"slut" in the news

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun May 29 05:05:18 UTC 2011

The word "slut" has been getting around a lot lately. Just this week,
MSNBC host Ed Schultz was suspended after calling conservative radio
talk show host Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut." Soon after, he went
on TV to express his regret at length and, interestingly, became
choked up when he apologized to his wife in particular. This follows
the hubbub over emerging global SlutWalks, edgy anti-rape protests
staged in response to a Canadian official's remark that women should
protect themselves by not dressing like "sluts." The marches have
garnered international coverage all month long and revived debate
about whether the slur can be reclaimed. [...]
For their part, the women of "The View" were laughing about the
four-letter word this week. While discussing the Schultz incident,
Barbara Walters was quick to point out that she had been jokingly
called a slut before by Joy Behar, who followed up by admitting to
being a total "Scrabble slut" herself. Jokes! Then, just to keep
things interesting(-ish), Whoopie argued that we shouldn't see any
difference in the word coming from a man like Schultz than from a
woman like her co-host: "No. Slut is slut" (unlike "rape" and

"Scrabble slut," of course, follows the "X slut" variant of the "X
whore" pattern -- discussed in the past here and on Arnold Zwicky's
blog. Arnold calls "X whore" a "snowclonelet composite [meaning]
roughly ‘one who craves X (or something to do with X) extravagantly’".



Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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