrong. Identifying functional, common definitions is a means of identifying who is operating under the guise of linguistic prestidigitation.

After all, if the word someone uses runs contrary to the dictionary, they merely expose themselves as the fool. If you've ever had to stifle a chuckle when someone misuses terms or phrases like "literally" "panacea" or "for all intents and purposes," you certainly can appreciate the value of a simple dictionary.

Daniel said...

Oh, and here's the test for your grand theory, Martian:

Call the next woman you meet a slut. If she gives you no response, your theory (that slutwalks succeeded in destroying the meaning of a word) is sound.

If you get an emotional response, then your theory is disproved. The word clearly retains its fixed meaning.

huh said...

Promiscuous men are mostly fucking promiscuous women, so who cares? It's the pot calling the kettle black. They're both defective, but in different ways. An attractive woman also has the key to many men's locks, but taking crass advantage of it puts you in a place to be rightly disparaged. Nobody says goldiggers are unattractive, but everyone looks down on them, and rightly so.

Jason said...

Although I agree it is pointless to try to redefine slut to include men, i'm not sure your last line is applicable.

There are plenty of "men" who would be described as "girlfriends". Although this has more to do with their lack of masculinity and willingness to be an emotional tampon as much as anything else.

VD said...

Well, you know when someone starts waving extracts from the dictionary that they've descended into the depths of legalistic thinking, which, as Eric Berne pointed out, is thinking at the level of about a ten year old.

"It says so in the dictionary" is a variant of "It says so in the bible". The unspoken implication is that you have to believe or do something because "If it's in print, it must be true".


Ah, well, if Eric Berne said so, it must be true. What fools we be to put our trust in the OED instead of the inimitable Eric Lennard Bernstein.

If, after 600 years, "slut" no longer means "woman", then why don't men go on slutwalks?

MaMu1977 said...

@huh

Promiscuous men are mostly fucking (sic) *all* women. If one woman spends her entire weekend (52 weeks a year) trolling for new dick, one woman trolls for new dick every month during ovulation and one woman takes two weeks a year in vacation time to travel to a different state/country to troll for new dick, all three of them will have far more partners than the average man. When Anna Average gets in the mood, she can literally find a charming and handsome (enough) man to plow her until she's almost 30 (possibly longer if she's diligent about physical maintenance.) When Arnie Average does the same, he's not going to have the same results. I was AD for a decade and I've seen this with my own eyes: few to no women (no matter their level of mental/physiological arousal) chase or allow themselves to be caught by "average" guys.

MaMu1977 said...

@huh

Continued...

It works like this: there are three young women
Horny Harriet
Good Girl Gemma
Frigid Fiona

Horny Harriet, like most women, is attracted to the hottest guys. Therefore, she gets gussied up in her finest clothes and accessories to attract the hottest guys. Accordingly, assuming that she isn't deformed (facially or physically), she gets laid 1-2 times a week by various guys. Most are how, a few are not.

Good Girl Gemma only gets the tingles a few days before her period. When she feels it, she puts on her finest and goes to bars looking for guys. However, due to her overall lower arousal threshold, she is able to hold out until a "hottest"(sic) guy crosses her path. She doesn't feel this way very often, so Arnie Average (or even Above Average Arnie) won't do if Sexy Lexy is on offer.

Frigid Fiona (whether through hormonal imbalances or dedication to a job/cause/goal) doesn't do "the club thing" at all. Instead, she prioritises her schedule and gives herself a personal "Carnival". Maybe, she travels down to N'awlins and spreads herself out for beads. Maybe (if she's older) she travels to Jamaica or Kenya for the "big bamboo". Maybe (if she's well versed in international relations) she goes to Germany or Qatar or Thailand for a different experience altogether. But, as with the other two ladies, she's looking for the equivalent of Brad Pitt because *this is the only time that she has to shake her tailfeathers*.

MaMu1977 said...

@huh

Concluded

Your supposition only works if women are mating assortatitely (as in, 6s only mate with guys who are between a really high 5 to a mid-7.) If we lived in a world like that, then there would be car fewer complaints from men. Even if women's mating patterns matched up with their European pre-Renaissance equivalents (where there were places in which marriage was contingent on pregnancy, not intent.) But, they don't. Guys, for the most part, have two major criteria for short term mating, then add one more for long-term
1. Be hot "enough"
2. Show some level of attraction to me
LTR
3. Fit comfortably into my life

Women, OTOH, have three criteria
1. Be hot
2. Be attractive
LTR
3. Don't be unattractive
Barring abject poverty on her end, modern women may not even require her man to have a steady *job*. And *that's* the reason why female promiscuity is a problem; when women are involved with "not so hot" guys, he has to more than compensate for his sin of "not being hot."

Chris Brown is infamous for beating one woman and cheating on multiple women with his "victim". Conversely, Chris Rock has paid plenty of Visa bills in his day and avoided divorce (and the subsequent fortune-depleting alimony and child support) by the skin of his teeth *despite* having never laid a finger or a harsh word upon his wife. And when you get involved with promiscuous women, you get to deal with all of the fallout from her former Chris Browns, then live on eggshells in fear that she'll leave you behind...

Anonymous said...

A real lexicographer enjoys noting how words expand and evolve organically to suit the needs of the messager.
Some "men are sluts" and you know exactly what I mean.

Markku said...

Some "men are sluts" and you know exactly what I mean.

Except that the word "stud" already has that meaning, and refers to men.

"But it has positive connotations", you say. Yes, because of the thing itself, and not because of anything in the word. Using the word "slut" is just trying to borrow the negative connotations from promiscuous women. But they only exists because promiscuity is a social negative for women, and for women only.

huh said...

I thought this was a bible thumping board? What kind of bible thumper condones male promiscuity? You need to get back on that bible.

And there's another confusion here: the fact that something may take hard work or talent to accomplish does not justify the debauched indulgence of it's rewards. At least not among people with a mental maturity greater than that of an adolescent. By your logic Markku, "goldigger" shouldn't have a negative connotation since a goldigger is just using her talents and hard work to get what she wants.

Markku said...

What kind of bible thumper condones male promiscuity?

I said social negative for women, which implies social positive for men. It should be obvious that social positives don't mean virtues.

And I weren't saying anything about what connotations words SHOULD have. I'm just saying that the word "stud", which means a promiscuous man, does have positive connotations. And why is that? Obviously because of what the word describes, and nothing about the body of the word.

Think of the word "special". It was chosen for retards because of the positive connotations. And it didn't take long for it to become a joke. Borrowed connotations don't last long, they quickly adapt to the reality. The converse is going to happen to the word "slut" or "whore" if applied to men. People will think the same as if they were called studs, because they describe the same thing.

huh said...

Words have positive connotations because they are taken to describe positive attributes. Whether those attributes are actually positive and in which respects are judgement calls people make. Taken together they form social attitudes. If those judgements are on the whole wrong, ignorant or short sighted, things which are not on the whole positive can be mistakenly taken to be so. So it's important to clarify these things, otherwise you start making virtues out of vices, even if only by implication.

Athena said...

Language is fluid, bitch.

aneroidocean said...

Thanks for the link. Great breakdown, I'll bring this up the next time a woman tries to call a man a slut.

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