The definition that got it all started
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definitive record of the English language, this is the original etymological definition of the word slut:
1. A. A woman of dirty, slovenly, or untidy habits or appearance; a foul slattern. B. A kitchen-maid; a drudge. Rare. C. A troublesome or awkward creature. Obs.
2. A. A woman of low or loose character; a bold or impudent girl; a hussy, jade.
3. A. A female dog; a bitch. Also attrib., as slut-pup.
4. A. A piece of rag dipped in lard or fat and used as light. B. The guttering of a candle.
slut’s Corner n. Obs. A corner left uncleaned by a sluttish person; also fig.
slut-hole n. (also slut’s-hole) A place or receptacle for rubbish; also fig.
slut’s-pennies n. Obs. Hard pieces in a loaf due to imperfect kneading of the dough.
slut’s wool n. the fluff or dust left on the floor, etc., by a sluttish person or servant.
What is the Slut-kerchief Project?
A Slut-kerchief is the original Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word 'slut' handwritten and silk-screened onto a square linen cloth. Slut-kerchiefs can be worn and used in a variety of ways; as a neck-kerchief for warmth, scout-style for protection from the sun, as a head scarf, as a dish towel or napkin, as a bib for messy eaters and as a diaper cover for messy babies.
The second component to the project is a collaboration with photographer Rosey Lakos. The idea of creating portraits of the project’s supporters (those that live in or near to the San Francisco Bay Area or are willing to travel) at first came from wanting to keep good documentation of the project.
Prior to each shoot, the supporter chooses a location of comfort and pride to be photographed. InLeslie’s case it was a neighborhood. For Carol Queen, it was the Center for Sex and Culture’slibrary. Each portrait takes about 3 hours to shoot—not just because shooting with a vintage instant film camera is tricky, but because Rosey is meticulous about creating powerful portraits. The end result is an intimate glimpse into a person’s story.
Why was the project created?
The project was created by Geana Sieburger in Oakland, California in 2012. While studying to become a U.S. citizen, Geana was reminded that women didn’t win the right to vote until 1919. Because of her new citizenship status, she would soon be voting in a presidential election (for the first time) that had been re-igniting conversations about accessibility to birth control and abortion among other women's issues.
As SlutWalks spread to cities around the world and with them spread controversy about the use of the word 'slut', Geana was inspired to play with her own interpretation of the word.
She is a maker whose opinions manifest in objects and conversations about those objects. Bitter frustration and the idea that one voice counts, roughly mixed, gave birth to the Slut-kerchief Project.
Why the word 'slut'?
It’s loaded. Its use has a larger affect than even its weirdest definition implies. When authorities blame a rape victim for her own rape saying she was dressed like a 'slut' and was therefore asking for such treatment, what does that really mean? We are shaming our women when we should be teaching our men that such behavior is not acceptable.
The feelings of shame and control embodied in the meaning of word 'slut' work to dismiss and disparage women or anyone else being made a target of the word. And though some of us are lucky enough to not experience this sneaky and subtle oppression, women both near and far have been and continually are less fortunate.
The definition used for this project, taken from the original O.E.D. in the early 1900s, self proclaimed as the definitive record of the English language, reveals its close connection to socioeconomic class more so than sexual promiscuity. This discovery is surprising but mostly liberating in the sense that it 'unmasks the monster', revealing its progress from once meaning "a kitchen-maid" to its current popular meaning, which dismisses women and attempts to make them powerless.
What do sales go towards?
10% of proceeds have already been donated to La Casa de las Madres. About 50% went towards the cost of materials, labor for hemming and silk-screening the kerchiefs. Project photographer, Rosey Lakos, takes a cut per portrait in addition to the cost of film and transportation during photo shoots. Another small percentage goes towards the overhead of the project. A number of kerchiefs were given away to get the word out about the project. What is left over, if anything, will go towards future projects.
Where were Slut-kerchiefs made?
Every single Slut-kerchief was silk screened in San Francisco and hemmed in Oakland on a century-old industrial Pfaff.
HOW Do I contact you about this project?
Please submit questions/comments/concerns using our contact form or email.
WHERE CAN I GET ONE?
Better; for Living sells them exclusively online and in store. They are located at 3425 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94121. Profits are currently being donated to Planned Parenthood.