Your Body

Must Choose One: Slut or Prude?

By January 31, 2016 0
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I was cute when I was in middle school.

It took the braces coming off and my first eyebrow waxing for anyone to really notice, but I was. I was cute. I was teeny and had a big butt and thought my boobs were too small, but you know, who doesn’t.

I was never, in any way, a tomboy, but I always preferred hanging out with guys. Girls were too giggly, too boy-crazy, too mean and too nasty for me. Guys were so much easier. I grew up super-close with my 3 boy cousins and younger brother, so it really was no surprise that I preferred watching baseball, playing N64, and a good game of manhunt outside to make-up, painting nails, and dancing around to the new N’Sync album (when push came to shove, I was more of a Backstreet Boys girl, anyhow). Keeping a close herd of girlfriends was always an issue for me, but I could always count on a few close guy friends, for sure.

And then those braces come off and those eyebrows get a little thinner, and I finally am allowed to buy clothes like “all the other girls” wear, and the whole guy-friend thing becomes a little trickier.

I had my first boyfriend in sixth grade and it was sweet. We never hung out. I used to freak out when he called my house because I knew my dad would wonder whom it was when the Caller ID registered his number. We chatted online a lot and awkwardly stared at each other during class, and sat together at lunch, sometimes.

That was it. That was enough.

Then eighth grade rolls along, and suddenly, anyone who’s never kissed a guy before is a prude. Prude? What the hell did that even mean? I went from being an easy-going girl to hang out with to a “total tease.” Girls and guys alike would throw the word prude in my face like it was the greatest sin. When I finally figured out what the word even meant, I thought, what the hell, guys, I’m 12! Literally!

So you try to grow up too fast and decide to finally give in to a first kiss, and three months later, you’re a slut.

This back-and-forth labeling followed me all throughout high school. Rumors started and died, and started again, and never truly went away (do they ever?). My first serious boyfriend broke up with me because I wouldn’t do anything below the belt, despite the fact that he knew I was smart, funny, and our personalities were crazy-compatible.

Nope, doesn’t matter. If we’re 14 and not having sex, then something must seriously be wrong.

The worst, by far, was what it all did to my fragile little psyche. I turned into a crazy person over night. All I wanted to do was please without actually pleasing. I wanted to be “like her” but be nothing, at all, like her. I had no idea how to be myself without pissing everyone off, but I didn’t want to be someone else, either. It was all I could do to hold it together, because somehow, everything was always your fault. Every choice you made, ever, was hyperbolized, slandered, shared, and held against you, like relationships and sex were the only things that anyone was ever measured by, like it was truly all that mattered.

I remember walking up the stairs once in high school, and the true embodiment of an asshole was walking behind me. It was 7:00 in the morning, the bus had just dropped us off, and this entitled moron reached up and grabbed a chunk of my butt with so much force, I almost fell forward. I have never turned around and wailed on someone so fast. My mouth blasted words at him I didn’t even know I knew. And he and his buddies laughed, laughed, and told me to “chill,” that I must be on my period, and that “I heard you liked that kind of stuff.” And what’s worse, the hall monitors and teachers who saw it didn’t do shit to help.

Nothing changes as you get older, either. College was probably the worst.

You walk down the sidewalk to class, having barely even made it out of your dorm with enough time to catch the bus that will get you closest to the Liberal Sciences building, and boys literally think they own you. They talk and tease and shout with their friends; they hold the door for you and expect you to show up at their party later that night. Maybe you do happen to show up at the party because a friend is going anyway, and there’s the door-holder, what a Knight in Shining Armor, ready for a special thank-you, and you think, what the hell have you done to even deserve my time, let alone me?

The thought of being a girl in middle and high school makes me sick. It is so, so highly unfortunate that our society has turned girls into such symbols of… I don’t know, property, beauty, lust, you name it. Let’s think about the reality of the two sexes for a minute here: men are programmed to spread their seed, and nothing more. The only reason there is even an industry built on lust is because, instinctually, it’s all men want to do. And then there’s women: genetically speaking, we are programmed to, literally, fulfill the destiny of the human race, and are granted the most amazing, awe-inspiring gift (Read: curse) of the ability to provide, nourish, and sustain life…

And so, because of that gift, we are doomed to be held to impossible standards for our entire lives? Because we are, in all seriousness, that beautiful, and that miraculous, we must suffer the rumors, the labels, the glances, the grabs, the stereotypes?

I just read Kirsten King’s piece on Buzzfeed, “I Don’t Owe Anyone My Body.” I cannot think of any girl or woman I know who hasn’t been in the exact same situation she describes, or at least one shockingly similar, where a woman finds herself helplessly refusing the advances of a persistent man, and what’s worse, is still trying to remain polite and meek as she does so – because, If you do it, you’re a slut. If you don’t, you’re a prude.

The most horrible truth of all here, ladies, is that we perpetuate this shit ourselves. And we don’t realize it until we’re older, but that girl who used to give boys BJ’s in the woods behind the school probably had more issues than you could count, and calling her a slut behind her back certainly didn’t help.

The moment we can stop judging ourselves—each other—for the things we choose to do and choose not to do, the world will follow suit. I want every high school girl in the country to read this: You are not a slut. You are not a prude. You are not ugly, you are not fat, you are not a whore, you are not worthless, you are not a bitch. You are you; you are all of us. You are no better than the person next to you, and she is no better than you. You cannot be compared to anyone else because you are perfect in your own way, in your own bubble of the world, and so sizing her up does nothing for you, because no girl is in the same race as the other. No one finishes first, last, second, or eighteenth. The important thing is that you’re running, and you’re running for you, and if for once you’d just smile and run side-by-side with your fellow chicas, maybe the world would actually change. Maybe boys could stop expecting shit if you stopped judging the girls who give it, and those who don’t.

And maybe not. I am a disillusioned, damaged, bullied, twenty-something-year-old whose heart aches for every woman, ever, who has felt cornered, captured, sick, stuck, scared, mistreated, slandered, taken for granted – because I know, in my heart of hearts, that horrible things happen to people every where, but give me a room of 40 women and I guarantee it’s happened to every one of them, some sort of unwelcome encounter that was at least uncomfortable, if not totally scarring, and I can hardly think of any type of abuse that could be more damaging.

And now fill that same room with 40 men, and ask them the same questions, ask them to share the same stories. I’d like to hear the results.

Men everywhere, enlighten me. Tell me I’m wrong. But absolutely, definitely, for sure, please, stop proving me right.

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