Slutciety feminist publication makes a name for itself at Pitt

On Wednesday nights in room 918 in the William Pitt Lounge, meetings for the University of Pittsburgh’s feminist publication Slutciety come to order. Armed with laptops and covering topics that range from female soldiers in the Middle East to sex education in American schools to the commodification of the female orgasm, Slutciety is making their collective voice heard at the University of Pittsburgh.

Typically, when most people hear the world slut, they do not immediately think of an articulate, empowered woman. Slutciety is pushing back against that. Why such a provocative name?

“It’s a mush together of slut and society,” said Amanda Chan, President of Slutciety, “‘Society’ has a connotation of order and tradition and ‘slut’ brings about feelings of chaos and bitterness and stigma. By mushing these two together, I want people to question why being a promiscuous woman would be so against society.”

“And women are going to get called sluts no matter what, so we’re just reclaiming that word,” Zoe Hannah, Vice President of Slutciety, said.

Slutciety takes an interactive community approach to editing articles. Roundtable style and computers out at meetings, the writers read aloud their work and provide comments, suggestions, and the occasional anecdote. They also do more than just write; in November, Slutciety was responsible for bringing Political Commentator and Activist Zerlina Maxwell to Pitt to speak about rape culture.

Although the writers cover topics that might make some clutch their pearls, the members agree that as a whole they are been well received on their campus.

“If nothing else, people are intrigued by us,” said Hannah.

Understandably so as Slutciety is the only feminist group on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus.

These ladies don’t pull any punches and did not let lack of funding in the earliest days of the paper’s existence stop them from making their voices heard. Before they had a budget, this group at one point in time had to use their collective print budgets to run issues.

Why did these young women go outside of the University of Pittsburgh’s official newspaper? For one, the authors of Slutciety do not consider themselves a journalist source. More so, they enjoy the freedom that having their own paper allows them.

“We create a safe space, where anyone can come and feel comfortable talking to us,” said Hannah.

Slutciety places a special emphasis on intersectionality–the concept of how different identities and forms of discrimination interact and impact one’s life. In the simplest of terms, they are determined to make sure that queer people and women of color are properly represented.

“It’s not real feminism unless it’s intersectional,” Chan said.

With humor, honesty, and a willingness not to shy away from uncomfortable topics, it seems that Slutciety will continue to challenge conventions at Pitt. To see some of Slutciety’s work, look them up on Tumblr at or follow them on Twitter at @slutciety.

Activist Zerlina Maxwell speaks at the University of Pittsburgh

Democratic strategist, writer, commentator, and activist Zerlina Maxwell made an appearance at the University of Pittsburgh to talk to students and interested citizens about rape culture, sexual assault, sexism, and patriarchy.

Invited by the University of Pittsburgh underground feminist publication, “Slutciety,” over the course of one hour, Maxwell gave a presentation titled “How We Can All end Gender Based Violence” in the Pitt Union Ballroom,

In a presentation that included statistics, problematic ads, videos, and at one point even a shirtless picture of rapper Rick Ross, Zerlina Maxwell challenged the audience to stop thinking of rape and gender violence as something inevitable. Most importantly, she said to the audience before she began with the slides, “If you learn nothing else from me when you leave here, if a girl ever comes to you and tells you they’ve been raped you will simply believe them. Because that should be the default answer–not asking them what they were wearing or if they were drinking.”

Taking an educational approach, Maxwell chose to explain and define what many feminists and activists call rape culture is, and with troubling statistics she told the 200 students in attendance some troubling realities that go along with being female–particularly a college-aged female.

“It’s dangerous to come to college as a woman,” she said. She went on to explain that, “Rape culture is a spectrum.” A spectrum that starts with things that, at first glance, may seem harmless, such as rape jokes, street harassment, and violence against women. She noted that things that trivialize such serious crimes contribute to survivors not getting the justice that they deserve.

Maxwell drew from popular culture and current cases unfolding in the media–like Bill Cosby, for example–to discuss the “revictimizaton” and demonizing of women who come forward after they have been raped.

She asked those in attendance to think long and hard about why we live in a world where when rape victims seek justice, they tend to receive more shame and judgment than the men accused of raping them.

Although, the presentation focused mostly on sexual violence against women, men played a role some might not expect. After she was introduced, Maxwell voiced to the audience with obvious delight how great she thought it was that there were so many young men in attendance,“because it’s not just a woman problem.”

In regards to rape prevention, Maxwell–in person and in video form via a clip from Fox News–made it clear that she believes that men can prevent rape and the conversations about “rape prevention” put the burden of prevention on those victimized. She also stated that “toxic masculinity” and narrow expectations of manhood are a part of rape culture.

As opposed to telling women to not drink or wear short skirts or to always carry a gun, she said, “We need to teach boys about consent before they even start having sex.”

“I’ll let you guys in on a little secret: if you ask and communicate with your partners you will have better sex,” she added.

Maxwell received applause; however, when she has previously voiced such views in a debate on The Sean Hannity Show, in the aftermath of the Steubenville Trial last spring, she received a great deal of backlash. Backlash occurred mostly on social media, some of which included rape and death threats that she shared with the audience in her power point.

Maxwell noted that this is a very common occurrence for women involved in social justice movements. There were so many questions from audience members that the event which was intended to only last an hour went over, but in parting remarks she again urged her audience to, when dealing with someone who has been assaulted or raped, always ask not what they were wearing, but if they are okay.