Asatru, Heathen, Heathentry, Pagan, Uncategorized

Decoding Slut

man-woman-at-barRecently I heard a joke which seemed to both capture our societal attitude towards female sexuality, and struck me in a very heathen sense as being deeply wrong. The joke compared men to keys and women to locks and concluded that a man whose key opens many locks is awesome, while I woman whose lock opened to many keys was worthless.

Everyone seemed to find it funny, but what strikes me as strange funny, rather than amusing funny, is this joke would make total sense to ISIS, whose belief that women are property can thus view a woman’s sexuality as being her husband’s property, and infringing on those property rights would make that property less valuable.  As deeply offensive as that attitude is, it is at least consistent with their misogynist ethic.

Whether you stone sluts or merely make jokes about them, the acceptance that women who have the same sexual freedom as men are sluts seems to be accepted quite broadly
I thought rather than arguing about whether we should use the word Slut, be proud of the word, or ban the word, it was time we should decode the word. It is time we took a look at what it means THAT we use the word slut. Heathens understand worth, so we actually understand the mechanism that is at work when we build or tear down our own, or another’s worth, so perhaps we above all should be the ones to decode “Slut” and examine what it says about the society that uses the word.

For a westerner to laugh at that same joke is disturbing.  Examine what this paradigm requires to be true.  For if a man’s worth is increased by sexual knowledge of many women, and a woman’s worth is decreased by sexual knowledge of many men, then a man is literally taking a woman’s worth away by having sex with her.  This is the language of conquest, for in making love we are not exchanging anything, I am taking from you.  The job implied by the joke is for men to prove their power or worth by conquering many women, and cautioning women that their worth could be easily lost by such conquest.

So basically western thought still accept the premise that all heterosexual sex is rape.  That my wife and I do not make love, I rape her.  Those women that I have known over my life I have taken from, not an honest exchange of love and or pleasure, but the outright theft of their worth, as I built mine by taking hers away.

Oddly enough, I have a problem with this.  In our own lore I think of the origin of Brisengamen, the necklace by which the goddess Freya renews the earth, the focus of the ever renewing bounty of this earth.  To win this necklace, Freya had to sleep with all four of the dwarven smiths who had taken the fallen amber of her tears and the gold from deep in the earth to forge this token of power.

Freya and Dwarves

If you wish to apply the label of slut to a woman of many lovers, you must certainly apply it to Freya, but do so with caution my friends, for the sexuality of women, and that of men, was more truly understood by our pre-Christian ancestors that those of us who live in the hate filled age that follows the people of the book placed men and women not as partners or symbiots,but predator and prey.

Freya took no husband, but loved how and where it suited her needs or her whims.  Rather than being a slattern of no worth, she was desired by all those of high estate or low, and beyond the power of any to compel.  The myth of the building of the wall of Asgard and the Lay of Thyrm both have as their driving force that the Jottuns risk all, and generally lose it, for the chance to lie with Freya.  Were she a slut as we envision things today, a woman of no character or worth made base by her lack of husband and her having multiple lovers, it should have been easy for any to persuade her, but indeed Odin himself could not compel her.  We see Freya helping Thor dress in a wedding gown in her place to retrieve his hammer rather than Freya.  Why?

Thor in wedding dress

The answer is simple, because a woman’s worth is not lessened by her lovers, and the power of Freya was treated with respect.  Equal to Odin in might and magic, she received half the slain, and first choice at that.  Is this a woman cheapened and lessened by the laying with four dwarves to win her necklace?  Hardly.  Trifle with Freya at your peril, what she gives is by choice and is a blessing indeed, but no god or giant can compel her.

Freya Goddess Falcon cloak

To be a man in this western age. is to have to question the definition of manhood that we inherit.  I am no rapist, and to slut shame a woman is to say some important things we need to think about.
First: For a woman to be shamed by loving a man, men must by definition be unworthy of that love, for if we were worthy of the love she had shared with us, neither one of us would be lessened by it.

 

You see the truth of this statement?  Do you see the ugliness implied in it?

 

If a woman can be shamed by consensual sex with a man, if her worth really is found in NOT sleeping with men then the choice of men is to be rapist or failure.  To be a successful predator, or a failure. No where is there worth to be found for men in love.

Alright, lets ignore feminism altogether, this deal sucks for men.  You are either a monster or a weakling.  Piss on that.  That is Christianity and Islam speaking.

When two people come together, reguardless of gender, in love it is a sacred thing, a beautiful thing, and a binding of not only the two people, but of two lines that stretch in both directions to the most ancient ancestors, and forward to the last of the descendants yet unborn.  We speak of witnessing and solemnizing the vows, to witness before the community the covenant of union between two people that we marry.  We do not wave a magic wand, or use some special licence to join these people, their love and their troth, their desire, their hard work, their commitment, their love and understanding of each other have made the magic, and we as a community, and as officiating priests are here to bear witness and recognize what two people have made together.  This is a new thing forged from the love of two people, something greater than either of them alone, and more than the sum of their selves.  This is not passing ownership of the bride from father to husband (or wife) like some chattel or farm animal.  This is not the groom taking the worth of the bride, this is both bride and groom (two brides, or two grooms, whatever) coming together in love to plight their troth and join themselves in union forged of love and mutual dedication into something stronger.  This is a sacred thing, a powerful thing, and a worthy thing.  To make it ugly with violence, hatred, scorn or manipulation is to make what should have been holy profane instead, but that is true of any duty.  If a duty can build worth done well, it can destroy worth done poorly.

When two people come together in passion, whether seeking to see of such a deeper relationship may one day be possible, or just because they wish to brighten each other’s lives with shared moments of joy, this too is a blessing.  Not as great an offering, not as great a reward, but a powerful affirmation of life, a true exchange of joy.  This too is a thing that builds rather than destroys worth, if done with mutual respect and affection. Again, you can make a bright thing foul by duplicity, violence, or manipulation, but done with honest love and joy it is a bright and blessed thing indeed.

To accept that love lessens a woman is to state that men are unworthy of love, and to know it is to be either thief or rapist.  I reject this.  To say a woman must either be virgin or without virtue is to take her power away, make her prize rather than person.  A woman who chooses to love, or not love following her heart may earn worth based on being true to her feelings and treating her partner with the respect she expects to be treated with in return.  A man who chooses to love, or not love in the same fashion likewise builds his worth by honouring those relationships.

Take back your sexuality, I don’t care if you are gay or straight, but know that if you love truly and honestly, you are building your worth.  Know that the joy you bring your partner does not lessen you, rather it, like any reciprocal gifting relationship, builds your worth even as it both strengthens and sustains you.

Hail Freyr, ever rampant Hail Freya ever loving.  I embrace love as a path to worth and reject utterly the language of Slut and the definition of men and women as predator and prey.  This was never our way, and it is time we remembered that.

Ken and Mary Joy Wedding

 

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31 thoughts on “Decoding Slut

  1. Freydis says:

    Very well said, indeed, John. Thank you for unpacking that; that puts into words very well what I always felt but couldn’t phrase properly.

    Also that is a terrible joke, although it’s a marvellous metaphor for the way the Christian (and by extension, probably the larger Abrahamic) faith views male and female sexuality. Which is also terrible.

  2. Emily says:

    As always, this was fantastic.. But I really feel compelled to tell you that it touched me deeply and moved me to tears a few times. The reasons are too much to explain here in this little box, but I wanted to thank you anyway.

  3. I liked this post. The oppression of sexuality is a terrible thing indeed that has been around for just way too long. If women are stock, men are buyers; this is a disgusting program that is not about to get derailed, sadly. You can see it everywhere… This is all the more insidious nowadays because now men are also sexualized in order to sell stuff. It’s as if women are invited to take the “active” role and therefore acknowledging and valuing the slut-shaming system.

    You know, Loki used slut shaming in Lokasenna, this always bothered me… but I realised that he rant about the lack of honour courage of men. This worth a better look, this is just a unexplored thought.

  4. Mandie says:

    I heard this “joke” a few years back from the husband of one of my friends. I didn’t think it was funny. I rebutted his so called joke by stating that according to that theory every man is given a key that can fit in many locks. Very few men have the ability to use their key to actually open a single lock and unleash it’s wonders within. Every woman comes with a lock and she can accept many keys… this is also a lock she can open herself and therefore has no need of a key. The key becomes useless as the wonders within her lock can be shared at her desire on her own or with the key of her choosing… who then is worthless… a possessor of a key that opens nothing or a lock that holds the wonders of the world…. he stopped talking to me. We are all worthy. Love given is love doubled not lost!

  5. dmost says:

    Women of many lovers have a much decreased chance of pair bonding with the next lover – what makes a woman a slut is that she is the opposite of relationship material. There are statistics to back this up.

    Since you are selling into mythology, its worth looking at Gilgamesh as well.

  6. Reblogged this on facingthefireswithin and commented:
    Hail Freya! As always, his words are wise and insightful. While I would not call myself a Freya’s man (my web of god devotions is too nuanced for me to be tied to a single Deity anymore), the power of the story of Brisingamen ties strongly to how I pursue many things. Do not buy into myths of virginity or that sex makes a woman valueless. As he points out, that doesn’t make you great either. Honor Love freely given and denounce rape and sex taken by force or deceit. Even Odin could not compel sex from Her. Remember that.

  7. Andreia M says:

    Wisely said… the devaluation of women, women’s worth and women’s role, in every aspect of life, truly is a shame and troublesome. It begins with sexuality, then our worth as people, then of our role in life, the universe and everything…

  8. dmost says:

    Gilgamesh washed out his long locks and cleaned his weapons; he flung back his hair from his shoulders; he threw off his stained clothes and changed them for new. He put on his royal robes and made them fast. When Gilgamesh had put on the crown, glorious Ishtar lifted her eyes, seeing the beauty of Gilgamesh.

    She said, ‘Come to me Gilgamesh, and be my bridegroom; grant me seed of your body, let me be your bride and you shall be my husband. I will harness for you a chariot of lapis lazuli and of gold, with wheels of gold and horns of copper; and you shall have mighty demons of the storm for draft mules. When you enter our house in the fragrance of cedar-wood, threshold and throne will kiss your feet. Kings, rulers, and princes will bow down before you; they shall bring you tribute from the mountains and the plain. Your ewes shall drop twins and your goats triplets; your pack-ass shall outrun mules; your oxen shall have no rivals, and your chariot horses shall be famous far-off for their swiftness.’

    Gilgamesh opened his mouth and answered glorious Ishtar, ‘If I take you in marriage, what gifts can I give in return? What ointments and clothing for your body? I would gladly give you bread and all sorts of food fit for a god. I would give you wine to drink fit for a queen. I would pour out barley to stuff your granary; but as for making you my wife – that I will not. How would it go with me? Your lovers have found you like a brazier which smoulders in the cold, a backdoor which keeps out neither squall of wind nor storm, a castle which crushes the garrison, pitch that blackens the bearer, a water-skin that chafes the carrier, a stone which falls from the parapet, a battering-ram turned back from the enemy, a sandal that trips the wearer.

    Which of your lovers did you ever love for ever? What shepherd of yours has pleased you for all time?

    Listen to me while I tell the tale of your lovers. There was Tammuz, the lover of your youth, for him you decreed wailing, year after year. You loved the many coloured roller, but still you struck and broke his wing; now in the grove he sits and cries, “kappi, kappi, my wing, my wing.” You have loved the lion tremendous in strength: seven pits you dug for him, and seven times he was trapped. You have loved the stallion, magnificent in battle, and for him you decreed whip and spur and a thong, to gallop seven leagues by force and to muddy the water before he drinks; and for his mother Silili lamentations. You have loved the shepherd of the flock; he made meal-cake for you day after day, he killed kids for your sake. You struck and turned him into a wolf, now his own herd-boys chase him away, his own hounds worry his flanks. And did you not love Ishullanu, the gardener of your father’s palm grove? He brought you baskets filled with dates without end; every day he loaded your table. Then you turned your eyes on him and said, “Dearest Ishullanu, come here to me, let us enjoy your manhood, come forward and take me, I am yours.’ Ishullanu answered, “What are you asking from me? My mother has baked and I have eaten; why should I come to such as you for food that is tainted and rotten? For when was a screen of rushes sufficient protection from frosts?” But when you had heard his answer you struck him. He was changed to a blind mole deep in the earth, one whose desire is always beyond his reach. And if you and I should be lovers, should not I be served in the same fashion as all these others whom you loved once?’

    When Ishtar heard this she fell into a bitter rage, she went up to high heaven. Her tears poured down in front of her father Anu, and Antum her mother. She said, ‘My father, Gilgamesh has heaped insults on me, he has told over all my abominable behaviour, my foul and hideous acts.’ Anu opened his mouth and said, ‘Are you a father of gods? Did not you quarrel with Gilgamesh the king, so now he has related your abominable behaviour, your foul and hideous acts.’

  9. Leigh Strother-Vien says:

    The tale of Gilgamesh is from the same region that gave us the Abrahamic religions, so the attitudes were around before. I prefer the NON-“Fertile Crescent” beliefs. Ishtar should have told Gilgamesh, “Bite me. You’ll NEVER get a better offer, twit.” Mainer, I LOVE your post, and agree 100%.

    • dmost says:

      she could have said that, but it would not and should not change his judgement as to her suitability as a wife.

      In general, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, so he is right not to invest in her as the mother of his children. Not every woman will be a suitable wife, just as not every man will be a suitable husband.

      a woman that has had many lovers, and especially one that has treated them poorly, is damaged goods, and should not be considered for anything but a fling.

      • What the Gilgamesh story proves is that Ishtar was unsuitable to wife because she was a cold ass bitch, not because she had many lovers. His reasoning was all about how she treated those lovers.

      • dmost says:

        Stories dont and cant prove anything. Its fiction. It embodies a warning against marrying a bitch.

        As I said earlier, there is statistical evidence that increasing partner count for women decreases the liklihood of a successful marriage

  10. So basically the answer to “Women are sluts because religion” is just “Women are NOT sluts ….. again because religion.”

    Pitting one’s imaginary friends against someone else’s imaginary friends never really goes anywhere productive.

    • What is intriguing about this response is that it shows you utterly ignored the post in your reply, or failed to understand it. As clearly stated, the assumptions underlying the whole word slut are simply not supported by any ethical standard that allows for a man and woman to have consensual sex as an positive and mutual act. Now for those in my own community who wish to apply a meta-ethical standard, I have supplied one, using my “invisible friends” to counter others “invisible friends” for those who require such authority. For the rest of us who chose to examine ethical questions on the basis of individuals acting, involved and effected, I have supplied an analysis of what accepting the premises required by the slut shaming argument would require.

      If you accept slut as a derogatory term applied to women for the crime of engaging in consensual sex, then you are accepting that men are not worthy sexual partners at all, as any act of union with one will degrade the woman involved. If slut shaming has an ethical basis in your world view, then you are basically comparing consensual human sex with bestiality, as the woman is shamed by participating (making her the one held to a higher standard, the social superior), and man as the animal (the social inferior whose congress with the higher shames and degrades her by definition). Virgin or slut are the options you leave women, predator or failure the options you leave men. How ugly, how base and vile must be your world where love is an act of shame and degradation at best.

      If that is your world view, take an honest look at it, and yourself. I will leave you to wallow in such filth on your own, for I will never lessen myself to such a degree.

  11. J says:

    This joke which I only read for the first time actually around this time last year(also on facebook, somebody uploaded an image of the joke). Probably like everyone else who heard it, it gave me food for thought as I reflected upon society’s general concept and contemplated how and why it seems to be. For myself, I consider to be free, open and respecting of other people’s decisions, I think if a woman sleeps with different guys, I wouldn’t brand her a slut(although, like the joke, clearly that is unfortunately how society views things) and I wouldn’t even have it in my mind that she is so. I also don’t view other men who have slept with a lot of women as some kind of heroes at all!(but to be honest though, I once did… in my younger and immature years I thought I could learn something from them, and paid close attention to their traits and characteristics).

    About this lock and key joke, one conclusion that I came to(conclusion, or theory… perhaps I haven’t fully concluded to it yet), on men first. So perhaps its because when a man has sex with a woman, he has experience. With more women, more experience and is perceived by others to have learned/have more knowledge and therefore be better(at understanding women, catering for them, enhanced sensitivity), hence better and better as a man. Most likely not consciously, but perhaps this is the unconscious theme that runs in the back of the minds of others. That the more experience he has, the more aware and sensitive he is to the needs of his partner. Of course this could be an absolute total rubbish judgement of the man in question(its only a perception and some people never learn), but I *think* this could be what underlies society’s perception. For women. If the man(note, not guy) wants at some point, eventually to have a relationship with a woman(note, not girl) and perhaps start a family, he probably would feel its not so easy if the woman has had quite a history with a number of previous men, surely the thought would be “well I know I’m not the first… I get the feeling I probably won’t be the last either”(ie while there is attraction for woman in question, probability the woman is for the man, not girlfriend or marriage material). Or if a man is married and his wife wants the freedom to meet other men/friends that are men for chat and coffee(as example) and where the possibility can grow towards weakening the relationship rather than protecting it(ie would these kind of actions provide security and stability or build insecurity?). It calls into question the suitability of longer term parntership and so finally “worth” becomes unconsciously based on that. I think these are the kind of things that lead people to come to create the joke.

    My own belief? The past doesn’t matter for either the guy or girl and its up to them as a unit whether to adhere to “society’s rules and perceptions” or not to adhere to. Self-acceptance and then acceptance of the other are the real keys. Maybe I’ll say that again. “Self-acceptance… and then… acceptance of the other are the real keys”. So long as they’re happy together in present and share the same or similar outlook is whats important.

    Readers of my comment should note that I am all for feminism but would never tolerate androphobia or androphobes wearing the mask of feminism.

  12. Pingback: Decoding Slut | mainer74 | Loki's Bruid

  13. Ariel Ellis says:

    In reference to the joke, like everything else, it is a double standard. In any other situation, it would be considered sexist, so why not now? There are just as many male sluts (or whatever they are called) as there are female sluts. Just because they have the “key”, it doesn’t mean they HAVE to open the “lock”. It may be a “lock” that they will regret opening.

  14. Dave Wetzel says:

    So nice to find anyone with some unique ideas on this subject. realy thanks for starting this up. this web site is one thing that’s wanted on the web, someone with a little bit originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet!

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