Recently when I mentioned being called a slut, one woman’s response was, ‘Boys will be boys!’ It’s a common enough phrase in any conversation dealing with a male’s actions, and implies that although the action is not really appropriate, it can’t be helped because it was a male doing it.
I’m not even sure where to begin with describing my issues with this phrase.
We say ‘Boys will be boys’, and ‘Men are such pigs’, or write with deprecation about our significant others, calling them ‘MM’ which stands for ‘mere male’. Are we not, with these expressions, tacitly accepting and allowing the behaviour we ostensibly condemn? We are not only describing men to women, but to themselves. We are saying this is what men do. Not only is it sexist – being cruel or stupid isn’t exclusive to men – but it’s permissive.
‘Boys will be boys,’ we say to each other, but when do we say to the boy, ‘That isn’t acceptable’? Boys learn from a very early age that it’s okay for them to be violent, to be rude, to be destructive. Boys will be boys! No! More accurately: Indulged children will be brats. It’s not okay to set a lower standard, or in any way a different standard, for one gender. Gender does not and should not exclusively dictate personality and behaviour. Even more certainly, it should not dictate our reactions to behaviour.
People will behave in accordance with the expectations upon them: for praise, and to avoid censure. We must improve our expectations in order for behaviours to improve. No more gender-based excuses.
I have no problem with insults, or even with being personally insulted. I really don’t. Sometimes you just need to tell it like it is – or hear it like it is! What really irritates me is people using just any old insult, regardless of suitability!
For example, a guy just called me a ‘slut’. Yes, I had behaved a little harshly towards him, come down a bit hard. But perhaps ‘bitch’ might have been more appropriate. He knows nothing of me, and can’t possibly know if I am promiscuous or not. (For the record, I’m not.)
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me, and I have seen it happen to others many times. For some reason ‘slut’ is the insult of choice towards women, regardless of circumstance. It is not only used by men, either; I’ve often heard a woman call another woman a ‘slut’.
I have compiled this handy guide for your reference.
When somebody has annoyed you but you really know nothing about them personally: bitch
When somebody is not only annoying but also incredibly stupid: fuckwit
When somebody is promiscuous and you want them to feel ashamed of that: slut
If these simple guidelines do not help relieve your dearth of insults, I suggest buying a dictionary and thesaurus!
I started wondering how a world would look if a government decided that people were too stupid to make their own choices. This is the start of the story I came up with.
Some of the older folk say they can remember another time. They speak with reverence about fast food, supermarkets, and Facebook. One of the oldest says she remembers something called pop music. I think she’s making it up, but sometimes she sings snippets of things she says were hits.
Even now, as they eat their identical meals, they parody how they think mealtimes used to be: ‘That looks great, can I have some of yours?’ one man laughs. But the target of his joke is just a little too young, and too new here; he only glares at the prankster and pulls his plate closer.
Technically we’re only supposed to find humour in state sanctioned jokes, but many of the rules are relaxed in this place. It is officially presumed that illegal laughter is simply a result of senility and dementia, and the perpetrators can’t be blamed. There is no such leniency for the staff.
I’ve always dabbled in writing fiction, but recently I’ve started to identify myself as “a writer” alongside being “a mother”, “a student”, and all the other labels that apply! I’ve found the change in mindset to be extremely helpful in terms of both inspiration and productivity. I’m a writer, therefore I can and do write!
I’ve started work on a collection of short stories I’m calling Aftermath. It will be the what-happens-next of fairytales, only none of them will be happily-ever-after. They all focus on the darker themes or more depressing (realistic!) possibilities of life after the fairytale. I’ve got post-traumatic stress, suicide, abusive marriages, and more. I’m loving the “research”: reading fairytales!