Thu
Oct 10 2013 11:00am

Young Women, Slut-Shaming, and Writing the Happy Ending

Unspoken by Jen FrederickAuthor Jen Frederick's Unspoken tells the events following a night where a young college student makes a mistake—and has to pay for it with her reputation in the ensuing weeks and months. Jen is joining us at H&H to talk about the issues and problems facing young women who have to walk that fine sexual line between “frigid” and “slutty.” Thanks, Jen!

While bullying is an important issue in middle school and high schools leading to serious and tragic consequences, bullying extends into colleges and universities. Women who are deemed promiscuous are often the targets of these actions. In one study at Cornell University, nine out of ten women reported that they didn't want to be friends with women who are too slutty. The women deemed promiscuous are stigmatized and isolated.

College campuses are often insulated communities. The students speak and interact only with each for four years. Rarely does their social circle include individuals outside the confines of their college. In some ways, the closeness and intimacy allow amplification for one’s supposed bad acts, whether they be true or made up.

Jezebel reported on an anonymous message board at Oberlin College where a girl was targeted with a raft of rumors and accusations from not just sleeping with her classmates but sleeping with professors and being an STI carrier. People were afraid to be with her for fear of  being tarred with the same brush.

In books featuring young women, both at the end of their high school careers and beginning college, the issue of owning their sexuality is an important one. In Erin McCarthy's True, the protagonist Rory is seeking to divest herself of her virginity while her roommates have casual hookups. The same theme is prevalent in Cora Carmack's Losing It, with the theater student heroine tired of being the only virgin in her crowd and ending up trying to have sex with her new professor. 

On the other end, there are women like AnnMarie in Unspoken who have had sex before, but with the wrong guy leading to slut shaming and isolation.  In Christina Lee's All of You, the female protagonist is the experienced one with the male protagonist being the virgin. While he tries to be understanding about her past, there are moments when he struggles to deal with the fact that she's had sex before she met him and that some of those men might still be in the periphery of her life. There is an overt recognition in All of You of the double standard between men and women when it comes to sexual pasts. 

In the mail I’ve received from readers as well as from the reviews, I’ve gleaned that being the subject of unfair rumors or innuendos isn’t something that ends with high school and it doesn’t matter if you’re the virgin from Losing It or True or the more sexually experienced woman like AnnMarie in Unspoken or Avery Michaels from All of You. What people say about you can become more accepted as reality than the truth.

Lana, a friend of the hero in Unspoken, tells him to write his own story and not let past bad events write his ending for him. The great thing about writing a story is that you as the author can write a happy ever after for your characters, no matter what others in the story may think about them. And ultimately, the ending that people want to have outside the pages is in their hands too.

Learn more or order a copy of Unspoken by Jen Frederick, available now:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & Noble

 

 


Jen Frederick lives with her husband, child, and one rambunctious dog. She's been reading stories all her life but never imagined writing one of her own. Jen loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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2 comments
Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
Jen, I was so innocent and nerdy I never encountered any of these kinds of attitudes while in college (plus all I did was read, so didn't interact with a lot of people). But it's important to be aware of what people will do and say because someone is different, or made a mistake, like the heroine of Unforgiven. Thanks for the post.
AngelaMc
2. AngelaMc
The subject matter of these novels are hardly groundbreaking. Harlequin has been doing them for years albeit set in locations and financial stratospheres few of us will ever see.
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