The latest meme: There’s no such thing as a slut. There are only mean, jealous, prudish, sexist people who use the word “slut” to stigmatize young women for, oh, say, sleeping with everything wearing a pair of trousers. In a word, the word “slut” has become politically incorrect. The politically correct phrase these days is: “victim of the double standard.”


The newest sl–er, victim, on the public scene is 24-year-old Jessica Cutler, the former Senate staffer fired last week for using office time and the office computer to post her intimate sex diary on her weblog Washingtonienne.com (it now seems to be defunct, and if you try to link, you’ll get the home page for MoveOn.org, the Bush-bashing, George-Soros-funded website that’s obscene in a different way). Cutler claimed to be sleeping with six different men at the same time, which is carrying, er, victimhood, to new heights. When, after fellow blogstress Wonkette outed Cutler, the Washington Post’s gossip columnist, Richard Leiby, asked her about her athletic love life, Cutler replied that she wasn’t the slightest bit ashamed. Then she played the slut card:


“‘Everything is true,’ Cutler told us in an interview. ‘It’s so cliched. It’s like, “There’s a slutty girl on the Hill?” There’s millions of ’em,’ she said, laughing. ‘A lot of my friends are way worse than me.'”


A similar use of the s-word popped up in a Washington Post feature story by Laura “Our Sexy Younger Set” Stepp; the topic was college girls who keep scorecards counting the number of men they’ve bedded with. Sessions wrote:


“The more partners a woman is known to have, the more likely she is to become the object of a whisper campaign by others who have less experience.


“‘It’s easier to say, “So-and-so’s a slut” than to say, “I’m not at that place yet,”‘ explains sophomore Veronica Searles, a confidante to classmates at Brown.”


No, you just can’t use that word. It all started in 2000, when Leora Tannenbaum published Slut! Growing Up Female With a Bad Reputation. The idea is that it’s perfectly OK to be a slut, but it’s not OK to call somone a slut. Susan Faludi contributed the dust-jacket blurb: “A bracing corrective for any young woman who finds herself at the mercy of the double standard.” And here is how Amazon.com reviewer Ron Hogan describes Tannenbaum’s book:


“As such, they became victims of a double standard that winks at sexual promiscuity among teenage boys but insists that young women remain virginal and pure. Even worse, the slut bashing is perpetuated in nearly every case by female classmates. In addition to insisting that schools get serious about combating sexual harassment, Tanenbaum urges the development of sex education programs that acknowledge responsible alternatives to abstinence, programs that would recognize the sexual desires of young women (and men) without condemnation. Her social critique is solid, but it’s the personal accounts of emotional abuse–and, thankfully, perseverance–that will thoroughly convince you that the current tolerance of slut bashing is simply unacceptable.”


You get the idea. “Slut!” has already spawned some clones: Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut by Emily White, and Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards. Next to come: the lawsuits to be filed against those who dare use the s-word.


Meanwhile, back to Jessica Cutler: Her latest revelation to Leiby, reported today, is that she gets herself tested for AIDS once a year (nice guys you’ve been “recognizing” your “sexual desires” with, Jessica!). One of Jessica’s fellas, she’s said, is a married, Bush-appointed (but unnamed) “chief of staff” at a federal agency who paid her $400 for a nooner last Tuesday. “Slut” isn’t quite the word that comes to mind for that. I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with “yo”–but I don’t want to stigmatize anyone.