Slut-Shamed No More – Regaining My Sexuality!
I was sixteen and pregnant before Sixteen and Pregnant graced our television screens and made it the “cool thing to do.”
Growing up, especially in my high school, it was not the cool thing to do. I most certainly did not get rewarded with my own national “reality” broadcast hit just for losing my virginity at an early age. In all fairness, I’m perfectly okay with not exploiting my child and getting my own reality show. However, what I did get was bullied.
I’m sure many young girls have shared my fate, but all too often our stories are the ones left untold.
Our stories are the ones that are left with most teenage girls taking their own lives because the pain of being slut-shamed in high school cuts too deep. It is a lonely and blatantly depressing feeling when your peers make you feel unworthy. I can recall many occasions where I’ve felt inferior, even abominable for showing the slightest interest in a boy. At times I suppressed emotions that usually came naturally to me because my fear of being called a “slut” every single day consumed my ability to just to be me. All of that effort did not matter because I was labeled as one anyways.
For all four years of high school I was stigmatized as a fallen girl, almost like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, except she bore her bullies much better than I had. I didn’t always make the best decisions when it came to guys either. I yearned for love but found it fell short on the hormonal teenage opposite sex; guess that’s how I wound up pregnant and a single parent.
Before I had my son, life at school seemed almost unbearable. Harsh words about me were circulating and just like that my reputation for the next four years were set in stone, never to let me live up past them. Then the evidence that I had slept with a boy came into picture—because, well, it was growing in my belly—and I knew the bullying would get much worse. I both heard and received threats from fellow classmates that they were going to beat me up, jump me, and someone even told me once that if they found out I was pregnant they would “punch me in the gut and make me bleed out an unborn fetus.” Yeah, not my most glorious moment.
My “friends” at the time didn’t help or stick up for me either, some stopped being friends with me and sided with the bullies. I couldn’t even concern my mom about it; she was working so hard just to provide for my brothers and me. I just did not want to put more on her plate.
So, for nine months I hid my pregnancy from everyone.
Towards the very end of my junior year of high school I gave birth to a beautiful angel, except I couldn’t really enjoy being a mother at first; society had taught me sixteen was far too young and wrong. I was ashamed of myself but at the same time my emotions compelled me to love this child because how I could not? He looked so perfect and I was a mess.
I hate to admit this, but I was a coward. Maybe I was too young, because afterwards I still didn’t understand what it meant to be a mother.
I begged my mom to let me go live with my dad in another state far away from my peers, and far away from the bullies that tormented me. I was too afraid to face them because I thought once I did that then they would be right about me; I’m a slut. For the first few months, I spent senior year hiding my shame across the country avoiding confrontation.
I worried too much about what those people thought about me that I had almost forgotten the one opinion that mattered, my sons’.
I realized that the one thing worse than going back and facing my bullies would be not going back and not sticking up for myself at all for the rest of my and my son’s lives. When I went back things were still bad. I had counselors suggest that my getting slut-shamed was probably due to me dressing a little provocatively on occasion, and I still received threats from the kids at school. See, young women and teenage girls must suppress their desirable emotions. We must constantly cover up our skin because all our lives we’ve heard it wasn’t “ladylike,” that it was “distracting the boys from their education” (as if their education was more important than ours), or “being too inappropriate” for something God gave us naturally.
Well guess what…I am reclaiming the word “slut.”
That will be my and every other woman’s God given right to justify what it means to be a “slut.” If being a slut means having a child at sixteen and raising that remarkable child by being the best mom I can be, well then yes, I am a slut. If me being a slut means loving too much and following my heart because I know that no one is perfect then yes, once again I am the proudest slut there is.
To my fellow women and to those teenage girls who have been slut shamed by man or woman or both, this message is to you:
Reclaim your inner slut. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. If you’re safe and healthy and keep others around, you then have every right to be who you are. Do I recommend getting pregnant at sixteen? Well no, I don’t, but everyone’s journey is different.
My path was destined for me to become a mother and eventually I learned how to be one, a damn good one. Despite what people may think, it only takes one time to get pregnant. You know your truth. I know mine.
Was it not a very wise woman who once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”?
I hope we can start a conversation about sexuality and reduce the amount of bullying that young women and men have to endure.