Slutbag, Slampiece and Dime, Ho My!

Never before have there been so many colorful ways to objectify women.

Following up on the ‘slutbag’ brouhaha of last week, New York Magazine compiled a “taxonomy” of the suffixes –bag and –piece. The author, Maureen O’Connor, provides Google Analytics graphs of the two insults’ use on the Internet over the last few weeks – it seems like, thanks to the Weiner campaign, everyone’s talking trash.


(To recap: Weiner aide Barbara Morgan called former intern Olivia Nuzzi, above, a “slutbag” for publishing a scathing article about work at Weiner HQ, causing the Internet to scratch their heads vigorously over the term.)

As O’Connor explains, –bag is used almost exclusively in a pejorative sense, while –piece can carry both positive and negative connotations. “Bag” as slang and suffix originated in the early 20th century to refer to female unattractiveness – “that old bag” – a receptacle for waste or of unmentionables – “cum dumpster” and “douchebag” respectively – and/or abundance, primarily of taboos – Louis C.K.’s “bag of dicks,” “a bag of sluttishness.” 

(Editorial comment: I have no clue if/when ever it would be appropriate to use that last one, but okay.) 

O’Connor points out, quite rightly, that while adding bag to slut yields a usable phrase, “slutpiece” is totally meaningless. Even slang words and argot conform to their own grammar, hence the opposite qualities of “slut” and “piece” counteract each other and nullify the term’s meaning.

Something that comes up when you Google "dimepiece" - I won't pretend to get it

“Piece” tends to carry a notion of desirability that can be understood as pejorative or not. For example, saying “She’s a real piece,” a “dimepiece,” or even just a “dime” means almost universally that she is an acquirable object worthy of attraction or desire, much like a “piece” of pie. This ostensibly is positive, since the woman isn’t being described negatively, regardless of whether she welcomes this judgment. “Slampiece” similarly (and rudely) reduces a woman on whom male sexual attention (viz. the physical connotation of “slam”) is focused down to an object.

MMM - slice me off a piece of THAT

On the flip side, at my college, it’s not uncommon to call a girl or guy you’re hooking up with regularly your “boo piece,” as in, “I’m taking my boo piece to the diner tonight.” Again, there’s a problem with reducing a real, live human being into an object capable of taking the possessive, but boo piece is fun and cute and a lot less awkward than the “are you my boyfriend yet” talk.

Regardless of the acceptability of “piece,” I’m still flabbergasted by the usage of “slutbag,” and can’t imagine that this word as anything more than a laughable insult, an annoying pinprick where you were expecting a gash. Do you understand “slutbag” better than I do? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks to NYMag

Photos via Funketiquette and SideBMagazine

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