Did Elizabeth Warren Just Call Her Fellow Senator a Slut?

On Tuesday morning, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) defended her fellow senator, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y), from President Trump. In doing so, however, she used a term that should raise quite a few eyebrows.

"Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame Sen. Gillibrand?" Warren tweeted. "Do you know who you're picking a fight with? Good luck with that, Donald Trump. Nevertheless, she persisted."

Warren's tweet came after Trump attacked Gillibrand for siding with the sixteen women who accused Trump of sexually assaulting them.

"Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump," the president tweeted Tuesday morning. "Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!"

Warren — and The Washington Post — interpreted Trump's reference to "begging" as sexually suggestive, in the context of the sexual assault allegations against the president. They may or may not be, however.

On Monday, following a press conference with three of the women who accused Trump of assaulting them, Gillibrand declared that the president should resign.

"President Trump should resign. But, of course, he won't hold himself accountable. Therefore, Congress should investigate the multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations against him," the senator tweeted.

At the press conference Monday, the accusers called for a congressional investigation into claims of sexual assault against the president, and lamented that Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) had announced his resignation while Trump had not.

Warren's defense of Gillibrand proved fiery and will likely appeal to her feminist base. Her use of the term "slut-shaming," however, should raise questions. Was Warren calling Gillibrand a "slut," even as she intended to defend her?

The term "slut-shaming" refers to the practice of criticizing women for their seeming violations of cultural expectations when it comes to appearance and behavior. The term has been used to defend women dressing in sexually provocative ways, demanding birth control funded by the federal government, having promiscuous sex, and even engaging in prostitution.

The term has also been associated with blaming the victim of sexual assault — be it for how she dressed or comported herself.

In attacking Trump for "slut-shaming" Gillibrand, Warren was not necessarily calling her a slut, but she did suggest either that Gillibrand's defense of Trump's accusers was sexually transgressive or that Trump was attacking Gillibrand sexually for supporting the accusers.

Trump's statement that Gillibrand was "begging" for campaign contributions and "would do anything for them," does seem sexually suggestive, but it could also mean the politician promised to support whatever policies Trump liked.

Warren's suggestion that Trump was "slut-shaming" dismissed this alternate interpretation. Did she know something other Americans do not? Was Gillibrand trying to use feminine wiles on Trump? Or did Trump try to take advantage of her position in asking him for money?

In light of these accusations, it seems unlikely Trump actually assaulted Gillibrand, because she has not come out with a harrowing story about it. It also seems unlikely she tried to woo Trump to donate. Rather, Warren's tweet seems more an attempt to suggest Trump's tweet is somehow comparable to an act of sexual assault.

Even if the tweet is sexually suggestive, Trump was not engaging in "slut-shaming" by the standard definition. His complaint about Gillibrand wasn't that she was a woman or that she dressed salaciously. He complained that she once asked him for money, and is now attacking him.

Seeing as Trump did once identify as a Democrat and did give money to Democrats, this is quite plausible. Trump's mention of "begging" seems unnecessary and may be interpreted sexually, but to claim that he "slut-shamed" Gillibrand arguably goes too far.