Am I a slut? Defining self-worth by fuckability

Am I a slut? In some ways the answer is easy. By my feminist, sex-positive reclamation of the word ‘slut’, I am one. I love sex. ‘Slut’ is a word I claim proudly, because there is power in owning my sexuality as a person with a vagina, who has always been told sex is not for me to enjoy. There’s also power in owning my sexuality as a queer man, because our cisheteronormative society is still scared of men who fuck men. But recently, I’ve begun to think about the pressure I feel to perform my sluttiness. I’ve begun to worry that I define my self-worth by my fuckability.

Content note for suicide, self-harm, mental illness, and internalised self-hatred.

I have a tendency to assume I have no value to people other than sex.

I’m good at sex – in so much as one can be ‘good’ at a variety of physical acts woven together with emotional vulnerability. I’m good at sucking cock and I’m good at asking for what I want. I have a mind full of dirty thoughts and I don’t understand why so many people are surprised that I’ll shamelessly share them. I’ll coax your fantasies out of you with my unexpected honestly and offered-up vulnerability, and I will remember them when I’m fucking you. I will whisper filthy words in your ear with a teasing grin, and try to deepen every kiss.

I’m good at sex. I’m less good at believing that I have value outside of sex, that someone can actually care about me beyond my hand on their dick, jerking them off into my mouth. I know how ridiculous that sounds. If I tried, I could list other things about me that have worth, but they’d just be words: meaningless sounds that I know I should believe but don’t.

Years of my depression lying to me have chipped away at my sense of self-worth, leaving me hollowed out and empty. I know all the right words to say, but that doesn’t change my fundamental belief that I am worthless. That I’m a horrible person, not deserving of love or kindness or care. I genuinely don’t understand why my friends stick around when all I seem to be able to do is fall apart, or why people still want me when I can’t be a horny slut.

Am I a slut, or do I just believe that I have nothing to offer but my sluttiness?

It’s hardly a surprise that I define my self-worth by my fuckability. After all, I’ve been taught by a white supremacist, cisheteropatriarchal society that my worth as a person with my vagina is how attractive straight, cis men find me. I’ve been taught that catcalls are compliments, and even though I don’t want to fuck straight, cis men I can’t stop myself caring about whether they want to fuck me. As I said in the Metro article I wrote earlier this year, when we’re still punished for not falling in line with the male gaze, it becomes even harder to de-centre that desire and stand steady in our own self-worth.

I want to say fuck you to these ideas. I want to pretend that I’ve done the work on unlearning them, that I don’t buy into them any more. But in reality I do, in reality the cisnormative, patriarchal bullshit has twisted itself to slide inside the self-hatred that I can’t escape. The self hatred that chokes me, that claws its way inside my mind until every one of my thoughts is sharp. The self hatred that tells me that I am not enough, that I am too much, that I am broken.

I am broken and I am worthless, but I can still fuck. And sex is a distraction from the broken glass shards of my thoughts, from the pain the lying depression voice in my mind tells me that I can only make stop by killing myself. I swipe on Tinder, looking for sex, for someone to make me feel something. Anything. I’m desperate to feel less alone and seeking connection through casual sex is easier than being vulnerable enough to tell people I love that I’m struggling. After all, my mind has convinced me that they don’t love me and I will just be annoying them.

Am I a slut, or do I use sex as a coping mechanism?

Sex is fun, but it’s also a distraction from feeling alone. It stops me feeling numb. It’s easier to ignore the part of my brain that is screaming at me to kill myself when I’m trying to work out how to turn someone on. It’s hard to think about anything but the heat of their touch when someone’s hands are on me. I growl more, harder because I need to feel. I need them to make me feel, because I am scared that I am too broken to feel anymore. Sometimes I am so hungry to be touched that it doesn’t matter who is touching me.

Self-loathing fills the cracks left wide by my insecurity and everything hurts.

Do I actually enjoy sex, or am I chasing the high of actually feeling something? Do I want the heat of a strangers hands on me, or do I feel like I should want that? Maybe I’m more interested in the story I will be able to tell afterwards. I can’t tell my friends that I’m falling apart, but I can tell them that I’ve just been fucked. Maybe if I flirt and sext and pretend I’m ok, I can stave off that panic attack. At least I’ll get tiny crumbs of connection. People are more likely to reply to nudes, my lying depression brain tells me, than to me asking them for support.

Am I a slut, or do I use sex to self-harm?

Sex is a safer coping mechanism than cutting myself, right? But maybe every time I force myself to play the slut, I reenforce the idea that I am defined by my fuckability. Maybe every time I accept crumbs of comfort and connection because I don’t believe I deserve anything else, I make it harder for myself to stop believing that. Is sex where I don’t enforce my own boundaries, where I fuck someone I know is bad for me, just another way to hurt myself?

When we fuck, I’m much more comfortable giving than receiving. I’ll suck your dick and make sure I get you off without mentioning that I’d quite like to too. I’ll fuck your arse and be the dominant you want me to be without asking for the aftercare I need. Let me prove my worth. It’s why what happened in London hurt me so much, because I was genuinely vulnerable with him. The kind of vulnerable that sees through my attempts to be the slut, to the me who wants someone to hold my hand and make me laugh.

It’s easy for me to tell someone that I want them to beat my balls. It’s a million times harder for me to tell them that I need help.

Do I actually want sex, or have I just internalised that sex is the only way I have worth? That outside of getting someone off, I don’t deserve that connection and closeness I crave. That if people saw all of me – not just the flawed parts, but the dark, fucked up parts of me – they would hate me as much as I hate myself, so I have to keep playing this role. I have to make sure I catch the innuendos and make the pervy comments expected of me. This is what people keep me around for, right? Because I’m always up to sext or down to send nudes, because I write about sex.

Am I a slut, or is ‘slut’ a role I force myself to perform because I believe it’s the only way anyone will love me?

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