CHAPTER ONE: BOURBON STREET GRILL, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, 2010 – ANNABELLE
“He’s an intolerable gynophobe!” I hissed into my iPhone as I slid it from my right ear to my left, avoiding a brush of my Scandal Queen Red lips, “Yes, you can quote me on that. He’s one of those women-hating right wing nut jobs who only approve of women who are afraid of their vaginas.”
This was my third interview with Sam Dye of the Salt Lake City Weekly and he was refusing to let the topic go, “Anna! You know I can’t publish that quote. You called the man a misogynistic bigot, live on air. Don’t you think that was a bit excessive?” Sam asked as I mouthed an apology to my two best friends who were sitting across the table waiting for my call to end – I’d already let the interview run longer than I’d intended.
“Fuck no! I’d've said worse but I got cut off. I will not ignore the fact that Shawn Manatee’s Utah herd-mate, Darrel Cook, called a 19-year-old girl a slut on national television!” I replied, noticing the soft brown eyebrows of Sarah Bryant (one of those friends who’d been around long enough to call me on my PR persona) raise at me from across the thick maple table as she took a sip of her Diet Coke.
“If he’d called my man-meat-loving Midwestern homosexual intern a ‘fairy’ we’d have a glitter riot out front of Fox News! If he called someone a Negro he’d be brought up on charges of hate speech. But nobody raises an eyebrow when someone uses hateful, venomous, violence-promoting language against a sexually self-aware girl. We live in a country where one in six women is victimized by sexual violence – and a hideously common defense is that the perpetrator didn’t truly understand that his behavior was rape, or that he believed the victim’s dress or demeanor implied she wanted the assault! Language matters!”
“The sex kittens of SL,UT need to unite and chase this clown out of Zion! I am challenging every woman in Salt Lake City to join me in requiring that any man who wants to be a stakeholder in the safety and/or enjoyment of our vaginas needs to see this man voted out of office . . . that’s what I have to say . . . on the record!” I laughed, then morphed into off-the-record Annabelle Franklin (my softer friendlier side) and away from the infamous, and impassioned, Anna! Bell (my radio alter ego). I wrapped up the interview with the obligatory inquiries into family and acquaintances required of professionals who have rubbed elbows (and more interesting appendages) more than a couple of times over a decade of professional coexistence.
“Now listen, I’m having lunch with my two favorite sluts in the whole world right now, so I’ve gotta scoot. My martini is getting tepid.”
I thanked Sam for the interview, hung up the phone, and took a deep sip of my dirty Sapphire martini. “Sorry ladies, I can’t stand Darrell Cook! He needs a good, banging. I swear! You now have my undivided attention.”
Kyra Whitney, the third member of our Trifecta, took a sip of her Pinot Grigio and laughed at me, throwing my feminist ranting back in my face, “How can you take yourself seriously when you’re like that? When did you become such a douchebag-feminist?”
“With Sam? I meant every word! I hate the word ‘slut!’ Gynophobic paranoia! It’s a nasty insult . . . gotta protect the pussy, gotta keep every other guy away from it, and ‘IT’ becomes a tainted, dirty, scary, place if you don’t! There’s a bullshit glass ceiling of sexual self-empowerment, and it has immense derogatory powers,” I explained, naturally slipping back into Anna! after too many years of training and reflex.
“You make it sound so nefarious: Gynophobia?” Kyra groaned, rolling her eyes at my full-fledged rant and smoothing her pale blonde hair.
“Call a woman a ‘slut’ in front of a man she may be interested in and you instantly degrade her. More so than bitch, stupid, or any other insult you can hurl. Can you think of a more offensive, lust-dousing term?” I asked, turning to Sarah Bryant, my lifelong best friend.
“Dyke?” Kyra Whitney, chimed in, always fifty percent peacemaker and fifty percent instigator, although you never quite knew which you were going to get.
“Definitely not dyke. Take you, my lovely Kyra,” I said, pointing to my elfen-faced friend.
“If I hurl ‘dyke’ at you across the street, I of course look like a terrible person, a homophobe. But any nearby would-be suitor will think, ‘Good looking lesbian’ or ‘No way, let me watch!’ Since you can easily demonstrate to any man you’re dating that you are, in fact, not a dyke, or that you are at least fluid in your appreciation of the feminine physique, the stain of the hate speech may easily be washed away.”
“I agree with Annabelle. Call me a slut, and he’ll always wonder.” Kyra laughed, raising her wine to her perfect white teeth.” Although the woman in flannel giving us dirty looks from the table across the room might not agree with you.”
“Oh her? Yeah, we had a fling six years ago. She got all clingy so I stopped answering her calls. You know what they say about lesbians and one night stands . . . the next morning they schedule the moving van,” I laugh, waving off those adventurous bi-flexible days early in my career when I thought feminism and sexual-preference-ambiguity were necessary codependents.
“Back to the point. Slut has a horribly nasty historical context. Historical usage of the word identifies a ‘slut’ as a dirty or unkempt person of loose morals and virtue. In calling her that, you insult not only her sexuality, but her entire essence, her hygiene! She is tainted by her sexuality, and we all think that of promiscuous women – of the vagina. We think that somehow sharing it makes it dirty, in a way that we just don’t hold against men or the penis. Somehow being the invader makes one above the laws of STD transmission? Bullshit! Our brains invent an entire fantastical bio-culture of diseases for the promiscuous vagina that don’t even exist!”
Sarah Bryant choked back a laugh at my reference to the ‘promiscuous vagina’ and tore into a steaming loaf of sourdough bread, then accused our hypothetical ‘slut’ without benefit of jury, “But what if she’s just a dumb girl using sex to get things? You may be giving her too much credit by calling her self-empowered. She could just be compensating for low self-esteem and trying to gain male attention. And, in that case she is a slut!” Sarah said, always the wide-eyed, well-bred Mormon girl objecting to my diatribes, and the perfect foil to my feminist rants and the biggest closet kinkster I’ve ever met, in spite of her wholesome LDS upbringing.
“In which case, she deserves our sympathy!” I quip. “We should embrace her with love and sisterhood because I tell you: for every slut out there, there’s some jackass man who did something that made her that way!” I assert, slamming my perfectly manicured black-tipped fingers against the table for effect, and sloshing my $12 martini in the process.
“Hear, hear sister!” Kyra agreed, tilting her glass – and flipping her smooth waist-length blonde hair over her shoulder.
Sarah looked at me and narrowed her eyes. I could see her brain spin as she processed my assertion, then she tossed down her napkin and laughed, “Dr. Annabelle Franklin, you are a genius of human sexuality! I just ran through a list of every slutty woman I can think of – starting with you two hussies of course – and you’re absolutely right. I can name at least three losers for each of you!” Sarah laughed, pointing the straw of her Diet Coke in my direction.
“Take pity on us poor, misdirected sluts. We know not what we do,” I replied, taking a somber and pious tone.
“For just 79 cents a day, you can sponsor your own slut, keeping her supplied with latex condoms and silicone implants for life,” Kyra added, piously casting her big bluegreen eyes toward her perfect French manicure and shaking her head in mock sympathy.
“Speak for yourself, bitch!” I laughed, tussling my glossy black hair and weighing a perfect C-cup in each hand. “This slut’s headlights are 100% natural.”
“Hey! One-upper!” Sarah whined, sighing down at her athletic frame (aka boxy and flat-chested) and covered her bosom in mock shame. “We can’t all be stacked!”
“To my two favorite sluts in the whole world!” Kyra toasted, “And a Valtrex prescription to the men who made them that way!” I chimed in as our glasses met.
- What Publisher’s Weekly Thought of the SL,UT (alisonleeauthor.com)
- Dirty Doll, Slut-shaming in The Valleys and Taylor Swift (plasticdollheads.wordpress.com)
- Redefining Feminism: Virgin Shaming (define-liberty.com)