can negative words be rebranded

“Jane, You Ignorant Slut,” No Longer an Insult? Will SlutWalks Change a Definition?

By Media, Public Relations

Back when Saturday Night Live was funny, Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtain did a bit called Point, Counterpoint in which the pair argued and tossed barbs while delivering the news with anchorperson false cheer and seriousness. The line made famous by this sketch is “Jane, you ignorant slut,” shot off casually by the in-character Akroyd (see video below).

Megan Gibson writes for Time about a new movement that is trying to re-brand the word slut, using it as the focal point of a campaign for consent; an anti-assault, anti-rape movement with demonstrations called SlutWalks, designed to raise awareness and generate conversation. The word and its brand are gaining attention, and that’s the point, but is it effective?

Can a word with such a negative connotation really be altered to have a positive, empowered meaning? Will women ever want to be referred to as sluts? I don’t think so.

The campaign is relying on the shock factor of using an unexpected word to generate attention, but I think its use only muddles and detracts from the message. People will be so hung up on the word, the demonstration’s participants’ wearing of “slutty” attire, the controversy surrounding the shock factor itself that we’ll forget the point entirely.

What was it this demonstration was about, anyway?