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Is Nigella right to ditch ‘slut’ from her recipe name?

Flora Gill (pictured) said it’s time we reclaim the word’ slut’, one delicious dessert at a time

NO

By Flora Gill

What food doesn’t taste better a tiny bit sluttier? To me, it means decadence and indulgence. A dish that’s a slut is the opposite to a calorie-counting diet number. You can’t be slutty and full of replacements and gluten-free alternatives.

Slutty food is proud of every ingredient. How can that be bad? A few angry people online claim Nigella’s removal of the word ‘slut’ from her raspberry jelly recipe is somehow an attack on free speech.

I find this hilariously absurd. Nigella is a culinary goddess and a trailblazer when it comes to language (let’s not forget her rebranding of the Mi-crowavé). So she’s free to name her food what she likes.

If she renamed her moreish brownies Piers Morgan’s Dingleberries, I’d eat just as many (although I wouldn’t recommend that as a marketing decision). But if Nigella asked my opinion, I’d implore her to stick with ‘slut’. Slutty food isn’t just a gimmick. It has history. Besides the Neapolitan puttanesca, there are plenty of other celebrated dishes with ‘unsavoury’ names — French Canadians have cinnamon-roll pastries called Pet de Soeurs, or nun farts. In Germany, you have a blood sausage dish called Tote Oma, meaning dead grandma.

Italians enjoy a salami called Palle del Nonno, meaning grandpa’s balls, and a whole host of pastries named after nipples (virgin’s, venus’s — they’re frankly obsessed). Our own dear Spotted Dick pud continues to raise eyebrows. But wouldn’t it be a shame to censor these fabulous foods for fear they might give offence?

What a shame to censor such sublime food

Nigella told a follower on Twitter she had decided to cut the word as the meaning had changed since she first used it for her jelly and it had now ‘taken on a coarser, more cruel connotation’. But whether she’s referring to the old use of the word to mean ‘lazy’ or the modern sexual sense, I don’t see it as an insult.

These days, a woman should be able to sleep around just as much as a man and not be judged differently. Being slutty isn’t a bad thing and can even be used affectionately by friends. So, I think it’s time we reclaim the word, one delicious dessert at a time.

Rather than remove the term from our puddings, we should double down and use Nigella’s sublime recipes to rebrand words that were once insults to women. I want to see a b**chy cheesecake, a diva creme brulee, a floozy chocolate gateau. Maybe Nigella should set up a website dedicated to X-rated puddings. I can picture it now — Only Flans.

Julie Bindel (pictured) said women should be grateful to Nigella for refusing to collude in misogyny

Julie Bindel (pictured) said women should be grateful to Nigella for refusing to collude in misogyny

YES

By Julie Bindel

One of my favourite dishes, which I was introduced to as a young feminist, was Pasta Puttanesca. I loved it until I learned the sauce is named after the Italian for ‘whore’, allegedly because it was invented in a brothel. As a campaigner against violence against, or exploitation of, women, I haven’t used the word since. Not because I’m being pious, but because words have power and to give credibility to one used so often by woman-haters felt wrong.

This week, celebrity cook Nigella Lawson announced she has removed the ‘slut’ from a recipe. Slut Red Raspberries has become Ruby Red Raspberries In Chardonnay Jelly. She says the meaning of the word has changed and she’s ‘not happy with that’.

In my view, Nigella is simply acknowledging that ‘slut’ has a far more toxic feel to it in 2021 than when I was a young woman. The way the word is now used in pornography, in the schoolyard and by sexual harassers on the streets has, in recent years, taken on a grimly sinister tone.

Why must we collude in misogyny over dessert? 

So-called progressives that use it to ‘subvert’ misogyny such as the SlutWalk movement — where women march with the word ‘slut’ emblazoned proudly in lipstick across their bare breasts — have acted as apologists for the word. But to me, it can never be one that feminists should reclaim.

‘Slut’ has been weaponised against women. I research pornography, and it is the most common word used to describe women in violent or aggressive scenes on sites like Pornhub. Girls and young women at school tell me that it is an insult commonly used by boys to punish them. In my 1970s schooldays, the worst thing a girl could be called was ‘slut’. So how depressing that this misogynistic term has not lost its vile sting.

But where does it all end, I hear critics ask. Surely, the cancel brigade are being too sensitive and if Nigella changes this, they will come for any risqué word. Not at all. Nigella renaming one of her own recipes because she recognises it demeans women is wholly different from re-shooting films or editing classic novels to pander to modern sensibilities.

This is about an individual, albeit someone in the public eye who wields influence, making a personal choice about her own language based on sound judgment. Women should be grateful to Nigella for refusing to collude in misogyny. After all, it’s just a dessert.


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