“Unslut” by Emily Lindin – Review
Emily Lindin published “Unslut: A Diary And A Memoir” with “Zest Books” in 2015. The publishers priced this 272 page hardcover, combined diary and memoir at $14.99. Throughout the book, Lindin has published and annotated her real-life diary from sixth through eighth grade. The evaluation of the sexual harassment, and bullying that she goes through from both her adult and eleven to thirteen year old self is quite unique. I want to look at the impact her being labeled a “slut,” at eleven years old had on her at the time it occurred, in addition to her adult self today. I also hope to look at the impacts it has both socially and mentally for Lindin.
This book is written in the style of a diary by an eleven to thirteen year old girl that is annotated by the same woman that girl grew up to be. In the beginning of the book, Emily is only in the sixth grade. It is already November 21st (1997) and she has a boyfriend named Zach. Everything they do, in sexual terms, is done because one of their friends told them to. Emily and Zach are both only eleven-year-olds and Emily speaks of dancing and having her first kiss with Zach. Things escalate while their “popular” friends pressure them more and more. Rumors start to spread about Emily and Zach’s sexual relationship and Emily gets branded a “slut,” by her closest “friends.” The rumors are false but nobody believes Emily. This title sticks with her throughout the rest of middle school. Emily’s social life declines as she is bullied at school, online, and after school. The girls who were labeled as sluts are frequently assaulted by the boys but see their own bodies as object so show no objection.
I think that Lindin’s main goal in publishing this book was to raise awareness about feminism in terms of how girls and boys grow up. In my own personal opinion, I think she accomplished her goal. She gave some really insightful information through her own personal experiences. For example, the book shows that we teach boys that if you sexually assault a girl, possibly by briefly grabbing her breast, she should apologize to her boyfriend. Girls see their bodies as objects through this kind of treatment. Sex is something that boys can just take from them because “boys will be boys.” This is shown to be especially true if the girl has already been labeled a slut. The girls who were already labeled as being slutty in the book were more likely to be victims of a boy’s sexual assault. The sexual assaults took many forms, like the breast grabbing I mentioned previously, and were quite frankly, very upsetting to learn about. The “sluts” were portrayed as feeling that they deserved the assault. It was almost as if these girls were the boys’ property. Even if you were in a relationship with a boy you were not safe from the slut label or sexual assault. Often times the boys would lie to one another about how far they’d gone with a girl to make themselves look better. The girl this lie was made up about would then receive the slut label. For some reason, it was never really thought by most of the class that most of the rumors may not be true. It seems like common sense, to me, that a guy is more likely to lie and say that he’s gone further with a girl than he really has than a girl. This all leads back to the double standard that if a guy has a lot of sex he is a “stud” and if a girl has a lot of sex she is a “slut.” The fact that this all happened at such a young age was also quite upsetting. These kids are eleven, twelve, and thirteen-year-olds. They should definitely be worried a lot less about sex. They have more than enough time to worry about that and should enjoy being kids while they still can. They still have time to embrace the fact that they have so little to worry about. I feel that starting the sex talk so early influences somebody’s sexuality greatly. Younger boys are more likely to assault the girls in their grade than older boys, in my opinion.
I think that I would recommend a book of such sorts to girls and boys of the same age that Emily was when she wrote her diary. In particular, those who are going through a hard time with false rumors being spread about them, being labeled a slut, or just generally understanding kids of their same age group. I know I certainly could have used a read from this book around that age. I also think that this book would be good for anybody who is interested in learning more about feminism and, in particular, sexuality. Anyone who has had a similar experience as Lindin should definitely read this book, as I know that understanding that you are not the only one who has been through something can be quite comforting.