This is the discussion we’re having around the Mamamia table today as feminist Eva Cox has declared women need to ‘grow up’ and reclaim the word slut.

ABConline reports:

slut2 290x368 Can you reclaim the word sl*t? What about f*ggot?

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Ms Cox says the word “slut” has grabbed the public’s attention.

“I think it’s raised a much more general issue which resonates with a lot of people in a way that Reclaim the Night doesn’t,” she said.

“We’ve just got to accept the fact that different words get through to different people.”

Ms Cox says women around the world are either penalised for wearing too little clothing or in the case of Muslim women wearing too much.

Not everyone at the march was comfortable with the term slut.

“I’m conflicted. I haven’t got a solid opinion about whether the word slut can be reclaimed in a positive way,” said Shar.

“Other words that have been reclaimed such as queer and nigger, they’re something that people are, that they’re born that way. But I think that slut is fundamentally a word that is thrown at people.”

Reclaiming a word (in case you were wondering) is taking it back from those who use it against you and using it yourself. And by doing so, changing it from a term of abuse to a more positive, less emotionally-charged word.

People do this already, privately. You may be one of them. Some Jewish people tell Jewish jokes. Some black people say they word ‘nigger’. Blondes can tell blonde jokes. There’s a famous lesbian motorcycle club called Dykes on Bikes. Gay people may say ‘poof’ and ‘faggot’. That’s reclaiming.

slut cake Can you reclaim the word sl*t? What about f*ggot?

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Mamamia news ed Rick, who is gay, insists he is reclaiming the word faggot. “There are two words that are like gun-shots to me,” he explained. “Poof and faggot. I can’t change the fact that people use them so I’ve decided to reclaim them and use them in a positive way. I’m not offended if people use them flippantly and if I KNOW the person using it – they don’t have to be gay but they do have to be using it in a non-derogatory way. For example my friends once made me a birthday cake that said “Happy Birthday Fag”.

My mother shares the reclaiming philosophy. She doesn’t mind the use of the word cunt so long as it’s in a positive way. I’m not even joking. She said that it shouldn’t be used as a term of abuse, more like a term of endearment. Like, “Hello, you old cunt! How are you?”

This is yet to catch on but I like her thinking.

So, we’re wondering (and debating it at the table fiercely along with fidelity and male facial hair today – the long weekend has made us FEISTY): can you reclaim a word and subvert its meaning?

Is it OK to use a word considered pejorative like faggot or Jew or slut or dyke so long as you’re using it in a positive way? Or does using it simply normalise it and perhaps make it harder for people to understand that it can be offensive in a different context or said by a different person?



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