Cut Chat: Sisterhoods of Traveling Thongs, Slutbags, and Slampieces

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Photo: Photos: Phil Caruso/Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection, Getty Images

Today is National Underwear Day, and the Cut Chat Room is talking about crotch-related insults. After drawing comparisons to April's meme-friendly "cunt punt" sorority rant, Anthony Weiner flack Barbara Morgan's intern-attacking "slutbag" rant inspired New York Times columnist Frank Bruni to unveil an undies insult of his own: "It's the sisterhood of the traveling thong," he said of Morgan's attack on Olivia Nuzzi, "prov[ing] that women can engage in slut shaming as acidly as men can." The Cut Chat Room is transfixed. What's with the crotch insults? What is a "sisterhood of the traveling thong"? Is it related to "slampieces"? 

Join the sisterhood of our cyberdiscourse.

Molly Fischer, associate editor: So, first of all, I don't think Frank Bruni is familiar with the "traveling pants" oeuvre. To be fair, neither am I, but my understanding is that it involves friendship and shared pants that magically fit everyone.

Stella Bugbee, editorial director: "Four best girlfriends hatch a plan to stay connected with one another as their lives start off in different directions: they pass around a pair of secondhand jeans that fits each of their bodies perfectly. "

Maureen O'Connor, writer: Yes, it made both America Ferrera's and Blake Lively's asses look great.

Molly: But Morgan and Nuzzi do not share any pants of friendship, underpants or otherwise.

Maureen: I *think* Bruni was slut-shaming the slut-shamer by accusing her of wearing the same slutty panties as the woman she accused of sluttiness. Because his point is that Weiner's campaign is slutty all over: "Morgan, the spokeswoman, denigrates Nuzzi, the intern, by characterizing her as oversexed and attention-hungry. This, without irony, from a flack for Weiner." 

Stella: So he's saying one size fits all for sluts? Was he even using the term "slut-shaming" correctly? I feel no. Nuzzi wasn't behaving sexually. He made her sexual, kind of validating the insults.

Kat Stoeffel, writer: Bruni was desperate to think of her as another sexting buddy. We just can't talk about women and power/attention-mongering without making it sexual. That's what Morgan did, and Bruni criticized it before IMMEDIATELY reinforcing it.

Molly: "Now this slut wears the thong of shame. Whereas before it was her sister-slut. They are united in their thong-clad slut-shame."

Maureen: And it's debatable how much attention Nuzzi was "whoring" for.

Molly: Also, to further complicate the underwear motif, this column is illustrated with a pair of briefs waved as a white flag.

Maureen: Morgan's rant was entrancing because it was in the vernacular of a sorority girl tearing apart a frenemy. Whereas "slampiece" is the vernacular of bro-ing down. And "sisterhood of the traveling thong" is, hmmm, I'm not sure what vernacular that is. Dowdist metaphor, maybe.

Kat: Lol.

Maureen: And I say that as a fellow Maureen and thus a fan. ANYWAY, EVEN IF we were to define the special female relationship in which one chick screams you fucking twat bag whore socket at the top of her lungs—

Molly: If she cunt punts, you mean.

Maureen: IF we were to define that relationship, "sisterhood of the traveling thong" is not it. Because cunt-punt recipients neither choose nor enjoy it.

Molly: No, it is not reciprocal. It is not mutually beneficial.

Maureen: So if we agree on that, then what WOULD a sisterhood of traveling thongs be?

Stella: A porno.

Molly: A sorority.

Stella: Some kind of BirchBox?

Kat: Actually, traveling thongs sounds like sorority hazing. It may be a more apt metaphor than I realized. Another thing that struck me about the "week in weirdo girl insults" is that they were all clothing-based. Slutbag, sister thong, slampiece: purse, undies, watch.

Stella: GOOD POINT. But I thought slampiece was more like a codpiece. Or a piece of ass.

Kurt Soller, features editor: I thought slampiece was like a weed "piece" — something you hit.

Maureen: No! A piece of meat you slam against. And slutbag is a gross repository, like douche bag.

Stella: A slutbag of Reese's slampieces.

Maureen: If you DID have a sisterhood of the traveling thong, what kind of thong would you want? Besides washable.

Kat: The sandals kind.

Benina Sax, social media editor: Rihanna's jeans-thong, for a Traveling Pants sequel.

Kat: When they cut the pants of friendship into a denim thong and sabotage political campaigns. To the tune of "Rude Boy."