The rise of the professional slut
By Selwyn Duke
"There was a time when you knew who the bad girls were," someone close to me once said. "Now you know who the good girls are."
And I hear that all three of them are beside themselves over today's state of affairs.
"Lena Dunham: I Was Raped By a ‘Campus Republican,'" the headline reads, introducing the "Girls" star's story about an alleged sexual assault at the hands of a "mustachioed" conservative undergrad while a student at Ohio's Oberlin College nearly a decade ago. It's perhaps a fanciful story, the kind you might expect to read in the National Enquirer or The Sun right after "I Was Impregnated by a Space Alien" and "Loch Ness Monster Found Living in Central Park Lake." I mean, really, are we supposed to believe this?
That there was a Republican at Oberlin College?
In brief, Dunham says that one day when she was 19 and drunk and high as a kite on Xanax and cocaine, she entered a state of undress to relieve herself in a parking lot right in front her GOP friend. He then, to put it delicately, makes aggressive physical sexual overtures, after which she takes him back to her apartment; at this point, "in an attempt to convince herself that she'd given consent — [she] talks dirty to him as he forces himself on her," she writes in her newly released memoir, penned at the ripe old age of 27 (of course, she does possess more of a certain kind of experience than any five women three times her age).
Oh, there's more to the story: when Dunham's roommate characterized the incident as rape the next day, Dunham laughed. Years later, she pitched a version of the story to her "Girls" collaborators and still didn't call it rape, though her co-writers would. And now they have her convinced. But, come on, isn't there something wrong with Dunham's story?
I mean, I still don't believe there are Republicans at Oberlin.
Whatever people think about the alleged incident, and whatever the truth is, anything involving Dunham and sex will only enhance her brand and promote her career — as a professional slut.
Yes, that's what she is. And, yes, I know radio host Rush Limbaugh had mucho problemos because he called Sandra Fluke the s-word. And Limbaugh was wrong to sloppily label her a slut.
Fluke is a professional, too.
Understand what a professional slut is. The designation doesn't denote anything definitive about nocturnal inter-sheet acrobatics, though professional sluts often do have the practical experience one might expect from someone with their stock-in-trade. Rather, a professional slut is this: "1 a: a woman who uses slutty behavior or the promotion of slut-oriented behavior, ideas or activism to win money, fame, power or influence"1.
No doubt I'm now going to be the bad guy for saying the empress has no clothes. But you tell me: what do you call a young woman who has a penchant for getting naked in front of cameras, promotes decadence and, as the Daily News reported, has had "more failed relationships than Henry VIII" and wrote a memoir in which "[f]ully half of the book is about sex"? If that's not a slut, what is?
And Fluke? She decided to become the poster girl for free contraception for free sex.
There are many other professional sluts, too. Madonna comes to mind, as does Rihanna, Paz de la Huerta, Margaret Sanger, Rita Ora, Lil Kim, Miley Cyrus, Demi Moore, Kim Kardashian and, well, should I maybe just name the good girls?
The people who take exception to the "slut" label want to retire the word. And I get it. Sluts don't want to be called sluts any more than thugs want to be called thugs, ambulance chasers want to be called ambulance chasers or liberals want to be called liberals. Heck, given my unfailing humility (of which I'm very proud), I don't like being called a genius. Yet I tolerate it. But since professional sluts, thugs, and sometimes even liberals make money being what they are, I think we can call them on it.
Of course, sluts never liked being called sluts, but there was a time when they didn't enjoy the strength numbers bring. Now with the professional slut they can capture a market, get rich, gain influence and have defenders who will visit scorn on those who dare suggest they're anything but "liberated." And all these people, taken together, constitute today's much sought after VD voting bloc.
Just in case you consider this much ado about little, know that it's actually a matter of all-important truth in labeling. As Chinese sage Confucius wrote 2500 years ago in Analects:
Our name for the world's Lena Dunhams today is not in accordance with the truth of things, and it's one reason millions of girls do not know how to conduct themselves. Remember that, as a writer once said, stigmas are corollaries of values; if certain things are to be valued, it follows that their opposites will be devalued. I'll add that proper stigmas are corollaries of "virtues" (which refers to absolutes), and if we're going to value chastity, modesty and propriety, it follows that sluttishness is going to be devalued — and should be called sluttishness for that reason.
Of course, today's dominant values are valueless, which is why the Daily News can write something such as this:
The reality? She's a walking train wreck created and enabled by a society that's off the rails.
And here's the main thing I suspect will be learned from her story: become a professional slut, girls, and perhaps you also can be rich beyond your wildest dreams.