Slut. It's a four-letter word with a whole lot of meaning attached. Growing up in small town North America, it was the label that no girl wanted. Anyone called "slut" where I grew up was considered to be sexually promiscuous and deserving of the insult that went with the label.
Now having said that, it didn't take much to get labelled this way where I grew up. Any girl who gave her boyfriend what he wanted could end up called a slut once they broke up. Sometimes a girl just had to "look" promiscuous. If she dressed provocatively, wore too much makeup or had too much hip sway when she walked, that alone might be enough. The messages being sent were certainly clear: men might want sex, but nice girls don't have sex, at least not outside of long term relationships and waiting until marriage was even better. Sexually aggressive or available women might be desirable, but they were unworthy of respect.
According to Wikipedia, the exact origins of the term are unknown, but the word has been around for centuries. While Geoffrey Chaucer used the word to describe a slovenly man in 1386, the modern usage of the word (i.e. meaning a sexually promiscuous woman) dates to 1450. So for almost six hundred years, the word "slut" has been used in a derogatory manner, largely, but not exclusively toward women.
These days, the use of the word is changing, thanks to books like The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt (a.k.a. Janet Hardy).
In this book, "slut" is used to denote any person who openly chooses to have multiple partners and revel in that choice. A slut is someone who has embraced their sexuality and has sex with whomever they choose. Members of the BDSM and GLBT communities have also chosen to use the word in a more positive manner. Personally, I've come to like the word for different reasons.
Firstly, it sounds strong. Just say it out loud. Listen and observe your own reactions to what you hear. The "sl" at the beginning of the word literally slides off your tongue, making a hissing sound that is pleasant to my ear. The short "u" vowel sound followed by the sharp "t" ends the word crisply, not unlike the sound of a leather strap or whip.
I like to think of my own sexual desire as a serpent, named Shakti after the Hindu mother goddess. Shakti is closely associated with the kundalini, which according to Wikipedia, it is "an unconscious, instinctive or libidinal force (or Shakti), lying coiled at the base of the spine. The kundalini resides in the sacrum bone in three and a half coils and has been described as a residual power of pure desire." In my mind, a strong sounding word like "slut" seems to suit the image of a sleeping serpent. It’s a great metaphor for explaining why some people like being called "slut" by their partners. I like to think of it as calling to the serpent within!
The notion that we should not embrace this most primordial and elemental force is absurd to me. I think this is why the notion of reclaiming the word "slut" has so much appeal. I like nothing better than being my partner's happy little slut!
Think of the possible acronyms:
Suddenly, "s.l.u.t." doesn't sound so bad. What about you dear reader? How do you feel about the word? Does it speak to your Shakti? Step up and be counted!