Why Do We Label Women “Sluts”?
One of our discussion forum members started a thread asking whether, when surrounded by women decrying the slut label, he should be truthful to himself and state that there’s a good reason behind this label, or whether he should tell women like this what they want to hear (and what he probably needs to say if he wants to sleep with them): that he thinks such a label is totally unreasonable... even if this is being untruthful to himself.
That’s an interesting question, but one I think that the answer to (supposing your goal is to become a real “knock her socks off” ladies man) is a fairly simple “fake it till you make it.”
That is to say, you may think she’s a “slut” now... but once you’ve got a significantly larger amount of sexual experience under your belt, you’re probably not going to care one way or the other about what label fits her best. So might as well just act like you’re already there and get the girl in the meantime. You’ll be glad you did later.
But that raised an interesting question for me: why is that newer guys and less experienced guys or, alternately, bitter guys (not necessarily the same as new/inexperienced guys), use the “slut” label on women... while more experienced guys who’ve made their peace with women’s sexuality don’t really care?
No Sluts for Experienced Men
You’ll notice that with very sexually experienced men, the term “slut” is pretty much irrelevant.
Either the guy never uses it, or he uses it for every girl.
If he’s the former, she could be 24 years old with 150 partners and she’s still just a girl.
If he’s the latter, she could be a 28-year-old virgin who’s never had a boyfriend and he’ll say, “Let me call up this slut I met at the supermarket yesterday and see if she wants to come over.”
The former man views all women as wonderful creatures, and doesn’t spend much time thinking about partner counts.
The latter man views all women as sluts for him; that is, she might be a
virgin, but when she’s around him, she’ll probably become a slut (because
he’s just that good).
Yet, turn your attention to most men – normal, every day guys – and the world is divided into blacks and whites: there are the sluts, and then there are the good girls, and these two women might as well be different species.
In “Why Madonna/Whore is Intimately Linked with the West”, I discussed the prevalence of this good girl / bad girl dichotomy among the men of the West (and also the East) from the standpoint of civilizations: essentially, that patriarchal civilizations that foster a sense of Madonna/whore good-girl/bad-girl thinking steamroll the matriarchal peace, love, and equality competition and emerge at the top of the Darwinian ladder.
Yet, one thing I did not explore as in-depth there was how this functioned at the individual level; what is the mechanism behind individual men thinking this way – and why do some men NOT think this way?
What I have come to believe is that regular men’s tendency to
label certain women as “sluts” is a defensive maneuver used to shield
themselves from partners they know logically will be bad for them, but
around whom emotionally they
will be helpless... if such a
woman makes it past their fortifications and into their keeps.
One of the most fascinating things to me is how much we despise the things we know might beat us.
The utterly ironic (or: strangely fitting?) findings of the 1996 study “Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?” published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology were:
“The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35 ) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia (W. W. Hudson & W. A. Ricketts, 1980). The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire (A. H. Buss & M. Perry, 1992). Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.”
So an exclusively heterosexual man who scores high on the homophobia
index gets a hard-on watching two
dudes strip naked and play bury the bone. Fitting, no?
The more I’ve analyzed my and others’ “disgust”-type fears and revulsions, the more I’ve noted they all seem to be subconscious moats erected to protect us from things that we fear will damage or weaken us in some way... things that we won’t be able to resist if we let them get too close to us.
Feces and vomit are disgusting, and rightly so: they frequently make us sick if we touch them and then eat without washing. There’s real danger there.
People with animal phobias fear injury by these animals, and are disgusted by them. There’s perceived danger of the feared animal there (which someone more experienced with the animal does not fear; in fact, a study on fear of snakes – ophidiophobia – found that if you just gradually increased even an extreme ophidiophobic’s exposure to the animals, fear and disgust went away).
Exotic foods (like chicken feet or roasted scorpion) can seem disgusting if we imagine them filthy or not fit for consumption, because there’s an instinctual fear of these unfamiliar and strange foods leading to illness or digestion woes (I’ve had both foods, and both are fine, if not the tastiest of items to a Western palate).
I used to always be disgusted by people who were very silver-tongued and manipulative, for instance, because I was a pretty easygoing guy and when people got pushy I would tend to give ground out of a sense of wanting to help out and not be an asshole. It wasn’t until I finally overrode my instinctive reluctance and let one of these individuals in that I confronted this fear head on... first leading me to a royal drubbing, and later to a complete overhaul of all the defects that had made me too much of a softy or a pushover before as I analyzed where I got beat and made my corrections.
The result was that I retained my diplomacy, but now can go
toe-to-toe with even very skilled puppet masters and remain unmoved,
essentially because I’m now familiar with all of their tactics and know
what they’re trying to do as they’re doing it better than they do...
and exactly how to counter it.
And, believe it or not, I used to fear “sluts” too... it was a
subconscious revulsion. Even for a while after I was picking up, I
would sleep with sexually liberal girls because I thought it’d be “good
for me”, and then feel mild disgust about it after. The only ones I
didn’t feel that way toward were the ones I considered “good girls.”
I can’t believe I slept with that slutty girl, I’d think. How many other men were already in there before me? Ugh!
Then the worst happened: an on-again, off-again girlfriend grew angry at me and banged a couple of new men while we were split up... and then we were back together again, only for me to find out that my girlfriend was “a slut.”
Turmoil! I felt sick to my stomach... and then I dealt with it. We had a rocky (but useful) few last months. And then I walked away.
And from that point forward, I never felt revulsion at sleeping with a girl again, no matter how “slutty” she was. I could sleep with girls who were “sluts”, and just enjoy it as a great experience.
The reason why? Because I’d realized I could walk whenever.
The subconscious “Danger! Warning! She’s bad, bad, BAD news for you, bud!!!” voice telling me not to get stuck with a girl who’d been cast off by 25 other men before me was gone, because I knew I wasn’t going to get stuck. I knew how women like this operated, the games they played, their allure, and their tricks... and like watching a magician whose tricks you know inside and out, the magic was gone.
From that point forward, all sex with such a woman was was sex –
nothing more. The risk was gone, and the fear/disgust went with it.
The Two Kinds of Experienced Men
I’ve found that sexually experienced men tend to have one of two (2) potential approaches to “slutty” women:
For sex and fun, but not for relationships. These are the guys who are on a mission. For them, life is about something more than personal pleasure or enjoyment, so they want a mate who will bring them support and stability above all. They have no qualms about sleeping with sexually liberal women, but won’t get into any sort of committed relationship with them in order not to introduce distractions that will sidetrack them from carrying out their destinies.
For everything. These are the guys for whom the journey is the mission. Life is all about enjoying yourself and feeling good, and nothing feels as good as a woman who knows what she’s doing with a man. They usually don’t want to date anyone but a sexually experienced woman, because anything less than her they find too stiff, not fun, and inflexible; they have to spend a lot of time teaching and training; and once they have trained her, she’ll probably just be experiencing her sexual awakening right then, and then she’ll be a miasma of drama and nonsense as she tries to reconcile her sexual experimentation with them and other men with her old moral code and the guy she’s currently dating. No thanks, for these guys; they’ll take a girl whom other men have already brought up-to-speed and whose drama-heavy awakening-fueled confusion is already done and over.
Bear in mind too what we talked about in “Lower Your Standards (and Date Hotter Girls)”, when we discussed the findings of the 2009 study in Sex Roles: lowering your standards for short-term mating (hookups and flings) doesn’t have any impact on your long-term standards (these remain unchanged). Sleeping with them doesn’t mean you’re stuck dating them if that isn’t what you want... you only do if it is.
Back to these two directions experienced men take.
There is one thing that both men have in common: they do not label some girls “good girls” and some girls “sluts”... at least not in the way that most men do.
A sexually experienced man may say, “That girl is way too much of a good girl,” to imply that she’s going to be especially cagey about sex and probably is very sexually repressed (he may also mean that she’s liable to have a very crazy sexual awakening and also be a ticking time bomb in a relationship).
He may also laugh and say, “All these girls are sluts!” to imply that the girls present are “the same as him”; that is, they know the deal, and aren’t going to be a pain to deal with.
He may also just use the term “slut” interchangeably with “woman” or “girl”; if you ever want a good chuckle, get together a sexually experienced man who starts saying things like, “Let’s go get some sluts!” and a sexually inexperienced man who just grins awkwardly at this while quietly thinking, “But I only date good girls!”
The big difference between a man who’s made his peace with women’s sexuality and a man who still wrestles with it, though, is this: the man who’s made his peace with it quits dividing women into two camps.
They’re just girls, although every girl is different. When he’s looking for a girlfriend, he doesn’t have to worry about whether she’s a “slut” or “not a slut”; he just lets his gut do the judging. If he doesn’t want a sexually liberal girl as a girlfriend, he simply won’t take one as his girlfriend, simple as that.
Why the Labeling Happens
At a society level, slut shaming helps keep women in line and checking their natural sexuality down to acceptable levels for the maintenance of civilization, much as the shaming of rape and violence keeps men’s civilization-sabotaging tendencies under check. However, a society is not an entity; it is a collection of people, and each of those people makes his own decisions individually.
Inexperienced (or otherwise fearful) men designate women as “sluts” because of a deep-seated fear of becoming “stuck with a slut” – they fear that somehow, some way or another, there is a possibility that they may end up bolted down in some kind of commitment with a woman who may be unfaithful to them, or make them look bad, or serve as a distraction to them, or all of these things.
And the thing is, this fear is grounded in a real risk! There really are men out there who settle down with “sluts”... lots of ‘em. Tons of ‘em. And they do suffer the consequences: nasty divorces, ugly cheating, cuckolding.
The likelihood of these things happening to the kind of man who fears them is far higher with a sexually liberated women for several reasons:
Firstly, the more sexually experienced a woman is, the less compunction about having a fling outside even a monogamous relationship she is, the more easily she grows bored with just one partner, and the fewer qualms she has about picking up and leaving (and taking everything with her) over smaller matters. She’ll also tend to feel less remorse and deliberate less about doing things that may potentially be hurtful to her partner, since she’ll have been there and done that with previous partners and she’s long since made her peace with that just being how life is – sometimes something you do hurts someone else, and it just is what it is
Secondly, if a man fears these things happening, either that means that he knows a “slutty” girl he’ll get together with is going to end up with the upper hand in a relationship, or he knows he lacks the emotional disposition to keep a high drive, high novelty-seeking woman enmeshed enough in a relationship with him that she won’t want to look elsewhere for stimulation and satisfaction
In effect, the labeling seems to be the result of a realistic calculation by the man’s subconscious that he doesn’t know how to handle a woman like this, and that she – being more experienced with men than he is with women (especially women like her) – is liable to catch him in her web, her the spider and him the fly, if he lets her get too close.
Truly, the most charming, charismatic, attractive women you will meet are often the most sexually experienced... the ones that men fall in love for in droves are never the shy virgins but instead the girls who’ve slept with dozens of men and know exactly how to make a guy fall in love – what to do, what to say, who to be, how to look at him, how to touch him, how to tease him, how to make him chase and invest.
Not all of them – there are plenty of sexually experienced women who
are complete airheads and only have such a high notch count because
they’re terrible judges of character, constantly thinking some sexy new
man will be their knight in shining armor only to find out the next
morning that Mr. Right was only in it for a night – but the road to
sweeping men off their feet lies is paved in lots of experience with
men. There are very few women who are naturals at it (the ones who are
have usually had great examples and instruction from a mother or an
older sister with lots of experience figuring out on her own what
Of course, these women also have figured out that’s it’s most convenient to forget their pasts, with several dozen lovers quickly becoming 2 or 3 committed relationships.
And the inexperienced man is thrilled, happy to have found a woman who makes him feel so good yet is still so “untainted.”
Another reason the “slut revulsion” (which really seems to be
“manipulation revulsion” at its core – it’s a deep fear that the
sexually experienced woman will manipulate and use the man... and even
if she enters into the relationship with pure intentions, there’s a
fair chance she eventually will, if not maliciously then even purely
incidentally) is built into less experienced men: once a man is hooked on a woman, there’s no
I’ve seen guys who’d consider a girl a slut if she’d been with more
than two men. Invariably, they end dating a party girl who’s been
with many more than two men and firmly has them by the balls in the
relationship, and when you point this out to them they never have an
answer for you. “She’s just different... she’s a good girl!”
The answer, of course, is that she slipped past their “slut defense system” undetected and captured them in her web.
A more experienced man can read the signs of a girl like this regardless of how “chaste” she presents herself as and decide to date her or not on his own terms; an inexperienced man who misses the signs is helpless once she’s got him though. She just knows men a lot better than he knows women.
(and of course, also worth mentioning that women slut shame and do it far more than men, but theirs is simply intrasex female competition attacking competitors on a metric that they know most men care about; if men – especially inexperienced men – didn’t worry about women’s partner counts, women wouldn’t attack each other with slut labeling)
What is a Slut?
So what is a “slut”?
If a guy can define a slut as “any girl who’s slept with more than 2 guys” and then get into a long-term relationship with a girl who’s slept with a lot more than 2 guys, but that girl isn’t a “slut”, then what is a slut?
Is it a girl who sleeps with any man the night she meets him? Or on the first date?
What if she only ever sleeps with one man her entire life, and marries the man she sleeps with, but she sleeps with him the very first day she meets him? Is she a slut?
What if she only ever sleeps with two
men her entire life, but both encounters are first date sex? Is she a slut?
Is it a girl with a partner count past a certain digit? What happens when you realize your girlfriend is way beyond that digit... then decide that she is the sole exception to that rule of yours and obviously has very good reasons for it, especially now that you know her and know she is not a bad person and of course would never do anything hurtful to you.
This is what the inexperienced man wakes up to as he gathers more experience.
He sleeps with girls on the first date from repressed sexual backgrounds who’ve never gone to bed with a man remotely that quickly before, and likely never will again.
He sleeps with a girl who’s a virgin within a few hours of knowing her, despite the fact that she’s had 3-year-long relationships before and never gave it up to the guys.
He sleeps with women who are in committed relationships and he can tell are normally very loyal partners, but for one reason or another fate has turned the knife and here this woman is with him.
Conversely, he goes on dates with women whose notch counts dwarf his, but they won’t put out because they’re afraid he’ll think they’re too easy.
He spends a long time courting a woman he’s certain is pure and chaste, only to find out that while he’s been wining and dining her and treating her like “not a slut”, she’s been seeing several friends with benefits on rotation and has no problem telling him this when the topic is finally brought up.
He enters into a relationship with a girl he’s certain is a “good girl”, only to find that she does very naughty things... and quite possibly wasn’t nearly as honest about her background as he thought she’d been.
And you know what happens? He realizes there AREN’T any sluts... all there are is women.
And then he laughs at all the energy he’s spent categorizing and labeling and boxing up women over the years, shakes his head, and goes, “Man, that was silly.”
After that, he dusts himself off, gets out there, and goes and enjoys himself with girls, because they’re silly and cute, whether they’re at 2 partners or 20 partners or 200 partners, and when it’s time for a relationship he picks a girl who’s exactly what he’s looking for and settles for no one who isn’t, because he knows the strings that experienced women pull and his judgment isn’t clouded by these a single bit... unless, that is, he chooses to let it be.
More on women’s sexuality, if you’re just diving into the subject:
- Women Love Sex
- Women’s Forgotten Past
- Women Really Do Like Sex
- Social Order, Sexual Restriction, and the Secret Society
- On Sexual Freedom
- Sexual Liberalism
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