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To all the Teenage Whores

Why are you a teenage whore?

Courtney Love roars: cathartically uniting all beautiful, sexually active girls. Her angriness and frustration perfectly depicts the damaging criticism young women face, and the accompanying conflicted feelings of our own promiscuity.

The dictionary definition of “slut” is “a woman who has many casual sexual partners.” From the inherent misogyny, and vagueness of “many”, one can only infer that this refers to more than one. Therefore, most girls I know are sluts.

The early teenage years of body image issues have been replaced by the drilled in idea that as young women, we must keep our sex-drive in check. That if we give into our sexual impulses, we’ll build a reputation of being easy; that we should feel ashamed of giving in to a one-night stand; that we need to keep boys wanting more. Like we’re not struggling enough with discovering our own sexuality, now on top of that, we’re expected to maintain a façade, of a respectable woman.

Learning to be comfortable with sex, I found, catalyses self-confidence.

Surely, we’ve moved on from Rossetti’s warning, common in Victorian literature, of the fallen woman; (a “temptress” who has lost her innocence from sex before marriage and experiences the inevitable downfall into becoming a huge slag). Because as much as this will surprise many, safe and casual sex won’t lead to fatality.

Yet, as easy as it is for me to preach about sexual liberation, it takes practice. Learning to be comfortable with sex, I found, catalyses self-confidence. Not in the way that you should rely on the validation from others, but through disregarding any guilt we’ve been taught to feel. Reclaiming agency over our sex lives diminishes the power slut shaming holds – perhaps beginning with reclaiming the term “slut”. And not that word alone; any synonymic slur directed at women who have sex because of enjoyment (on the occasion men can find the clit).

Whilst it could be argued that if we increasingly refer to ourselves as sluts, this could serve as ammunition for men to also do so, it’s not the word itself that's the issue, it's the animosity, misogyny and shame that has pummelled its way into every women’s life - the embarrassment of adding to our body count is damaging the self-esteem of teenage girls and creating unhealthy relationships with sex. We need to rid ourselves of these contagious ideas. Perhaps we should revert back to the Riot grrrl era; paint SLUT in red on our stomachs while screaming about fucking from the top of our lungs, openly brag about our latest shags and scare off anyone who possesses a subverted, backwards view of sex. Owning our sexuality, and subsequent body-image may take a while, but must start somewhere. I’d begin with screaming along to Teenage Whore.

This post was submitted by the talented Cara Barclay.

You can find her on Instagram:

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