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From the diary of the 6th grade “slut” — The UnSlut Project

By May 7, 2013 14 Comments

“I can’t dump him now, because then people would think I am even more of a slut than they already do. How could one mistake cause my life to crumble like this?”

Would you publish your diary from when you were a pre-teen on the Internet for the entire world to read?

The UnSlut Project text logo from Tumblr page.

From Facebook: “Working to undo the dangerous slut shaming in our schools, communities, media, and culture by sharing knowledge and experiences.”

This is exactly what 27-year-old Emily Lindin (pen name) is doing in the name of countering slut shaming, with a Tumblr blog she has named The UnSlut Project.

Emily says, “I was branded a ‘slut’ by my classmates and for the next few years of my life, I was bullied incessantly at school, after school, and online (this was 1997 in the days of AIM, and of course online bullying has only gotten worse).”

The term “slut shaming” has been popping up in media, especially on the Internet, for a little while now, but is recently making its way into mainstream conversations about young women, girls, and sexuality.

The term is used to describe the ways in which our culture criticizes and vilifies young women and girls for being sexual, having “too many” sexual partners, or perhaps not having sex in the “appropriate” way (ya know, for making babies—but only after your very heterosexual, traditional wedding).

Emily was “the 6th grade slut.” The UnSlut Project features unedited entries from her 6th grade diary (1997-1998 so far), including an entire cast of friends, enemies, and of course, boys, boyfriends, boy “friends”, and crushes… who are boys.

Emily’s diary travels through her on and off (and on, and off, and on, and off) relationship with Zach, it talks about various crushes, sexuality, jealousy, friendship, bullying, self-esteem issues, even thoughts of suicide, and all of the other ups and downs that come with adolescence. Her recollections of her daily life show us how quickly and dramatically rumors are spread and escalated in schools:

“Aaron said he had heard that Zach ‘ate me out.’ I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I said it wasn’t true, just to be on the safe side.”

Black and white photo of woman with "end slut shaming" written across her chest.

End Slut Shaming.

Besides countering slut shaming, the publishing of Emily’s diary also rejects current assumptions about slut shaming and bullying—people often blame social media and technology for the bullying that is happening today.

While there is no doubt that bullying happens online and through text messaging, Emily’s diary shows us that it isn’t because of social media and texting; it’s because of the culture in which we live.

Whether we’re talking about Emily’s world in 1998 or another young girl’s world today in 2013, we are taught to follow very rigid, traditional gender expectations. These lead to dangerous double standards (such as “he’s a stud, she’s a slut”) that can result in cruel slut shaming and bullying that have even driven some young people to suicide.

No one, especially young people navigating their way through this crazy world, deserves to be bullied. No one deserves to be isolated and shunned for being a sexual being (or not).

I’ve definitely got my fingers crossed that this glimpse into a young girl’s mind, as well as the experiences shared by others on the blog, will help bring to light the problems in our culture surrounding girls and sexuality. I have even more hope that perhaps we can all work together to find solutions.

If you want to share your story with The UnSlut Project, you may do so here.

Stacey Speer earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University in May 2012. While she waits to discover her calling in life, she enjoys utilizing the tools she gained as a student of Women and Gender Studies to critique media and the world around her from a feminist perspective.