The Middle East Needs More Sluts

slutwalk middle east sluts
SlutWalk Toronto took just six weeks to organize, and now a dozen protests are planned worldwide. Is the Middle East next on the slut map?

Without exception, every major human rights organization, from Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, and World Pulse to the Association for Women’s Rights in Development point to the clear connection between women’s rights and the advancement of sustainable, safe and successful civilization. The International Women’s Health Coalition’s stance is unequivocal on this.

“The right of women to control their sexuality—the basis for sexual rights—is an indivisible part of their human rights, and that without it, women cannot fully realize their other human rights. This notion has been reaffirmed at several subsequent international meetings, but in practice, few countries’ laws and policies provide women with effective protection against coercion, discrimination, and violence, and fundamentalist states and movements all over the world consistently target women’s sexual and reproductive autonomy.”

While exact numbers are hard to come by, untold numbers of women and girls in the Middle East living under totalitarian regimes encounter rape, virginity tests, domestic abuse, honor killings, mutilation and other forms of gender-based violence on a regular basis.  Efforts from within their respective countries, and from abroad, are aimed at alleviating these injustices. How far does that envelop have to be pushed in order to create real and abiding change? Because what’s good for women is clearly good for Mother Earth.

Rebalancing the power dynanics between men and women is essential for this to occur. Nicholas D. Kristof, renowned New York Times Op-Ed columnist and co-author with Sheryl WuDunn of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2009), declared that, “greater female involvement in society and the economy appears to undermine extremism and terrorism.  Now it is emerging that male domination of society is also a risk factor; the reasons aren’t fully understood, but it may be that when women are marginalized the nation takes on the testosterone-laden culture of a military camp or a high-school boys’ locker room.”

With this said, one has to wonder if what the region really needs is more sluts. Yes, you read that right.

A Political Slut-Explosion?

Sex-positive environmentalists, an eco-sexy and activist-prone crowd, might think so, once they get passed that shocking charge. Soul sisters around the globe with green fists can take their cues from the radical actions of Toronto’s grass action movement, SlutWalk.

SlutWalk formed early in 2011 in response to a policeman’s slur used to blame a female victim for her assault earlier this year. Outraged by his comments, an estimated 1500-3000 joined the march, including a noticeable minority of men.

They write: “Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.”

“We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence.”

Theirs is not the first effort to reframe the meaning of ‘Slut.’ That goes to Dossie Easton, whose groundbreaking book, The Ethical Slut (1997), drafted a new narrative for this centuries-old moniker.

“A slut is a person who has taken control of their sexuality and has sex with whomever they choose, regardless of religious or social pressures or conventions to conform to a straight-laced monogamous lifestyle committed to one partner for life. The term has been “taken back” to express the rejection of the concept that government, society, or religion may judge or control one’s personal liberties, and the right to control one’s own sexuality.” (source)

slutwalk march
Men were a noticeable minority supporting Toronto’s SlutWalk on April 3, 2011.

When Females Rule Fornication, Mother Earth Delights. Creating an environmentally sustainable world, without question, requires the emancipation of women. Robert Engelman, author of More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want (Island Books, 2007), expanding the capacity of all women to choose when to bear children is the surest route to achieving an environmentally sustainable population.

In an interview with WorldWatch Institute, Engelman argues that in societies where women’s rights are equal to men’s, women take control of their own fertility and invariably have two or fewer children, on average. “Such low fertility rates then lead to a gradual decline in population in the absence of net immigration.”

“It makes sense that those who bear children and do most of the work in raising them should have the final say in when, and when not, to do so. By making their own decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their children, women ultimately bring about a global good that governments could never deliver through regulation or control: a population in balance with nature’s resources.”

Bottom line: female sexual sovereignty will lead to improved environmental and economic conditions for all. Studies demonstrate that when women are empowered with regards to their reproductive rights, they don’t choose more children: They choose MORE for the children they have. Better education, nutrition, opportunity and safety are natural artifacts of women deciding their sexual fates.

Support and international media coverage for SlutWalk have been intense with many additional protests planned throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, including the next on April 9, 2011 in New York.

Reframing the narrative and the language used to oppress women is a drastic measure to be sure; but in a region where women’s sexuality is politicized and commodicized by heavy hands, it may just take a massive SlutWalk in the streets of Cairo, Damascus, Tehran and Tel Aviv for that deciding tidal waves of environmental, political and social change to sweep the Middle East.

Then again, the successful emancipation of women will require more than a revision of this slur; more than anything, the men and leaders in this region must no longer evaluate a women by her sexuality (chastity, virginity, etc.), but by the contents of her mind, convictions of her heart, and behaviors beyond the bedroom that make this world a greener, safer, more sustainable place for us all.

To learn more about SlutWalk, visit their website. They can also be found on Facebook.

Read more eco-sex news:
Egyptian Women Forced to Take ‘Virginity’ Tests During Protest, Amnesty International
US Senator Olympia Snowe Leads Women in Renewed Call for Women’s Rights in the Middle East
When Females Rule Fornication, Mother Earth Delights

Tinamarie is a regular contributor to Greenprophet.com. Follow her @ModernLoveMuse. She blogs at www.tinamariebernard.com.

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55 thoughts on “The Middle East Needs More Sluts”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I recall the Saturday Night Live series where Dan Ackroyd used to say to Jane Curtin, “Jane, you ignorant slut!”

    The sketch, part of a larger satire on the news, helped frame the user of the word slut in a negative light. It was witty, shocking, unexpected and some felt that it worked.

    Unfortunately, The Middle East Needs More Sluts article falls flat on its face in an attempt to deal with a serious problem with simple ideas.

  2. Robert Miles says:

    @Shelly.

    1. I guess you did not read my posts. I agree with the need for change and in no way “exemplify the kind of attitude that is being discussed”.
    2. I will not continue the discussion with Ms. Bernard, because I believe she is firmly entrenched in her belief and for her to come down from the tree would be a major professional mistake.
    3. Yes, I respect Greenprophet and that is why I took the time to write to Karin and express my concern that the article was not worthy of her publication. Since she defended it, I have decided to cancel my Facebook link and stop checking the site for new articles. I would have hoped that she would have had a tiny amount of feeling that the article was a bit out of place.
    4. I will not respond to your ad hominem remarks. I find them out of place and abusive in the context of our open discussion here.
    Shelly, one last thing. there are many people who want to bring about change in the world. There are many ways to do it. I am not telling you or anyone else not to read Greenprophet anymore, I am saying that I made a personal choice to look elsewhere for information. There are many paths to achieve change, I am chosing a different path. We may all get to the end goal at the same time, but I feel that the path taken is important for the values I stand for.

    1. Robert – one article you disagree over and you break up with us? That’s not fair…

  3. Dear Varda – We do agree on the main point, and maybe the subtle one too. As long as language is used to harm women, none of us are truly free. Thank you for re-visiting and sharing your additional thoughts.

  4. Varda says:

    I revisited this article today and what impressed me is that 1) NO ONE disagreed that women are entitled to have free will over their bodies and that 2) there is an imbalance that needs to be addressed whereby women who have lots of sex with a number of partners are assigned a pejorative label, while men are lauded for the same behavior.

    Essentially, we all agreed on that main point.

    The disagreement by just a few of us lay elsewhere. I’m sorry that point seems to have gotten lost somewhere within this maze of words.

  5. Shelly Lyon says:

    @Robert, in your judgment you exemplify the kind of attitude that is being discussed. Instead of staying in the conversation you are being dismissive and rude. You make a sweeping generalization about a publication you say you respect, based on one article you take exception to, and now you are going to take all your toys and go home.
    Perchance you won’t reply because you can’t. It’s as simple as that. Ms. Bernard’s perch is a tree of hope. Your’s is a high horse of shame. I prefer her vantage point.

  6. For the record, I live in the Middle East, and no full well the traumas that women face in this region of the world.

  7. Dear Robert,

    Perchance because you can’t. It’s as simple as that. My perch is a tree of hope. Your’s is a high horse of shame. I prefer my vantage point.

  8. Robert Miles says:

    As Westerners, we think that we can change the Middle East the same way that we can change the West. After all, we just have to remove a despot and people will adopt democracy. Well, it does not work that way, in case you have not noticed.

    Jeni, do you actually believe that a person that calls the article in Green Prophet trashy or tabloid stands against the principals of the article? Reread what I wrote, then spend some time under fundamentalism. Read about honor killings or women that have had acid thrown in their faces for shaming their families. We need to find ways to bring about change. Even if it takes baby steps — change can happen. A slutwalk is a naive solution to a serious problem.

    Karin, tabloids attract millions of readers around the world. After all, isn’t that what advertisers want? Maybe you will attract more readers with a tabloid publication, but I enjoyed the high-quality publication you used to run.

    Tinamari, I am not going to respond to your comments. Based on your article and your comment, I feel that you are out of touch with life in the Middle East and there isn’t any proof that I could present that would allow you to come down from your tree.

    As I wrote, change needs to come, but trashy articles like this is not the way to hasten change.

  9. Jeni says:

    Alright, I’ll admit Robert’s comment has gotten my hackles up. I don’t live under fundamentalism. Heck, I don’t even believe in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God. But I AM a woman and I don’t appreciate it when men tell me or any other woman what the correct way is to go about expressing female sexuality. Maybe after a few millenia of matriarchy running the planet I would be amenable to hearing what men have to say on the matter. Until then, as far as I’m concerned men can either enjoy the beauty, pleasure, and love I have to offer or they can keep their mouths closed. I’m really not interested.

    Any changes to how female sexuality is perceived in the Middle East or anywhere else will not resonate unless it comes from women. Women have to lead the way on this one and get their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons on board. This article is great for getting women to think and talk about their sexuality and what they would like to see changed about its perception in their communities.

    I am confounded by how this article is “trashy” or “tabloid”. I would love for Robert to explain this one.

    Jeni

  10. Hi Robert,
    May I ask, just exactly what was ‘trashy’in the content of the article? The references to the World Health Organization, other international women’s groups advocating for female sexual reproductive and other rights, Robert Engelman’s quotes and his books? Women gathering together at a grassroots level to say – don’t blame us, blame the rapists and would-be sexual aggressors?

    I assure you that I understand life under fundamentalism, and that is why I wrote this article. Change doesn’t always come about with gentle little requests (the discontent across the Middle East is evidence of that).

    Sometimes it takes strong language and reaching out across the aisles – in this case building a bridge between Western women and their counterparts in this area of the globe. The leadership in the Middle East hasn’t yet got the memo on women’s reproductive rights, though women are gathering ranks and starting to make headway. I strongly support these efforts, and this article is one way I am making that clear.

    Furthermore, strong language is often used to demonize women’s sexuality and thereby ‘keep them in their places.’ If we do away with ‘slut-shaming’ which is one point of this article (I’m assuming your objection is mostly with the use of ‘slut’) and other such means that take control away from a woman’s body and place it in the hands of others – men, society, religion, etc. – then we will see that golden era for women in the Middle East (globally for that matter).

    Also – why should a woman’s character be determined by her sexual status/experience/behaviors? Is it not more relevant that she be evaluated by her contributes to the world, her talents, skills, compassion for others, intelligence, noble deeds, etc. We shackle women with regards to sexuality/virginity/chastity in ways that are artificial and harmful, and in the Middle East, the consequences can be frightening (honor killings, FGM, etc.)

    In no way does this article advocate ‘trashy behavior.’ (Although who are we to determine what someone does with their body, consensually and in age-appropriate ways is ‘trashy.’) To think so misses the point and in my opinion, suggests that some readers are still stuck on viewing women and their bodies through these limiting prisms. The ones that insist females can’t know what’s best for them and shouldn’t be in charge of who they sleep with, when they do it, or how many children they should have.

    Do away with the stigmas of such words as ‘slut’, and you’ll find there’s very little steam left in accusations that this article trashy. My editor is right – this article is a ‘what if’ women said enough with imposing your judgements upon us. Our bodies are our own. They cannot be bartered, raped, bought, stolen, coerced, harmed, penetrated, beaten, etc. anymore against our wills. Not in the name of religion, morality, cultural morays, etc.

    I envision that golden age for women in the Middle East and elsewhere, and am very pleased that this article as generated so much discussion and thought about how Women’s Rights are central to making this planet a safer, more sustainable place for all Mother Earth’s children. I will press for that new paradigm any way I can including provocative language.

    Respectfully, Tinamarie

  11. Robert Miles says:

    I have been a big fan of Greenprophet and was a bit surprised at the tabloid nature of this article. As a person very familiar with the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia as well as the Middle East, I get the feeling that the author very much misses the point and has no understanding of life under fundamentalism.

    Change needs to come but trashy articles like this is not the way to hasten change.

    1. Hi Robert,
      Yes this article was a little more extreme than the others you have accustomed to reading, but I stand behind it and think now is the golden era for women in the Middle East. True, it’s hardly believable that women in the Middle East will have the same freedoms as women in the west, at least in terms of clothing and sexual conduct, but this site, if you haven’t noticed is attempting to create a new paradigm for the way the Middle East is perceived in terms of the environment – not only what is lacking, but in what opportunities are here. We like to get people thinking and talking.

      There are many important aspects of the traditional Arab societies, the way they are, and I think we’ve spent a good few years covering those aspects. I think this is more of a “what if” story.

  12. Heidi says:

    Karin,

    I agree with Jeni. Somehow there was something lost in my original post if that was not clear.

    Heidi

  13. Jeni says:

    Karin,

    I agree that a dad does not need to know what brings his daughter pleasure. But, he can encourage her to find and explore what brings her pleasure.

    Also, can you explain how leading a promiscuous lifestyle can create emotional wounds? I’d like to better understand where you are coming from on that one.

    I have found that, rather than creating wounds, promiscuity exposes wounds we already have, forcing us to reflect on them as well as the reasons why we make the choices we make.

    Jeni

    1. Hi Jeni,

      I won’t open this issue publicly, but if you want to discuss privately email me: karin (at) greenprophet.com

  14. Shelly Lyon says:

    The Middle East Needs More Sluts, a great title.

    To quote Hermione Granger “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself” Apparently slut the woman’s sexuality equivalent of Vodemort.

    Many groups have reclaimed a word or name to empower themselves and use the abrasiveness of a word to drive home a point. Fag, gay, nigger, geezer etc… are all titles of power reclamation so now we raise up slut.

    I have been a slut by choice, promiscuous by choice, monogamous by choice and celibate by choice. The point being is at each and any phase of my sexual expression is that I was at choice and empowered by it.

    Bring out your inner slut is really a way of saying take a stand for your sexuality and your right to express it how ever you chose. It is bold, it is in your face, it is attention grabbing and those are just some of the qualities we bring out when taking a powerful stand that’s intention is to bring equality and empowerment to the marginalized and oppressed.

    I would say that those who have an objection with the title are probably some of the ones that really needed to read the message.

    Shelly Lyon signing off holding my SLUT banner high!

  15. Heidi says:

    Dear Teen Dad,

    ALSo…Make sure you tell her to discover what brings her pleasure… and what the genuine definition of consent is…

    1. I don’t think a dad needs to know what brings his daughter pleasure. But that he should support her and guide her to make wise decisions in life so that she doesn’t get hurt. Leading a promiscuous lifestyle can create wounds, emotional ones, that don’t heal.

  16. Dear Teen’s dad –
    An excellent question, and one posed to me quite often in one form or another. As to this article in particular: I’d tell her that there are some who judge women differently then men, and that this is wrong. That her sexuality is wholesome and wonderful, and that there will come a time when she will want to explore it further. That you love her and always want her to feel that she is perfect just as she is. And that she should never feel shame about her body or her desires, or accept other’s judgement of her. She should measure herself by her own yardstick, which is based on decency, character and hard work. Then tell her you hope she reads this article so she’s better informed.
    And tell her again how much you think she’s the best thing in this world!

    Go dad’s of the world who car like this. 🙂

    A resource for teens to learn more about sexuality: Scarleteen.com. Also, you might want to consider reading “Yes Means Yes and No Means No”(don’t have authors’ names off the top of my head) a collection of essays on women, sexuality and culture.
    Good luck to you! 🙂

  17. a Teen's dad says:

    Great article, caught my attention and then caught my attention deeper. So as a father of a 16 y.o. girl, how would you suggest I frame the discussion as I introduce this article to her. [btw, she is really not interested in boys right now. Great girlfriends and focused on school and athletics.]

    1. Futurama says:

      If she is 16 and “not interested in boys” and has “great girlfriends and is focused on athletics”… she’s a lesbian.

      [email protected]

  18. Jeni says:

    Karin,

    Of course I don’t live in the Middle East. I live in Seattle. I would not recommend women in a good portion of the Middle East make the same sexual choices I do because of possible consequences. I’m not sure the society is ready for women like me over there. However, re-thinking the meaning of the word slut and as well as value judgments about promiscuity would be a good first step.

    I think that’s what Tinamarie is advocating in her article as well.

    Lastly, even here in Seattle I have to be careful who I share information about my life with. I won’t be killed and probably wouldn’t lose my job or access to my children but there would be social consequences.

  19. Good to hear from those who understood the reason for using this slur in this title and article, and moving beyond knee-jerk reactions that only shackle women (and men) further.

  20. Jeni says:

    I read and enjoyed this article. I’ve also read through the comments on it. Some people are reacting negatively to the usage of the word “slut”. Many of those same people have negative opinions of the word “stud”. In both instances, what people seem to be reacting negatively to is less the actual words but the promiscuity associated with both. To me, a re-evaluation of human promiscuity is what the whole article is about, particularly in the context of women’s sexuality. For me, that brings up the following questions:

    ~What, precisely, is wrong with promiscuity?
    ~What is so scary or wrong about a promiscuous woman?
    ~Are you promiscuous? Why or why not?

    Most of the time, when I encounter negative reactions to promiscuity it is because of a sort of implied lack of discrimination or selectivity in sexual relations. Well, indiscriminate choice of sexual relations/partners according to who? Really, the only one who can judge how indiscriminate a person’s choices are regarding sex is that person. Nobody else.
    When it comes to women’s sexuality, that’s the whole point. Nobody has the right to judge a woman’s sexual choices except the woman herself. The idea that women’s sexuality must be controlled via laws, traditions, and/or threatened ostracism translates (for me)to a fear of the power of female sexuality and what it means to society and the planet.
    Women, biologically, have to deal with the consequences of sex in a way men do not. We are reminded of those consequences on a monthly basis. We do not need laws, traditions, or men to tell us what the ramifications of sexual activity are. That’s absurd!
    No matter how promiscuous a woman is, she always understands that. One of my favorite bloggers, Mistress Matisse, describes (to men) the phenomenon of promiscuous women much better than I do so I’ll quote her:
    “No matter if she’s a swinger, a kinkster, polyamorous, or just a free-loving rebel, no woman accepts every man who asks to be granted access to her body—or even most. You must understand that even the most erotically adventurous woman has what I call her sexual LCCs: limits, conditions, and consequences…Limits, conditions, and consequences around sex are a feature of our gender, so bemoaning it and looking for LCC-free women is a waste of time…If you want her panties off in real world, you have to know the rules.”
    This is the truth of the situation. I will now illustrate it by referencing my own personal experiences.
    I call myself a slut. Almost all of my friends know I’m a slut. I am promiscuous. Since I left my marriage four years ago I have had sex with a good number of men. For the majority of the men I have been with in that time, I don’t remember their names. I don’t even remember asking their names. Does this mean I was indiscriminate in choosing to have sex with them? No, not at all. I only have sex when either the person or the experience serves to expand my understanding of myself or the universe (in a general, spiritual sense). I always require condoms. I am always clear in communicating my LCCs for any given sexual interaction. I expect men to ask permission to interact with me in a physically sexual manner.
    Now, my choices may not be your choices. That’s okay. You can have an entirely different set of rules and still consider yourself a slut…or not.
    Are my choices bad for the environment? I don’t think so. I had my two children and am done. I require condoms and use birth control.
    Are my choices bad for society? Well, for at least a few thousand years men have been restricting women’s sexuality and running the planet. I’m not impressed with their track record. Perhaps it’s time to let women have a go on both counts.

    1. Interesting and thoughtful reply Jeni. Thanks for this. Women in the Middle East except in a few countries perhaps, might be castigated and possibly killed for promiscuous behavior. Do you live in the Middle East?

  21. Ilana says:

    I saw the use of the word “slut” here as ironic. The entire concept of the slut is a societal invention meant to keep women within the boundaries of propriety–i.e., in their place. I took the use of it here, in the context of Middle Eastern misogyny, as a dig at that misogyny. And the more of that we have, the better.

  22. Dear Robert – What an honor that you’ve commented! Thank you for illuminating this topic further. I hope we can connect offline – your book is of extreme importance and interest.

    Dear Readers – I encourage you to read his work too!

  23. Thanks for the mention of my book, Tinamarie. In it I explore the history of female control of the timing and extent of their own childbearing, along with the history of contraception — which actually goes back at least to early writing and I suspect much further than that. There’s evidence that midwives’ ancient involvement in helping women prevent unwanted pregnancy caused them to be targeted during the witch hysteria in Europe several centuries ago. There’s also reason to believe that the subjugation of women would be less extreme in many cultures and at many points in history if women had personally wanted to have as many children as men wanted them to have. Much more where this comes from. A better link to my book is http://www.islandpress.org/more . Thanks, and keep up this welcome discussion–one doesn’t find it often on the web or elsewhere.

  24. Bryan Waters says:

    As a man, please allow me to be a stud. Or, well, be bold. In my eyes, Tinamarie’s article, at its core, advocates giving women (and by extension, men) the freedom to make sexual (and societal) choices that are ethical for the individual, free from the influence of the power of (usually) men to coerce and/or control those choices. Those of us who love Tinamarie’s writing see a consistent (and hard fought) logic: That sexuality matters in life, and as such our sexual ethic ought to lead to life-affirming choices and relationships. I defend her in this advocacy, from the rooftops and mountaintops. We can take her stance to be a delusion, and continue to side with a majority which has stoked unhealthy sexual choices virtually to the point of self-destruction. Or we can, like Tinamarie, engage in a conversation that takes what we sense as shadow and brings it to light.

  25. Varda says:

    @Tafline and Karin: My issue is only with the title. I think I was very clear about that. I even specified that I agreed with the major thrust of the article. But the title was a gambit that employed sexual titillation to attract readers. That is just what tabloids do.

    @Arwa: I was clear that I only read the article because someone specifically asked me to do so. In fact, I surfed the titles on the Green Prophet homepage, and purposely skipped over this one, assuming it would be tabloid-style material along the lines of: “Is Jennifer Aniston sleeping with George Clooney?”

    @Karin: It’s not that I’m outside of my comfort zone. It would take a lot more to take me to a place where I am uncomfortable.

    It’s that I don’t respect the use of sexual titillation to draw attention to important subjects.

    It’s like using naked women to sell bibles. They don’t go together.

    If the subject of the article is serious and worthy, give it a title that suggests the reader will find important reading matter therein. To my mind, the use of the title as a shocker to bring people in shows a lack of respect for one’s readership.

  26. @Varda – this is not a tabloid story, or gossip from the National Enquirer, but a blog on an important issue. You can read HaModia if you are afraid of going outside your comfort zone. Honestly, I found Tinamarie’s previous articles on sex to be much more racy than this. Yes, we took a chance, but as much as this blog has been consistently conservative over the last few years, I think it’s fair to let a few unconventional ideas slip through the filters.

  27. Arwa Abuarwa says:

    Wow Varda! Harsh words and all because of a title which seems to have done its job in attracting your attention.. wow
    Imagine if you didn’t agree with the article too…. 😛

    I think Karin is one of the best editors around because she gives writers the space to *express* themselves. You may not agree with what the writers come out with all the time but free expression is good for us all… And if it encourages healthy debate than all the better!

    I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to read or contribute to a site where I agree with ALL the articles and ALL the writers. Where’s the fun in that?? It would just be plain old BORING!

    Arwa

  28. Varda, I think your second comment is unfair. If you read Tinamarie’s post, it is very balanced and carefully reported. One questionable title out of hundreds and hundreds of articles that have inspired as many people in the Middle East to lead a more wholesome lifestyle is hardly reason to call us tabloid. There is nothing salacious about the article itself.

  29. Varda says:

    I went back to preparing my family’s Sabbath meal but couldn’t get this thread out of my mind. Here we are, doing exactly what Karin and Tinamarie hoped for: commenting and giving this article attention.

    I gave Karin several articles to publish in Green Prophet and was proud to do so, as I see Karin as a gatekeeper for English language writers in this part of the world, but now I wonder if I’ve made a poor decision.

    Do I really want my articles to appear on a blog that carries supermarket tabloid titles that scream out: “I titillate you. MWUHAHAHAHA,” even if the article is not really offensive? Yuck. How exactly does this further my writing career??

  30. Varda says:

    I’m with Hannah on this one. Grabbing attention like that is just yellow journalism. I prefer to give my readership a bit more credit. I assume they come to read my articles not out of prurient interest but because they want information or to hear another viewpoint. I normally would not have read this article BECAUSE of the title, but did so because someone drew it to my attention as something that is just WRONG!

    I completely agree that everyone should have the right to act and dress as they please. I agree that when men are promiscuous they are seen as virile while when women are promiscuous they are slandered. But my issue here is in the way readers are drawn to the article. It’s a nasty trick, IMHO, even if I understand why it was done. Maybe it’s every bit as nasty as calling a woman a slut instead of “studette.”

  31. I respect a woman’s right to dress and express her sexuality however she likes, without fear, and that includes being promiscuous.

    I object to what I saw as the implication in the article and comments, that to make men and women truly equal, “slut” should have as positive a connotation as “stud” supposedly has.
    I wouldn’t expect an article on GP about how women should be slutty any more than I would about how they should be more virginal.

    Arguing that the headline was only chosen to attract attention is a poor defense.

  32. Absolutely right. The environmental movement is clearly linked to women’s basic rights: recycling, population management, education, sustainability, safety, resource allocation – anyway you look at it, it’s feminine-centric. Thanks Karin for tasking me with this article. Pleased that it’s generating so much interest. If it takes crude language to grab people’s attention, well, that’s the world we live in these days. (Another social commentary for another time, perhaps).

  33. When the gals in Toronto labelled their march a SlutWalk – if you notice by the pictures none of them actually dressed like a typical “slut”.

    Slut is a very derogatory word thrown around by kids in middle and highschool and it is often applied to women who have no connection at all to the meaning: like the “prostitute/virginity” tests now going on in Egypt. It’s absurd to think that a woman without her hymen is a prostitute – and I am not even going to go into the details about that one.

    SlutWalk was about getting attention – drawing attention to the fact that you can dress however you like and that is not going to stop sex crimes.

    I have been grabbed several times in Jordan (sexually on my breasts) and I wasn’t dressed like a slut – just like a westerner in Mountain Equipment co-op clothes (actually kind of dressed like a guy); and I can say that I am definitely not a feminist.

    To defend this story which I proposed to Tafline is this: Women in the Middle East are more conservative, and dress as such. And I think one’s choice to do so should be respected. I myself was very religious once and dressed like a Quaker. However, I have problems with regimes, dictators, virginity checkers, morality police, etc. telling women how to dress. That if she chooses to wear a short skirt, or god-forbid a shirt that has open sleeves, that she’s wanton. And hey, if she is wanton, you know what, that’s her choice too.

    How does this connect to the green message: women, as we know, are leaders of the household. They are usually the ones that enforce recycling, separating of waste, early childhood education (green education), cooking and all these basics that lead to a more sustainable way of life. If our women can’t have their basic rights as human beings fulfilled, there will be no green movement. I am sure of that.

    -Karin (Green Prophet Editor)

  34. Dear Benny – LOL! Yes. But if women everywhere realized their unique power and banded together, it would be a tidal wave of paradigm-shifting proportions! I have a dream, he said. I have a dream.

  35. Benny says:

    Way to go, girl! But remember, you’re bucking up against the Prophet Muhammad and the Chief Rabbinite – both of which have a bit of influence in this neck of the woods.

  36. Thank you so much, Tafline. You are right, and I so appreciate your astuteness here. I waffled back and forth on the title, and ultimately went with it (with Karin’s permission of course) for the reason that sometimes strong language is what it takes to get attention. I feel so strongly about how women are being marginalized worldwise, that I want to shout it from the rooftops!
    Estimates are that close to 60 million women and girls are harmed each year in some form or another because they have a vagina. When does it end? When does being female no longer become a liability?
    When we no longer politicize women’s sexuality. I’m a writer – using language is my weapon of choice. If policemen can blame women for their sexual assaults based on something as lame as attire (the inspiration for SlutWalk) – and these are the professionals tasked to protect us! – then let’s take the langauge and reframe it to our benefit.
    It’s been done before, many times – using language in novel ways to recreate the dialogue.
    So appreciating you, Tafline. Really do!

  37. This is kind of what I worried about. Tinamarie isn’t advocating sluttiness per se – she advocates for everything that is beautiful and safe, but introducing slut in the title throws off the spirit of this otherwise beautiful work.

  38. Tinamarie: That is true, and I hear your point. Of course birth control isn’t foolproof.

  39. Dear Hannah @A Mother in Israel

    Lack of birth control = unwanted pregnancy.

  40. Hi Tinamarie,

    Sluttiness=promiscuity, which is bad for society/environment simply because it leads to unwanted pregnancy.

  41. Mike Still says:

    Being a man, unimaginative and a history major, I would have to say that the way women are treated in most middle eastern societies is, at best, a variation of Jim Crow writ large. Ostensibly, most of those societies grant statutory suffrage and damn little else. Not to say that Western society is perfect in that regard . . .

  42. And thank you, Tafline, for sharing your concerns, btw. I should have said that before hitting the submit button!

  43. Dear Tafline – It all depends, of course, of the value we give to words. Men behaving the same way = studs. Women = sluts. What I propose, of course, is that we do away with that double standard all together, and give “self-respecting and emancipated women” the freedom to ‘act in accordnce with their own beliefs.” Agreed about the harm from aggression. Can we both agree that women have suffered dispoportionately from those hostilities?

  44. This may surprise you since I’m usually a huge fan of your work, and I consider myself a completely emancipated woman, but I don’t agree with associating a woman’s sovereign right over her own body with the word “slut” – even if you are trying to subvert what is obviously a very unfair term. Especially not in the Middle East.

    I find it unnecessarily aggressive, and as this region has shown, aggression never got nobody nowhere. Yes, you got my attention. And you handled a difficult subject very well. But I find your title alienating. We need self-respecting and emancipated women free to act in accordance with their own beliefs. We don’t need sluts.

  45. Laura Harrison McBride says:

    An amazing piece of work…and long overdue. Thanks.

    Guinevere lives, in many new guises! Celtic women slept with whomever they chose. That whole Lancelot thing was a put-up job by the recently Christianized Arthur. You have inspired me to expand on that idea in my own work (I fixed the typo that said “sexpand” on it…..)

  46. Ira says:

    Brilliant headline… how could someone not click to see what this is about?

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