“To be slut shamed, one doesn’t have to be actually engaging in any kind of sexual behavior," Emily Lindin, founder of The UnSlut Project, tells me. "Just wearing a shirt that inspires a sexual thought in another person for whatever reason is enough to be slut shamed.”
Slut shaming (defined by Lindin as "making a woman feel guilty or inferior for her real or perceived sexual behavior") has also led to extreme bullying and even death. Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, Audrie Pott, Phoebe Prince, and Felicia Garcia are just a few young women who chose suicide over harassment.
Lindin's UnSlut Project aims to stop this terrible trend. Its goals are to reach out to girls who are suffering while also demonstrating the extent of sexual bullying and slut shaming in schools, media, and culture. The site gives women a medium to share their stories and experiences, and Lindin is also producing a film on the topic, called Slut.
It’s not surprising that so many women have stories to share, Lindin says, since slut shaming is normalized in our culture. "We can witness it and even participate in it without recognizing it as being any kind of noteworthy event,” she says. “Many people who do recognize this type of behavior don’t see anything wrong with it and might even endorse it. We’re raised to believe that women ought to act a certain way, and anyone that falls outside of that norm needs to be punished for her influences on the men and women around her.”
Men need to stand up and advocate for women and girls. We need to serve as allies, in the same way that heterosexual allies effectively support the LGBT community. Men have advantages that women simply do not have, like the privilege to behave sexually while maintaining the respect of those around them.
In the meantime, Lindin hopes her documentary will help people realize how harmful slut shaming is. “We need to spread the word, start conversations among people who might not otherwise consider slut shaming a problem, and figure out how we can all work toward change on individual, community, and cultural levels,” she says.
We need to change society so that young girls don’t feel like death is better than living. Slut shaming is never acceptable, and anyone who proudly engages in it may one day find themselves responsible for the suicide of another innocent girl.