Despite all the societal and cultural advances women have made over the past century, female sexuality is often still viewed as somehow threatening and dangerous. This perception is not lost on children and young adults, and its ramifications are apparent in the sexual bullying that pervades middle schools and high schools.
The fact that the girls who are victimized by what is commonly referred to as “slut shaming” might not understand the deep societal roots of their experience doesn’t make that experience any less devastating for them. Their drastic reactions, including self-harm and even suicide, make the situation impossible to ignore.
It has been fifteen years since I was bullied for being a “slut” in middle school, and to be honest, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about those days until quite recently. I have a full, satisfying life with a wonderful partner, work I love doing, friends I can count on, and a great relationship with my parents. But about a year ago, during a visit to my childhood home, I discovered my old journals and was transported back to a time of intense shame and isolation.
When I was eleven years old, I was branded a “slut” by my classmates. For the next few years of my life, I was bullied incessantly at school, after school, and online. At the time, I didn’t feel comfortable confiding in my parents or other adults in my life. I would have loved to be able to access an online community of women who had survived what I was going through; it would have given me reassurance to know that this time would pass and my life would get better.
So I decided to create The UnSlut Project in the hopes that my own diary entries could provide some perspective to girls who currently feel trapped and ashamed. I have been publishing these entries one at a time, without changing a single word except for the names of the people involved. My limited commentary, which is confined to brackets in each entry, is meant to provide the relief of my current perspective, fifteen years later.
The UnSlut Project is a collaborative effort to reach out to those girls and offer them some hope for the future. It is also a chance for us to prove, through sharing the details of our own experiences, that slut shaming is a strong negative force that has affected the lives of many women. If you have had an experience you’d like to share, or if you can offer some words of advice and encouragement to young women who need them, please contribute by clicking the “Share Your Experience” button.
You can read my diary at http://unslutproject.tumblr.