Emily Lindin is the founder of The Unslut Project and a Harvard graduate. Like many, she is the survivor and overcomer of sexual bullying. When she was 14-years-old she was sexually curious and experimented sexually with a classmate. Unfortunately gossip spread in her school and she was the object of name-calling. Her classmates, male and female, harassed her even telling her to kill herself. One incident included a school field trip where a boy grabbed her hand in a darkened theater and forced her to touch his privates. Emily did not receive the protection of her other classmates because the rationale was that she was a slut and did not have the right to refuse or complain.
Editor-in-Chief Renee Marchol heard of SmartyGirl Emily Lindin’s anti-sexual bullying campaign while working alongside NuReality Productions, an indie documentary company in Berkeley. The all male crew had respectful things to say about The Unslut Project so our blog readers wanted to know more about this social justice campaign. Our Editor-in-Chief has witnessed first-hand that #HeforShe allies are everywhere. Thank you, SmartyFellas!
Note: It is the strongly-held personal belief of our Editor-in-Chief Renee Marchol that individuals have sexual human rights including the “right not to be exposed to sexual material or behavior” and prior consensual acts do not mean “yes” to unwanted sex. Our Editor-in-Chief traveled from Seattle to Berkeley in order to complete an academic internship, in November, on the definition of consent through NuReality Productions’ documents.
Before Thanksgiving, Ted Talker Emily Lindin was willing to take our Editor Renee Marchol’s phone call for an interview and share the insights that follow.
Here are 5 Tips for Readers as Bystanders of Sexual Bullying
1. Listen without necessarily giving advice. Sometimes advice is warranted, but the point is that if you don’t know what advice to give, that’s okay – you can still be helpful just by listening.
2. Proximity is powerful. Sitting closely can be such a simple but powerfully affirming gesture. Emily shares that a then-acquintance, a female classmate on that same field trip, sat next to her to say, “I heard the rumors, but I think you are cool. Let’s hang out sometime.” Years later Emily says that acquaintance-turned-friend invited her to be one of her bridesmaids. The thought-starter? Support the bullied with your own reputation by showing: you are proud to have him/her for a friend publicly.
3. Allow for the possibility that the target of sexual bullying may take time to trust you. Someone who is sexually bullied has been set up for traps that lead to more mocking by those who pretend to be sympathetic only to add more torment. In other words, he/she may doubt your motives for showing solidarity (at first).
4.Choose in-person disclosure. If you are the target of sexual bullying at school or at work, consider finding allies offline. Why offline? On the phone or messaging, the hearer has the opportunity to be rude or dismissive with little consequence. Emily says, “In person, it’s that much harder for that person to respond rudely.” In addition, it reduces the opportunity for victim-shaming such as unauthorized forwards and gossipy shares.
5. Be mindful of timing for a show of solidarity or ally recruitment. Keep in mind that people are usually uncomfortable with sex as a topic. Victim-blaming still exists. You can’t control people’s responses, but you can take all possible steps to assure confidentiality.
Follow @UnSlutProject on Twitter for more about Emily Lindin’s advocacy. Emily shares that she loves breakfast food, especially blueberry pancakes. She acknowledges that she has a really loud, unique laugh. She used to be embarrassed of it, but now she embraces it because it always makes other people laugh, too!