Today, let me introduce you to a practice known as "slut-dropping." Apparently it's all the rage in the UK, and I'm shocked that it hasn't caught on Stateside, since this sounds right up a lot of jerks' alleys. Here goes: A gang of merrymaking young squires careens around the local village in an auto-mobile during the wee hours of the morning. When they see a young lass stumbling home alone from a night of intoxicating fun, wearing clothing indicative of both the presence of sexuality and the wearer's awareness of said sexuality, they stop the car and offer to give the damsel in distress a ride home. What gentlemen! BUT THERE'S A TWIST.
Instead of driving the girl home, they drive her in the opposite direction of her home, as far as they possibly can, and then, when they get to the TBD nowhere spot, they drop her off, laughing and laughing like teenage Mitt Romney cutting a gay kid's hair, and drive away, filming the "slut" they just "dropped" as she angrily/sadly watches them recede from her.
What sort of barbarians would pull such a stunt? Why, college blokes, just having a bit of fun during a time known as "freshers' week" in the UK. In the US, depending on where you went to school, it's called "freshman orientation week" or "pledge week" or "the entirety of your freshman year," and in both places, the introduction of new students to a college or university campus provides the perfect opportunity to teach those incoming freshmen important lessons about life. Namely: let's teach those sluts a lesson about what happens to sluts who go slutting!/Hey sluts, come hang out with us!
The UK newspaper The Independent decries the practice of "slut-dropping" and other sexist freshers' week activities, citing them as just a small part in a "new trend" known as "slut-shaming." Like there isn't a well-documented and proud literary tradition of slut-shaming that can be accessed via anyone's local public library.
Furthermore, there's a (thankfully for me) less well documented slut shaming history of sexist collegiate party traditions that began well before the age of ubiquitous digital cameras and social media sharing. The same "Pimps n' Hoes" and "Golf Pros and Tennis Hoes" and "CEO's and Corporate Hoe's" parties rightfully throwing people into apoplexy have existed for many moons. They were going on when I was a freshman in college, and, from an informal survey of my coworkers, they've been going on in the US of A at least since the mid-90's.
It was almost a weekly ritual for my friends and me when we were 18-year-old college freshmen — we'd get dressed up in the slutty dress code dictated by the boys (almost always boys; girls didn't invite other girls to their parties) throwing the most rollicking soiree, put on our highest shoes, push our boobs up so they sat neatly under our chins like a pectoral butt, and totter over to the party in a group, like herd of slutty newborn deer. What any of us actually did at the party was inconsequential to our status as "sluts." We could go there and recite Bible verses or drunkenly lecture members of the football team about the inherent sexism of commenting on a girl's ass as she stood right in front of you in line for beer — or we could go home with some random junior who you saw once in line for stir fry at the dining hall. Either way, we were sluts, because we went to the party dressed in a way that acknowledged our buying into the notion that all of the "fun" women are sluts. I slut, therefore I am. And this was at a Catholic school. Lord knows what was happening at those terrifyingly Bacchanalian secular universities my parents warned me about.
Collegiate culture uses young people to teach other young people in their formative years that the best and worst thing a woman can be is a slut. On one hand, sluts are fun and cool! Parties are thrown around the theme of "sluts." But on the other, sluts are pretty much the worst. They're the coolest awful thing worthy of celebration and derision ever. The best, coolest campus ever involves tons of sluts, but the worst possible tragedy that could befall this already-fucked world of ours would be if, somehow, the sluts were not informed in no uncertain terms that they exist to be humiliated and harmed for the amusement of others (for our purposes, the word "slut" means "any woman who is not a fat old nun or your mom"). And there's no better place to get a jump on teaching young women that if they display any form of sexuality or imbibe in alcoholic beverages that they are, to borrow words from the first episode of Jersey Shore "sluts who need to be abused" than freshman orientation at college, a time when a whole new generation of young scholars are taught that men are the hilarious ones and sluts (or, you know, girls) are the butt of every joke.
I understand the counterarguments in favor of just letting kids get the asshole out of their systems in a controlled environment like a college campus rather than repressing them so they have to wait until they're out in the real world, where they'll subject the rest of us to their stupidity. And I understand that people who enjoy themselves at the occasional "Bros/Hoes" party or whatever aren't necessarily going to grow up to be Katie Roiphe or Patrick Bateman (although that would be a pretty fucking cute couple). But I had to spend my early twenties unlearning things I learned to believe when I was in college — that men are oUtRaGeOuS and funny and women are silent and sexy. And when anyone has to spend a good chunk of their young adulthood correcting attitudes they espoused at age 18, it's a huge waste of energy.
The time's long past to drop the slut-themed college party off in the middle of the woods and then drive away laughing.