Another day, another Al Jahom diplomatic disaster.

Amongst many other random beings, I follow @girlonetrack on twatter – this is the lass who wrote the ‘Girl with a one track mind’ blog & books.

You know, this one:


As is the way with twitter, from time to time she’ll throw out a question to the world, which I’ll spot in my timeline. If I can help, I’ll sometimes reply. Usually it’s a geek question, but whatever. I know about geek stuff.

I can’t say I can recall her ever responding even with briefest of thanks. Whatever; I’ve not exactly gone out of my way by providing 140 characters of free advice.

Today, I noted a comment she made:


I thought about this for a moment or two and, as I did, the fog of cognitive dissonance settled.

I’ll preface the following comments by saying this: I am not judging her on the morality of the stuff she’s written in her books. I have no problem whatsoever with her sexual drives and mores.

What I don’t understand, though, is how she can be surprised or offended when someone calls her a slut. So I asked her.


Now, perhaps I’m sarcastic. Perhaps the bounds of twitter make embarking on such a conversation a fraught matter, open to misinterpretation.

Today, I got a response to my tweet.


Oh dear. Another diplomatic cock-up.

My premise, denoted in the final sentence of my tweet ‘And so what?’ was that the term slut doesn’t even carry any significantly pejorative connotation in this day & age.

Not all sources agree with me, however.


These cursory definitions seem to undermine my point in no uncertain terms. But let’s take a second look, and consider the ambiguities:

The accepted denotative meaning is a sexually promiscuous woman or "a woman of a low or loose character; a bold or impudent girl; a hussy, jade."

Or to put it another way:


Which is to say that ‘slut’ can refer to either a promiscuous woman, or to a prostitute.

We can safely say that the lady in question is not a prostitute.

But I think we can say with equal safety, that if she’s writing about her own experiences, she does indeed appear to be a promiscuous woman.

I have no moral or ethical objection to either prostitutes or promiscuous women, but I do understand it’s an important distinction to make.

In the context of twitter, it’s well known that the lady in question recently won an important libel case against a newspaper who mistakenly called her a hooker. So to me it was plain that I did not intend to imply that she is or ever was.

So where was I coming from? (For the citations see the Wikipedia page).

Slut is also used as a slang term in the BDSM, polyamorous, and gay and bisexual communities. With BDSM, polyamorous, and non-monogamous people, in usage taken from the book The Ethical Slut, the term has been used as an expression of choice to openly have multiple partners, and revel in that choice: "a slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you." A slut is a person who has taken control of their sexuality and has sex with whomever they choose, regardless of religious or social pressures or conventions to conform to a straight-laced monogamous lifestyle committed to one partner for life.

The term has been "taken back" to express the rejection of the concept that government, society, or religion may judge or control one’s personal liberties, and the right to control one’s own sexuality.

It strikes me that if Zoe Margolis isn’t part of the movement striving to ‘take back’ the word, then she should be.


UPDATE: This just in.


I’m not touching that. I’m gonna go draw some pictures of the prophet instead.


24 thoughts on “Another day, another Al Jahom diplomatic disaster.

  1. No woman likes to be called a slut, even if she is one. It’s called having manners or in your case “being a gentleman”…

    You must have noticed though, that she is correct when she says that promiscuous men don’t have derogatory names attached to their “pleasures” but women do!

    From the Thesaurus (roughly copied).

    slut,floozy, harlot, hooker, hussy, prostitute, tart, tramp, vamp, whore, bimbo, jade, jezebel, malkin, minx, quean, slattern, tramp, wench,
    call girl, concubine, courtesan, fallen woman, lady of the evening, loose woman, nymphomaniac, painted woman, streetwalker,

    cad, boor, bounder, clown, creep, cur, dog, heel, louse, lout, rake, rascal, rat, rotter, rounder, scoundrel, stinker, worm
    barbarian, bear, boob, brute, buffoon, cad, churl, dork, goon, lout, oaf, peasant, philistine, rube, vulgarian.

    The lady definitely has a point!

  2. I have some sympathy for your position – I’m sure a good proportion of her 7,000-odd followers jumped at you, and it seems that her response didn’t stop to consider the possibility that you weren’t trying to be an asshat – but it still doesn’t seem like you’re seeing her point.

    If a man who likes sex is just a man, regular and business-as-usual, then why isn’t a woman who likes sex just a woman in the same way? The act of having a separate piece of terminology for “woman who likes sex” is fundamentally problematic, whether it’s a “reclaimed” word or a neutral word or whatever. Liking sex is part of the human condition; Margolis doesn’t want to be shoehorned into a category based on her sexual habits any more than the rest of us do. That this categorisation is something that afflicts women rather than men means that it fits into the framework of sexual repression.

    Reclamation of individual words is all well and good, but it’s necessary to examine the assumptions that underpin the usage of those words. In this case, the word as an abstract entity is the problem, more than the specifics of the word itself.

    • Part of the reclamation of the word is making it non-gender specific, as above.

      As to attitudes to promiscuity, I honestly don’t distinguish. I have no admiration for any man on the basis of how many or few women he’s slept with, any more than I care what any woman’s proclivities are.

      It seems to me like a case of society needing to catch up.

      • Making it non-gender specific doesn’t help. It still creates a logical paradigm in which liking sex is defined as separate from the normal. If most people enjoy sex, when why do we need a term for that other than “people”?

        Society always needs to catch up, you’re absolutely right, but you’re not going to achieve that by giving it a fresh straw man to bandy about. It would be healthier for all concerned if society stopped distinguishing between enjoyment of sex and normal, adult behaviour.

        • But we can’t say that all people like sex to the same degree.

          Suppose there’s a bell curve distribution.

          If people are (or are perceived to be) way to the right of the statistical normal – let’s call it a standard deviation – then it is naive not to expect society to attach a label to said behaviour.

          The label being non-gender specific is as far forward as I think we can go, within the constraints of human nature.

  3. So precious.

    If you know that some people will disapprove of your lifestyle, don’t be surprised if they do so when you publicise it. Whether they are right or wrong to do so is immaterial, although it is always worth bearing in mind freedom of speech and opinion and all that. To take it a step further and then to look for insult where none is intended might show a little less certainty about one’s own lifestyle choice, might it not?

    Quentin Crisp was far more stylish, in far more adverse circumstances – one of the “stately homos of England” indeed! But perhaps he had something when he also said that “Sex is the last refuge of the miserable”. Hmm….

  4. As a wise man said Al Jahom…some days your the statue some days your the pigeon. D. Brent.

    Todays a statue day mate. I don’t use twutter myself but if you do retwut to her plse mention that I enjoyed reading her blog (on an occasional basis). Though TBH I did read Belle De Jour’s more regularly.

  5. I get the point you are suggesting but let’s face it a slut is a slut is a slut no matter how else it can be defined. We know it to mean chicks that have headboard indentations in their skull.

    I don’t read her stuff so I can’t pass comment but if she has taken offense then the argument finishes there. To call her it beyond it is an insult. As for men… The reason they don’t have a derogatory name sake is because most women buy into them…..

    Stop deserving the title of slut or take back the word and own it and stop putting cock on a pedal stool and start mocking slack men ….. rather than screaming it’s not fair all the flipping time.

  6. I used to follow her on Twitter but I found her to be rude and arrogant, at least if you weren’t in slavish agreement with her viewpoint at all times. Challenging her on anything, even in a light hearted fashion, would usually result in a derisory comment, such as the one directed at you.

    • Didn’t direct anything at Al….. I stuck to subject unlike you who took a brave opportunity to get some sort of revenge.. But you feel free to bleat about how the big bad girl made you cry…

      And I’ll try to remember who you are….

  7. Interesting. In her response to you she suggests that you assert sexism in your question. I’d perhaps suggest that if a key opens a lot of locks then it’s a master key but if a lock is opened by any old key, then it’s a shitty lock…

  8. Morning Al.
    A point widely made here is if a man likes sex hes just a man but if a girl likes sex she is a slut.
    The point being missed is that its not about liking sex, its about getting it.

    If a man likes sex, he probably has to work bloody hard to get it. Hes likely to be rejected 9 times out of ten at least and on the rare occasion he does get some, he has to talk the talk for hours beforehand. If he gets the wrong girl, he may then have to deal with the constant barrage of texts and calls after the event.

    If a woman likes sex, even an unattractive one, she can get it anytime, any place. All she needs to do is walk into a pub in a short skirt and she will have takers buzzing round her like flies on shit.

    Hence – Girl has lots of sex = slut. Man has lots of sex = man (with a lot of patience).


  9. I think it’s more basic (animal?) than that.

    One penetrates, the other is penetrated.

    One is dominant one is submissive, “take it you dirty little slut” is a phrase that springs to mind.

    May sound crass, but it’s just how we are wired.

  10. I can see what pressed Al to post that tweet. It’s the sort of thing I might do, with absolutely no sexist or un-PC intentions. He’s right, if she puts out this stuff and gets called a slut, well, take it on the chin, and so what if she is? I’ve no problem whatsoever with sluttistry. Big fucking whoop.

    There might be problems if there is malicious, misogynistic intent behind the comment. There wasn’t in Al’s case, plus I concur with Mr Rob’s freedom of speech argument and the other points he raised in his comment above.

    Slut is becoming less of a pejorative term these days anyway. It’s far harsher to call someone a Tory or a reactionary or an old fashioned prude. Make of that what you will.

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