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The New ‘Slut Era’ Is Here (And It Has Nothing to Do With Sleeping Around)

Back in April, actor Dylan O’Brien tweeted two words: “slut era.” It was a season, apparently, of great potential — like “Hot Girl Summer” and “Hot Vax Summer” before it. But while the announcement of a slut era filled us with hope for a long, sunny, sweaty debauch, life once again got in the way. Now another summer has come and gone. Did we even remember to sleep around?

Initially, this post was hailed as the start of a welcome vibe shift — the signal to strip down, show off and get busy between the sheets. “Slut era” would be the mantra for those determined to maximize pleasure in the months to come. Fast-forward to fall, however, and we can only mock ourselves for not following through on that promise, for ever thinking it could be that easy.

If these intervals of supposed horniness tend to fizzle out before they begin, it’s probably because they require more of a commitment than any of us are willing to make. We envision slutdom as a carefree and unencumbered existence, driven only by whim and random attraction, the meeting of a stranger’s gaze from across a crowded room. In reality, major effort goes into creating that spark: you have to settle plans, dress up, go out, buy food or drinks and encounter the public. Alternately, you comb through dating apps, land a few matches, have a bunch of conversations that run dry, maybe a couple of awkward dates. 

This, by the way, is just your free time. All the while, you’re still clocking in at the job, paying bills, keeping up a gym routine and hounding your landlord about that leaky faucet. It’s amazing you even have a moment to think about hooking up. Maybe right before you fall asleep:

Or while deeply immersed in a video game:

Or as you scrupulously avoid even the opportunity for flirtation:

Yes, the new “slut era” — as with perhaps any hyped period of lusty excess — is, contrary to the name, sort of a lonely time, a turning inward. We declare ourselves sluts in a flatly ironic way, knowing a hedonistic air is expected of us on social media, yet in the same breath admitting we can’t (or won’t) be putting in the work, which is too tiring and tedious. Sure, one-night stands are great, but have you ever remembered to eat and take your antidepressants?  

Or watched a comfort movie?

Or just settled into a very stable relationship?

Notice, by the way, that we’re no longer framing these choices as “self-care.” It’s as if we’ve stopped trying to justify the status quo — our unremarkable private habits or lack of grandiose ambition — and are free to simply chill. We don’t have to put on the charade of a non-stop social calendar, either, content in the knowledge that millions sprawl on the couch at the end of a given weekday. Maybe we’re sluts for this authenticity, or for comfort.

Hey, we can’t be sexting and cruising 24/7. That way chaos lies. And no matter how promiscuous you become, you’ll always wonder if it’s enough — if a rival is out-whoring you at that very moment. You don’t need that competition. Go ahead and steal “slut” valor while doing nothing to earn it. We won’t judge.


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