By most definitions, a slut is a person who has many sexual partners or low standards of cleanliness.
In the 1970s, a popular filmmaker like Roman Polanski could be accused of raping a 13-year-old girl and get away with it. But, thanks to the Internet, accusers face more challenges, claims multiple sources from the new documentary “UnSlut,” which screened last week on Saddleback College’s campus.
“Today when I see this happen to girls, it seems so much more intense,” said Polanski’s victim Samantha Gailey Geimer in the documentary. “And with the Internet and social media, people just tear into people with like no feeling and no consequences, and it’s a much harder, meaner environment.”
Before the Internet, women were harassed with prank phone calls, graffiti on cars or being called a slut in person. Now with social media there is no escape.
“With social media there is a lot of pressure for young females in particular to display their bodies all the time,” said Leora Tanenbaum, author of “Slut: Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation,” in the documentary. “And yet they don’t really control their image because the consumers of that image who may be their peers, and maybe their friends can turn that around and say, ‘Oh my God, she looks like such a slut.'”
Emily Lindin decided to create “UnSlut” when she heard about a girl who killed herself after constant harassment. For Lindin, this incident brought back memories of her own childhood when her old boyfriend went too far. They broke up, but he spread rumors, and “slut” followed her until the last few years of high school.
Former professional wrestler Mick Foley is part of the Rape Abuse Incest National Network and has helped over 1,000 survivors through the Internet hotline.
“What’s heartbreaking about slut shaming and sexual violence is that 100 percent of these incidents are avoidable,” Foley said in the film. “We can stop it, it just requires some effort and some of the most basic human decency.”
Feeling that name calling needed to end, Lindin decided to make a blog about her own experiences. Women around the world could share their own stories as well. Lindin decided to start this documentary to show how damaging bullying and name-calling can be.
The UnSlut Project sent out emails of the trailer to schools, grassroots organizations and anyone else willing to host a screening. Christina Ghanbarpour, co-chair of the Women Studies Advisory Committee at Saddleback College, received this email and knew she wanted to set up an event.
“Assumptions about people haven’t changed,” Ghanbarpour said. “When looking at women and the clothes they wear, they are automatically judged. Some are either too conservative, or not conservative enough, then being stereotyped as a slut.”
With an attendance of over 100 people, Ghanbarpour tried to show students the damage bullying can cause. For Lindin, the positive feedback makes her hopeful that awareness can raise and change can happen.
“There is still no program at Saddleback College for students, because it is still too new,” Ghanbarpour said. “But people who were their loved it.”
By changing the way one looks at another we can start with looking at ourselves and working on our attitudes, we can raise awareness by standing up for others and support blogs and cause a social change.
“I encourage you to think the ways in which you can start discovering confidence and using it to work against bullying,” Lindin said. “Whether you’re the victim, witness, a bully yourself or all three of these things, at different points which is the case for most of us, you can discover confidence and you can use it, and you can start now.”