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Thomas McClure: A strange discussion at George Washington

I wonder what Pam Stenzel said to make the girls at George Washington High School cry last week.

Whatever it was, I think she should be ashamed of herself, even if they are sluts. Of course, I don't know if any of them are sluts, but Katelyn Campbell, one of their classmates, thinks so, even though she was describing them as sluts in their own defense.

Katelyn does not appear to be defending their sluttiness per se, though she seems not at all put off by it, but only that they shouldn't be embarrassed by it.

I also couldn't help but wonder if any of the girls cried when they read what Katelyn said about them in the newspapers.  

I must admit that using the word slut makes me uneasy.

Current high school students may find it quaint to hear that the term used to be an insulting epithet. I would not have been comfortable using it in conversation, much less in writing, until only recently.

Since not only some classmates, but apparently some school psychologists, are also reluctant to disapprove of sluttish behavior, I decided that merely using the term was not in such bad taste after all.  

Since there's now no shame in being a slut, I thought I'd look it up just to be sure.

The first definition was a slattern. I didn't know what that was so I looked it up, too. A slattern is a slovenly person - meaning untidy.

Since this didn't seem to fit a talk on sexual abstinence, I went to the next definition.

Sure enough, sluts are whores. (Whore, by the way, is another word that I would have normally not used in mixed company. I can only assume that neither sluts nor whores are now the object of censure among their peers or the professionals charged to care for them.)

The principal, George Aulenbacher, has been criticized for his role in bringing Stenzel to the school. It is clear that he has far too little tolerance for the diversity of sexual behavior among high school students.

School psychologist Annette Zavereei referred to his remark about abstinence as the only guarantee against sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy as nonsense.

I can't imagine how someone could contract an STD or become pregnant without sexual activity, but surely the psychologist ought to know more than the principal about such matters.  

I'm glad students at GW have friends like Katelyn Campbell and psychologists like Dr. Zavereei, who encourage them to embrace only those moral values that allow them to approve of themselves.

It's true that the percentage of out-of-wedlock births has reached 50 percent in this country, but, on the other hand, slut-shame is down to almost nothing.

Who wants to be bothered by a guilty conscience?  

McClure, who lives in Tornado, has a background is in guidance and counseling and is retired from West Virginia State University, where he ran a tutoring program.



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