Twelve million people have read one woman's diaries -- and her entries show how much power the word "slut" has.
Emily Lindin was branded the school "slut" from ages 11 to 14, and was slut-shamed by male and female classmates who thought her developed body was grounds for creating and spreading sexual rumors. So, when she heard stories of teen girls who took their own lives after being sexually assaulted and slut-shamed by their peers, she knew she had to do something.
Lindin started The UnSlut Project in 2013, where she posts entries from her own teenage diaries online, in hopes that her writing could "provide some perspective to girls who currently feel trapped and ashamed."
“To be slut shamed, one doesn’t have to be actually engaging in any kind of sexual behavior," Lindin said. "Just wearing a shirt that inspires a sexual thought in another person for whatever reason is enough to be slut-shamed.”
After she began posting her diary entries online, Lindin was overwhelmed by messages from other women wanting to share their stories. The UnSlut Project became a collaborative space where people could share their experiences with slut-shaming and bullying, and remind teens going through the same thing that life gets better.
Now Lindin wants to reach even more people with her message, through "Slut: A Documentary."
"I thought it was just going to be talking to some experts about what slut-shaming was and coming up with some ideas about how we can change our own feelings and assumptions," Lindin told The Huffington Post. "It turned out that some of the women who had reached out to me wanted to be on film, speaking about their own experiences."
One woman who asked to participate in the documentary is Samantha Gailey Geimer, the minor involved in the 1977 Roman Polanski case.
"She wanted to talk about being 13 years old and having strange adults in the media call you a slut," Lindin told HuffPost.
The documentary, currently in post-production, also features the stories of young girls driven to suicide by slut-shaming and a deeper exploration of what the word "slut" means in our society. The team flew to Nova Scotia to interview the family of Rehtaeh Parsons, who took her life after photographs of her being allegedly sexually assaulted were passed around.
Lindin believes it's important for young people of all genders to understand just how damaging the label "slut" can be -- and that no one is immune from sexual bullying.
"We know that at any point, anyone could just decide you're a slut," she said.
Learn more about the documentary here.