Shamed as a teenager, documentarian wants to take value from the word that terrorized her

Hayley Burris

When Emily Lindin was a kid, she was labeled a slut at school because her boyfriend had spread rumors about her sleeping with him and others.  

On March 2, Lindin, an acclaimed activist and filmmaker, came to UK to share her documentary “UnSlut” and give an informative lecture about sexual bullying and stereotypes in today’s society as well as in the past. 

Lindin talked about her experiences with sexual bullying as a kid and how she started The UnSlut Project, a movement to combat the stereotypes of calling women sluts and help promote gender equality.

In middle school, Lindin was labeled the class slut at school and lived with that label for all of the middle school and high school years.  She was slut-shamed for rumors that were being spread about her and even contemplated suicide at one point.

“We didn’t call it slut shaming at the time,” Lindin said. “I don’t know if anyone would have called what was happening to me bullying. I think a lot of adults just assumed I deserved it and that has changed in a lot of communities.”

After high school, she attended Harvard and received her PhD.  After that time, she found her journal from middle school being, which included her being called a slut and the experiences she went through at the time.

Lindin began publishing those journal entries after she had heard of girls committing suicide for being slut-shamed. She started The UnSlut Project after she heard about a girl committing suicide after being raped and transferring schools four times.

“I think by coming together today and having some of those conversations and thinking back on things that we’ve all taken part of and been a part of kind of like slut shaming, it was just really important and I think some of those were the biggest takeaways as we’ve all kind of been involved in this,” said graduate student Anna Fuller.

Lindin’s journals were read and spread throughout the feminist world. After they started gaining momentum, she published them into a memoir as a way to let others know they are not alone and as a way for therapists and doctors to know how to talk about it with the victims. 

“I put my diary online in like March of 2013 and a woman who writes for Slate, Amanda Hess, just happened to notice it,” Lindin said.  “It was like a Tumblr.  She noticed it and she wrote about it and then someone who wrote for Jezebel happened to notice it and so kind of the feminist blogosphere caught up and was like ‘This women is sharing her middle school diaries from the 90s when she was labeled a slut.’”

Lindin wants to make the word slut to where there is not a lot of sexual expectation around it that are ridiculous to women.  She said she hopes to change society so the word slut doesn’t make sense when it is used as an insult.