We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thank You, Rush

Sandra Fluke & Rush Limbaugh
Unintentionally, Rush Limbaugh, the radio talk show host and political commentator, has done the English language a favor with his incendiary attacks on the Georgetown University law student, Sandra Fluke, who spoke to members of the House Democratic caucus about contraception and public policy. Rush, as most readers know, called her a "slut," among other things, which sparked a furor in the social media and blogosphere. At first he doubled down on his comments, but then he issued a personal apology to Ms. Fluke, explaining that he only intended to use absurd terms to describe what he considered to be absurd.

What Rush has done for us is to call attention to the usage of the word "slut," which is usually applied only to women (although according to the Wiktionary definition of slut, it can be applied to homosexual men as well) and means a sexually promiscuous woman or an immoral woman. Thesaurus.com provides the following list of synonyms for slut: call girl, concubine, courtesan, fallen woman, floozy, hooker, hussy, lady of the evening, loose woman, nymphomaniac, painted woman, slut, streetwalker, strumpet, tramp, and whore.  Among these synonyms, not one can be applied to a sexually promiscuous man.  Such men are sometimes called "studs," which term doesn't carry the negative sense of the word slut.

That is, sexually promiscuous men are studs, which seems almost something to be admired, while sexually promiscuous women are sluts, something to be looked down on, something disrespectful.  The term, in other words, is like an archeological artifact that reflects the usages of older times.  Slut is a word from our past when we used other words and terms  to discriminate against women without malice aforethought.  Like the "n word" in race relations so now the "s word" in gender relations is something we can do without.  Thanks to Rush we have dug it up, listened to its usage, and not liked what what we've heard.  It is time to get rid of it.  Thank you, Rush.