A whore is easy to define, but a slut? Especially in our age of supposedly liberated sexuality and equality for men and women?

Dictionary.com defines a whore as “a woman who engages in promiscuous sexual intercourse, usually for money…”

(What else can a woman engage in sexual intercourse for and still be considered a whore? Emotional validation? Protection? Shelter? Or is promiscuous the key word here?)

A slut is likewise defined as “a dirty, slovenly woman”, or, alternatively, “an immoral or dissolute woman; prostitute”.

A synonym for “dissolute” is “licentious”, which is defined by the same site as:

1. sexually unrestrained; lascivious; libertine; lewd.
2. unrestrained by law or general morality; lawless; immoral.
3. going beyond customary or proper bounds or limits; disregarding rules.

Merriam-Webster is not much better, if more given to sexual equality. They have three definitions for a “whore”:

1. a woman who engages in sexual acts for money
2. a male who engages in sexual acts for money
3. a venal or unscrupulous person

Venal, by the way, is an adjective attached to those for whom anything is possible… for a price.

Unfortunately, they fall flat in my books when it comes to the definition of a slut:

1. a slovenly woman
2a. a promiscuous woman
2b. a saucy girl

I believe that this is an interesting topic because in the twenty first century, we have come a long way in achieving sexual equality. In the last century, the Western world went through a sexual revolution; sex before marriage is generally accepted, women are encouraged to pursue careers in conjunction or instead of motherhood, and the graduation ratio of men and women from universities are one to one, if not skewed slightly in favor of women.

And yet… there is still an undertone of gender inequality in our society when it comes to sex. Yes, women have been “sexually liberated” (in fact, a study recently found that in 37 countries, those living in countries with more equality between the sexes have more sex than those living in countries that discriminate against females. This study was published in the Journal of Social Psychology). But if a woman sleeps around too much, or treats sex like a game (much like men do – straight from the horse’s mouth), she will invariably be called a slut. And that doesn’t do justice to sexual equality.

What if she only slept with the men she loved, either physically or mentally? Would that make her less of a slut? (Keep in mind that emotions are a subjective monster.) Or is it merely a numbers game?

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