Since this year has started, I must admit I have felt more reflective about everything in the world – which isn’t hard when we are seeing unprecedented events happening. So with The ScreenSlut website getting a visual refresh, I thought it was time to talk about my choice regarding the name of this website. Now I know that something with the word “slut” is a pretty controversial name, as I have seen when I have shared this blog with more conservative types. But even so, I love the name regardless.
Why pick a controversial name?
It’s definitely not that I didn’t know that they would raise some eyebrows, so this was definitely intentional on my part. So why would I pick a name that is controversial, especially for something as benign as a film/TV review site? Well, if you have looked at my about page, you would know that I am a feminist, and this is part of the reason that formed my decision. But even some feminists do not like the use of the female slur “slut”. However, if you have been paying attention to such things, there have been some efforts to remove the negativity and shaming that this word produces (i.e. Slut Walks) and in some ways, try to take back this word that is used against women – in much the same way that other oppressed groups have done with varying levels of success. But it is also interesting to me on a historical level.
A brief history lesson
Before we were shaming women for being sluts, we were persecuting women for an array of reasons and sentencing them to death by calling them a witch. Now I know that in the 16th and 17th centuries, not all those were accused of being a witch were women, but a large potion were (about 70-80% were female). And this varied by each country depending on their culture and history, but it still cannot be ignored that this heavily affected women during this time. Due to the belief that women were morally and spiritually inferior to men, there was a higher chance they would be accused of witchcraft. Which we tend to ignore as a peculiarity of the time, but anyone who has studied history knows that even beliefs that are hundreds of years old, can be transformed into modern rhetoric.
The modern day witch
And this is where the word slut comes in. I was reading this fantastic book called Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive while I was debating the name for this site – which obviously influenced my choice. What Kristen J. Sollee discusses in her book is the ways that the witch hunts we widely think of as a thing of the past have simply morphed into more subtle, and in some ways more sinister, forms of control and punishment. The modern world, in which perception is king, has given rise to the manipulation of how people are seen and thought of, whether it be through artful rhetoric or disguised character assassination, and in this way the word “slut” has become a modern day equivalent of witch – though thankfully in most countries, this does not lead to state sanctioned murder! It can still be very destructive in many ways for anyone that has had this word used to shame, diminish or silence them.
I do really recommend Sollee’s book as though it is not strictly a history book, it gives a great overview of the differing viewpoints of feminism and the history of women’s struggles from witch-hunts to modern day.
Why slut instead of witch
So why did I pick slut instead of witch? I mean, these days witch is a lot more acceptable and does not have such negative connotations – at least in the first world countries. But in a way I guess I wanted to really represent my feminist side, and as it is controversial, it is not exactly going to go unnoticed, which is a bonus for getting my content out there. However, my main hope that slut can become a positive word, to signify a love for something, whatever that passion may be.
In this way, it perfectly encapsulates what this site is about – love for all things that grace the screen – whether it’s feature length films, shorts, mini-series or normal TV shows.