Before #MeToo, There Was Unslut

There are women who’ve been slut-shamed who’ve had the maturity and power to ignore it. To be inspired by the slur, even, and throw it back in people’s faces: Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne [Suck it, bitches. It’s happening! or, another, more elegant translation: Let them grumble, that’s how it’s going to be!] ~Anne Boleyn.

And it’s great when women have the moxie to stand up for themselves, to wear the label of slut as a badge of pride. Yay for proud sluts!

But there are others, especially those young and powerless, who’ve felt so shamed and shunned, they’ve taken their own lives.

Can we all agree that this is a tragedy?

Last weekend, among other amazing women, I was privileged to meet Emily Lindin, creator of the Unslut Project, and Slut: A Documentary Film.

As an “early bloomer,” Emily herself experienced slut-shaming in middle school, merely for having the audacity to grow breasts.  (Been there, experienced that.)

Synopsis: In 2013, seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons took her own life. The Halifax teenager had been gang-raped a year and a half earlier by her classmates and labeled a “slut” as a result. Despite transferring schools many times, she could not escape constant cyber harassment and in-person bullying. Rehtaeh’s is not the only story like this to make headlines in recent years. Why is the sexual shaming of girls and women, especially sexual assault victims, still so prevalent in the United States and Canada? UnSlut: A Documentary Film features conversations with those who have experienced sexual shaming, including the family and friends of Rehtaeh Parsons. We also spoke with Samantha Gailey Geimer, who was publicly shamed by the media after being sexually assaulted by director Roman Polanski at the age of thirteen in 1977; Gina Tron, who wrote about her experience being shamed out of pursuing charges against a serial rapist in Brooklyn, New York; N’Jaila Rhee, who coped with her sexual assault and the subsequent loss of support from her family and church by reclaiming her sexuality as a “cam girl”; and Allyson Pereira, who was ostracized in her New Jersey town after texting a photo of her breasts to an ex-boyfriend. Through interviews with sexuality experts, advocates, and media figures, UnSlut: A Documentary Film explores the causes and manifestations of sexual shaming in North America and offers immediate and long-term goals for personal, local, and institutional solutions.

So instead of my usual Great Sluts in History post, I’d like to encourage you all to $upport this film.

The filming was successfully funded via Kickstarter; now it’s available to be downloaded and watched. Study and discussion guides are also available.

If you’re a woman, or if you have a daughter, niece, granddaughter, or other young woman that you love, consider watching, or spreading the word about this film, to help make slut-shaming a thing of the past.

Your thoughts?