Confession: I’ve been calling girls “sluts” since I was 12 years old.

Back then, all being slutty meant was being boy-crazy or having exceptionally large breasts. In high school, things got a bit more complex—being called a slut probably meant sleeping with people too early or sleeping with too many people period. Don’t get me started on college—we all know what kind of crazy keg-induced hook-ups happen there.

Confession: I might be a slut.

I’m a little bit boy-crazy, my boobs are sizable, I have had one-night stands, and yes, a few of them were aided by alcohol. Am I slut? It’s a question nearly every sexually active female asks themselves at least once over the course of their life. My guess is that it’s actually a lot more than just once, and I’ll also wager that it was an external force that made you re-examine your sexual history. I’ll even go one step further: I’ll bet it was a fellow lady who made you question whether you were, indeed, a slut.

At the risk of sounding cliché, an easy woman rarely ever irritates a man. Women are the ones going around deeming one another sluts, and we have all sorts of reasons to do so: jealousy, competition, irritation, style choice, insecurity—you name it, a woman has been called a slut because of it.

But what does being a slut entail exactly?

I pose this question to my friend Norel one night when we are out getting drinks. Without missing a beat, she gives her answer:

“It’s about not taking pleasure in what you’re doing. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, you’re not a slut. Once you start doing it solely for attention or because that’s what you think the guy wants, that’s slutty.”

Good response, but when I ask the opinion of other females in my life, not a one of them has the same definition. One friend thinks you become a slut when you have a continuous string of one-night stands, and therefore closing yourself off from the possibility of emotional intimacy. Another girl I talked to thinks having unsafe sex is what makes someone a slut. My buddy Merriam-Webster’s has a completely different take on the matter; according to the dictionary a slut is “a slovenly woman,” meaning a woman who does not keep a clean or neat appearance.

In a way, all of these definitions, no matter how wide ranging, are true. This is because “slut” has become a blanket term, a blanket feeling. When I make questionable decisions about my sexuality, slut is the first word that pops into my head. Not, “will I be a slut if I do this?” but “I am a slut.”

I am a slut because I went home with a guy who liked me more than I liked him. I am a slut because it took me a whole eight days to get over my ex and sleep with someone new. I am a slut because I make dirty jokes, and like to wear tight dresses, and I use my femininity to my advantage, should the opportunity arise.

All of these things make me a slut simply because “slut” has become a catty embellishment of bad female gender behavior for which our society has no other name. Female, because not only is the word slut female-specific, but because we’re the ones who use it the most. We are the ones policing each other and deciding when it’s ok to let loose, and when you’re suddenly 86ed because your number has become too high. The irony of this unspoken social standard is not lost on my oldest friend Anna. When I ask her how she feels about the word, the simplicity of her answer surprises me:

“I like to use slut in a ‘more power to you’ kind of way. It affirms that even though being slutty is considered bad, we’ve all been there before.”

She makes a good point. No sexually active woman has a record impeccable enough to pass judgment without being accused of throwing stones. Rather than getting to the bottom of what constitutes sluttiness, perhaps we should be celebrating those moments when things get a little crazy, because ultimately we know there is more to us than just the way we conduct our sexual selves. And maybe, just maybe, we’re all sluts. In a good way, of course.