In Defense Of Gaga: Our Favorite "Slut"

On Monday, Staten Island’s borough president James Molinaro made all the headlines he probably will this year by railing against Lady Gaga. I understand the need to “stop glorifying drug use in the media,” but let’s get things straight here: Molinaro called Gaga a slut for smoking what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette on stage in Amsterdam during her concert last week. Quoted in the Staten Island Advance, Molinaro said: “There’s Gaga. Here’s this … this … I would call her a slut. This slut is influencing many, many children.”

In my actual experience with the word, slut is used to define many things, from the way a girl dresses and the makeup she wears to whether or not she flirts with boys. All these are typically the basis of being called a slut – though let’s be clear, there are no actual grounds for describing any woman this way, regardless of her appearance, sexual practices or anything else. I’d love to get into the fact that men are never called sluts, but that’s a whole other argument.

Let’s take a minute to look back at the history of the word. Slut first appeared in the written language in 1402; however, etymologists believe its verbal usage dates back to the 1300s. In its first iteration, it roughly meant what the word “slattern” means today: an untidy, slovenly woman or girl. HOWEVER, for the past 500 years or more, it has been meant to connote a woman of loose sexual morals. As far as my research has taken me, this is the ONLY usage of the word in existence today. At best, Molinaro is using words 500 years out of date. Way to stay in touch. At worst, he’s slut-shaming an artist who of late has created a social network to encourage people to be more free and comfortable with who they are and love themselves for their unique and individual qualities. And an artist who came out recently acknowledging both her weight gain AND her 15 year struggle with bulimia and anorexia in the wake of being called fat (read: slovenly) across countless press outlets.

I stand with Gaga. As does Manhattan borough president (and likely mayoral candidate) Scott Stringer. Stringer responded to Molinaro’s remarks, and went on the record as saying: “Lady Gaga’s work is a symbol of individuality and artistic expression. In addition to her artistic pursuits, she is a social justice activist and a real leader for marriage equality in this country. And no matter which continent Gaga happens to be in today, she remains an Upper West Sider at heart.” Scott Stringer gets it.

The use of the word “slut,” especially when grossly taken out of context as Molinaro has done, continues to propagate the belief that degrading women for their choices – sexual or otherwise – can be used to change behaviors. If I take a flier here and go with the classical (500 years out of date) usage, is Gaga a slut? I suppose someone who wears a meat-dress can be considered untidy and slovenly. So, she’s a slut. Way to go, Molinaro, you did it. Someone who expresses their worldview so purely and blazes trails… sign me up, please.

Gaga, you look amazing and you’re an icon, girl. Keep doing you.

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