I'm publishing my middle school diaries online as part of The UnSlut Project, which I hope will draw attention to sexual bullying and to provide girls who are currently feeling trapped and ashamed with the hope that it gets better.

I'll be answering questions from 5-7pm EST today. Ask me anything.

You can read my diary and the shared experiences of other women, as well as share your own perspective, here: http://unslutproject.tumblr.com.

Follow me on Twitter and help spread the word: @UnSlutProject

Edit: Whoops! I lost track of time. Signing off now - thanks for the great conversations! - Emily

Edit 2: I noticed there are still some questions coming in - you can always ask me anything via tumblr or twitter. Thanks again!

Comments: 525 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

vitaminW87 karma

i know a 12 year old girl--who has been harassed at her school for nearly two years by kids (boys?) who call her slut. One boy would say things incredibly vulgar sexual thigns to her. This is at 11. She cries every night to sleep. What would you say to her? What do you think her school should do?

TheUnSlutProject67 karma

That makes me really sad to hear. It sounds a lot like what happened to me. I would encourage her to get involved in activities where she can use her talents and develop what she's good at (to boost her self-esteem), and perhaps that get her out of the toxic school environment for at least part of the day. I'd try to help her realize that SHE determines who she is, NOT the boys who are harassing her. Although it's hard for school administrators to step into specific situations (sometimes this works, but it can cause damage as well), I think all schools should get some training on how to create an environment where sexual bullying is not tolerated. Among adults OR among the students. If acting that way got the boys banned from the "popular" crowd, they'd be a lot less likely to continue.

mattman10065 karma

as someone from New Zealand, im not sure what its like in America or anywhere else but is this really such a big problem in your schools?

TheUnSlutProject97 karma

Yes, unfortunately. Recently in the US and in Canada, girls have committed suicide after being intensely bullied as a "slut" - in some cases, after being the victim of rape. It was those events that convinced me to start this project.

Tommy_Taylor_Lives52 karma

WOW. Fuck a lot of the comments in this thread. Thanks for working on the unslut project and keep up the good work.

TheUnSlutProject39 karma

Thanks for your support! I am actually pretty pleased with the response here - mostly The UnSlut Project has been getting attention from websites geared just toward women, so I'm glad to have been able to open the conversation up.

S-AA48 karma

Don't really have a question just yet but wanted to thank you for what you're doing. I'm a 21 year old male but I still get disgusted by inequality even if I am not suffering.

Moreover, as a heterosexual, whenever I'm with a woman, I get off the most when they're feeling happy themselves. And they can't be happy when they're unconfident and have a stigma to worry about. I also want daughters of my own someday down the line and I don't want to bring them into a world where they're not able to live comfortably and do whatever they want without facing backlash for it. So thanks for doing what you're trying to do!

TheUnSlutProject24 karma

Thanks for your words of encouragement! It's awesome to get the perspective of a heterosexual male in this conversation. And I agree with you that even beyond girls who are currently suffering, we have our future daughters to fend for (and to eventually teach to fend for themselves).

leffect35 karma

For those who have not read your blog entirely yet, how would you explain the effects that being labelled a 'slut' had on your young life? What do you think could have been done to help improve your situation?

TheUnSlutProject48 karma

It caused me a LOT of anxiety, and I seriously considered committing suicide at many different points. My parents, teachers, and guidance counselors reached out to me at different points, but I was too ashamed to confide in them. If something like The UnSlut Project had existed, I would have found comfort in knowing that other women had gone through similar situations and gone on to lead successful, happy lives. That's why I started the project - to provide what I didn't have to girls today.

shwinnebego27 karma

Which is more common - boys slut shaming girls, or girls slut shaming other girls?

TheUnSlutProject40 karma

I don't know the statistics about this, or if there really are any solid studies about it yet. From the anecdotal evidence, I'd say girls use the term "slut" toward each other just as much as boys use it.

yourhand23 karma

why do you think this is important? I would argue kids today are being pressured in to sex way too fast as it is. I'm playing the devils advocate a bit, but i think its a valid point.

TheUnSlutProject39 karma

I think you're right - lots of forces in our society pressure kids into having sex before they're ready to handle the consequences. This is about taking the negativity/shame/aggression out of it, especially for girls. What could have been a rather harmless sexual experimentation with my eleven-year-old boyfriend turned into a nightmare because of the shaming that surrounded it. Kids are going to be curious about sex. We need to present it to them in a realistic way and help them approach it safely (when they're ready), and to discourage the sexual bullying that accompanies the stigma.

crickontour21 karma

How do you feel about the musical artist Pink identifying herself as a slut and being proud of it?

TheUnSlutProject39 karma

I read that interview earlier today! Pink is approaching the same issue in a different way, which I think is a good thing.

franstoobnsf21 karma

Sorry if this is kind of long.

My (female) friend in the last year has become something of a prominent cosplayer; going to cons and making videos. As her unofficial "manager" (I just make sure her business cards get where they're supposed to go and keep an eye for any cool looking photo ops), I have become pretty involved in the cosplay world myself. The point is, being so involved, it's easier to see what this hobby has become: a mix of enthusiasts who just want to go have fun, and also a lot of "hot" girls who couldn't make it as a model or something and use cosplay as an excuse to show off their bodies and get attention.

What results is an outcry of "fake" from all the "real" comic book fans, or gamers, etc. These girls are being called out as attention whores and sluts for a hobby that they choose.

I was just wondering if you've followed the cosplay community at all and what your take on all this "fakeness" is.

TheUnSlutProject34 karma

I don't follow the cosplay community, so thanks for pointing out this connection to me. In my opinion, the idea of an "attention whore" is one thing - it's not necessarily assigned any gender and is often applied to politicians of both sexes, whatever that might say about our societal vocabulary - but I do share your outrage that the term "slut" is being applied in a derogatory way to women who are perfectly entitled to "show off their bodies and get attention." There's nothing wrong with that.

pizzagoat19 karma

There are many people uneducated about slut shaming. I really hope you and others can help redditors understand what all of this is. Thanks!

TheUnSlutProject7 karma

Thank you for saying so! I hope so, too.

daxdaxdax12 karma

Ok, I'm confused. Are you saying its fine for young people to sleep around, but it not ok to call them a slut for doing so? As a young adult, I feel like sleeping around doesn't create any real relationships and actually makes it harder to build a stable, healthy relationship.

TheUnSlutProject50 karma

I definitely don't think it's fine for anyone to "sleep around" (or have sex at all, really) before they're emotionally able to cope with it. But I also don't think anyone should be calling a young person a slut in order to shame her.

Killer-Barbie8 karma

Have you ever heard of the I've Been Bullied project? I think you two complement each other well.

TheUnSlutProject11 karma

Yup, I definitely support that project. It operates under the same idea of sharing our experiences to get the word out and try to prevent the same thing from happening to others.

jewel787 karma

The term slut shaming confuses me. Please explain? So is your audience young teens and what is your message to them? I get sharing experiences, but is there a community where your are talking to these/counseling girls?

TheUnSlutProject15 karma

The audience is both girls who are currently going through this type of shaming (to give them hope that it gets better, especially in light of recent suicides) and adults, to start conversations and help us understand why this type of bullying is so prevalent.

strayseeker9 karma

Is there any advice you'd give to adults (particularly teachers and family) to help them prevent this kind of bullying? I guess there's only so much we can do since it's so prevalent, but there must be something.

TheUnSlutProject13 karma

It is really hard for girls who are the victims of this type of bullying to confide in adults about it, so often adults in their lives won't even know what's going on. (This was the case with my own parents, who were worried sick about me but didn't know the details because I was too humiliated to tell them.) I think the best action we can take is to set a good example: be aware of the way we characterize sexuality, especially female sexuality, and represent it as a positive thing that's okay to be curious about, rather than a shameful thing that should be suppressed.

datozer7 karma

Is this project only for women? How can men get involved?

TheUnSlutProject19 karma

Slut shaming is usually directed toward women, but it affects everyone. It's not just a matter of one boy getting into his head that the sexuality he perceives from a girl is wrong and then bullying her about it - that boy has grown up in a culture that encourages and demonstrates that type of attitude. We can all contribute to shifting that attitude.

I've read stories submitted to The UnSlut Project from men who witnessed/participated in/were indirect victims of this type of bullying. I definitely encourage you to participate!

fooooood6 karma

Awesome cause you're fighting for- I just wanted to ask, has it been difficult for you to open up such a delicate and private time of your life to the world? If I had kept a diary in high school, I know that I probably would have burned it by now. (I haven't read that much of your blog as I found out about it today, but I'll be reading more and more!) As someone who has been called promiscuous/slutty before, this is something I really agree needs addressing. Girls shouldn't grow up fearing their sexuality!

TheUnSlutProject2 karma

It has been quite difficult at times. But the hard part is reading through the entries by myself, before changing the names of the people involved. Actually posting the diaries online, especially including the commentary, is kind of cathartic and makes it less about ME and more about the aspect of reaching out to others.

Thank you for your kind words!

yourlegsgrow6 karma

Do the people in your posts know that you are posting about them? Are you still friends with any of them?

TheUnSlutProject18 karma

I am not close friends with any of the people in my posts, but we're friends through social media, and for the most part they've grown up into really admirable people. I am writing under a pen name for just that reason - I don't want them or anyone else to find out who the characters are. The point of The UnSlut Project is not to villainize them or anyone else, and I wouldn't want to cause them any guilt or pain now.

Cadenas5 karma

1: How do you think that your work with this issue has affected the negative cultures & etc this far?

2: Good luck!

TheUnSlutProject5 karma

1: Starting conversations about this type of thing is always good, and I think The UnSlut Project has gotten the ball rolling in a lot of public spaces as well as private interactions. I've also been really moved by the emails I've received from girls who are affected by slut shaming and are finding comfort in reading my diary and the shared experiences of other women. Affecting their lives in this way, even on a small scale, really makes it worth it. 2: Thank you so much!


How fast can you run a mile?

TheUnSlutProject5 karma

9 minutes!


Is there an infographic I can read to learn the basics/statistics of slut shaming?

I know what it is, but not enough about it to understand why there is a movement for it.

TheUnSlutProject5 karma

The evidence is mostly anecdotal. That's why I designed The UnSlut Project to include the collective sharing of stories. One of the reasons this type of thing is necessary is because this type of bullying is not on a lot of people's radar. An infographic would be a great idea, though - I don't know of one that exists.

freemarket273 karma

Are you saying the students need more oversight from the administrators of their middle schools?

TheUnSlutProject15 karma

More oversight from administrators is probably part of it. But the fact that slut shaming can even exist as a type of bullying points to a larger issue in our culture. It will take effort on the part of administrators - not just oversight but understanding and openness - as well as parents, and all of us.

eenhuistke2 karma

20y/o Male here.

So, when I'm called an asshole and a womanizer because I like to have sex and do it frequently with different women, would you jump at the chance to defend me?

Idk if you'll see it my way, but it kind of fucking blows when I actually end up liking a girl, but all of her friends have spread that I'm just in it for the sex, and that I'm a womanizer, and it was almost impossible to find a girlfriend.

TheUnSlutProject44 karma

Yes, I would defend you. I can see friends advising each other against getting involved with you if you were dishonest about your intentions with other women, but if you and they just like to have sex, I don't think anyone should bother you about it.

taschabascha2 karma

No question, just wanted to thank you for your bravery and time. I hate that our society both demonizes and glamorizes sex, so that for girls and women, it is simultaneously hideously shameful and of utmost importance. Thanks so, so much for sharing.

TheUnSlutProject1 karma

Thank you for saying this! I really appreciate your kind words of support.

yourhand2 karma

I'm reading your bog right now. What were you all doing at 11 that could be called (and so obviously recognized as) flirting? god dammit im 19 and i cant flirt....

TheUnSlutProject13 karma

Thank you for checking out the blog! I'm not sure that what I was doing would be recognized by any grown person as "flirting." I mostly just sent my friends over to boys to tell them I liked them. Actually, what am I talking about? Grown ups do that all the time :)

yourhand5 karma

Its actually hysterical at points, its very interesting. follow up question, and i hope its not too personal, you said (in your blog) " I imagined slitting my wrist and leaving a suicide note: “Steph and Zach, I hope you’re happy.” But then I decided against it, because I would never be able to purposefully slice my skin. It would hurt too much." how serious was that? It comes across as the 11 year old you beilve you were serious....but you weren't really at risk. Is that true?

TheUnSlutProject7 karma

That's the first time the idea of slitting my wrist has come up in my diary. About a year down the road, I started cutting my wrists with manicure scissors to make them bleed - I don't think the intent was to kill myself, but it was definitely more of a possibility. Since I wrote the entries 15 years ago, it's hard to remember in which instances I would have actually killed myself if I had the means, and in which instances I was just using dramatic language. But I know that I was serious in some of those instances.

whiskeylooks2 karma

You publish these entries slowly- is this an active decision?

TheUnSlutProject2 karma

I started out VERY slowly, but once I decided to really make this project happen, I now post about one per day. I think creates the effect they're happening in real time to post them at about the pace I originally wrote them. Also, it takes a little bit of time to copy them from the 3-subject notebooks they're written in to tumblr.

mrwhiskers1230 karma


TheUnSlutProject3 karma

It's to encourage people to stop using words like "slut" in derogatory ways to suggest that female sexuality is somehow intrinsically bad, especially with regard to girls whose self-respect is at risk.

GiveJesusPants-2 karma

I think the idea behind this is awesome, slut shaming and bullying are prevalent among pre-teens that I work with and it's overwhelming for all parties.

However, I'm having a hard time believing that the author is publishing her 11-year old private thoughts "word-for-word" while implementing techniques in her writing like foreshadowing and metaphors, and using words like "tentatively" and "communal."

TheUnSlutProject12 karma

This makes me kind of wish I weren't writing under a pen name, so my actual 6th-grade English teacher could take some credit for her good work!

Believe it or not, that's the way I wrote as an 11-year-old. There was no intentional use of foreshadowing (since I didn't know what was going to happen, obviously), but it's hard for me to read these entries now and not think, "Wow, it's funny that wrote that, given what ended up happening the next day." It's more dramatic irony than foreshadowing, I guess!

As for metaphors, I was pretty into creating cliched, clunky metaphors. I'm not sure why. It's one of the things that's hard not to poke fun at in my added commentary.

Son_Ov_Leviathan-5 karma

I've only just read a bit of that blog of yours, but I'm finding it rather disturbing. I myself was bullied as a kid, but what I gathered from the blog was sheer histrionic whinings. What real issue is it that you're fighting?

TheUnSlutProject14 karma

It does often veer into histrionic whinings - I wouldn't disagree with that classification of my 6th-grade writing style. It demonstrates that eleven-year-olds often aren't emotionally equipped to deal with bullying of any kind, and sexual bullying can be particularly humiliating and isolating. I've gotten lots of responses from girls who relate to it, or women who say it reads like their own middle school diary, so that makes it worth it to me to show that this type of drama goes away eventually.

Restroom406-7 karma

It would seem to me that the idea of stopping slut shaming in a way, though positive in addressing bullying, counter productive as it gives credence to the idea that being sexually active at that age is ok. I am not preaching abstinence here, there will be sex amongst middle school aged children, but perhaps you could just fight to take off the one-sided nature of slut shaming just the girls.

TheUnSlutProject12 karma

I agree with you that being sexually active as a preteen can be incredibly dangerous. But as the shared experiences on the tumblr demonstrate, many girls are sexually bullied because they developed breasts early or for no identifiable reason at all. You're right to point out that it is one-sided, and that's another part of this project: we see "slut shaming" in the media and among adults all the time, directed toward grown women, and children absorb that and apply it in their own bullying.

Restroom406-5 karma

I feel this is probably not new to this time period of media saturation. Kids will always act like children and as much as we try to clean up their act there's going to be some dumb assholes kid running around calling other kids slurs, slurs, and fags. Our job is to raise our children to be well enough adjusted to shun those particular children and promote change from within their own ranks. We can't PC control adolescence. Kids have to grow up on their own sometimes. It called a personality, it takes time to grow one and adversity can fuel that growth.

TheUnSlutProject6 karma

I agree that it's not new to the time period of media saturation - I wrote these diaries 15 years ago and I wasn't even allowed to watch TV at the time, I don't think. I also like the idea of creating an environment for kids to "promote change from within their own ranks." That's a great way to put it.

strayseeker11 karma

Slut-shaming is about more than just sex, though. Girls are shamed for the length of their skirts, for the amount of make-up they wear, if they hang out with boys "too much" or have a lot of friends who are boys, even if they're just generally considered to be pretty, and this continues into adulthood. It makes sense to try and combat it as early as possible, and make sure people know from a young age that it isn't okay.

TheUnSlutProject3 karma

Thanks. I definitely agree with this.

wlkngnthfrnk-7 karma

I hope I'm not too off base, but I've always had the sense that women and young girls are typically called 'sluts' because their anatomy is more prone to contracting STDs, spreading STDs, and passing STDs on to their children. Regardless, the label seems to be closely related to ideas of self-control in an individual, and how when it is lacking can negatively impact others. For example, people that drink and drive are not well-liked, to put it mildly, because their lack of self control can harm or kill other people. I am no prude, but I still believe that the 'slut' label has some usefulness in society as a matter of safety precaution. In what ways can we avoid slut shaming, but at the same time acknowledge a 'slut's,' male or female, promiscuity?

TheUnSlutProject11 karma

I don't think "promiscuity" needs to be acknowledged or even discouraged - what contributes to the contraction and spreading of STIs is not the number of sex partners someone has, but whether or not they're having safe sex. The current air of shame and disgust surrounding sex (especially for females) encourages young sexual experimentation to happen secretively and unsafely. I would advocate for honesty and age-appropriate understanding: not "If you have sex with boys, you'll be called a slut," but "If you want to have sex with boys, let's talk about possible outcomes together. Also, let's get you on birth control and here are some condoms."

i_ask_sex_questions-10 karma

So how many sexual partners did you have before that age of 18? How many sexual partners total?

TheUnSlutProject9 karma

This isn't the point of the project. But since I am, after all, publishing my diaries online (and because I appreciate you joining the conversation), the answer is: I had only one sexual partner before the age of 18.

Dallasdrew-11 karma

What do you mean "draw attention slut shaming?" Maybe I'm not understanding, but it sounds like you're saying they shouldn't be made to feel bad about being sluts?

TheUnSlutProject10 karma

By "draw attention to slut shaming," I mean demonstrate that it's happening all the time, at very young ages. Girls shouldn't be made to feel ashamed of their sexuality (or perceived sexuality), but "slut" shouldn't even be an insult.

Dallasdrew-11 karma

Okay, I can see that, but what about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases? Sure "slut" shouldn't be an insult, but you can't have girls (or anyone for that matter) be convinced that having sex freely isn't something to be ashamed of, and then expect that they all have sex responsibly. Wouldn't that result in an increase in STD's? I'm not trying to say using the word "slut" is a form of moderation, but perhaps shaming is a form of adaptation from spreading these diseases?

TheUnSlutProject33 karma

I don't think having sex freely is something to be ashamed of. In fact, I think by creating a sense of shame around sexual activity, especially for girls, we might be INCREASING the risk for STI transmission - if they're too ashamed to talk about sex, they won't be able to find out how to go about it safely.

sherrysalt-12 karma

You might have better luck posting about this in r/TwoXChromosomes :)

YOU GUYS MISUNDERSTOOD ME!! When I first checked this thread, it was full of people being MEAN and I wanted to let OP know a place to go where people are nice about these things!!

sv21js18 karma

Why should women be the only ones to care about this issue?

TheUnSlutProject8 karma

Exactly. The UnSlut Project has gotten a lot of coverage in online communities that are geared specifically toward women, but I think it should be everyone's issue. We all create the culture our kids absorb.

[deleted]-13 karma


TheUnSlutProject11 karma

The problem is that a lot of children don't SURVIVE the bullying. They don't have the perspective of adults, and as teen suicide numbers show us, often they see no way out.

Also, one of the main ideas of the project is to argue that "the way life really is" shouldn't involve shaming women for their sexuality.

moonlightdancing7 karma

I think the problem with saying "some kids are going to be sluts and some are not" is a part of the problem. It's the word that is causing the pain, especially when Emily is talking about how the use of that word is used in bullying and leads to suicide. I think no one has the right to judge others on their sexuality, and just using the word "slut" is putting a negative judgement on someone, not an appropriate description.

TheUnSlutProject2 karma

I agree. Thanks.

tribbing1337-16 karma

So being a slut is good?

TheUnSlutProject20 karma

It's not good or bad. The word "slut" packs a punch that has no equivalent in words used to describe men, though, and I believe it's NOT good for girls to associate that kind of negativity with their own sexuality.

ailee43-27 karma

Yeah... i feel like from that you were just trying to get attention then, and you're doing the same now :/

TheUnSlutProject6 karma

I definitely do want this issue to get attention - that's the whole point. I wouldn't disagree with you that a lot of what I did as a child was for attention - but this project is anonymous, so I personally am not getting ANY attention for it.