I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Unslut: A Diary And a Memoir by Emily Lindin

Emily Lindin (not her real name), is the founder of The Unslut Project, an online community where survivors of sexual bullying and "slut shaming" can share their stories, and where girls who are currently suffering can find support.  This book is her diary from her middle school years where she was branded a slut, was bullied and bullied others herself.  In the margins of the book, she has written comments that either explains what a particular passage meant or to make sarcastic comments about some of the stupid things she says in her diary.

She starts the book with a list of the people (whose names have all been changed, of course) who appear in the diary and a brief explanation of who they are.  The diaries themselves begin on November 21, 1997, and end on June 15, 2000.  This is the dawn of the internet age, but it is still the time of kids using landline phones to communicate and passing notes in school.  However, as the book progresses, AOL Instant Messenger rears it's ugly head and the kids start to experiment with the horrible things they can do with it.

Emily's main love interest is Zach, with whom she dates on and off with during middle school. In sixth grade, he would break up with her and then get back together with her as if it were a game.  As school dances whether or not they kissed was determined by the other kids around them who would egg them on to do it whether they wanted to or not.  After they had been dating a long while (on and off, depending on the day) they were at his friend Matt's house and begin making out when Zach put his hand down her pants.  This was considered third base.  And of course, he told people about it, which branded Emily a slut for the rest of her school years.

It also didn't help that Emily began developing "boobs" in fifth grade and that she was growing into a large pair during a time when most girls were still flat chested.  And once labeled a slut, it meant that guys could touch her inappropriately without her permission, such as slapping her on the ass, or one time during the summer before seventh grade a group of them wanted to strip her and throw her into the pool, but she refused and they relented for some reason. But as they were leaving, one of them puts his arm around her and cops several feels of her breast and she told him weakly to not do it, but she didn't want to be too forceful so as not to hurt his feelings. At this time she was dating another boy, who, when this hit the school crowd making her reputation worse, broke up with her even though she explained what happened. She also blames herself and comes to believe what others are telling her: that she is a slut.

At this time it is the dawn of the internet and people are getting those free AOL disks in the mail and kids are starting to explore with AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) and go into chat rooms and talk with each other.  It's considered more fun and easier than the phone because you can always blame something bad you said on a sibling.  It's also the dawn of cyber stalking.  Emily finds herself being attacked by someone whose screen name is DieEmilyLindin what says things like "why haven't you killed yourself yet, you stupid slut?" Before this time home was a safe haven to escape the crap you went through at school and now that was bing violated in a way that couldn't be punished.

Emily finds herself in a position of wondering if a guy is going out with her because of her boobs or her reputation as a slut or if he's interested in her.  Sadly, it's usually the first two. Of course, the dating rituals are so bizarre to me. I didn't date in middle school and the guys I dated in high school didn't go to my school.  These kids break up and get together though the help of a friend. They could be going together and have never said anything to each other ever. Then there are the hierarchy of friends and trying to get in with the popular ones even if it means throwing another friend under the bus. Her best friend Melanie (even today) seems to have one role to her at this point and that is to listen to all her problems and fix them.  There are times when she treats even her terribly.   And don't think she wouldn't call another girl a slut because she does and at one point in her diary she calls one guy a pervert, which could be considered the male version of a slut. Of course, once a girl who had been dating her boyfriend for a month and supposedly gave him a handjob got labeled a slut. Emily reached out to this girl who had been ignoring her for over a month now in sympathy because she didn't consider her a slut since she was in  love and in a long term relationship.  Emily never once thought to consider if the rumor was true.  They also have these passive-aggressive fights that are more for something to do to bring on some drama in their lives. Rarely would a real fight break out.

This book shows how easy it is to destroy a reputation and a life with one word. There are many times in the book when Emily considers committing suicide because she can't find a way out of this situation she's in.  It also shows how easy it is to manipulate someone into doing something as some of the girls and boys in this book show they are capable of doing, which is a real mind screw.  Even Emily wishes she herself was capable of manipulating boys, into doing what we have no idea, though.  When Emily makes it to high school she meets a really nice guy and they start dating and they date throughout high school and her slut designation disappears and she becomes known for other, more important things.  But this doesn't happen for everybody.  She was lucky. Which is why she started up the Unslut project to help the girls who really need it so they can navigate the treacherous waters of schools. She says today it has gotten worse than when she was a teen due to the internet, twitter, texting, and stuff like that. People do not feel connected to what they say and therefore feel no responsibility for their words and the damage they do.  It's easier to stalk and slut shame and there's nowhere to hide from it anymore. But there is help.

Self-Harm or Self-Injury: http://m.kidsheatlth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/cutting
Sexual Health: http://www.scarleteen.com
Crisis Help For Bullying:  800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Suicide Prevention: http://twloha.com
                                 http://www.thetrevorproject.org 866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386)
                                  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 1-800-273-TALK

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/UnSlut-Memoir-Ms-Emily-Lindin/dp/1942186002/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478707302&sr=8-1&keywords=unslut

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