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Interview with Founder of The UnSlut Project [Part 2]


Part II

Being a champion fighter against sexual bullying is a herculean task. Yet it must get done. However, not everyone can appreciate this kind of effort. At first glance, some believe that The UnSlut Project is promoting sex to girls and giving them a pass to behave irresponsibly. Emily assures that this is not the case at all. “ It is just getting people to think about these kind of words that they use and the assumptions they have,” said Emily.

Without merit, girls are the likely target for sexual bullying and could be singled out for any numbers of reasons.  “It’s kind of just a catch-all insult for women. You can be a "slut" if you have sex with someone. Or you can be a "slut" if you don’t have sex with the guy that wants to have a sex with you. You are also a "slut" then. You are kind of a "tease." You can be a "slut" because of how you dress. You can be "slut" if someone doesn’t like you, or for something that is completely unrelated - because you speak up too much, because you are speaking out about things people don’t want to hear. It’s really this catch-all insult for women is sexualized because it implies that there is something inherently dangerous or threatening or wrong about a woman who is perceived as sexual,” said Emily.

To explain, sexual bullying stems from a  larger culture that passes on these sort of ideas about females and their sexuality. School children adopt these attitudes about sex as their own and are making their own assessment about one another. Even further, it’s safe to say that girls are often singled out and devalued for their sexuality, which is digressive to the 21st century’s quest for equality and inclusion. On one hand women and girls are encouraged to be empowered and embrace gender- equality and on the other, they are being denied the right to take ownership of their own sexuality.  Accordingly, children are inheriting the same sort of prejudices and  reiterating the same sort of violence against women that is often frowned upon. Hence, The UnSlut Project pleads for adults to take a deeper look inside themselves and explore their own perceptions and these double standards for females. “I try to encourage adults to assess their own assumptions about what is proper behavior for women and what women are supposed to be and what they’re not supposed to be. Um, so we can kind of move past those assumptions as a culture and our kids hopefully, the next generation of kids won’t even think of slut as an insult. They won’t even think to criticize someone for their perceived sexuality,” said Emily.

Today, The Unslut Project is saving a countless number of girls. The stories that they personally get to connect with enriches the mission. Emily spoke of a mother who contacted her after suspecting that her daughter was undergoing this type of bullying yet her daughter was dealing with it in secret. Emily suggested that the mother explore the website with her daughter, to open up a dialogue so that the two could have a conversation about what her daughter may have been going through. Days later, the daughter expressed her deepest gratitude to the project for its efforts. “ I got a message from her daughter just saying, “My mom showed me this website and it made me realize that what I am going through, I could get over. And also, my mom kind of gets what’s going on…” The girl had been afraid her mom would judge her or add to her shame,” said Emily.

These success stories is what gives The UnSlut platform momentum. Educating parents and saving children may lead to a twenty-first century advancement- shifting the thoughts and perceptions about girls and sexuality. Though a lofty mission, Emily feels that it can be done. “This is an ongoing conversation and ideally in a decade or so, this problem will not be worth talking about anymore because we will have moved passed it, “ said Emily.

However, not all the project’s feedback is positive. At one point, Emily felt that she was reliving her childhood experiences all over again. Upon the project’s launch, she’s became a victim of cyber-bullying. Yet the harassment is partly the reason why she feels the conversation on sexual bullying must continue. The attacks bring additional merit to UnSlut’s mission. “People are upset about it, and these reactions that I get, you know telling me  that I am stupid slut for speaking up and that I should kill myself. Everything like that really just proves my point really better than anything else could...They are saying that I need to shut up and stop talking about this and that trying to invalidate my experience and the experiences of the women who are trying to share their stories. They are really demonstrating misogyny and they’re demonstrating how pervasive this problem really is,” said Emily.

The UnSlut Documentary expects to release a preliminary version of the film this fall. Upon its official release in the fall of 2015, a  published version of Emily's diary will be dispatched to the public which will include commentaries and interviews with key subjects.

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Julene Allen