“UnSlut” drives home equality

Ryan Thompson

A screening of “UnSlut: A Documentary Film” will play tonight at 5 p.m. in Mabee Library Room 206B followed by an open discussion.

“UnSlut” explores the harmful effects of sexual shaming and promotes immediate and long-terms solutions on both personal and institutional levels. The screening is free and open to the public and free pizza will be offered to the first 40 in attendance. This event was organized by Sharon Sullivan, professor of theatre and gender studies, and Shelley Bearman, project coordinator for sexual assault education and prevention.

“I’m hoping that we can have a great conversation about slut-shaming and how it impacts real people,” Sullivan said.

One concern is the gendered nature of sexual shaming, as men are rarely judged as harshly for similar behavior.

“It impacts our culture when we say that certain behaviors are okay for men, but not for women and vice-versa,” Sullivan said. “It undermines our equality and sense of humanity.”

Sullivan also brings up how disturbingly common it is for victims of sexual assault to experience sexual shaming. This also plays into the issue of victim blaming, as these individuals are being attacked for experiencing a trauma beyond their control.

Bearman points out how the word “slut” is often used as a means of bullying without any regard for what the word supposedly means.

“It really has nothing to do with their sexual activity,” Bearman said. “A lot of times it’s just meant to harm women.”

Sullivan believes initiating conversations about sexual shaming is vital to creating a culture of consent, as problems can only be solved when they are addressed.

“It’s something that most of us don’t even think about,” Sullivan said. “We just use the language we’re used to hearing without critically analyzing it.”

The award-winning documentary follows several women who have had devesting experiences with labeling and sexual shaming. This documentary is part of the larger UnSlut Project, founded by Emily Lindin. The project also includes a book, a blog, a column by Lindin in “Teen Vogue” and a website providing resources to victims of bullying, www.unslutproject.com.

The event will be followed by a discussion where attendees are encouraged to ask questions and voice concerns.

“I hope people will feel free to speak their mind and really be willing to struggle with the language and the way we use it,” Sullivan said. “I think some people will be surprised at the impact their words have on others.”

Sullivan and Bearman hope people will leave the event thinking about language and how it is used, as they see it as a reflection of society.

“I think that we don’t always give enough credit to the power of language to shape our world, to shape our reality and the way we understand ourselves,” Sullivan said.