Please Note: Wordslut was kindly gifted to us from Black Inc Books, however all opinions are that of the author.
What is a slut…? Pause that thought, because it’s not quite what you think. ‘Slut’ originally had none of the connotations it holds today, it was just a word used to describe an untidy man or woman. And that right there is the first of so many facts that blew my mind as I read ‘Wordslut’ by Amanda Montell.
Wordslut is described as a ‘feminist look at gendered language and the way it shapes us’ and the book certainly dives into this. It took me a while to get through the first two chapters because I needed time to process all of the fascinating stuff I was learning about my own language, and how so much of it related to the words I choose to speak every day. And that’s not to say that the book is information-heavy, in fact, Montell has written this book in a fun and engaging way that also showers you in facts and poignant pop-culture references that keep things light and easy to digest.
It took me a while to get through the first two chapters because I needed time to process all of the fascinating stuff I was learning about my own language
The book opens with an English history lesson, for context, and then delves into the history of words such as slut, bitch and the one, the only CUNT. Montell also looks at a variety of topics in chapters with witty titles like Women didn’t ruin the English language—they, like, invented it and How to confuse a catcaller (and other ways to verbally smash the patriarchy).
I was really blown away by a lot of the gendered language discussed because it’s all so blatantly obvious and in our everyday lexicon and yet I had never stopped to realise that our language does in fact use the masculine as a default. An excellent example is that my plants all have guy names… Why Amy? Why did you gender your fiddle-leaf fig?
Easily one of my favourite parts was when Montell recounts an interaction where she defended the use of “ya’ll” as a plural second-person pronoun. I’m so glad to now have a solid argument for why “ya’ll” is important (and not just fun to say).
I was really blown away by a lot of the gendered language discussed because it’s all so blatantly obvious and in our everyday lexicon
There’s a chapter on how women speak to other women (cooperatively) and how it differs from how a man would speak in a group of other men (competitively). And how the use of the word ‘like’ has been a part of language for ‘more than two hundred years’ and its use is not something to be ashamed of (which I’m grateful for because I use ‘like’ a lot).
Wordslut is written with a lot of open dialogue and certainly is not a feminist rage attack against the English language, which I definitely appreciated. I know that feminist literature can be polarising but I think this book does well to steer clear of that. It’s not working to undo the patriarchy one word at a time, but to give us the understanding of how language is important in guiding our culture.
I highly rate this book. From the opening few pages, I knew I was going to enjoy it and come out the other end a lot more knowledgable on the English language in general and I certainly feel like that’s happened. I also loved how much it got me thinking about my own use of language and the little things I can do to stop participating in the negative cycle of words. Head out and pick up a copy of Wordslut. Ya’ll won’t be disappointed!