Adventures of a High School Slut

“Slut” is not a gender-neutral term. The word can be used to degrade both men and women. However, slut is typically attributed to women and is used to label her level of promiscuity. If this were in the 13th century, and someone hissed “harlot,” all it would basically convey is, “Hey, there goes the horny scullery maid.” Unfortunately, the modern use of slut has more of an emotional punch. What “slut” really conveys is someone who really enjoys multiple sexual encounters, a prostitute, or someone with low standards of cleanliness. That’s probably why the word “dirty” often precedes “slut”.

“Slut!”—when spoken aloud has an impact. Just yell the word at the top of your lungs and see how it makes you feel. The word itself is harmless but when used in context to describe a person, it hurts—badly. I barely remember my first kiss, first boyfriend, or first sexual encounter. But I will never forget the first time called me a slut.

The Girl that Dared

Our teenage years are when sexual identity forms. One event heavily influenced my own sexual exploration which led to how I sexually engage. I was 14 years old when I became acquainted with what is now called “slut-shaming.” The shaming I am about to describe could have happened to any girl at my school, but I was the chosen one.

My story begins with a decorated and well-penned note I wrote to an older boy I liked, Kevin. This was the 1980’s and texting wasn’t in style. He was a cute varsity jock with dark feathered hair, and I had my eye on him. What I really liked was his muscle car – a 1978 black Pontiac Trans Am. Along with the smell of his hairspray and tobacco, he would leave behind the waft of “bad boy” while walking through the school hallways. He had an air about him—confident, strong, kind and gentle. Surprisingly, he wrote me back. It was a pivotal moment for my young teenage ego. The most popular guy in school likes me enough to write me back!

I immediately called court with all of my girlfriends. Holding his note between my sweaty palms, the girls and I met inside our special space inside the smoking quad (smoking was allowed at school back then). We lit our Benson and Hedges 100’s and gathered around for the official unfolding the note. Each of us took turns to examine his reply. Being girls, we stood there in the freezing temperature speculating the note’s length and message. There was a hidden tone to his, “See you at Hugo’s skating rink Friday night!”

Going ‘skating’ was the thing to do on Friday night, especially for the popular crowd. A refurbished school bus covered with roller skate stickers would stop inside our neighborhood and we would all pile inside. The bus was always packed and sometimes standing room only. Just imagine a bus filled with about 60 horny and hormonal teenagers. All the groping and awkward french kissing. Our parents were completely oblivious to what really occurred on the bus let alone the roller rink. They simply thought we were going for the exercise. The white skates hanging from our shoulders, with bells and pom-pom were just a ruse. It enabled girls like me, who weren’t allowed to date to go out with boys to go out with boys. The Hugo’s roller rink served as the perfect beard. We went there because it was dark, peppered with shadowy corners so we could engage in heavy petting while listening to the music of Van Halen and Billy Squire.

The 20-mile bus ride to Bealeton, Virginia felt like agony. I was great at playing the ‘what-if’ game. All types of scenarios were running through my mind. My heart was pounding and my face was flushed when I finally stepped off the bus. Pretending not to look so anxious or needy, I was stealth in scouring the parking lot for any sign of my hookup. My girlfriend whispering, “I wonder if he’ll show up.” She was sworn to secrecy not to discuss the imminent date or the fact that I might end up kissing some boy. I stood outside the bus for a couple of seconds adjusting my Jordache blue jeans and re-applying my bonne belle strawberry lip gloss. I did not want to look like some eager beaver.

There, beneath the amber light of a lamp-post was Kevin. He was leaning nonchalantly against his shiny, waxed black exterior of his beautiful Trans Am. The light beamed off of his bouncy hair. I gulped at his majesty. He placed a Marlboro Red between his lips, cupping his hands around it so the wind would not blow out the fire from his Zippo lighter. I walked over with my friend and greeted him with a smile. Exhaling the smoke from his lungs, he said, “What’s up?”

Fuck, he didn’t even care I arrived. No hug, no smile, just nothingness! Looking back, I see this as a missed opportunity at recognizing a red flag! But teenage girl’s have no clue what red flags are anyway. With skates weighing heavy on my shoulders, he reached over and grabbed my hand. What soft finger’s, I thought. He ushered me toward the entrance and paid for my way inside. My girlfriend was nonplussed and went her own way.

We skated in circles for a while and made small talk. He talked about the big homecoming game coming up soon and working on his car. I said nothing other than, “wow that’s nice.” During the couples’ skate, he inched his way closer to me while skating backward and our bodies finally made contact. That’s when he made his move. He came at me with an open mouth and pressed it on top of mine. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the taste of his saliva and cigarettes. (Red Flag #2).

We eventually skated our way to one of those dark corners. The speakers were blaring “Don’t you want me, baby. Don’t you want me oh, oh, oh!” We sat close to each other on a bench covered with scraggly carpet that felt sticky and smelled like sweat. Making out with someone while sitting side by side was challenging. So, I decided to sit on his lap and straddled him. I took a deep breath in and sucked up his smell. We kissed and kissed—with tongue and no tongue. He stuck his tongue in my ear—note to later self—gross! The hard sucking face felt like an eternity but was only 20 minutes. One of his hands eventually found its way underneath my t-shirt and padded bra. My lips hurt from all the pressing and I was getting thirsty. He moved my hand to his crotch and manually move it over the hard lump through his jeans.

He then convinced me it was time for more ‘privacy’ and suggested we move to a more private location—like the back seat of his Trans Am. I let my friends know my whereabouts so they could get me before the bus left for home. They wished me luck and gave me a send off with hugs. I was going to the backseat of a car, not the fucking Caribbean. One of them added, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” My hormonal support group giggled and whispered. One girl even-handed me a condom that looked like it had been sitting out in the hot sun too long.

Outside the cold air hit my face and I was chilled because stupid me did not bring a jacket. My nipples poking through my t-shirt gave him the idea that I was ready for more action. He did not offer me his Varsity jacket. (Red Flag #3). We made our way to the “panty melter” gleaming under the amber-toned lights of the skating rink parking lot. I was about to have my first back-seat adventure.

He turned on the engine and moved the levers to heat mode. Pulling the bucket seat forward, I inched my body into the back seat. The audible tone of the car rumbling beneath my body was kind of turned-on. I tried to make myself comfortable, but the hump in the middle, along with the leather made it difficult to get situated. Kevin cranked up the JBL stereo and the same Human League song rattled through my ears. So, every time I hear that particular song–I’m reminded of that moment. Kevin was not much of a talker. He was more of a doer. He laid me back and dry humped my leg for a while. His soft fingers fumbling with the zipper of my jeans. In a panic, I moved his hand away from the zipper and onto my breast. He tried again acting even more relentless and more forceful. He sat upward and brushed his hair back with his hands and smiled at me. Kevin undid his jean’s button and lowered the zipper. Suddenly, something fleshy emerged. The lights were dimmed and I could barely make out that it was his penis. He moved closer and placed his hand behind my neck.

All I can recall from that moment was my brain saying, “Nope, Nope, Nope. Don’t you fucking dare put that thing in your mouth.” He could feel me resisting and pushed harder. I jolted upward and looked him in the eyes and said loud and clear, “NO FUCKING WAY!” Kevin took a deep breath and the tension between became palpable. I asked him to let me out of the car. Of course, he was resistant to the thought of being left behind with a raging hard on.

I had disappointed Kevin. Before emerging from the backseat, Kevin held me back and loudly spat, “You’ll be sorry for this.” My crush turned into a fire-breathing dragon and did not look so cute anymore.

My thought was, “Really! I gave you the best tongue kissing, petting and dry humping session you’ll ever experience in your life. Just because I didn’t want to take off my tight designer  jeans or suck on that squishy weird-looking penis of yours doesn’t mean you get to be such an asshole!” But of course, I remained silent. I just wasn’t that kind of girl—yet! I just smiled and said, “sorry” and pushed my way out into the cold night air.

The Shame Remains the Same

Teenagers can sometimes be a rough crowd. Not only that, they are fucking fickle and will turn on a dime. There is no loyalty in the teenage world. So I discovered the following Monday. Even before leaving the house that morning, I sensed my backseat excursion had already made its way through the prickly network of gossipy teenagers. The hallways were filled with weird kids’ glances and snickering. I felt proud of myself for not caving into Kevin’s desires. In my head, I was still a good girl and was not going walk into school feeling shameful.  After all, I was not the only who was acting inappropriately at Hugo’s on Friday night.

There was hostility in the air. The normally confident attitude within me faltered. My ears felt hot to the touch and heard every jeer. “SsssluT!” Although barely audible, I knew this word well because my group was guilty in using toward other dirty girls. The buzzing felt like tiny poison shame darts penetrating my emotional bubble. Looking for the culprit, I noticed there was no eye contact coming from anyone–just the word SLUT with an accent on the T escaping from their lips in slow motion.

My first reaction, “who is this slut they speak of?” Twas not me! I didn’t act like a slut nor was I ever labeled as one. It was difficult to manage all of the emotions coursing through my body. With hands shaking and tears welling in my eyes, I saw a familiar face walking briskly toward me.

“Angela, what happened Friday night with Kevin?” asked Eggplant.

I had known Eggplant (Joe) since elementary school. He and I were great friends who talked about everything, including sex and what it would be like with someone for the first time. We looked through my dad’s collection of hardcore nudie magazines and were amazed at the pictures of women performing sexual tricks with men’s dicks. We giggled like two schoolgirls after an awkward attempt at kissing. Our last year in middle school and just before summer, Eggplant confided that he liked boys. It all made sense to me. He made me promise to never tell and I kept his secret locked inside and never uttered a word.

He was a sight for sore eyes. My hands were visibly shaking as the tears rolled down my cheeks. His comfort meant a lot to me and so did his confidence. Eggplant knew of my plan to see Kevin on Friday night. He had warned me to be careful because jock boys were all alike.

“Nothing happened with Kevin,” I replied. “We kissed a lot. But when he tried forcing me to kiss his dick, I just froze up.”

“Well that’s not what I heard what happened,” he said with a sad look on his face.

I searched his eyes and knew he was not judging. He was just being informative. “You can’t go outside this morning, Angela,” he said. His warning not to out into the quad prompted me to slam the locker shut and proceed toward the nearest exit. I rushed to open the door at the top of the stairs leading to the smoking area. Frozen, I stood as everyone turned to look at me.

And there it was, spray painted in bright green was—“Angela (Last Name) has a STINKY PUSSY!”

Carrie in Stephen King’s novel Carrie had nothing on the emotions emerging from inside of me. If only I could have shot lasers from my eyes, everyone would have been obliterated in that single moment. The feeling of being lightheaded and nauseated hit me like a MAC truck. The bile bubbled to the surface. All of the hair rose on the back of my neck and the heat rushed from the top of my head to my toes:  it was shame.

The chanting started —-“Slut! Slut! Slut!”  Fingers pointing in my direction, people jeering and laughing. Every slur felt like a punch straight into my gut. The scarlet letter of “S” for “slut” (or “shame”) burned into me. And there she was—my friend standing in the middle of the crowd laughing hysterically. “SLUT!” she shouted.

The shaming was relentless. Hours turned into days which turned into weeks which turned into months. My name was no longer Angela—it was S.L.U.T. The shame was overwhelming. I was too embarrassed to go to school. I began losing weight and crying myself to sleep at night. Every time the phone would ring I worried it was going to be someone uttering the word SLUT and hang up. My parents were bewildered at why someone would spray paint  “A Slut Lives Here” in front of the family home. But the worst of it was losing all of my friends. With the exception of Eggplant, everyone else in my inner circle shunned me. I can’t tell what feel worse–being shunned or being shamed. It does not matter because both are equally horrifying.

I finally gathered up enough courage and confessed everything to my mom after getting caught for skipping school for two weeks. I told her about the skating rink, the bus, that fateful Friday night inside the back seat of Kevin’s car. Surprisingly, she was compassionate and caring. But she was also extremely pissed. Not at me, but at the ignorance of the kids at school. That was when the German momma bear in her emerged. She scheduled a meeting with school officials.

We settled in the chairs in front of the principal’s desk. Sitting next to me was my mom and guidance counselor. I told him who vandalized the school’s property and who stole the scales from Mr. Hill’s chemistry lab. His response was not what was expected. We thought there would be outrage and a call on the PA system to stop the slut-shaming this instant!

Instead, I received a lecture on the virtues of being a proper girl. “Good girls don’t lie to their parents. Good girls don’t get inside the backs of cars. Good girls don’t wear high heels to school. Good girls don’t send out mixed signals. Good girls don’t think talk about sex. Good girls don’t hang with queer boys. Good girls don’t get called SLUT.” Every word he uttered was another tear shed. With tears streaming down my face, we walked out of his office feeling defeated, hurt and ashamed all over again.

Eventually, things started settling. Some of my friends were talking with me again. But in the back of my mind, I knew the trust was forever broken. They were now in the process of shaming another girl. My attendance and grades slowly picked up again as did my self-confidence. However, my self-esteem was shattered.  When I thought everything had returned to normal I got slapped in the face again.I found condoms inside my locker and received late-night calls asking for the “dirty slut” that lived there. Every time the phone rang at night, I would feel a rising sense of panic. By the end of the school year, I had no more friends and was a sexual pariah, the unapproachable dirty girl.

When I thought everything had returned to normal I got slapped in the face again. A few week before summer break, the shaming picked up again but with greater ferocity. The kids in school thought it would be funny to hang condoms inside my locker. Then the late-night calls asking for the  “dirty slut” emerged. Every time the phone rang at night, I would feel a rising sense of panic. I never found out who was behind the reprisal. By the end of the school year, I had no more friends and was a sexual pariah, the unapproachable dirty girl.

Embracing the Inner Slut

Although summer vacation was overshadowed by the feeling of utter defeat, it was a relief to finally have a break from my tormentors. It was a relief not having to get up in the morning for school. It took a few weeks shake off the trauma. But then, one morning I decided—-if you can’t beat, join em. Well, I better be equipped. Hey, if I was going to be teased about being a slut, well then I was going to know everything there was to know about sex.

My parents were open about sex–they were Europeans. With that being said, they had a plethora pornographic material tucked away in their closet. I eventually excavated my way through the mounds of magazine and movie and found The Joy of Sex (A Gourmet Guide to Love Making) book. This gigantic coffee table book was filled with 256 pages of nothing but sex. The illustrations looked intimate and exciting. I was shocked that there weren’t any images of back-seat car activities. For a teenager, I thought I knew everything. How wrong I was assuming anything. This book opened my eyes (among other things) to the truth about sex.It was my field guide for the summer of 1983.

The content was fascinating. Well written and extremely easy to understand, I devoured each page. The most surprising lesson was learning that a blow job did not mean actually blowing up someone’s dick. The book’s vivid illustrations conveyed passion, love, and enjoyment. I felt a little creeped out sometimes, but other than that, The Joy of Sex was enlightening. I began slowly realizing that sex is something special between two loving people.

The illustrated couple inside the book looked ecstatic, not full of shame afterward. He did not kick her out of bed just because she did not perform a blow job. Her friends did not point the finger at her and call out SLUT! Plus, I did not see the dude spraying-painting walls about how his partner has a stinky pussy. With every turn of the page, I started feeling about myself and about sex.

The more I read, however, the sadder I became. In fact, I kind of felt sorry for everyone, especially Kevin. He was just a stupid guy from a hick-town who had no clue about foreplay. All he knew was — caveman.penis.get.hard—girl.must.suck. For all I know is he’s probably been married a few times because he never took the time learning about women. It slowly dawned on me that Kevin was nobody special and never deserved my time at all.

The Moral of the Story

With summer fading fast, the preparations for the new school year began. Yes, I did feel nervous about going back to the same old pattern of shaming. But something inside me changed. I learned that sex is a feeling, not a performance. Sex is supposed to feel good. But I also discovered that no one should ever be shamed for making personal choices. We have the right to say no without being shamed. We have the right to choose or partners and express ourselves sexually.

I was committed to being SHAMELESS! And I was–until a fateful relationship, in my early 30’s, brought me back to being slut shamed all over again.

To be continued….

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