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Slag/slut etc - how to explain to an 8 year old?

(21 Posts)
Leavingsosoon Tue 13-Oct-15 13:20:39

I obviously want to emphasise the importance of how wrong these words are, not just in a 'oh, that's not polite' way but to explain why they are disrespectful to girls and women.

Can anyone help me with phrasing it? I know what I mean but am struggling to express myself.

NiNoKuni Tue 13-Oct-15 14:12:21

My kid is nowhere near that age, so I can't help with any experience of explaining to kids I'm afraid. But the issue as I see it is that is perpetuates the myth of sexually active women/girls being flawed and dirty, which in turn perpetuates the opposite - sexually inactive or uninterested women/girls are frigid prudes. It's policing women's sexuality and women can't win whatever they do. It's also extremely male-gazey - women's sexuality as seen exclusively and negatively by men (as the male equivalent is a 'stud' or whatever, always positive).

So it's a huge double standard that is designed to keep women down and in their place. Do you think you could phrase it in that kind of way? Maybe ask her if she thinks it's fair that men/boys can do what they like without being called bad names, but women/girls can't? You could also ask if she can think of any other situations where the same sort of double standard applies if you want to help her develop her critical thinking skills (no idea if this is appropriate for 8 year olds though!).

thelittleredhen Tue 13-Oct-15 16:46:15

I think that it would depend on the context in which this discussion arose.

Leavingsosoon Tue 13-Oct-15 17:42:28

Thanks smile

I suppose they hear words, you pull them up on why those words are wrong and they want to know why - you know?

CoteDAzur Tue 13-Oct-15 19:42:46

If DD had heard of those words at that age and asked about them, my explanation would have been a simple"They are bad words". She is now 10 and it is still too early to have this conversation, since they can only be explained in the context of sexuality and that is not a conversation I would have with an 8-year-old.

Just yesterday I tied myself in knots trying to explain to her what HPV vaccination is and why she has quite a few years in front of her before she needs it. I ended up saying that it is a virus that spreads through bodily fluids and she doesn't need it until she decides to have a boyfriend whom she would want to kiss on the mouth.

Leavingsosoon Tue 13-Oct-15 19:44:09

Unfortunately, they have been used by adults so I do need to explain why I object to them.

thegiddylimit Tue 13-Oct-15 20:06:33

I have told my DDs (6&7) that those are the kind of words that people who hate women and don't think they are as important as men. They don't need to know about the sexual element just yet. I am getting very pissed off about the fact that they are being exposed to sexism already, they both play football and thankfully have lots of lovely male friends who back them up but both have had boys making comments about how 'girls can't play football'. I'm afraid I have started to say 'why, do you play football with your willy?' Bet the other parents love me!

Grazia1984 Tue 13-Oct-15 20:26:13

Most 8 year olds would not hear those words so are not likely to ask.

When they are older they can learn that women who have sexual freedom are women to admire not despise.

Leavingsosoon Tue 13-Oct-15 20:29:35

I'd heard 'slag' at 8 and knew it was a nasty word for a woman, although other connotations were lost.

Unfortunately, DC has heard it and has used it (obviously didn't have a clue what it meant, still got bollockec by me!) but I want to be clear it's a word I find unacceptable in the same way I would find Paki unacceptable.

Lurkedforever1 Tue 13-Oct-15 20:58:59

Iirc dd was about 7 when she asked me what dressed like a slag meant. I explained slag as meaning a horrid way of describing someone who has a lot of boyfriends/ girlfriends. And because some people are a bit jealous, or are very silly and think having lots of boy/girl friends isn't nice they use slag as an insult. And sometimes say it just because someone looks and acts like the kind of woman lots of people would like as a girlfriend. With references to other insults that are based on things that aren't negative but used as insults. Eg calling people paki or yid, when being Pakistani or jewish isn't a negative thing.

I did also include quite a few references to animals and what they do that would be called slag/slut in a woman, but not relevant unless your child already knows enough about animal behavior.

VestalVirgin Sat 31-Oct-15 09:26:56

CoteDAzur you ... did not tell your 10 year old daughter about sex, yet? What harm do you think would it do if her mother gave her the talk? I understand wanting to keep her away from how other people talk about sex, but that's best achieved in giving her your own opinions.

As for the question how to explain "slut", I, personally, would make a Venn diagram and explain that women who do what men want are called "sluts" and women who do not do what men want are called "prudes", and that there is some overlap (because a man would call a woman who sleeps with other men but not him a "slut") and absolutely no area between the two where you are not called any insults, so you can just ignore the whole idiocy and do what YOU want.
Or maybe that's a bit too much reality for a child? I don't have children yet and it has been some time since I myself was one. The fragile bubble of carefreeness a child lives in might burst if one was to explain patriarchy to her.

Gwenhwyfar Sun 08-Nov-15 22:39:17

"I ended up saying that it is a virus that spreads through bodily fluids and she doesn't need it until she decides to have a boyfriend whom she would want to kiss on the mouth."

I hope she doesn't now think that HPV is passed through kissing as you've implied.

reni2 Sun 08-Nov-15 23:38:10

I did what thegiddylimit did and called anything like this "words that only people who hate girls and women use".

DadWasHere Mon 09-Nov-15 00:03:00

My daughter asked me what sex was around age six. I imagine 6-7 is the common time kids want to ask (along with 'where do you go when you die') unless they get a 'do not ask such questions' vibe. I explained what sex was and that humans and animals engaged in sex when they were old enough to reproduce. She was shocked but she seemed to understand it was a natural process and just another part of learning about the world.

When she was 8, give or take a year, she asked (obliquely) what a 'slut' was, she seemed to have picked up on a vibe that sexuality in boys Vs girls was treated differently, or she knew 'slut' was a curse word and did not want to bring it up to me. I told her that girls who had sex too often with too many different boys were thought of by others, by both girls and boys, as being bad and worthless. I told her that I though that was odd because a boy who did the exact same thing, had sex frequently with a lot of different girls, was never considered either bad or worthless by others. She asked why that was but I told her it was too complex to explain properly. I told her I thought it was very unfair girls got labelled that way since boys were not. I vaguely remember she looked away and nodded at that and went off to do something else.

Djelibeyb Mon 09-Nov-15 00:16:48

I would just say it's a very rude word for a girl. Please do not use it as its disrespectful and horrible.

DadWasHere Tue 10-Nov-15 09:05:29

I would just say it's a very rude word for a girl. Please do not use it as its disrespectful and horrible.

Well, yea, it is all that. But the girl already knows that and even at 8 may be aware of an odd absence of a male equivalent for the term. Kids that age, these days, have that level of awareness thanks to the internet. The simple answer you gave, heard by one so young, will be received as no more than a silencing technique.

VestalVirgin Tue 10-Nov-15 11:26:35

@Gwenhwyfar: I think HPV can actually be passed by kissing. Not the highest risk, but I wouldn't know why it would be impossible.
As long as the kid doesn't think sex is harmless ...

I really don't get why people don't want to explain sex to their children. Certainly it is better to get to give them your version first, before they learn societal attitudes? Because as we are in the feminist forums here, I can guarantee you, you won't like the ideas society at large will give your child.

chantico Tue 10-Nov-15 11:33:53

My DD heard the word slut in context of a slutwalk and asked what it was (it was a mini news bulletin, I think, on Ch5).

Any recommendations for that context?

(I'm not planning to raise the subject, but if it comes up again, some ideas of what to say might be useful, as I'm not sure I was terribly clear. But at least she no longer thinks it's an alternate name for the moonwalk).

VestalVirgin Tue 10-Nov-15 12:03:28

How old is your daughter, chantico? Old enough to know about rape?

If not, I'd just explain that men (and some women) call women who wear "too little" clothing "sluts" and that that's a bad thing, and women have the right to wear as much or little clothing as they want.
You could explain the slutwalks as protest against the notion that women have to dress a certain way.

Or you could just tell her the truth. But I understand people not wanting their children to be confronted with something as ugly as rape at an early age.

chantico Tue 10-Nov-15 14:30:34

Pre-teen.

Yes, we've talked about consent and she's certainly got some understanding of violent crime including rape. But she hadn't come across the term slut, and I found trying to explain both a derogatory meaning and the idea of reclaiming terms simultaneously (and at a random moment) a little challenging. So very grateful for the help.

Weirdly, one of the hardest bits was explaining to a girl, who has only thought of clothes in terms of whether she (and I suppose her peer group) like them or not, that some people pin stereotypes to them and may treat people differently because of them.

DadWasHere Tue 10-Nov-15 18:43:55

I dont understand why you found that part so hard chantico. The first thing kids encounter is that clothing is very much gendered, that different attire is viewed as appropriate or inappropriate in different social situations. They may not clearly 'see' it in the sense you don't so much see glass as look through it, but they live the reality of it constantly. I don’t see the value of explaining a simpler version of "some people pin stereotypes to them" because its something everyone does from a very early age, the child included. Around 7 I explained that everyone from their age up begins to judge and comment on what other people wear but some people can be very mean about it because some people enjoy being mean. So, if a boy their age appeared wearing a dress some people might just think it looked very odd while some others might laugh at him and others do even worse things like start pushing and poking him.

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