It's a fact that fills me with nothing but relief: most 13-year-old girls in America have yet to have sex. So I suppose I should be surprised that a spot-on take-down of the practice of slut-shaming females who engage in sex comes from none other than a 13-year-old female vlogger. But I'm not.
It may sound like an adult topic, but the first time I ever heard the word slut was in high school. The person using it hadn't had sex yet ... nor had the person it was being used against. And now that the video made last August by Sarah McLeod, a YouTube user who goes by the name Astorice, has gone viral, the whole world is getting a look inside a typical high school.
Like it or not, our kids talk about sex, and they have already learned to use it as a weapon. They know that it's easy enough to make someone feel bad about their sexuality -- be it actual activity or simple sexual urges.
If you think a bunch of catty you-know-whats talking trash in the corner of a bar are bad when you're 20-something, try a bunch of hormonal teenage girls in the corner of a classroom with a bad case of insecurity over their not-yet-developed chests. You don't have to be having sex to be called a slut in high school. You just have to have won the genetic jackpot. She who develops boobs first is the lucky winner of a reputation.
Ain't life grand?
Trouble is, once a girl is labeled a slut, she's left to pick up the pieces. She has a hard time dealing with her own emotional turmoil over the way she's picked on, and then she has to face the likes of parents who don't want her hanging around with their daughters because they've heard she's got a "reputation," and the way teenage boys automatically pressure her because they assume she "puts out."
Young Sarah hits a home run when she points out that teen girls are using the word "slut" without understanding what it means. Slut-shaming destroys a person's self-esteem. It allows society to excuse rape because "she was asking for it." It confuses people just as they're trying to figure out what being sexual means. And kids are doing it without even knowing it.
This is why a 13-year-old girl talking about slut-shaming makes perfect sense. We need our kids to understand the consequences of their actions.
As McLeod herself admits, "I am fully aware that this is a bit of an unorthodox topic for a 13-year-old virgin to be talking about, it's an important issue to discuss, and a great topic for girls my age to know about (to deny that demonstrates a clear lack of understanding as to what teenagers actually do and say)." And that's exactly why her video needs to be shared with every teen you know:
Have you talked to your teens about the reality of the words they use every day?
Image via Astorice/YouTube