I attended a Taylor Swift concert in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday night. Aside from being awestruck by her performances, I also enjoyed the pep talks she gave in between songs. One of the speeches which really struck me alluded to the criticism she has received by the media and the population in general.

Taylor has been particularly noted in the media, not for any criminal behavior, but because most of her songs are about love and feelings and because of the "many" boyfriends she's had, most of which are celebrities. Both in the media and among the people in my own life, I've heard it said that she's crazy and has problems because she's had so many relationships. On the surface level, the statement might seem reasonable, but digging in a little deeper we find an inherent flaw in societal thinking.

Taylor Swift is reported to have had six famous boyfriends, though many were essentially partaking in what we college students often call "talking." Yet, her relationships and break-ups are splashed across the front pages. In contrast, Harry Styles, one of the stars of One Direction whom Taylor dated, has also purportedly had six famous girlfriends, and he's three years younger than Swift. But there is no widespread criticism within the media about Styles' flings. With this observation, the double standard begins to be further uncovered.

If you talk to the average 22-year-old female, it is likely that she's had several boyfriends, and then probably several others who she's talked to, texted, hung out with and possibly considered a love interest. None of which were actual boyfriends; in total, the number would likely equal at least six different guys. The average 22-year-old male number for these would likely not differ. But women are likely to be more criticized for it.

The same trend for sexuality continues. According to a study by the Health Survey for England, women have a mean average of 4.7 sexual partners in their lifetime, while men report having 9.3 different sexual partners in their lifetime. Despite the number difference, a woman with a "large" number of sexual partners is called a slut and looked down on as she does her "walk of shame" home, while a man is called a 'player' and given high fives by his buddies.

Miley Cyrus' recent performance at the VMAs can even be seen to hold to this sexist double standard. Miley was labeled as trashy, slutty and un-classy by, well, everyone, while Robin Thicke, who is married and has children, received almost no criticism for allowing Miley to dance on him while singing the rape-reminiscent lyrics to "Blurred Lines."

On a college campus, the word "slut" gets tossed around daily in a casual manner. Walking around the Strip on a Friday night, one might hear anything from the derogatory usage – "she dresses slutty" – to the more friendly instances –calling friends "slut" in jest.

The categorization of a woman as a "slut" can come from many arbitrary actions – anything from wearing high heels and short skirt, flirting with guys and texting them all the time or even just not committing to being in a relationship.

For men no such classifications exist and so this twisted view of relationships and sexuality is continually being re-enforced by society.

By using the word "slut," we also are acquiescing to what this word actually does, which is defining women by appearance and the possible number of sexual partners they have had.

Men also need to stop judging women based on the number of sexual partners they may have had. There's no number too big or too small to disqualify a woman from deserving love and respect.

In a society that prides itself on becoming progressively more feminist, we need to respect women, whatever the number of sexual partners they have or haven't had.

Bottom line: Stop "slut" shaming, and for Taylor's sake, don't use the word "slut."

Victoria Knight is a senior in biology. She can be reached at vknight6@utk.edu.