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The words “bimbo” and “slut” certainly sound like Republican words born from their pathological hatred of women and their disgust regarding anything that might remotely be considered sexual. These words, however, were not invented by today’s Republicans. Both of these are transvestite terms in that they started out male and ended up female.

Just a century ago, “bimbo” wasn’t about women at all: it was a reference to a male, generally viewed as a tough guy. The image of the bimbo was that of a man whose belt size and hat size could be added together to determine his IQ.

In the 1920s, “bimbo” had morphed from a male term to a female term and was now used to refer to a man’s date. By the 1940s, “bimbo” had been refined to refer to a good-looking woman who was a bit simple-minded and most likely promiscuous.

While “slut” is used by today’s Republicans in reference to women who want to use birth control, it first emerges in Middle English with some obscure writer called Geoffrey Chaucer who used the word “sluttish” in 1326 to describe a slovenly man. By 1402, the term “slutte” had taken on the meaning of a slovenly or untidy woman. By 1450, it referred to a sexually promiscuous woman.

In the 15th through the 18th centuries, “slut” also had the meaning of a “kitchen maid or drudge.” Thus Samuel Pepys, writing in 1664, refers to one of his servant girls as “an admirable slut” who “pleases us mightily, doing more service than both the others and deserves wages better.”

Historically, the term “slut” has been considered a derogatory frame of reference for women. In the minds of some, the idea of “slut” somehow justified rape. Constable Michael Sanguinetti gave a presentation on January 24, 2011, as a part of a safety forum at York University in which he stated:

"I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
Many people, both men and women, are offended by the idea of blaming women for being raped. There are many women who feel that they should not be judged for their sexuality, but should be in charge of their own sexual lives. On April 3, 2011, more than 3,000 people gathered at Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for what would become the first SlutWalk. This idea then spread to major cities around the world.

Toronto

The original Toronto SlutWalk is shown above.

New York

The New York City SlutWalk is shown above.

The SlutWalk movement aims to re-appropriate the word “slut,” thus changing its historic pejorative meaning for women to a more neutral nuance. SlutWalk founder Heather Jarvis:

“I come from a frame of mind that language is powerful, and you can also change language.”

Originally posted to Ojibwa on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 04:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, Pink Clubhouse, Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, Cranky Grammarians, Political Language and Messaging, and Sluts.

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