Emily Lindin’s Unslut is a personal memoir expanding over 250 pages of diary entries from November 21, 1997 to June 15, 2000. Unslut was published in 2015 by Zest Books for $14.99, for the purpose of allowing others to be more aware of the traumatic bullying that many face in middle school. Lindin publishes her diary, word for word, in order to reveal many of her own experiences in hope that other girls will find comfort and ease knowing they are not alone in their situation. In addition, Lindin provides her insight several years after middle school as to what the context is of her thoughts. Throughout her diary, Lindin comes to grips with her sexuality in the context of her middle school culture. I believe Lindin does a wonderful job at being truthful with her audience about the realities of ‘slut shaming’ and its effects on young girls and boys.
Lindin begins her diary in sixth grade, where she identifies the nature of her friends and the boys she interacts with. She acknowledges that she is more developed than most girls in her class, and that this results in increased attention from both boys and girls. She, along with a few of her other classmates, become sexually curious at this young age. At age 11, Lindin has already reached “third base” with her boyfriend, Zach. Lindin recalls that this one instance as “the turning point in (her) life” (Lindin, 62). From then on, Lindin is labeled as the school slut, a label that is carried on throughout the rest of her middle school years. As she progresses through seventh and eighth grade, the boys become increasingly interested in her chest and frequently comment. Some even go as far to spray her with water or threaten rumors if she doesn’t flash them. Although conscious that she was often used for sexual favors, Lindin would comply for fear of not living up to her reputation.
Unslut explores the life and sexuality of a young Emily Lindin, in much similar fashion as others from past, previous and current time periods. Disparities between promiscuous and pure an accentuated in her own experiences in comparison to her classmates. I really enjoyed reading this because although I did not have a similar experience with boyfriends and sexuality, I do remember those who had been more experienced dealing with the same ‘slut shaming.’ I too, kept a diary throughout middle school that contained several unhappy memories of being bullied for stealing the attention of a boy and such, so her accounts and drama could be relatable for really anyone. I love the commentary piece of the book as well, where she explains herself a little more and reflects on the drama with an outsider perspective. This is where she admits to her audience that she could be dramatic, but also she points out several experiences she had that were not okay in reality, but she was too young or too eager to please her peers to resist doing the wrong thing. Lindin revealed that she didn’t want to disappoint her boyfriends and that when she was bullied that she must have deserved it for what she did. It saddened me to read that someone would ever feel they deserve to be bullied or harassed for their actions, not matter what they did. I think she struggles to realize that everyone makes mistakes, but it does not excuse others to harass anyone.
Young girls and boys who are bullied for their sexuality often face issues with their mentality. For example, in one of Lindin’s fantasies, she decided she would never be able to wear a white dress because “then Jacob would be able to see though it and that would make him horny” (115). This is a problem that many still face to today, whether young girls or young women need to dress to cater to helping men resist sexual desire. In addition, Lindin later recalls the sense of peace and calming when she cuts her wrist, something that is unhealthy not just for middle school girls, but for everyone. Here however, we see the repercussions of how people progress with their sexualities at different rates and the consequences. Sexuality was not a private matter in middle school, making everyone who participated in exploring their own sexuality come under much scrutiny by the rest of the class. I believe this would make anyone anxious and frustrated.
I would definitely recommend this book to middle school girls who are both bullys and the bullied, because everyone could be both simultaneously. Girls can see firsthand what their harsh words can do to others, thanks for Lindin’s honesty and narratives of her own bullying. For those who are bullied, there is come comfort in knowing that they are not alone, and that sexual bullying happens everywhere. Lindin’s presentation is one of hope and teaching, she brings light to a subject that is not often published in mainstream media.
Lindin, Emily, and Amanda Hess. UnSlut: A Diary and a Memoir. San Fransisco, CA: Zest, 2015. Print.