Thoughts On Slut-Shaming From A 12-Year-Old Feminist

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Every year at my school around Halloween, we have a door decorating contest. This year, my class decided to take fake mugshots of our teachers, where they could make any silly face they wanted. After taking the pictures, my friend (a boy) and I were at the printer watching the mugshots print out. The boy in question is a friend to this day, the kind of guy who gets good grades, is totally nice and is okay to just hang out with. We were looking over the pictures, laughing at the funny ones, and he paused on a picture of his former Humanities teacher. She was making a silly “duckface,” pouting her lips and wearing cat ears; it was a funny picture that would look great on our door. Out of nowhere, in a totally casual way, my friend said: “Ugh. What a slut.”

At hearing that, my stomach flipped. It turned to jelly. My heart skipped a beat. Everything just froze and I started panicking in a way, my mind was racing and I started that very familiar questioning in my mind: What should I say? Should I even say something? Is it worth it? Maybe he’s just joking. It felt like it was such a small thing to him. He didn’t think twice about it, but these things always freak me out. My head spun and I stared straight ahead, I didn’t know what to say. If I was gonna say something, though, it had to be right now, before he changed the subject and it was too late.

The thing is, I already had this “feminist reputation” at my school. People know me as the girl who just goes off on feminist rants, and they’re always accusing me of blowing things out of proportion. It’s true: I usually point things out when they’re sexist because they should be pointed out. Rules that are unfair to girls, comments that are degrading: I point them out. But that day, with the word “slut” floating in the air, I didn’t want to live up to my own rep. I wanted to say something, I really did, but it gets exhausting and I already knew what his reaction would be: He would roll his eyes, sigh and go tell all his friends that the “crazy feminist Lola” had called him out for saying the word “slut.”

So…I laughed, and I didn’t say anything. And I regret it. I didn’t tell that boy that he could not use that word, that he was not fit to judge a woman on those terms, that words like that are not acceptable to use and are dangerous. I wish I could go back and change my reaction, tell him, “Don’t say that.” I deeply, deeply regret it.

Lola Blackman is a 12-year-old 7th grader. She attends Salk Middle School in New York City. She is a member of The Arts Effect All-Girl JR. Theater Company and a leader in the StopSlut movement. This post originally appeared on Medium.

SLUT is a play written by Katie Cappiello, directed by Katie Cappiello & Meg McInerney, and featuring The Arts Effect All-Girl Theater Company. The book SLUT: A Play and Guidebook for Combating Sexism and Sexual Violence, edited by Katie Cappiello and Meg McInerney, was just published by The Feminist Press. SLUT will be performed in New York City on February 7th and 8th at the New School (tickets can be purchased here). There will be a book launch on February 10th at Bluestockings in NYC.

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