What’s A Little Slut Shaming Amongst Friends?

It’s been a long week, and I’m glad that my life seems to be getting back to it’s usual even balance after some time of brief turbulence.  In short, teenage angst is just as angsty when you live with someone going through it, and my daughter had her fair share this past week.  I think they should make taking vacations mandatory for those parents who have teenagers.  Just sayin’.  I think that right there is the answer to world peace.

I’m a fan of words.  Wipe that silly grin off your face, I know, I know, it’s obviously so you say, because I’m a writer.  Well, I do, and yes, it is one of the reasons I am indeed, a writer.  First, allow me to say that after years and years of calling myself a writer, and feeling kind of like a fraud for proclaiming so since I hadn’t had anything published except two poems long ago, I finally feel guilt-free to call myself one again now that I have bits and blurbs of mine published here and there across the web.  Still, I long to have a book made of actual paper pages published one day.  Goals: word.

If you’re anything like me, you have an internet game addiction, or three.  This is one of the many reasons I can no longer fathom life without a smartphone.  What would I do with any shred of boredom in which I couldn’t stare idlly at my iphone to help get me through?  It’s a bad habit to be screen addicted, I know, but oh, how I loves me some technology.  And in that love of screen time, comes my love of games.  No, I’m not a member of anyone’s mafia, I don’t have an imaginary farm, and I haven’t mined pixelated ore in a long time, but I do have my vice: Words With Friends.  Yes, Alec Baldwin and I have something in common other than thinking he’s hot as hell.  Being a long-time lover of Scrabble, this online addiction to Words With Friends was inevitable.

Recently I have been playing several games with a male “friend” from my running club.  Although I have been a member of this running club for the better part of this year, I’ve only been to one official club event, and still have yet to meet this guy.  Most of my participation has been by going to race events and meeting people that way.  We “met” via the group page for the club on Facebook.  So, other than “liking” each others photos or status updates, or commenting on the occasional post, we have really had no other interaction yet.  I admit that from his profile photo alone, I look forward to meeting him in person.  I’ll leave your mind to wander around in that vagueness for a bit.

So, here we are playing these games of Words With Friends together.  Anyone who has ever played these type of word games knows how often the potential to play various words that one might consider eyebrow raising, comes up.  (Hah, pun unintended)  And it’s not that the words are really all that naughty, it’s just that they’re packed with innuendo, and that is enough I guess.  What happens between men and women seems to then take one of two distinct paths:  the courting or the shaming of the of the player.  I’m still confused as to why.

Courting usually can be either a friendly encouragement, a welcome advance if you will, or it can be a boundry-crossing, unwanted thwart.  This depeds on may factors, and is usually dependent (I feel, at least) on how well the two people know one another, as well as their existing relationship to one another.

Shaming, well, that’s easier to share with greater detail.

The first word of this nature to be played by Running Man (who shall be forever known in the rest of this post as “RM” for short) is “BUSTY”.  I smile, and reply in the chat window, “Saucy word there!”.  A few moves later I play the word “SOAPY”, and he tells me in the chat window, “Now it’s your turn to be a little saucy”.  This is innocent and cute, and in no way unwelcome.  I wasn’t even thinking, for once, of the “saucier” innuendo for that word.

It’s followed up shortly thereafter by RM with the word “BONED” in a separate game.  I type in the chat window, “Mmm-hmmm”, as if to say, “Really now”.  Now, call me crazy here, but am I the only one thinking the sexier meaning of this word?  I mean, yes, corsets are “boned”, chicken can be de”boned”, but when I see the word boned, all I can think of is the Steve Stiffler version.

I don’t think this makes me crass, I think it makes me human.  I write about sex professionally, so it’s natural for it to be on my mind.  He doesn’t know this.  I keep this aspect of my professional life private from most because of the stigma it might bring to other aspects of my life; both good or bad, but usually more slanted towards the side of bad.  He replies to me, “LOL I think your mind is shall we say, creative?”, and I type back, “Well, yes, creativity is my line of work, so LOL”

It’s seems so innocent, this kind of friendly banter, until I start to feel this slight taint of “ick” that creeps up on me. I notice that I start to feel like there was a backhanded compliment in there, but maybe I am wrong.  I have been wrong before, and it’s so easy to misconstrue words like this without seeing a person’s body language when they say them, or hearing their vocal intonations.  This is the pitfall of internet interactions.  To that note, he could have misread the same from me.

So then the awkward moment comes when I can play the word “ORGIES” in a new current game.  It will get me more points as it uses more of my letters, and I will hit a double word tile with it.  I kind of hesitated to play it, but then decided to.  I mean, seriously, why start shaming myself for using words like that anyway?  While I’ve never had an orgy, I have had a threesome, or two (or three), so who I am to judge language.  I play it and type in our chat window, “Don’t judge. LOL  It got me more points”.  He replied, “Nice :-)”

Still innocent.

This morning, a few turns after that play, RM plays the word “HARLOT”, and adds in our chat window, “nothing personal”


First, I’m like “ha-ha”, and then I’m all haunches raised at this.  The meaning of the word harlot according to Merriam-Webster’s is “Prostitute”.  First, why would I take this personally, and second, have we just gone from friendly and innocent, to shaming?  Am I to think that, because I chose certain words and joked about the innuendos behind them, that this makes me akin to a harlot?  A strumpet?  A Jezebel?  Is it because I am a woman and thinking this way that it must make me “dirty”or less than, instead of if I were a bro, and we would exchange manly fist bumps with pride?

Now, like I said, I am the first to admit I could now be the one taking this all out of context, but it had a level of “ick” to it that came across as judgement or shaming.  Why in the year 2012 is it still considered a detriment to be a woman and be comfortable in her sexuality?  Why does it imply something “bad” about us, yet fills men with a sense of virile bravado worthy of appreciation?  This is why I have kept my freelance writing career private, and most likely will continue to do so with anyone other than close and trusted people in my life.  Yet I admit to feeling like a hypocrite because my aim is to shatter this notion, and in my hiding, I am counterproductive to my own cause.  I am hiding.  It’s like admitting there is something to be shameful of, instead of rally against.  Insert heavy sigh here.

I will continue to play Words With Friends with my “friend” RM, and someday we will meet at a race or club event.  Maybe none of this will matter.  Maybe we will see each other afresh and anew, and not have any linguistic baggage to color our perceptions of one another.  I really hope that I am making this more than it really is, and yet, that inital knee-jerk reaction remains; why would I take “harlot” personally?  I think I do, but not for the reasons you may think, dear RM.

Yes, I am a woman who owns her sexuality, and feels it’s a valuable part of my being as a whole.  I wish more women would feel this way, but it’s hard to in the face of a societal notion that good girls don’t like, or talk about, sex.

Ok, getting down off my soap box, and going to get “SOAPY” in the shower.  I have a lunch meeting to make.


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