Dirty slut in p6 school reading book!?

(30 Posts)
Iamlora88 Wed 18-May-16 11:15:19

I need some advice from other mums. DD class has been reading The Suitcase Kid ny Jaqueline Wilson. There's a line in it when someone calls a character a dirty slut. No wi get that this is a children's book but there's no room for the word slut in a class dull of ten year olds. DD told me and showed me the book and I asked her what the word meant and she told me it's the worst word you could ever call a girl. We left it at that. DD wants me to bring it up with her teacher and I do too but I'm not sure how to address it with the school without going all crazy raging feminist on them. Ten year olds shouldn't have words like that introduced into their vocabulary and that fact that the word is basically about shaming women for enjoying lots of sex (to put it very lightly) makes it even worse. If it was just a normal swear word I could let it slide but the word slut is so damaging and shaming and I'd hate to thing that they're all running around the playground calling each other dirty sluts! If anyone can help me draft an email it'd be much appreciated.

NinjaTwat Wed 18-May-16 11:55:30

Haven't you posted in chat as well?

lalalonglegs Wed 18-May-16 12:22:13

I generally think Jacqueline Wilson writes really well for her target age group. I think I would need the context to make a judgment on this one - eg, is the person using the word trying to humiliate the person it is used against (so JW is showing how strong an insult it is) or is it used in quite a flippant way and, if so, is JW illustrating casual misogyny? She has always struck me as a very talented and sensitive writer.

MyCrispBag Wed 18-May-16 17:51:52

Ten year olds shouldn't have words like that introduced into their vocabulary

I completely agree but I the odds that it's only now being introduced to them (through the book) is unfortunately very unlikely.

I'd hate to thing that they're all running around the playground calling each other dirty sluts

Again at age 10 they are perfectly capable of coming up with more damaging insults than that with no help from teacher.

MyCrispBag Wed 18-May-16 17:57:22

Incidentally I agree with lalalonglegs on this.

The problem for the OP doesn't seem to be the context (I actually read that book when I was a kid but can't remember this particular part) but the presumption that this word will be new to the children the book is being read to.

MyCrispBag Wed 18-May-16 18:02:02

Okay I just looked it up-

"Are you calling Carrie names?" Dad roared.
"I'll call her anything I like, the dirty slut! She's not looking after my daughter again, do you hear me?.."

From the context it seems it's being used in the old fashioned way. It would be a good idea to update the book to say "dirty slob" or "scruffy cow" etc.

TheSolitaryBoojum Wed 18-May-16 18:20:33

Carrie's housewifery and new-age hippy lifestyle are what's being attacked in the book by the ex-wife. Her morals are not in question.
The book covers a complex situation from the POV of a child of divorced parents who is going through a tough time and is shuttled between two homes. It's a good choice for UKS2 children, occasionally uncomfortable for parents putting their own children through the same crap.

CeeBeeBee Wed 18-May-16 19:12:14

Didn't Prince Charming also call Cinderella a slut in Revolting Rhymes? Some of his books for older audience are misogynistic too.

Misses point of thread. I'll get my coat.

AHellOfABird Wed 18-May-16 20:06:14

Cee, yes, Roald Dahl used slut in the "slattern" sense.

His books in general are not going to win any feminist prizes as most fail the Bechdel test and are boy protagonist heavy, but on that one it's old fashioned rather than a sexually related insult.

pippitysqueakity Wed 18-May-16 20:19:52

Do you know what, I just don't get this. I have daughters, they read books at school, and home. There are words they don't know, if they ask, I tell them.neither of them have ever asked what this word meant, nor have they reported people running round playgrounds calling each other this. I doubt it was even a blip on anyone's radar. If it was, surely it's more likely they already knew it was a word not to be used. Which means they have come across it before. Which begs a different question.

Lovelydiscusfish Wed 18-May-16 21:24:14

OP, I understand your discomfort. I also (as a bit of an aside) find it interesting that the word has progressed from being used as an insult for women who don't like cleaning, to an insult for women who like sex with a number of people. Both hateful, mysoginist things to insult any woman for, surely! I give a big "so what?" to both.
Having said that, I think, as an English teacher, you need to relax a little about words used in texts your child is taught at school. Any English teacher worth even half their salt, will speak to the class about any loaded or contentious terms which occur in the text. Better this, than that your child hears these terms in a different context, without proper discussion of them - that is much more a situation where they may begin to be used inappropriately by the children.
I have taught (age appropriately, hopefully), texts where all kinds of loaded vocabulary is used. I think all in the classes have benefited by a safe opportunity to discuss the terms, and why they are so offensive.n

Lovelydiscusfish Wed 18-May-16 21:26:38

I meant, by the way, "so what?" If women don't like cleaning or like sex with a range of people. I think it's hateful that they are insulted for either quality. Possibly wasn't clear.

CeeBeeBee Wed 18-May-16 22:19:09

Thanks AHellofaBird. I did not know that.

Merrylegs Wed 18-May-16 22:36:26

I think Roald Dahl doesn't fail the Bechdel test too often tbf - Matilda, The Witches, The Magic Finger, James and gp, bfg......

AHellOfABird Wed 18-May-16 23:45:02

Fails:
The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me (one female lead, one minor female, four major male characters);
the enormous crocodile;
both Charlie books, I'm pretty sure; Danny TCOTW;
George's marvellous medicine (George, his dad and his gran),
ESio Trot (a two hander in which the woman is deceived into marriage by a thieving pet stealer..);
fantastic mr fox;
the twits IIRC.

Does the BFG pass? It's been a while, who else does Sophie speak to? The other giants are male, I think.

Matilda definitely passes and might even be a reverse fail. The witches I don't know.

Certainly Dahl had far more male leads than female and far more pro-active males than females (in mr fox, mrs fox is alternately adoring and helpless; Willy Wonka and Charlie bucket dominate).

I may be sick and tired of the otherwise wonderful audiobooks!

Atenco Thu 19-May-16 03:57:24

I think it is silly to ask for books to be censured. The word "slut" exists and young people will come across it in lots of places. The best thing to do is to use it as the start of a conversation about both its meanings and the way its use reflects more on the person using it than on the person it is aimed at.

In the Roald Dahl poem it is quite clear that the person using this term is an unpleasant so-and-so.

TheSolitaryBoojum Thu 19-May-16 04:56:34

I find the words and actions from pop and rap songs that many children perform in the playground much more worrying TBH.

hesterton Thu 19-May-16 06:10:45

Atenco is right. A good place to start a conversation in class or at home about name calling and misogyny. We don't need to censor books.

hesterton Thu 19-May-16 06:12:58

A proviso - if a book uses a word which is deeply offensive to a specific group who it identifies, like the n word in a class of mainly white students (of mice and men for example) then it might be pertinent to discuss as a class or privately with the child whether to read that word out loud or not.

AHellOfABird Thu 19-May-16 07:15:13

On that basis, hesteton, wouldn't you include words offensive to the specific group that is,women?

TheSolitaryBoojum Thu 19-May-16 07:43:09

In the book, the wife is being unreasonable and nasty, and it adds to the stress placed on the 10 year old. I think the mother's opinion of the father's girlfriend is important in the storyline, and how the adults come to realise how manipulative they've been and that they haven't really listened to the real victim of events, but they thought they had.

TheSquashyHatOfMrGnosspelius Thu 19-May-16 07:48:48

The word slut or slattern means a woman that keeps a dirty house. Any modern bastardisation of it is just that. It is a horrible thing to be called but it does not mean someone that likes a lot of sex.

AHellOfABird Thu 19-May-16 07:58:07

Squashy, at the time Roald dahl wrote it, slut and slattern meant the same. Now, slut's primary meaning is linked to sex. You can't just declare it ain't so, just asyou can't assert that the word gay is used to mean joyful rather than homosexual.

IoraRua Thu 19-May-16 08:00:16

I see. And I suppose you'd argue that the word gay just means happy?
Language changes.

AHellOfABird Thu 19-May-16 08:01:14

dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/slut

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