How One Target Of Slut-Shaming Is Now Fighting Sexual Bullying

Image: Courtesy Of Zest Books.
When Emily Lindin was 11 years old, her peers decided that she was the class "slut." For the next few years, she was psychologically tormented, called "slut," "ho," "whore," and more, both online and off. She recorded those torturous preteen years in her diary, and today, that diary is available in the form of Lindin's new book UnSlut: A Diary and a Memoir. Raw, illuminating, and frequently painful, the book features direct excerpts from Lindin's diary, alongside commentary from her adult perspective. This isn't the first time she has published her childhood writing: In 2013, rocked by the suicides of assault and slut-shaming victims Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, and Audrie Pott, Lindin created The UnSlut Project, an online space in which she posted individual entries from her diary, and encouraged others to share their stories of being harassed. "At the time [of the abuse], I didn't feel comfortable confiding in my parents or other adults in my life," Lindin writes on the project's website. "I would have loved to have some reassurance that this time would pass and my life would get better... I decided to create The UnSlut Project in the hopes that my own diary entries from ages 11-14 could provide some perspective to girls who currently feel trapped and ashamed." The project struck a nerve, eliciting accounts from people of all genders and ages, reminding us that slut-shaming is pervasive, insidious, and even fatal. Read on for an excerpt from Lindin's book, and click through The UnSlut Project to learn more about her work that offers hope to people, especially girls, who wonder if they will ever escape sexual bullying.

I would have loved to have some reassurance that this time would pass and my life would get better.

December 30, 1998
It is Christmas vacation so I am not seeing anyone at school, but my dad got AOL for a month! So I am always online chatting with Stacy, James, and Jacob. It is so much fun. But I was chatting with Stacy last night and I got a new chat. It was from the screen name DieEmilyLindin and it said, “Hi Emily.” I just stared at it and didn’t respond. Then I closed the chat box and went to get some cheese in the kitchen.*
When I came back to the computer, the chat box was back and this time it said, “Why haven’t you killed yourself yet, you stupid slut?” I know it sounds stupid, but I felt like the chat box could see me through the computer screen. I asked Stacy if she knew who had made that screen name, DieEmilyLindin. She said it was Steph and that Steph had also made a webpage called Die Emily Lindin, and that it had been there for six months, but Stacy had just found out about it from Emma. I didn’t try to go to the webpage. I felt kind of sick, like I could throw up, and I just signed off AOL.

When I came back to the computer, the chat box was back and this time it said, "Why haven’t you killed yourself yet, you stupid slut?”

*“Cyberbullying” wasn’t even a term yet, but this interaction was a precursor to what happens so often today. Until that message from DieEmilyLindin, home had been a safe place where I could, for the most part, escape the sexual bullying. I didn’t have a cell phone (no one my age did in the late ’90s), so once I made it through my front door, I had been protected from the way people thought of me and interacted with me at school. The internet was about to change all that, but I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew was that somehow, someone who wanted me to die had accosted me in my own home, and that I could really go for some cheese.
January 6, 1999
Daniel is being horribly mean all of a sudden. He keeps calling me a ho and a whore and a slut. I am trying not to care... Catherine and Hailey were online today, and they IM-ed me and were being nice! They invited me into a chat room twice, but I was already in one with James. I don’t have anything against them except that they are friends with Steph. And her screen name is DieEmilyLindin. Every time she comes online, I sign off.

January 8, 1999
Rules to Live By:
- Be nice or at least nonchalant to everyone.
- Let people vent on you.
- Never make fun of losers.
- Sing really loud in church.
- Never wear white tights.
- Flirt with hot guys.
- Never wear push-up bras, because people who notice if you do are perverts.

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