|Photo by Linda Rosier, 1992|
After Rush Limbaugh's maddening comments about Sandra Fluke, I was pleased to write a piece for the NY Daily News at their Pageviews blog on the history of the word "slut."
More than 500 years before Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut,” Geoffrey Chaucer used a form of the word to describe an “untidy man” in "The Canterbury Tales." “Why is thy lord so sluttish, I thee pray, And is of power better clothes to bey,” he wrote in the 14th century poem.Read the full article here. I didn't mention Kathleen Hanna (pictured above) or riot grrrls, though you know I had them in mind all the while.
But in the ensuing centuries, the would come to take on different meanings – and much more provocative ones, as Limbaugh’s crude use of the word reminds.
According to what linguist Lisa Sutherland told the BBC, the noun “slut” was first used in 1402 by Thomas Hoccleve, in much the same way Chaucer used the related adjective. In his “The Letter of Cupid,” Hoccleve refers to “the foulest slutte in al a town.”