A pleasant afternoon conversation took an ugly turn when cloaked within the folds of friendly bantering appeared the word SLUT. Slut, a word people use to put women in place. The amicable atmosphere dissipated to gentle corrections and stern rebuke for such a flippant use of the term “slut”. From the depths of this tense situation birthed a rant.

 

You know what? My best friend is a slut! 

Yeah, she is what you call a slut. She apparently “earned” that name because she was allegedly a promiscuous teenager because she liked sex and didn’t like to hide it. She was a slut because all guys wanted to get in her pants. Guys who couldn’t; called her a slut, guys who could; meant other girls called her a slut. She skipped school, tried not to be seen with guys, tried to stay low and invisible just to get rid of the tag “slut”.

Once word spread that she was a slut, Romeos of her neighbourhood, off her street propositioned her, asking her rates. Her boyfriends all wanted to rush past all the bases because she was “easy”. She got sexually assaulted, but they all pinned the blame on her because… Let’s face it. She was such a slut. All the other incidents after that, she kept to herself for the fear of constant hounding of the term slut.

Even now, she is scared to be seen with her partner because she has a “reputation”. They cannot hold hands without her checking around herself a million times to make sure nobody’s watching so that they don’t throw the much-hated word at her.”

 

Be careful with the words you choose, some stay stuck, a permanent tattoo that you etch upon people’s soul, upon a girl’s character.

Slut, just four letters enough to morph a whole girl’s life. So easy, isn’t it? What a funny joke… Slut-shaming.

 

So why don’t we take a peek into the life of a slut?

 

 

  • How old were you when you first earned the title of a “Slut”?

 

 

Apoorva Malhotra: It is hard to say how old I was when I was called a slut for the first time. I do remember being 9 when my aunt’s neighbour told me that only certain girls would go out dressed the way I was. I was wearing a tank top and it was 38 degrees outside. I didn’t think then that my dressing would have any direct relation with my character.

When I was 12, I got called “whore”, “prostitute” and “lesbian” a lot by my classmates and people on MySpace. There was even an online group- “Apoorva Is A Randi”. Some topped that with a few fake accounts in my name offering sexual services. Around the same time, the news spread like wildfire into my neighbourhood and also my brother’s school. Boys and men started assaulting and harassing me. A guy thought it was okay to barge into my home and kiss me while I kicked and screamed because he had heard about me from his friends who went to school with me.

So I suppose my best guess would be that somewhere between the age of 9 to 12, the matter surfaced.

 

  • What was your initial reaction to it and how do you deal with it now?

 

Apoorva Malhotra: I was trying to be “cool”, so my initial response was to take it lightly. I mean, it was just a few boys “joking around.” I didn’t want to be a spoilsport so I played along, initially. After a while, I started confronting some of the guys but it is hard to sensibly argue with obnoxious 13-year-old boys. I remember having a few verbal spats with expletives being thrown around in the corridors of the school. I started keeping a low profile on the internet and in general everywhere.

Even now, it is mostly that. I am careful about what I wear, the company I keep, because once your character has been assassinated, you become a soft target for such rumours to resurface.

 

  • Did it affect any of your personal relations? With a partner? Friend? Parent?

 

AM: Back then, I was going steady with a guy from my neighbourhood from six months. I was 13 and he was older by a couple of years. The rumours that started in school somehow reached my neighbourhood. A 24-year-old man propositioned me and when I refused to even talk to him, he told my boyfriend that I slept around. My boyfriend didn’t believe him initially but in a couple of months when my reputation worsened, my boyfriend dumped me without any explanation whatsoever. The teachers at my school started calling my parents for a meeting because they were worried about my “behaviour”. Many of my brother’s schoolmates started being friends with him and they started showing up at our home a lot. They just wanted to see me.I was an introvert at school and I wasn’t friends with a single guy in my class. I hadn’t even had my first kiss yet. The teachers started treating me as gossip and many girls stopped talking to me. A few “concerned” parents of my classmates even asked the teachers to change my section so their ward wouldn’t be in the same class as me.

 

  • What according to you is the primary reason for such rampant slut-shaming?

 

AM: It is hard to point out the primary reason for slut-shaming. I think it is caused by multiple factors. Growing up in a society where I was taught by whistles, not words that I am just a slut, and normalisation of such activities is the primary reason for slut shaming. Traditionally, womanhood is synonymous to purity. That makes people think that it is okay to judge women who are not “chaste”. It’s the Madonna vs. Whore complex. The reasons range from seemingly plausible deductions to outrageously petty ones, in my case, my bisexuality and kink made people believe that I “want some.”Other obvious reasons are patriarchy, misogyny, jealousy, insecurity, etc.

 

 

  • Do you have any message to share with other girls who may have been slut-shamed?

 

AM: Hold your head high. Talk to someone you can trust. Cut out all the toxic people from your life. And always remember that it is not your fault. Do not ignore it or hope that it will blow over. Take some action. Fight. Put your defences up. You did not ask for it. People will blame your personality, your clothes, your demeanour, your frankness, openness towards sex, the number of men you interact with, so on and so forth, but don’t let them take away the essence of you. Do not let people invalidate or trivialise the issue. If somebody makes you feel bad, slutty, dirty, disgusting or tells you that it is your fault then fight. You are beautiful and you are not alone.

 

  • If you could go back and advise your younger self, what would that advice be?

 

AM: I would tell myself that it is not okay to shame other girls just because it has been done to you. I would tell myself that it was not my fault and I didn’t deserve it. I would tell myself that whatever happened to me after the rumours got out were rape. My “slutty behaviour” did not equate consent.

 

  • What has been your worst experience owing to this tag?

 

AM: I have a few actually. When I broke up with a long-term boyfriend he told me that I should be grateful to him for “accepting” me despite all the thing people said about me. In the four years of relationship, he raped me at least ten times. Because girls like “me” want it.It is hard enough when a stranger shames you but it’s harder when a loved one does that.

When I “showed attitude” by ignoring the advances of a 20-year-old, he decided to “teach me a lesson” by chasing and forcing me to a secluded area. He kept repeating “whore” while violating me. I was 14.

I was saving my first kiss for someone special because having been raped at 7, I couldn’t have offered my virginity. When people fondly talk of their firsts, all I can recall is rape and assault.

A woman in the neighbourhood, whose 4-year-old son I occasionally looked after, stopped trusting me and forbade him from talking to me.

 

  • What would you say about your journey as a “slut” over these years?

 

AM: The journey is tough. For a woman, it never ends. The reputation has followed me to college where I expected to make a fresh start, despite the fact that I have been at the best of my ‘sanskaras’ behaviour for the past few years.  I suppose over time, it just tends to numb you down, don’t get me wrong, I am vigilant as ever to not be targeted again, but as Game Of Thrones once articulated:  Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour, and it can never be used to hurt you.

 

 

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From the Origin of time many rise and fall like winter weeds, My identity could not be revealed by anyone, My identity could only be revealed if you know me well. There isn't any great mystery about me. What I do is glamorous and has an awful lot of white-hot attention placed on it. But the actual work requires the same discipline and passion as any job you love doing, be it as a very good pipe fitter or a highly creative artist.