What is Wrong in Being a Slut – Part 2

Here is the second part of the series: What’s wrong in being a slut?

Summary of Part 1

In Part 1, we have discussed in brief the concept of Butterfly Effect in Psychology and the role of Psychological Trauma in Character Development of a person. We have also seen that how incidences of slut-shaming could be traumatic and could lead one towards depression or even suicide. We also talked about ways on how to stop the incidence of slut-shaming from becoming traumatic. We also observed that most of the time, the word slut is not used at face value but as slang. We also dealt with etymological, dictionary, literal, and spiritual meaning of the word and concluded that slut is not bad.

Is there Any Dress Code for Sluts?

Most cases of slut-shaming involve wearing of dresses that are perceived as provocative. First Female Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, was slut-shamed and accused of showing too much cleavage in Parliament. Surprisingly, the criticism came from another female, Grace Collier!

Same was the case with Present Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, when she was Home Secretary. Some accused her of being disrespectful and others said her cleavage was putting them off Budget speech.

The result of such accusation is always like this: The photograph given below is taken from #convoyofcleavage movement, which was launched in support of Julia Gillard.

Is Gender-fight the Solution?

Isn’t the intention of the picture to offend someone who considers the display of cleavage disrespectful?   

The popular argument is if you have any problem with my cleavage, don’t look at it or shut your eyes. Well, the same logic could be applied in the case of slangs also that if you have any problem with my words, don’t hear those or close your ears.

See, gender-fight is not the solution. To find the solution, we have to reach to the core of the issue. The problem is our prejudiced mindset.

What is the Definition of Characterless?

Do you think the males who look at female’s body, especially their cleavage, are characterless, and the females who wear revealing outfits are characterless?

I used to believe that males who look at cleavage were characterless because it had been told to me, and it was very disturbing for me as I often caught myself looking at someone’s. I started to believe that I was not normal but a pervert. The feeling of guilt was eating away my confidence. I started to hate myself. I began to avoid the company of females and later any company. I used to keep myself locked in a room with books. I started to read vigorously anything that came my way, even scientific papers. I just wanted to keep myself busy and away from that guilt feeling. Then, one day, I came to know that it’s quite normal to check out members of other sex. According to scientific studies, men use their eyes as the primary tool to evaluate women, and women use memory to assess a man’s characteristics.

David Buss, who research on human sex differences in mate selection, found that these behaviors are universal, cross-cultural phenomenon. It eased the burden of guilt off my heart.

Way to Save Oneself from Psychological Trauma

Events become traumatic not because of what others think about you but because of what you think about yourself.

Wearing a dress that reveals cleavage doesn’t make females characterless, and looking at cleavage doesn’t make males characterless. If we start to accept this fact, we’ll save lots of teenagers from psychological trauma.

I intentionally used the word characterless instead of slut because sluts aren’t characterless. There was a time when they used to teach characters to young princes & princesses.

Slut – An Authority on Etiquette

In Urdu, the word tawaif is used for slut. Once, Tawaifs were regarded as the epitome of etiquette and culture. The word tawaif is derived from Arabic root word tawf, which means to move around, wander, and even circumambulation.

Tawaifs are often referred as dancing girls though they excelled in singing, dancing, poetry, theatre, literature, and the erotic arts; even princes were sent to them for learning manners and etiquette.

Abdul Halim Sharar in his book Guzishta Lucknow wrote about the political influence that the tawaifs held. He wrote, “It is said that until a person had association with courtesans he was not a polished man.”

Coins were Minted in Slut’s Image

Tawaifs were female artists, who had education, independence, money, power, and self-determination. They were free to choose their lifestyle whether they wanted to live independently and fulfill their professional aspirations or settle down by marrying someone. Marriage was never denied to them. On the contrary, when they chose to marry, it was only with the wealthiest and most well placed men.

Begum Samru, a tawaif, became the ruler of Sardhana, a small principality near Meerut, inheriting the title from her European mercenary husband. Another tawaif Moran Sarkar rose to become the queen of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and even coins were minted in her image.

Slut – An Image of Faithfulness

The meaning of word tawaif changed after the Revolt of 1857. British wanted to destroy tawaifs because they were active participants in India’s first war of Independence in facilitating the exchange of information among revolutionaries. Their Kothas became the meeting points to discuss strategies. They also played the role of spy in getting information from the Britishers.   

British strategically launched a movement to malign the reputation of tawaifs by declaring them characterless and slandered the image of their audience by labeling them lecherous; even the tabla players were branded as pimp.

Victorian Notion of Morality

The movement against tawaifs was also in agreement with Victorian notions of morality, which paved its way after the Sepoy Mutiny when British Crown took the control of India from East India Company, and Queen Victoria became the Empress of India.

During Victorian era, furniture legs, such as those on pianos and tables, were concealed to prevent sexual arousal. The post-1857 Indian petit bourgeois class, influenced by English education, had also imbibed these Victorian ideas of morality.

The case was same with Vivekananda. He was also born in Victorian era and his education was influenced by Victorian values.

Vivekananda’s Opinion on Slut

During the month of April in 1891, a party was organized by Maharaja of Khetri in the honour of Vivekananda. In that party, when a dancer entered into the court to perform, he rose to go out. He was prejudiced regarding the character of those dancers. Upon seeing the Vivekananda rising from his seat, a bhajan (sacred song) broke out from her choked throat with tears pouring down her cheeks:

O Lord, not look upon my evil qualities! Your name, O Lord, is Same-sightedness. Make of us both the same Brahman! One piece of iron is in the image in the temple and other is in the hand of a murderer but when touched by philosophers’ stone both alike turn into gold. So Lord, do not look upon my evil qualities! Your name, Lord, is Same-sightedness…..”

Vivekananda was completely overwhelmed. He realized his mistake. He touched the feet of that dancer and begged for pardon.

In a letter to Mr. Francis H. Leggett, dated July 6, 1896, Vivekananda wrote, “At twenty years of age I was the most unsympathetic, uncompromising fanatic; I would not walk on the footpath on the theatre side of the streets in Calcutta. At thirty-three, I can live in the same house with prostitutes and never would think of saying a word of reproach to them. Is it degenerate? Or is it that I am broadening out into the Universal Love which is the Lord Himself?

Stephen Covey said, “I am not a product of my circumstances but of my decisions.” This is what Vivekananda is saying here that he has two choices: he is either degenerate or broad-minded.

Don’t React but Understand

Shruthi Nayak started her post The Act of Staring with these lines: “Women living in India, definitely, have gone through this humiliation when men stare at them. I still haven’t deciphered the logic behind staring.

She talked about many reasons for this but in end, wrote, “So, dear men, from all over the world, belonging to any class or caste, stop STARING at women. Because it makes us want to puke at you!!!

Thank God, I didn’t read any such article that time; otherwise, I would have committed suicide. I am not blaming her. I know blame-game isn’t a solution. I understand that it isn’t her fault. She herself is a victim of Victorian values that come to her through generations.

Distortion of Native Values under Victorian Influence

Our grandparents or great-grandparents were born in Victoria’s reign and that some of these Victorian attitudes were handed down to us from them, whether we realize it or not. Our discomfort towards anything that is remotely associated with sex is due to the influence of Victorian values. We have a strong prejudice regarding the subject of sex though we all are the product of sexual activity only.

There must be some reason behind Victorian’s extreme attitude towards sex. We’ll talk about it in later parts when we’ll be discussing the word prostitute.

As Shruthi hadn’t deciphered the logic behind the men’s staring at women, I shared the scientific reason associated with it in the comment section.

?

Happiness is a Choice

In reply to my comment, Pratikshya Mishra said, “scientific data does not justify the act.” Well, this attitude of hers is going to hurt her every time when she finds someone staring at her. She could have relieved herself from the hurt if she had tried to see it differently in the light of scientific facts, as I have relieved myself from the guilt feeling by seeing it differently through the eyes of science. This time, I am not going to take the burden of guilt of hurting her on myself because it’s her choice to get hurt.

I know many women who think differently. They know that it’s a choice, and they choose wisely. Taapsee Pannu said, in an interview, “I said to men in my mind: You want to give a catcall? Is it attracting you? That’s your problem. Why am I getting harassed? Why am I getting offended? They’re surely not abusing me. If they want to notice it, why should I be offended? If you find my cleavage attractive, why should it bother me?

There’s no point in blaming the rain during rainfall. You have the choice to either open your umbrella or get wet. Happiness is a choice; so is misery. Maniparna beautifully explained it in her post Thinking about Thoughts, Emotions and Happiness.

Don’t Judge the Book by Its Cover

Most of the females are slut-shamed because of their attire. Do you know that according to Victorian values, it’s improper to say ‘leg’ in mixed company; instead, the word ‘limb’ was preferred?

One’s attire doesn’t make one characterless but we think like that because of Victorian influence. Many people, including women, raise questions on Milo Moire’s character for inviting passerby through megaphone over the age of 18 to touch her private parts for thirty seconds in public.

It is evident clear from Milo’s arrest in London that English-speaking countries, especially Britain, have so many more sexual hang-ups compared to those European countries which weren’t influenced by Victorian morals.

In Amsterdam, police didn’t have any problem with Milo’s experiment. They didn’t stop the experiment but only mentioned her that the megaphone was too loud.

Nudity is Not Obscene

It’s Victorian’s contribution that much of society consider nudity and sexual arousal to be synonymous. There lived a female mystic in Kashmir by the name Lalla. She lived naked throughout her life. She wandered and danced naked on streets, and yet no police came to her to say that this was obscene.

She was not only revered by Hindus but Muslims as well, who prefer their women to be covered from face to toes. For Hindus, she is Lalleshwari and for Muslims, Lalla Aarifa. In Kashmir, there’s a saying that there’re only two meaningful words: one is Allah, and another is Lalla.”

One of her songs clearly conveys her feelings about being skyclad:

Don’t be so quick to condemn my nakedness.
A man is one who trembles in the Presence.
There are very few of those.
Why not go naked?
The ram of experience must be fed
And ripened for the sacrifice.
Then all these customs will disappear like clothing.
There’s only the soul.

 

Happiness and Sorrow are Sides of a Coin

Sreesha mentioned in her post The Butterfly Effect that she was accused of flirting with boys by an ancient chemistry teacher and she found it insulting.

Sreesha denoted the teacher as ancient, which means he was either old or orthodox. Either case shows that he had a strong connection with Victorian era, in which it was believed that a woman had no sexual needs of her own.

Popular wisdom of the time was that women didn’t like sex and that the male sex drive compelled women into ‘giving in.’ Books available at the time suggested that a decent husband wouldn’t expect sex from his wife more than about once every six months and advised men on things to do to suppress their urge to have sex more frequently.

In my opinion, instead of feeling insulted, we should sympathize with the teacher for the losses he incurred by following Victorian values throughout his life.

A coin has two sides. If you don’t like the side facing you, don’t get upset just flip the coin. Happiness and sorrow are the two sides of a coin.

Conclusion

  1. Your outfit is not the index of your character.
  2. Gender-fight is not the solution. The problem is Victorian mindset.
  3. Instead of reacting, try to understand the reason behind someone’s behavior.
  4. By giving benefit of doubts to others, you can save yourself from trauma and depression.
  5. Happiness is a choice; so is misery. Choose wisely.
  6. Sluts aren’t bad; they were once regarded as the authority on etiquette and social graces.
  7. When someone calls you a slut, know that you’re a creative, multitalented, powerful, self-dependent, trustworthy, well-mannered, patriotic person.      

In the next part, we’ll talk about the word whore and will try to find out: Is flirting really derogatory? Should one be ashamed for flirting?

What’s Wrong in Being a Slut?
Part 1 – Meaning of Slut
Part 2 – Meaning of Tawaif

Image credit: Destroy The Joint

Ravish Mani is a motivational writer, who believes that men need feminism too, as it is about equal rights and opportunities for both men and women equally.

16 thoughts on “What is Wrong in Being a Slut – Part 2

  1. Research..analysis..presentation! Wow man..wish you were my professor and this one of the subjects taught:)

  2. great researched article, I appreciate your efforts in highlighting this issue. Apart from society and cultural norms politics also responsible for the same for not able to digest the rise of women to power.

  3. The first point– you are too good in logic. I disagreed with you in the first part but now after reading this one, I agree that it’s the mindset, not the intention. Still, I would like to say that it disturbs a woman if someone, intentionally, uses abusive language for her. And it can’t be compared with women wearing provocative clothes. As in, staring a woman isn’t that disturbing as one can ignore, but insulting her with filthy language is seriously damaging for her peace.
    But, what I loved about this post is, that you’ve written it like a therapist and reading it was like a counselling session to me. I’m trying to imbibe the lesson, to flip the coin if I don’t like that side. 🙂
    Superb Ravish. Loved your reasoning. Such well researched posts can only be expected from you. Waiting for the next part. Hope it won’t be the concluding one. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your encouraging words, Sangeeta Ji. Something is better than nothing. I’m happy for you that you started to acknowledge other perspectives too. I’ll answer your questions in detail in the next part.

      Well, one thing I’d like you to think upon how could you know other’s intention truly? As I see, you can only know what you hear not what someone says. There’s a huge gap between your hearing and other’s saying. There are chances of distortion of data in between.

      1. Haha, “distortion of data”? Good sense of humor, I would say! Now I think it’s mandatory for me read the series more carefully, just to know how this “distortion of data” works.
        Well, Jokes apart, the series is quite intriguing and thought provoking, so I’m eagerly waiting for the next post. Thanks for this Ravish.

        1. To understand how data get distorted in communication, let me quote an incidence from my life. I studied in Tamil Nadu. My first experience of hostel mess was very awkward. There was an aged lady on chapatti counter. Tamilians call chapatti instead of roti. A boy went to her and said, “Randa chapatti.” What I heard was “Randi, chapatti.” It was very disturbing for me. I was thinking how would I survive in that place? Then I came to know that in Tamil, randa means two. The boy was asking two rotis from that old lady.

          Distortion of data happens when two people knowing different languages use similar sounding words to communicate something. John Gray wrote in his book Men are from Mars Women are from Venus that the Martian and Venusian languages had the same words but the way they were used gave different meanings.

          For example, when women say, “We never go out,” men interpret it literally and respond something like this: “That’s not true. We went out last week.”

          John translated “We never go out” into Martian as “I feel like going out and doing something together. We always have such a fun time, and I love being with you. What do you think? Would you take me out to dinner? It has been a few days since we went out.”

          Without this translation, when women say, “We never go out,” men hear, “You aren’t doing your job. What a disappointment you have turned out to be? We never do anything together anymore because you are lazy, unromantic, and just boring.”

  4. Thank you for sharing ‘your way of looking’ at this subject. 🙂

    True, we’re wired differently. That’s something I read about, long long ago — when I was a teenager. So I tend to have a lot of respect for people who in spite of being wired that way are respectful to women.

    It sad that being wired that way is often an excuse to forget that the person in the female form has an emotional side too (and is not just flesh and blood). All or at least most of us have been in such awkward situations at some time or the other and it doesn’t feel good from our angle. 🙂 We are wired differently, after all. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Divya, for sharing your honest view on the subject. I remember when I was studying in Std. 12, I went to get the signature of my Project Guide on my Project Report, he asked me to write ‘Shree’ instead of ‘Mr.’ before his name in the report. For him, Mr. was disrespectful while Shree was respectful. It was his rule for respect and disrespect. He made that from his experience of life.

      Though males and females are wired differently, they aren’t wired by nature regarding their moral values. Moral rules are made by humans only. As I quoted in the post, during Victorian era, furniture legs, such as those on pianos and tables, were concealed to prevent sexual arousal. Also, it was improper to say ‘leg’ in mixed company; instead, the word ‘limb’ was preferred.

      Now the rules have been changed. We don’t get sexually aroused by seeing the legs of furniture, and the word leg is not considered as improper in present era.

      I understand that it doesn’t feel good and being wired differently could not be an excuse; that’s why, I said that gender-fight could not be the solution. Both males and females have to change their perspective. Males have to understand that revealing clothes don’t make females characterless, and females also have to understand that males who look at their body features aren’t characterless, most of the times.

  5. Well-researched post as usual, Ravish.
    Didn’t know much about Tawaif except what Bollywood movies have depicted.
    Sad that apart from female movie-stars, PM & Home Secretary too have had to face such shaming & that too from other women!
    I feel men are at an advantage in our society & with our mentality.

  6. wonder with awe how much have you researched for this post! Kudos.
    I always think that there’s nothing wrong with being a slut. Men, by nature, are polygamous. So why should one discriminate when a woman, by her OWN WILL becomes polyamorous? Here, “own will’ is very important as most of the times, from time immemorial, women are forced into prostitution. Again you see, that’s not their fault at all. Still, the society points its finger at them, not to the pimps. An irony, isn’t it?

    Again, this brings the psychological aspect. The case of Australian and UK PMs clearly shows that it’s women who raise their voice first or slut-shame other women. Why so? Because they are afraid of the qualities of those women, their beauty and intelligence and the way they attract men. I once told this on an online platform and people just went mad. And, 80% of them were women 😀

    The qualities of Tawaifs you’ve mentioned, are absolutely true. Even in ancient times, there were “nagarvadhus” like Amrapali or Ambapali with unmatched beauty and elegance. Later, she came in contact with Lord Buddha and became a monk.

    As for men staring at women, I simply ignore. But yes, some stares are utterly despicable and, makes me repulsive. Nothing to do, in this world, we have to deal with all sorts of people.

    And, thanks for enlightening me on Lalla…I had no idea about her.

    Thanks again for linking my post… 🙂

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