I can already hear my spam filter wincing.
Anyway, earlier today this happened:
Alloy Entertainment: Vaughn has a strong opinion when it comes to Delena on the show. But what’s your outlook on their relationship from what you’ve seen so far? What piece of love advice would you offer them?
Charlie Bewley: My outlook on relationships is not one you want to hear, but in the context of TVD I’ll say this: I cannot believe these two brothers toss around a girl they supposedly love, neither can I believe that Elena willfully hops into bed with one after the next, and back. Sire bond is no excuse.
And then Twitter exploded.
Let’s ignore the fact that his statement is factually incorrect. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Elena banged Stefan, then boffed Damon, then diddled Stefan again, then took a trip to Damon’s boneyard, then took a ride on Stefan’s magic stake, then made the vampire with two backs with Damon, then let Stefan bury the little Salvatore in her tomb, if you know what I mean. Is that wrong?
It seems strange that guys slut shame girls. Guys are supposed to want girls to have sex with them, right? In a lot of cases I think they do, but the key is they want girls to have sex with them. If a girl sucks my dick it’s because I’m an alpha male, but if she sucks yours it’s because she’s a slut. I think a lot of men buy into this without even realizing it.
But it’s worse that women still accept, and even advocate, this mentality. I had a female reader write in to tell me that she couldn’t relate to the characters in my novel because they were all, direct quote, sluts. All of the girls in Sire think about sex, talk about sex, and have sex. And all of them (except for one) are monogamous. But that doesn’t matter. The fact that sex is a part of their lives, an important part of their lives, makes them less worthy, unrelatable … sluts.
The idea that chastity is a virtue comes from a time when women were chattle, property to be bought and sold, a time when all they had to offer was their virginity and their uterus. When a girl had sex with a man it was shameful because her virginity belonged to her husband … whether she had met him yet or not.
Sex is fun. Sex is healthy. Sex is a biological goddamn imperative. Should you be safe? Of course. Should you be honest? Absolutely. But should you be ashamed? Again, fuck no. Sex is messy and wonderful and awkward and thrilling and slippery and sticky and the reason we’re all here.
We’ve come a long way from our bronze age goat herding ancestors … or at least some of us have. The reason birth control is such a controversy right now is that it changes the balance of power. Birth control allows women to enjoy sex without worrying about getting pregnant, about literally devoting the rest of their lives to another human being, and a large portion of our society absolutely hate that idea. The idea that a woman can own her own sexuality and enjoy her body without a man’s permission infuriates them.
And then there’s the idea that women are delicate little flowers that will shatter into a million pieces the second their hymen tears, unless it’s torn by their husband. Fuck that nonsense, too. Sex can help you blow off steam or break your heart. Sex can cement a lifelong relationship or be over in a night. It can be wonderful or painful or epic or bland. But you, special little snowflake, will pick yourself up and carry on, regardless.
So like the Wiccans say, “an it harm none, fuck whoever you want.” Sex is a part of our humanity, a part of our society, and a part of our lives, whether you’re a virgin or a pro. And our characters can, should reflect that same spectrum of sexuality that we do.
But then, this happened:
Charlie Bewley (@alchemission)
I was asked to say something about the triangle and that’s the funniest thing I could think up. Sorry if I offended any sluts out there.
And then the pieces of Twitter gathered themselves together and blew up all over again.
I might be wrong, but I don’t think this was meant to be as harsh as most of the internet is reading it. I don’t think he was saying “oh, I’m reeeeeealy sorry I offended you delicate sensibilities, you sluts.” I think he was saying something more like “hey, we’re all a bunch of big old sluts, so let’s live and let live, huh? Winkeyface? Don’t murder me?”
Update: A handful of people have sent me this link, which gives a lot more context for the above tweet, and makes Bewley look a lot better as a human being.
But maybe I’m wrong. Sarcasm is goddamn hard to read sometimes, particularly when you’re limited to 140 characters. Maybe he was calling sex-positive people sluts.
The question, to me, is what we do with that? I’m not talking about Charlie Bewley as an actor or a person; I honestly give nary a shit. I’m talking about our culture, and the language we use to talk about sex.
A lot of people think the word “slut” should be retired, that it no longer serves a legitimate role in our sexual vernacular. There’s nothing wrong with a girl enjoying her sexuality, so the term “sult” is, itself, meaningless.
But I take a different approach. Probably because sarcasm is my stock in trade and saying offensive things is how I pay my bills, but I think we should take the word “slut” back. I’ve written characters that refer to themselves and their friends as sluts, not to shame them, but because there is no shame in enjoying sex.
I think that approach is more powerful. Don’t ignore the bad guy’s weapons, take them away. They want to cause harm with their words, but we have the power to claim those words as our own. I don’t think it’s enough to say “I’m not a slut” or “don’t call me a slut,” I think we should be saying “yeah, I’m a slut … and there’s nothing wrong with that. You hairy-assed medieval douche nozzle. So go fuck yourself while I’m over here fucking whoever I bloody well want.”
So Elena? Let your slut flag fly.