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Things I Need To Say To My ‘Slut-Shaming’ Classmate: “I Am What I Am”

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By Nupur Saraswat:

portrait-841861_960_720Slut-shaming exists everywhere and dare I say, in colleges more than anywhere else. This narrative has stayed with me for over four years now. Never leaving my mouth, because it had me convinced that it had more to do with my character than theirs. As I graduate next month, I will be four years wiser, and four years surer that this narrative needs to be heard by people everywhere. I know now for sure that slut-shaming is not something I am going to take sitting down and that I will let my abusers know what they did. So, here is a story I want slut-shamers everywhere to read, you know who you are – it’s time to take a f*cking bow.

What does slut-shaming look like? It looks like my freshmen year of college when you decided that you disliked me. In all honesty, I am used to being disliked. I am loud, unconventionally opinionated, and unabashedly bold. I am not a damsel in distress, and thus, I am hard to like.

But this was different. You didn’t dislike me for something that I said to you or something that I did to you. This narrative exists because you disliked me for who I was or, more accurately, who you thought I was. And you thought I was a sexually active 18-year-old Indian girl who was ‘shameless’ enough to talk about her sex life and had the guts to own it unapologetically like everything else that belongs to her. She didn’t ask for your validation. Maybe that’s why you missed how unsure she was of what she was to make of her life. The last thing she needed was another label. A label you gave away so freely and so carelessly – Slut. Thank you.

My existence was an inconvenient truth for you. A truth that dug holes in your stratosphere of patriarchy. It was funny watching you try to duct-tape these gaping holes in your atmosphere. Step one, you blocked me on Facebook, believing, quite like an ostrich, that if you couldn’t see me, I won’t be able to see you. But I did, I saw you try to hang on to what your mother taught you about how a girl should look like. Step two, you tried to make others believe that I am who you say I am. I wonder if your mother will approve of the words you used to describe me. Step three, you stopped going to the parties you thought I would be at, making our mutual friends choose between the two of us. In retrospect, you were doing me a favor, really. You were helping me pick my team – my people. Thank you.

However, you unblocked me a month ago and sent me a fresh friend request. No apology, no explanation. I wish I could say that this was the plot twist, but really it only raises more questions. How compulsively did you think about me before you clicked on ‘Settings’? Were you a changed person when you went to ‘Blocking’? Did you wonder what I had become in these four years before you found my name and hit ‘Unblock’? I have just one more question: how dare you send me a friend request? I didn’t notice you were gone until you came back. But you came back; after four years of people telling me how much you hated me, four years of me asking them why, and four years of dishonest shoulder shruggings.

You see, this story doesn’t have an ending. Much like slut-shaming. I could tell you of the nights I doubted myself out of sleep and into the realms of insomnia. I could tell you of how it furthered my compulsive anxiety. But I won’t. Because I am not a victim. I am a story – and a bloody good one. I am also a slut. An unapologetic one. Thank you.

You must be to comment.
  1. The Hulk

    Everything you see around you in human civilisation was invented, built and put there by a man. EVERYTHING. If women want to vilify the patriarchy paradigm then they must REJECT all things provided by men. They can’t extract resources by victimhood status at the hands of the patriarchy and simultaneously reap all benefits.

    If civilisation was left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts – Camille Paglia

  2. B

    Women are so gullible. First they fell for Torches Of Freedom, and now this. Apparently it is liberating for women to wear miniskirts and cleavage revealing tops, while they constantly keep tugging at their skirts to cover up a bit more, and pull at their tops from the neck to hide their cleavage. Today, women are told by feminists to sexualize themselves in the name of liberation. They are told that in order to be seen as progressive and emancipated, they must dress a certain way. Women today are so systematically and strategically being brainwashed that they don’t even realize it. You must wear whatever you want, in other words, miniskirts, short shorts, backless dresses, tight jeans, low neck tops, spandex pants, etc. The underlying reason why girls face body issues today is because they are told that in order to be accepted by society, they have to have the perfect body. Look at any advertisement today, and not one is complete without showing a semi-clad woman in it, and needless to say, they have nothing to do with the advertisement. It is all about projecting a perfect, toned body of a woman.

    Feminists and beauty industries have reduced women to a chattel, where her body is used for financial gain. Sex is a marketing tool. You tell people to have transient sexual relationships in the name of liberation and the profits of companies manufacturing condoms skyrocket. You tell women to dress sexy in the name of emancipation and fashion industries profit by earning billions. Fill women with false notions of beauty, bombard them with pictures of scantily dressed women in fashion shows, TV, billboards, magazines, movies, and music videos, and women start spending heavily on clothes and start using dieting products even at the cost of suffering from anorexia, and today, perfectly young, beautiful girls are lining up for plastic surgery, spending billions in the process. From beauty and contraception to diet and fashion, all industries are earning enormous amounts of money while women remain deluded and continue to pour money into the pockets of those who have infiltrated the minds of women through lies and deceit.

  3. Nupur Saraswat

    Hahha hulk you naive thing. You were put here in this world by a woman. So think about that for a sec.

  4. Truth

    A woman only loves a man until she finds someone with more money. Most of them today are like the ones shown in Pyaar Ka Panchnama.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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