I thought we had disabled the word.
Among friends, it's practically become a term of endearment.
We're Shoe Sluts, Scrabbble Sluts, Wine Sluts.
Even Nigella Lawson has a recipe called "Slut's Spaghetti."
As a put down, it seems so last century.
Then Rush Limbaugh honed the word's edge last week to hurt a Georgetown University law student after she spoke out on birth control insurance coverage.
"What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her?" he asked his 15 million listeners.
"It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."
Is it necessary to point out that using birth control doesn't mean you're having "so much sex?" Or that this isn't about taxpayer money, but about private insurance coverage paid for by women who use it? Or that nobody uses the word "co-ed" anymore (unless you're an over 60 former drug addict on his 4th marriage)?
What about the fact that the reason the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission ruled back in 2000 that insurance companies should provide prescription coverage for birth control was because they were already covering erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra?
Nah, it's not a real issue being attacked here – it's the sexual freedom of women who thought they had put this to rest a long time ago.
Slut shaming (are we really going to do this again?) is about making women feel bad about having sex. It's about a double standard that says females who enjoy sex have a problem, while men who enjoy it are being … just men. He's a stud, she's a slut.
Being a slut means you're nothing. That any guy can have you. That you have no self-worth.
To be fair, Rush, who did apologize, isn't the only one reviving the insult. MSNBC host Ed Schultz was suspended last May after calling conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut." In the past year, "SlutWalks" have been staged in cities around the world as controversial, anti-rape protests in response to a Canadian official's remark that women should protect themselves by not dressing like "sluts."
As a former slut (someone who used birth control in college – please don't tell Rush Limbaugh) and a currently happy, monogamous married person, I now wrestle with explaining the pleasures and pitfalls of a healthy sex life to my own daughters. I want them to know that they have equal rights when it comes to sexual freedom. I want them to be comfortable with their decisions and their sexual partners. And I don't want them carrying any shame over any of their choices.
I want them to know that the only appropriate response to someone who calls them a slut is to laugh.