Stop slut

Sarah Jackson

*Names within the story have been changed to protect their privacy.

It was early in senior year at a high school party. I remember how happy I felt, because my friends and I had been discussing how amazing our senior year was going to be.

I was sitting on a couch socializing with a couple of boys when I heard a familiar voice yelling in my direction. The voice hurled the word “slut!” at me. I immediately felt my face burn up and my heart drop into my stomach. This was the first time I’d ever been called this word.

When I think back, it’s alarming to how easily I brushed off this powerful word. I’d been ignorant to the damage it could do. Little did I know, this word would become my identifier.

Monday in class, I heard the voice from the party again. “Slut,” she said, but this time with my name attached. I looked in the direction of the voice as Amy said “she slept with him at the party, how disrespectful.” I quickly whipped my head back, shocked and embarrassed. I did not want her to see my eyes swelling with tears. All I could do was sit with my head down and listen to a story about me that I didn’t even know myself. I wished I were somewhere else.

A boy lied about me, and people believed him. It was clear that Amy had it out for me. My friends were getting questions and people began losing respect for me. I felt trapped. Thankfully my friends still saw me for who I am: shy and skeptical of people but an outgoing, funny, and loyal friend once you get to know me. To those who didn’t know me, I was a slut.

The bullying got worse, and I began to see myself differently. I often thought everyone hated me, and that I was worthless. My friends’ love and support kept me positive. Without them, my story could have been very different.

Flash-forward to my second year at Mount Saint Vincent University; this university has given me a fresh start and outlook. I have become a different person than my high school self and realize what I am truly capable of achieving. I now see myself as a confident, positive, and nonjudgmental young woman who has dreams and goals for the future.

I recently saw Slut The Play that empowered me to share my experience with the word “slut”. The play is critically acclaimed by people including Gloria Steinem who called it, “Truthful, raw, and immediate! See this play and witness what American young women live with everyday.” I wished I’d seen this play earlier. I wished everyone in my high school could have seen this earlier. It taught me that the word “slut” is powerful. I learned this word is capable of ruining reputations; it shames women, and can even be used to justify rape.

According to the Huffington Post, university students think 50 per cent of reported rapes are false. When in reality only two to eight per cent are false claims. It is extremely important to start respecting women and girls. We need to eliminate judgement, shame, and the word “slut” from our vocabularies.

Photo taken by Sarah Jackson of Mount Students, Nicole Drohan (left), and Jenna Macqueen (right).