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Slut-Shamed? It Gets Better

slut-shamingAt age eleven Emily Lindin was declared a slut and “harassed incessantly at school, after school, and online,” she says.

A diary entry:

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.

Fifteen years later she recalls:

I have a very painful memory of watching an instant message window pop up from an account called DieEmilyLindin and reading the message: “Why haven’t you killed yourself yet, you stupid slut?”

Now, at age 27 she is publishing her diary (with names disguised) on a Tumblr she calls the UnSlut Project, hoping to serve as an ‘It Gets Better’ project for girls who’ve been slut-shamed.

I’ve been thinking about this amidst an onslaught of tragedies like these:

  • Fifteen-year-old Felicia Garcia of Stanton Island had sex with four football players, which was recorded and shared around her school. Two players began tormenting her and others joined in. Felicia jumped in front of a Staten Island train.
  • Four boys assaulted seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons of Nova Scotia, labeled her a “slut” and shared a photo online. Then, the whole school started harassing her. Rehtaeh hung herself.
  • Fourteen-year-old Samantha Kelly also hung herself, unable to withstand the taunting and harassment that followed a police report of her rape.

I’ve often wished that an “It Gets Better” project could help girls like them make it through and go on to live fulfilling lives.

Others’ opinions can have a big impact on how we see ourselves. Our personal identities can seem merely “subjective,” but when many others agree that we are “X” — for good or for ill — it can seem “objective.”

Still, each of us has more knowledge about ourselves than anyone else. And we can consider the motives behind the labeling. Kids who bully are trying to raise themselves up by putting others down. If they really thought they were so great, they wouldn’t have to make so much effort.

Luckily, it does get better because people grow up, mature and become more secure.

And, the ex-bullied may become stronger, more empathetic and deepened.

In the meantime, maybe Emily’s blog will help others to know that they’ve got support…  and that it gets better.

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Rape Victims Shamed Into Suicide. In Pakistan. In America.

Assiya was sixteen when a “family friend” sold her to two Pakistani criminals who beat and raped her over the next year. Eventually the criminals traded her to the police in exchange for pinning one of their robberies on the girl. 

Assiya had thought her troubles were over. But instead, the officers took their turn beating and raping her for several days before letting her go. 

The police weren’t worried Assiya would tell. She was expected to commit suicide, as sexually assaulted girls had always done to rinse the dishonor of sexual assault from their families.

But instead, Assiya did the inconceivable. She accused her attackers.  

This story is shocking. Why would anyone, or any culture, expect a raped girl to commit suicide? As though the shame were hers. 

Yet sometimes America doesn’t seem so very different. 

Cut to the U.S. where fourteen-year-old Samantha Kelly’s mother told police that her daughter had sex with eighteen-year-old Joseph Tarnopolski. He was arrested, though it’s unclear whether the charge was statutory or forcible rape.

After a local Fox News affiliate identified Kelly by name, she was bullied so much at school that she finally committed suicide. Yet another reminder of the stigma victims can face when they report this crime.

It’s sad to see that even today, in Pakistan and in America, rape victims can be shamed into killing themselves. 

Georgia Platts

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