Does flirting with a guy on the dance floor make you a slut?

Dance

Dance (Photo credit: Nuno Duarte)

You’re at a work and dinner dance, you’ve had a few drinks, and the ratio  of men and women is 1 to 3. You notice a client sitting alone, you ask him to join you and your group to  the dance floor. You laugh and groove as your body absorbs the beat. You’re all charm and so are the men.

You have two children with the man you’ve been with for the last 20 years, you own a house together, plus you’re on your second dog, it’s not a lifetime, but it’s a commitment through the good times and bad. You’re done the distance, and yes that even includes a long-distance relationship due to work commitments.

You’re not interested in other men, sure you notice a good looking guy, but that’s all it is, a quick look of admiration. But here you are laughing, chatting and dancing with other men and your partner is in another city. Are you doing anything wrong?

Questions swirl later the next day when lying in bed nursing a slightly sore head: Is this flirting? Is it just having fun? Being friendly? Or are you leading the men on? Can females and males be just friends? Are you are a slut?

And then the another thought hit me, if I was a slut what did that make those married men I danced with? A player! A stud? Are the standards the same for both men and women? And would the men have called me a slut, I doubt it, since I didn’t ‘put out’, but what about other women? Possibly. Why are women the hardest critics toward each other?

When we women call each other a ‘slut’ aren’t we falling into a world that was designed by men to not just deny women their sexuality, but their individual rights as beings. Should we allow others to label us for how we choose to dress, socialise with men, and our sexuality, which is just as valid as any male.

The Oxford Dictionary defines slut as:

1. a woman who has many casual sexual partners.

2. dated a woman with low standards of cleanliness.

And the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1. chiefly British : a slovenly woman

2. a: a promiscuous woman; especially : prostitute; b: a saucy girl : minx

There is no mention of men and their participation in these ‘casual’ and ‘promiscuous’ acts.

The word slut derives from the Middle English word ‘slutte’, with it’s first known use being in the 15th century….shouldn’t we have moved on by now?

Lately I’ve heard the term, man-whore or male-slut, but interestingly I couldn’t find a definition for either in any reputable dictionary, but I did find ‘stud’ in dictionaries.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states:

a : a young man : guy; especially : one who is virile and promiscuous

And the Oxford Dictionary:

2. a young man thought to be very active sexually or regarded as a good sexual partner:

a rugged, hairy-chested stud….

Isn’t the results interesting? A woman is slovenly, promiscuous and possibly a prostitute, while the man’s traditional equivalent to slut, stud, is defined as a young man who is promiscuous and regarded as a good sexual partner!

Erin Riordan, from Feminists at Large says:

How we treat women’s sexuality and sexual desires also has an impact on how we treat women as people. If women are to achieve true equality their sexual needs and desires must be respected, and their sexuality regarded as their own. Words like ‘slut’ prevent this progress from happening, and disempower women. In calling a woman a slut, we take away her ownership of her own sexuality and own self. This is detrimental, and has a ripple effect felt across a culture that treats women as ‘less than’. To bring about justice and equality for women, and for everyone, we need to stop shaming women for their sexuality and sexual needs, and we need to strike ‘slut’ and like-minded terms from our collective vocabulary. 

I’ve now denounced the word ‘slut’, and any connotation it had, but I still wasn’t at peace because I’d been called a ‘flirt’ in the past by my partner, had I been ‘flirting’, and if I had, did it really matter if it was just dancing and friendly banter?

So back to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the definition of flirt is:

1. to move erratically: flit

2. a : to behave amorously without serious intent; b: to show superficial or casual interest or liking

3. to come close to reaching or experiencing something —used with with <flirting with disaster>

Under this definition you could say I was flirting, that is, if you’d ever seen my dance moves, you would definitely say I was moving erratically, and some might say I was behaving amorously, just because I was ‘feeling’ the music and ‘letting loose’, And considering the men were work colleagues, and not people I would normally choose to dance with, you could say I was acting superficial and if any male misinterpreted my friendliness I could have been flirting with disaster!

The Social Issues Research Centre website says that flirting is a universal and essential aspect of human interaction and events such as the dinner and dance I attended is the type of event that flirtatious behaviour is not only socially sanctioned, but almost expected…

The website  also suggested that some Puritanical cultures, such as Britain and North America, has given flirting a bad name, with now many of us becoming so worried about causing offence or sending the wrong signals that we are in danger of losing our natural talent for playful, harmless flirtation. Also its also suggested than an exchange of admiring glances or a bit of light-hearted flirtatious banter can brighten the day, raise self-esteem and strengthen social bonds!

So what does all these definitions mean? Should I have been worried about my tipsy behaviour the night before? From the little research I have done, I can say that, yes some women might have called me a ‘slut’, due to the double standards society still places on sexuality and if I consider the research from the Social Issues Research Centre website, I was possibly brightening up somebody’s day, because who doesn’t like a little attention from the opposite sex and my behaviour according to the website was appropriate for the occasion.

Then I watched this video clip on YouTube:

Can women and men be just friends?

In the Scientific American article, Men and Women Can’t Be “Just Friends”, it quotes research that suggests men and women often view their platonic opposite-sex friendships very differently, with men viewing the relationship as having the possibility of future ‘romance’  where for women, they genuinely see the relationship as platonic.

The Huffington Post shares a research paper that begs the question, Should Men And Women Be Friends?, and it turns out that the men surveyed overestimated the attraction female friends felt toward them. Now is that a women’s fault?

In the light of the day, my behaviour was harmless fun, that for many will see as a normal social interaction for the occasion, others may consider the dancing inappropriate because I am in long-term relationship. In the end my intention was to let my hair down, boogie, and share some laughter and fun with friends, it didn’t actually matter who my dancing partner was or their sex, as long as someone was prepared to get up and dance I was happy. And for the men involved, who knows what they were thinking and if they felt they had been ‘led on’, more the fool them.

As I wrote this piece I wondered if this was an issue for those who are gay?

Can women and men just be friends? Do you enjoy spending time with others who are not your life partner/spouse and who are the opposite sex/same sex (if gay)? If so is it an issue with your partner/spouse? Was I acting immoral?

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