Glenna Scott is a slut!
That’s what it said in the girls’ room in one of the stalls. I might have never seen it if I didn’t stop to go to the bathroom between third and fourth periods. The writing was large and in black marker, and my heart pounded like a fist in the first few seconds I noticed it.
I quickly exited the stall and pointed it out to my friend Darlene, who was waiting patiently by the sinks for me to finish. She immediately whipped out a pen and wrote underneath the offensive words.
“F*** you, Glenna is not a slut.”
As grateful as I was that Darlene stuck up for me, I also felt a growing anxiety. How long had the writing been there? Who saw it before I did? Who could dislike me that much?
“It’s not even true,” I protested to Darlene who nodded her head in agreement.
The Truth About “Bad” Girls
At the tender age of fifteen, I’d only ever kissed a few boys since starting high school, including my boyfriend, Jimmy. Did that make me a slut? My virginity was completely intact, and Jimmy wasn’t pressuring me to have sex with him, yet somebody took the time to actually write my name in the girls’ room and call me out.
It wasn’t like there weren’t other girls who everyone called sluts in my school. Their reputations were shredded by the other girls and even some boys. I thought about the times when I called somebody a slut for no good reason. Were they truly sluts, or were they virgins like me? Why did I put them down to make myself feel better? Why did I sometimes agree with somebody else’s cruel words about them?
Either way, having it said about me gave me a new perspective on what those other girls were going through. I was now among the ones who had to walk the halls knowing other kids were pointing and laughing. Boys made unflattering jokes about those kinds of girls, the “bad” girls, and how easy it would be to get them in bed.
As a teenager, I already had a people-pleasing nature. I wanted everybody to like me and went to lengths to the detriment of my self-esteem to make sure they did. The idea that there was somebody out there who wrote something so mean was disturbing to me. I was nice to everybody in school and felt nervous thinking somebody hated me despite that.
As the years passed, I left high school and dated the man I would eventually marry. The first time I had sex with him, he told me he knew I wanted to because I was wearing shorts on our date. He thought I was trying to send him a message. In reality, the only reason I was wearing shorts was because it was 85 degrees in South Florida. It had nothing to do with him, but I was too afraid to tell him because it might make him mad and disappointed. I let him continue to think it was my slutty behavior that caused the two of us to wind up in bed. It was better not to rock the boat.
Our marriage lasted sixteen years and ended when he cheated with the receptionist in the office he worked at. She was fifteen years younger than him and had pink hair and tattoos, and he claimed she was the love of his life. When he left me for her, I warned him she was a slut who was after him for his money and stability. He got angry and told me never to say it again, and I never did.
After our divorce, I spent the next year alone and isolated. I went on a few dates with men I met on Match.com, but I always found a reason to ditch them. The truth was, I wasn’t ready to date and didn’t know what I was doing. I’d been with the same man for sixteen years and couldn’t imagine sleeping with somebody else. Still, it was getting in the way of moving on with my life and starting over.
When Friends Become Lovers
I hatched a plan to find a safe way to “break the ice.” It began with a phone call to a friend from high school named Mike. We became friends in the tenth grade and stayed in close touch as adults, and I counted him among my best buddies even after fifteen years.
Mike was agreeable when I told him I wanted to come to his house for a visit although he didn’t know what was on my mind. I showed up at his house at 10:00 on a Saturday night and threw myself at him. My behavior shocked him, but he obliged me, and I ended up spending the night with him.
The next morning, he asked me why I acted that way, and I tried to explain myself. I told him I needed to get “back in action” again and that I wanted it to be with somebody I could trust. He said he understood, but that he didn’t want a relationship with me or anybody else. That was okay with me even though it stung a little. Was I the type of women men use and then dump because they’re not relationship material?
I drove home that morning feeling bad about myself. Why did I do such a slutty thing? My relationship with Mike would never be the same, and I knew it when he didn’t look me in the eye as I was leaving. I’d ruined everything by only thinking of my own needs and not how Mike would feel.
Was the writing in the girls’ room all those years ago true? Would the rest of the world see me as a slut? I confided my night with Mike to a few of my girlfriends, and some thought it was great and some thought it was weird. Why did I have to be so pushy? Couldn’t I have waited until I met somebody I really liked and have sex that meant something?
I never found out who wrote those words on the bathroom stall all those years ago. It doesn’t really matter anymore. I let it hurt me far longer than I should have. The word “slut” doesn’t define who I am as a person any more than it did for the other girls called out by their peers.
Women Have To Stick Together
There’s a line I like in the movie, Mean Girls. Tina Fey is in the auditorium and tells the young girls to stop calling each other sluts because it makes it easier for boys to do it to them. She’s right! Women have to stick together and stop tearing each other down.
I remember girls in school who walked the halls with their heads down trying to make themselves invisible after having their reputations creamed. I remember the rumors about them, the ones I’d hear and take part in. After it happened to me, I stopped judging them so harshly. Maybe none of it was true. Even if it was true, it wasn’t my business to point it out and spread rumors about them.
Women are complicated creatures. When we’re young, the idea of sex can be confusing and scary. Sometimes we’re coerced to do things we’re not ready for. Sometimes we do them because we believe we’re in love and trust our partners not to hurt us. Still, we owe nobody an explanation for our decisions and don’t deserve to be judged for them.
That doesn’t make us sluts. It simply makes us human beings trying to find our way.