hypersensitivity, slutty behavior and Donald Miller

i had an entirely different post in mind for today, but i read a blog this morning i think i want to respond to.

How to Live a Great Love Story by Donald Miller

i don’t make it a habit of critiquing other people’s work, unless they ask me to, and that’s not what i’m going to do here.  i fully recommend you read Don’s blog and make whatever judgments of it you want to.  what i’m more interested in is the comments.

Don addressed women and he used words like “slutty”, “drunk”, “screwed up” and a slew of others in reference to the sexual behavior of women.

and people took offense.  mainly women took offense.  the biggest accusation was that Don’s assessment and choice of terms was insensitive and one-sided.  one commenter said, “Those are shaming words. Those are words that burrow deep into a woman’s identity like gremlins and tell her she is damaged goods.”

i call bullshit.

Miller’s use of those words were honest and a direct reflection of how men view women who are easy to get into bed.  and he is absolutely right.

he used those words to draw an ugly picture of what today’s sexual culture looks like.  and for my part, i applaud him.  the overall tone of his blog is encouraging and hopeful for women who have gone through seasons of sexually damaging behavior and gives very solid advice to them about how to get beyond it.

what those who take exception with him don’t get is things are not going to change as long as we all sugar coat bad behavior that causes us to become less than respectful.

and for women, the fastest way to lose respectability is to slut around.  it’s just the truth.  is it fair that guys not only get away with it but also get congratulated for their conquests?  absolutely not.  but denying the fact that women do get judged for it won’t change that.

and fyi, i just had a conversation with a friend of mine who told me that most guys, when they’re being honest, find no satisfaction in transient sexual relationships.  because the truth is, while women are trying to land a man with sex, the men know they will never choose to have a relationship with someone who is that easy to get.

when it comes to women who have had excessive or damaging sexual relationships, instead of all this talk about sensitivity and allowing women to think it’s okay to blame everyone else for their sexual behavior, why don’t we all just do what Donald Miller did and call what it is.  bad decision making.  then help them to figure out how get past it and become someone quality men can respect.  but more than that, become women who can respect themselves.  something i don’t see happening until women who engage in this behavior look inside themselves to figure why they became willing to go there in the first place.

moral of the tirade?  it is not insensitive to call bad behavior out by using the words that paint it for the ugliness it is.  what is insensitive is to point it out without offering hope and help.

real change begins with a reality check.

*kicks the soap box to pieces*

all right.  i know i opened myself up for a serious butt whooping with this one.  feel free to let me have it.  i’ve just changed into my big girl panties.  tell me what you think.


57 comments on “hypersensitivity, slutty behavior and Donald Miller

  1. Ashley says:

    I agree and disagree with you. I think that a certain degree of “bad decision” making should happen among women up until a certain time (if they’re safe and smart about their expectations). At what time should it stop? I guess that depends on the woman and her goals and desires at that point in time. What’s disheartening is that women believe such “bad decisions” will land them in a secure relationship. Also, and maybe even worse, is that there’s not always the help to reverse previous behavior (since any form of decision making does become habitually ingrained in the brain).

    Ok, that turned into a ramble. The point being, women should be allowed to make whatever “bad decisions” they want. The horrible part is that women aren’t honest with themselves and with each other about the outcomes of such decisions.

    • i understanding what you’re saying. i guess what i don’t understand is why anyone would find it necessary to make “bad decisions” on purpose. i’m all ears if you have a legit reason. every woman i know, who has done so, has major regrets.

  2. Kristen says:

    At first, I was really taken aback by Donald Miller’s word choice in his post (thanks for tweeting the link yesterday, btw). I’m used to people dancing around this issues and certainly never bluntly using the word “slut.” However, I agree with you, a more “delicate delivery” wouldn’t have cut straight to the real issues. Simply, the truth hurts. It would have been one thing if his post had been pure condemnation–but it that was not his intention at all. He’s was just calling it how men see it.

  3. Jenn says:

    I agree with what Don says – it’s a hard message and it is counter cultural.

    I don’t like those words but my BA English has taught me that words like slutty are too damn complicated in our current society. I am not “slutty” but maybe to someone I’m a whole lot of “screwed up,” however I feel about those words I do know they are polarizing words. There are people who want to reclaim them in an effort to take away the sting, the same has happened with the n word, the b word and so on and so forth. And there are those who only hear judgement, rules and oppression when they hear those words.

    Honestly I think that those words are neither.

    Women who are okay with being “slutty” need to stop and figure out what is going on – and I am speaking to the cougars and the kittens – age does not give you license to hand out whatever you are giving to whomever.

    And women who scream foul – I want to know why? Don asks for honesty – and I think honesty is necessary, because the whining comes from a place of shame – shame doesn’t survive when your honest. So when I say I’m a whole lot of screwed up I am more than prepare to own it – not a badge of honor but as what I carry with me and what I work with.

    As a feminist I feel like I need to start handing out over-sized t shirts and hugs. Love yourselves ladies – feminism was/is to give you opportunities to grow not to flash your girls.

  4. Joseph says:

    As a guy, let me start by saying that when we are young and immature (i.e. “not dating material”) we can be incredibly drawn towards scantily-clad, sexual girls. The word that comes to mind is “tantalizing.” And, to a certain extent, I’m not sure that ever leaves us entirely.

    But for those of us who grow up into a more mature and complete person, these girls lose their allure at some point. For some guys, it’s when they stop and think about the train wreck of heartache in this girl’s past. For other guys, it’s when they realize that they simply won’t get a fulfilling, lasting relationship out of a girl like that. For me, it was when I realized that the vast majority of girls who dress and behave like Don Miller talks about are hurting, confused, and insecure. And the ones who genuinely just enjoy being had by man after man are a little creepy.

    What I’m trying to say is that I think most girls who dress provocatively and act in a very sexualized way are simply in an immature place where they don’t know how else to feel valued by men. To that end, I think what Don Miller said was spot on – most girls don’t want to be labeled a slut. And calling it what it is, in my book, helps people see the true picture. It strips away the gloss, if you will.

    • thanks joseph. i think that sums it up pretty well.

    • >most girls don’t want to be labeled a slut.

      So stop using that label.

      • Albert says:

        Nicole, you’re missing the point. Don is calling the women who engaged in irresponsible, immoral sexual behavior as “sluts” because that is WHAT THEY ARE DOING. He is NOT addressing all girls as “sluts”.

        • No, YOU’RE missing the point. “Slut” is a shaming word. Period. A girl should never be SHAMED for having sex, whether its with one person and a condom or with 9458394056946 people and no protection at all. You can call her risky, MAYBE even irresponsible, but to SHAME someone for engaging in a certain sexual behavior? Ridiculous, hurtful, anti-woman, and unhelpful. I didn’t call Don out for calling all women sluts (although I get an underlying message that he thinks girls are these wild, sexual beings that need to be tamed, but that’s besides the point here), I called him and Joseph out for using the word AT ALL.

  5. Nicki says:

    All I can say is … AMEN! 🙂

  6. Jennifer says:

    After reading both yesterday’s and today’s blog, I’m convinced Donald Miller is a genius.

  7. wendy says:

    I’m not going to overthink this or take all the comments into consideration, I’m just going to say this: I read DM’s piece and I have no problem with it. The writing is DM style and I’m glad for it, because it’s about time we call it what it is. I’m raising a pre-teen who’s quickly developing into her sexuality and she needs to know that the culture in her peergroup, their media, their values…it’s all wrong. It’s opposite of what health and success and love and relationship–anything she really wants out of life–looks like. If my daughter puts on an outfit that looks like she’s giving it all away easy, I’m gonna let her know, and we’re gonna talk about what it is SHE really wants out of life and relationships and if she’s headed in the right direction with the image she’s giving. Even at twelve, it’s a culture of free and easy sex, and it’s about time girls started hearing a harsh truth about how they’re acting. How can we expect men to be all awesome when we are acting slutty to get their attention?

  8. This is the first time I’ve ever read anything Miller ever wrote in its entirety. He hooked me from the first paragraph, and that “landing Mr. Right is like training for a marathon” bit is spot on.

    The great thing about hurting someone’s feelings is it shows you where the problem is — your feelings. I almost got married on feelings alone, and I’m glad it ended before it became a relationship.

    • hurting feelings isn’t a bad thing as long as you hurt the right feelings, then help replace them with something healthier. well said, zechariah.

      • I had someone disagree with me vehemently when I posted the quote on FB. I almost wrote out a long response (as I used to on my old account) then the little Sharideth on my shoulder reminded me, “It takes two to argue.” Well played, mini-shoulder-Sharideth!

  9. I read your post. I read his post. I agree with both of you completely.

  10. Julie says:

    Words are words. Some have more of an impact than others, and sometimes they even hurt more. But I think the biggest problem is is that people just read the words. They don’t see the attitude or intent behind them. We hear what we want to hear, and if we’re looking for drama, we’re definitely going to find drama in the use of slut or drunk instead of sexually active or intoxicated.

    I always prefer straightforward talking instead of talking in circles. Get to the point. If I’m skanking around, call me a skank. Tell me what I need to hear. The only thing that sugar-coating something has ever done for me is to put on weight…

  11. Lynne says:

    I know that you weren’t going there with this post, but I’m going to because I think it’s related.

    I agree that bad behavior does not make people respect women. However, it’s important to note that one should not take the stance that slutty behavior constitutes that men should take advantage of them. There have been court cases recently where men who rape women are let go free of conviction because someone decided that she was a slut and she was “asking for it.” No one deserves rape. We should spend more time teaching boys and men not to rape rather than focusing on the “modesty” problem with girls and women. Too often women are deemed to be sluts or prudes. Rather than accepting it and saying “that’s just how it is,” we should be vocal enough to fight those extreme views of women and defend our rights to live in the in between. Because if you get to the heart of it, I’d say most women don’t want either option.

    There, that’s my soap box.

  12. Larry Hehn says:

    I’m with you both on this, Sharideth. Well said!

  13. Kt says:

    Agreed. And let’s be honest what girl wants to marry the guy that is “slutting” himself around. I don’t. It might be cool in the locker room and with other guys but is that the guy you want? I want someone who is selective in his partners. And I think Don makes the point that we want to be the few among many. I don’t care if it is socially acceptable for woman to “slut” around. I want it to become socially UNacceptable for men to do it. It is not good for my view of self or for their view of themself. Yes the word Don used are harsh and intense. They are even cruel to a certain extent but I think that is how guys look at girls who participate in that behavior. Is it wrong? Yes. Is there more to the problem than just what Don address? Absolutely. But I think he gave a pretty decent view from a guys perspective. It is what I have learned from MY guy friends. They have always done their best to protect me and told me not to be one of the girls that they sleep around with. There is always more to the storry but it is a blog and should be pretty short or we would never read it. I am sure Don has plenty more to say on women and their sexiality and I think I would like to see what his wife has to say about his view, I think that would give you a good picture of the man that he is and the message that he intends to send

  14. Mandie Marie says:

    I really appreciate both you and Miller on this one. Call it what it is. Quit sugar coating it. Brilliant.

  15. mark says:

    My impulse is to leave a butt-whooping, who is this Donald Miller fella and what the hell does he know about anything? Who is he to tell a woman, who hopes to be married or happy in a relationship, anything? And then I re-read your post and felt the same impulse towards you, Shari.

    And then I drank a beer and had another cigarette. And then another of both, thinking all the while.

    Much of what I feel and want to say is about being raised (me, as evangelical christian) to view sex (in all its various forms) as the worst possible thing you could ever do if it’s not on your wedding night. I was told that it corrupts, it ruins you for your future husband/wife, it separates you from Godliness…I’ve been told it all, and I know it has been to my detriment psychologically. And to many I know, married, divorced and single.

    I’m ten years out of rejecting that faith I owned growing up. I spent most of that time wallowing in venom against that faith. I think I’m almost over wallowing…though fangs rear magnificently sometimes in Nashville bars. I think what resonates the most daily with me is that it’s not a black and white. It’s not a this or that.

    It’s an awareness of yourself. In all your manifest forms. How crazy that we’ve tried to compartmentalize ourselves as one or another? And not just talking about slut or prude. Think about chocolate. Or music. So many options…What makes us, as human, amazing is that we are all so massively distinct from one another. We all have a story, either the one we’ve told ourselves or the one that’s told to us or the one that’s being written as we live.

    Don’t assume. Find out – about the sluts and the men who chase them.

    • there’s really not anything here i don’t agree with, my darling mark. you’re right about all of it. however, i think the big difference is i don’t believe that a woman who uses sex to try to land a man, is ever going to find a healthy relationship with a man who fully respects her.

      you know, probably better than most, that i count sluts and the men who chase them amongst my friends. they talk to me. which is why i know none of them are very happy in their relationships.

      i’m looking to help both men and women find a way to meet and connect in healthy ways, with as few obstacles as possible. and honestly, i’ve never met a woman who doesn’t regret have a slutty season of life. it’s something she has to work her way back from as far as respecting herself.

      i think sex is awesome. i think God thinks sex is awesome. i think the church forgets there is difference between sacred and dirty when it comes to sex. and i don’t believe God holds anyone in contempt for not being a virgin when they marry.

      He spends more time talking about people finding their way back than He does condemning the lost.

      thank God He looks at us through the filter of mercy. but we don’t look at each other through the same filter. men losing respect for women who are easy to get into bed is real. describing to women the ugliness of how it’s perceived, isn’t wrong. it’s holding up a mirror than nobody wants to look in. which is never fun. but ultimately, as long it’s done with the end result being grace and help, totally necessary.

  16. Brynn says:

    Funny, my roommate sent me his post this morning. I read it and completely agreed as well. You are spot-on as well. Thanks for addressing the backlash!

  17. Kristen says:

    The advice in the article is not new. It’s not ground-breaking, provocative, or brave. It’s the same old crap we’ve been fed our whole lives. And it hasn’t helped anyone. It has hurt us. Seeing so many females chiming in saying that they agree is disconcerting to me.

    • i am honestly curious about how you think it has hurt us. i’m not at all being combative, just honestly interested in having you expand on your thoughts.

      • Kristen says:

        To be honest, I don’t feel like writing another essay. I’ve commenting on the post and replied to some other comments already, and feel like I’m beating my head against a wall (politely, and in christian love of course). I would just recommend going back to both articles and reading some of the negative responses. There are a lot of points to make because there are a lot of things wrong with the article. And people have made some very well thought out critiques. But I will say this: the word ‘slut’ will never qualify as “the truth spoken in love”. It is hate speech. It is just vile. It is used to marginalize women who don’t fit the mold of how we are supposed to act. It is used to hurt, to shame, even to justify violence. It creates a culture of rape. It will never be spoken in ‘love’. That is simply impossible. And coming from an author who views the Bible as a narrative about hope and love, it just proves how pervasive the culture of slut-shaming is. It is truly saddening.

        • Jenn says:

          I said it above and I will say it again – slut is a devisive word, however, I believe in the context it was used, the intent was to have a time for a pause and consideration. I don’t believe the purpose was shame. I believe the purpose was to respond to the direction in our society that says for women to show their independence, freedom, power or beauty they should or even need to have sex. That is being “slutty” and that is not what any woman should esteem to. HOWEVER, that being said – if a woman choses to have sex in a commited relationship outside of marriage, I do not believe that makes her a slut, nor do I think anyone is suggesting that. There is a difference. Yes there is a culture of shame in the church that leads some to believe and treat sex as a whole as dirty or shameful and yes that needs to be changed for the sake of everyone – those who wait for marriage and those who do not.

          • thanks, jenn. you said beautifully what i wanted to but couldn’t seem to get my head around.

          • Kristen says:

            “I believe in the context it was used, the intent was to have a time for a pause and consideration. I don’t believe the purpose was shame.”

            It doesn’t matter what the intent was. I’m sure he had good intention writing the piece. That does not excuse anything. A white male with no credentials has no right to tell me how to navigate my sexuality and tell me how to feel about it. If he didn’t realize the implications of what he was saying, then he is ignorant at best and a misogynist at worst. If I use the n-word, it doesn’t matter what my intent was, it’s still offensive. Hate speech is hate speech.

            Another problem with the word slut is that its meaning is nebulous. Like so many commenters, you justify his use of the word by giving what the word means to you. It’s definition is vague. Therein lies its power. The word can applied to a woman who has had sex once, to a woman who dresses provocatively, to a teenage girl who made out with her boyfriend. It is used to describe a woman who doesn’t behave in a way the patriarchy sees fit. Once a woman is deemed a ‘slut’ she is deemed less than human. Rape is justified because “she was asking for it”. That is what the word slut means. I cannot stress this enough; the word slut is never helpful and never spoken in love.

            Many of Don’s points rely on the assumption that women have sex because they don’t value themselves. We are “trying to fill a void only God can fill” or some other cliche. sex feels good and that’s why people do it. Woman don’t have sex because they don’t respect themselves, they don’t respect themselves because they’ve been socialized into hating their bodies and natural urges. We are taught that if we have sex, we’ve given a part of ourselves away. we are not whole. We have lost value (sort of like property!). There is no possible way that this kind of teaching can be healthy.

  18. Lyndsay says:

    I read your blog after having read Don’s blogs on this subject. I have to say that I didn’t like his Part 1 message so much. Not because he used words like, “slut”, but because his blog title made it sound like it would be a how to guide about writing your great love story! I found little information in it to actually aid me in that pursuit. He just repeated again and again not to have sex and not to act out in immature provocative ways. I don’t do any of that stuff anyway… I am a 26 yr. old virgin, who LOVES God and respects myself. I know that I would be too emotionally vulnerable to someone if I offered them my physical body without being able to trust their promise of being by my side, FOREVER. This is why I was disappointed by the blog. It didn’t provide the encouragement or wisdom of how to act with the life that God has given me, it only told me to wait, with my chastity belt on for someone to notice my purity and my loneliness and fall in love with me for those reasons. I want someone to fall in love with me because they are in love with how ALIVE in CHRIST I am, to respect me for my courageous and compassionate life choices. I was looking for Don to encourage us to start writing our love stories with God and not concentrate on guys so much, because they’ll notice the right lady when she is reflecting God’s love.
    I hope this helped you see the disappointed point of view. Thank you 🙂

  19. Chris says:

    Very interesting reads. Thanks for the links.

    There have been some comments above, concerned that the weight is being left on women’s shoulders a bit too much. Obviously, a guy can have a slutty season as well, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about both. Each in due season.

    One Biblical command I’ve found useful to ponder is “Defraud not.” I think there is a lot of defrauding going on these days. I’m guilty of it myself.

    For women, “making offers” through clothing or behaviour can really add burdens to men, encouraging desires that cannot or should not be fulfilled.

    For men, when they take what a woman offers, with no reciprocal commitment, sometimes without even the intention of it, that is just as unbalanced.

    The hard part, but the important part, is being aware of what the other side really *needs*, and then either fulfilling those needs, or making sure we don’t make it any harder for them to live patiently.

  20. […] out this one by my friend Sharideth (I think I can call her “friend” now since we met in person for the first time last […]

  21. JBen says:

    one of the things I most appreciate about your blog is you call a spade a spade (or call a slut a slut but that feels so weird to say).

    And underneath it all you care about the people you are being blunt with. That is the most important thing. You aren’t trying to put people in a box. You are trying to help them see the ugly box they’ve put themselves in and get them out of it.

    Keep it up!

  22. merrittonsa says:

    HI Sharideth, I found your blog through @Allyspots and I have to say I totally agree with you. He said some things that were true and for some people that’s just hard to hear. I wish I had read that when I was in my 20s because no one around me had guts enough to say it. Thanks for your post!

  23. Randomlychad says:

    Very brave post. You are like Dear Abby on steroids. But like a surgeon, you suture the wounds, and provide nothing but the best antiseptic for what ails our souls.

  24. Except there is not one piece of empowering advice in the article. It is slut shaming at its best. If he were really concerned about girls treating sex as a form of validation (which, yes, is unhealthy), he would have realized that telling women to be chaste so a man will love them, is just ANOTHER form of sexual validation coming from a man. Women should find validation through and in THEMSELVES. Her value should not be determined by an external agency at all. It especially isn’t based on how empty her vagina has been until one particular penis goes into it.

  25. nicole says:

    nice post. thank you for calling it like it is!!

  26. KatR says:

    “Slut” is an ugly, ugly word that is used to shame women who exhibit any kind of sexual behavior that the man using the word doesn’t like. As another person stated, it can cover anything from a woman with multiple sexual partners to a woman with a skirt that’s deemed to be too short.

    It saddens me to see so many women defend Miller on this, but its not surprising. How many of us have heard ourselves referred to as an object whose worth is in being “undamaged?” (Anyone have to sit through the “bitten apple” analogy?)

    I’ve been a big fan of Donald Miller, but he was SO off base with this one.

  27. […] while back for blogs we wrote.  his was How to Live a Great Love Story (girl edition) and mine was hypersensitivity, slutty behavior and Donald Miller.  it was a response to his […]

  28. […] out this one by my friend Sharideth (I think I can call her “friend” now since we met in person for the first time last […]

  29. Ggirl1 says:

    Sharideth, have you not read your Bible lately? The word slut is to refer to women as dirty earlier Germanic uses of the word mean sludge, mud puddle. Have you read the story of the adulterous woman in the Bible that Jesus encountered. While he absolutely did not condone her behavior, he did not throw a stone either. He saw her as more than that a daughter he created not filth, not mud, not sludge. His words were that anyone without sin may be the first to throw a stone. Now if Miller had half of a real adult vocabulary he could’ve used words such as “promiscuous” or “loose” but slut is crude no matter what you believe about sex. It’s well known as an insult in a modern day world any Wikipedia, person, blog, Urban dictionary will tell you that. Ephesians 5:4 says “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place let there be thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:6 says “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Finally Philippians 4:8 says “Whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” So think on that.

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