Slutty: During a conversation the other day the person I was speaking with used the word “slutty” to describe the style of fashion dolls sold to girls in big box toy stores. I understood what they were trying to say, and was glad they recognized this as a problem — we shouldn’t sell a co-opted version of adult sexuality to kids.
Here’s the issue – “slutty” is an equally harmful word for girls and women. So I gently and accurately explained the difference.
Slutty = a pejorative used to intimidate, shame, and control, girls and women for actual or perceived sexual activity. It denies females the same sexual agency our culture grants its males.
Sexualization = In childhood, imposing adult concepts of sexuality and sex on children before they are ready to understand those things on their own. Sexualization leaves the subject, usually a girl or woman, objectified in way that her sexual appeal is the most important thing about her, to the exclusion of all other characteristics.
When we understand the difference, we can begin to do the work that needs to be done.