This is ONE OF 2 responses to VC 30 Yumi 6 ("You're not alone")...
It's not a word I particularly care for. And it's a word I have found more often in the mouths of women than in men. Women sometimes berate themselves and their sisters with this word, for reasons I don't entirely understand. And now even our own Yumi is annoyed (ashamed? confused?) at herself for once being a "slut."
A slut is a woman (men are never caled sluts - pigs maybe, but not sluts) who gives the gift of her own body too freely. I wonder, though, how we can ever be sure that such a gift has been (or could ever be) given too freely. How often is too often? How much is too much? Who is harmed by this excess? How are they harmed? Why are they harmed?
During the long and weary years of my bachelorhood before I met Betsy, I was the kind of nice guy whose shoulder often attracted the weeping repentances of reformed sluts. "If I'd met you back in the days when I was a slut," they'd assure me, "we'd be in bed already. Thank god those days are over!"
I was never quite sure how to respond. The curious part was that these confessions were invariably delivered in a tone that suggested the admission was worth far more than a mere act of sex. "I didn't respect those men. You, however, I deeply respect. Therefore, instead of sleeping with you, I will instead tell you how much I regret sleeping with lesser men."
So these female friends of mine always viewed this admission as a compliment, so much so that I felt compelled to thank them. "Thank you for respecting me enough not to sleep with me!" I would say (or something to that effect). But after such an exchange I felt a desert wind whistling through the open places in my heart. I felt like a thirsty man in a desert who, after wandering for days in the pitiless sun, stumbles upon a rich banquet table overflowing with wine. And every woman at the table bows deeply to me and says "I would not dream of insulting you with this cheap vintage. Godspeed!"
I would still be wandering in that desert today, and far too dry and virginal to be insulted by any woman on the planet, if it had not been for the miraculous gifts I received, almost by chance, from a few remarkable women. I do not exagerate when I say that these gifts saved my life. I would not be here today in my current form, nor would there be any Archipelago to be in, I think. Nor could I have won the love of my Betsy. The world would be a darker, colder place, and not just for me.
I hope these women have some partial understanding of the gift they have given me and its ramifications over time. I fear, however, that they may not. Men and women are ultimately mysterious to each other (as we are even to ourselves). We do not understand the myriad subtle ways in which we affect each other.
Women often say that all men are alike, but I think they do not understand how true that is. Our need is universal. Women who know what it is to make love to a man they do not love may argue that sex is the least sincere form of communication. But I think that it is the most sincere form of communication. There is a moment in even the sleaziest and briefest of encounters when, if only for an instant, the man becomes all men and the woman becomes all women. And the gift passed from one to the other and back again, however instinctive, is one of timeless compassion.
To Yumi I say this: the gift of your body is yours to give and no one else's. Give it as wisely and as carefully as you can. Learn from your experience. But do not berate yourself for the experiments of youth. You have no way of knowing how deeply you have touched the world.