Under the Bleachers and Far Away

“When I grow up I want to be a slut,” said no girl. EVER.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 10.57.14 PM

The other night I was talking to an old friend about nothing and everything. We somehow ended up talking about a reality show, since everything in my life has about two degrees of separation from the Bravo Network. The subject moved to the storyline of one of the the women that appears on this show. I don’t know her, but she seems like a really sweet woman with an amazing personality, which says a lot for anyone represented on reality television. I think it’s fair to say that 80% of them DON’T seem like real “quality” people. Quite the opposite, even.

Anyway, I would guess that this woman is about 40 years old. I can’t say for sure, but she seems so nice, like she would give you the shirt off her own back.

Apparently, however, she has a reputation for not having a shirt on her back.

“Yeah, I heard she used to be a real slut in high school,” my friend mentioned casually. “My friend Rich went to high school with her. Apparently she used to have a reputation and used to go down on guys under the bleachers.”

Hmmm.

I thought about the woman in question. For the past few years, she has lived her life on television and allowed people to see her as a mother, a friend and a wife. This is reality television so take it for what it’s worth, but she seems kind, she seems loving and she seems like she works hard to have a good life.

But for whatever reason, to some people, she will be known always as the “girl who used to go down on guys under the bleachers.”

Over twenty years ago.

The whole conversation made me sad. I don’t know, nor do I care to know what choices this woman made about her sexuality when she was younger. I doubt they define her and I highly, HIGHLY  doubt that any male who participated in the activity is still remembered by anyone for whatever it was that he did under the bleachers with her.

Which takes me back to how I started this post. When I was a little kid and played dolls with my female friends, we talked about our dreams.

“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor.”

“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut.”

“When I grow up, I want to get married and have two kids named Chanel and Coco.” (Ok, ok. Only once).

You know what I didn’t hear?

“When I grow up, I want to be a whore.”

“When I grow up, I want to be known as the girl who gives guys a good time.”

“Maybe if I work really hard I can become a pole dancer one day.”

No, these are not things that I hoped for as a young woman. I don’t remember any of my friends having those aspirations either.

The names that women are called for choices they make around their sexuality are brutal and meant to debase. We might not live in the day and age of a Scarlet Letter, but society shows a woman a huge double standard when it comes to her sexuality. It’s no wonder that the names women get called who are deemed as “too sexual”  carry such a stigma. They are meant to cause shame. They are meant to devalue her.

Which is why, as a woman, I make a conscious effort not to look at another woman as “a slut”, as “a whore”, or any of these other terms that get thrown around a little too comfortably and reduce a woman’s identity to the lowest common denominator. Society might be telling me to call her such a name.

I choose not to.

We’re playing on the same team here, sisters.

When I look back at high school and I look at the girls with a “reputation”, I see things a little differently now. They weren’t professional hookers at 16. They were lost and they were confused and they could have done with some light in their life.

To any girl I may have judged in high school because perhaps I’d “heard things about you,” I’d like to apologize. I look back at the young women you were and while we may not have always run in the same circles, I certainly judged you. I regret that and wish that instead, I had extended a hand in friendship and supported you.

Maybe if you been given a little more light and less judgement in your own life, you might not have mistaken love as one night of the quarterback’s affections.

I made my own mistakes later in life, I will admit. My college years were fueled by insecurity, pain and alcohol. I don’t really want to know what names I might have been called. I do know that my sorority named me “Most Likely to Hook up at a Mixer” which wasn’t even fair because I didn’t even go to mixers.

I don’t think that those years define me, but they certainly play a role in shaping who I am today. The sum of my parts are not comprised by my best days alone. They include my mistakes and my weaknesses, which I believe I continue to learn from.

I hope one day I can watch my Bravo television in peace, with my glass of wine in my hand, the kids tucked into bed and the dishes miraculously done. Where I can watch a woman act like a moron on national television while she drinks too much chardonnay, flips over a table and pulls her friend’s hair weave in a cat fight.

Just doing what they do on any given Tuesday.

Just don’t tell me what she did under the bleachers 20 years ago. I don’t care.

And neither should you.

XO.

Kiran

21 Responses to Under the Bleachers and Far Away

  • Anna See says:

    I really liked this post. Life is about so much more than those decisions made long ago.
    Anna See recently posted…ALL CAPS!My Profile

  • 1stpeaksteve says:

    I have to agree. Imagine being judged on all the things you did when you were 18 years of age. I was a complete tool! Thankfully with some life experience I changed drastically. At times it seems more of a story than a reality.

    In our society we love a good self help book or an inspirational story of overcoming our short comings. Why do this if you will be judged as your former self if you really do make an effort to change.

    You can now return to Bravo!

  • Ilene
    Twitter:
    says:

    Amen. And as women, we *are* playing on the same team and can’t forget that. I’d also like to believe that people see me for who I am now versus 20 years ago. After reading this post, I’ll make more of a concerted effort to do the same for others.
    Ilene recently posted…Just Keep SwimmingMy Profile

  • Lori E
    Twitter:
    says:

    Well as the lovely Maya Angelou has said “when you know better you do better”. I am in a leadership role at work and wouldn’t want my teenage years shared with our staff. Yikes.
    Lori E recently posted…GOOGLE READER GONE–NOW WHAT?My Profile

  • Marie says:

    Great post and I especially loved this part:
    I don’t think that those years define me, but they certainly play a role in shaping who I am today. The sum of my parts are not comprised by my best days alone. They include my mistakes and my weaknesses, which I believe I continue to learn from.
    Thank you!
    Marie recently posted…Summer of LoveMy Profile

  • Alison
    Twitter:
    says:

    A couple of years ago, my 2nd brother told me that some of our mutual friends told him that I was some “party girl”, and probably still is.

    I was 34 and a new mother, hadn’t been out ‘partying’ since 2005, and I must have some idiot friends. People just want to think/ remember what they will. *I* know who I am, the people who matter to me do, and that’s all I care about.

    So I love your perspective. Of giving people’s past a little grace.
    Alison recently posted…Old School Blogging: The Crazy Five EditionMy Profile

  • Jennifer says:

    Superb, and spot on.
    Jennifer recently posted…Old School Blogging – Five ThingsMy Profile

  • dixya
    Twitter:
    says:

    I dont think anyone should be judged for whatever choices they made, esp if it was 20 years ago common. very nicely written Kiran
    dixya recently posted…Barley & Chickpea Salad with Dates & Goat CheeseMy Profile

  • Mary
    Twitter:
    says:

    Amen. I wish these beautiful words of yours could be the last word on the subject. I don’t want to be judged by what I was like 20 years ago nor do I care what others did back then. None of my business. It’s hard enough to forgive ourselves for past decisions and move on with our lives feeling worthy and lovable and deserving without having others add to the baggage. Gorgeous post, Kiran. Thank you for sharing it.
    Mary recently posted…Falling In Love With BoysMy Profile

  • Leigh Ann
    Twitter:
    says:

    Sounds like you and I had some similar college insecurities and experiences. And I hate that that’s how some people remember me because it’s all they knew.
    Leigh Ann recently posted…The neighbor girlMy Profile

  • I like to think that I’ve been able to transcend some of the periods in my life where I didn’t make the best decisions.

    And yet, I know I still haven’t escape the whispers of the mean girls. Not entirely.

    I love this post so very much.

    Thank you for saying what so many of us wish to be so.
    renee a. schuls-jacobson recently posted…When Flying Was FunMy Profile

  • Arnebya
    Twitter:
    says:

    Admittedly, Kiran, in high school, I DID want to be one of those girls under the bleachers, beside the bleachers, in that broom closet, in that backseat. Of course I didn’t really WANT to, I just thought I needed to, thought that was my ticket to popularity, to being noticed. I had a friend who really was one of those girls and she was the saddest person I’d ever met. I remember how she was referred to as Motel Chantel and how much it hurt her to be referred to that way. Fast forward to our 20 year reunion in 2011. Standing around a group of people I barely remember doing the whole “what happened to” crap and some dude says Motel Chantel. I politely stepped closer to him, told her her name was Chantel, she is still one of my best friends, and you would think that after 20 years fucked up nicknames would fall away. She is a wife and a mother AND A PERSON and regardless of what she did (and didn’t do to/with you because ew now, ew then) she deserves respect. And then I walked away.

    That time of her life does not define her. My continuing to be her friend does not define me. But being an asshole and forcing everyone to remember her in that light? Absolutely defines him as an asshole.
    Arnebya recently posted…Guest Posting at Things I Can’t SayMy Profile

  • RealDeal says:

    “The names that women are called for choices they make around their sexuality are brutal and meant to debase. We might not live in the day and age of a Scarlet Letter, but society shows a woman a huge double standard when it comes to her sexuality. It’s no wonder that the names women get called who are deemed as “too sexual” carry such a stigma. They are meant to cause shame. They are meant to devalue her.”

    Kiran- what if one of these girls is your daughter? Would you be so philosophical and objective concerning her “choices around sexuality” ? If she got busy under the bleacher would you hang back in hopes of “not debasing” ?

    Secondly, it’s WOMEN that persist this double standard. THEY are the ones that are shy about expressing their sexuality claiming that they are forced to, however the more shy, coy, “hard to get” they are, the more they play into the very double standard they say is keeping them down.

    • RealDeal says:

      In otherwords, if they did their bidness at the freethrow line instead of hiding under the bleachers, it wouldn’t be “slut” just “being a woman” Because thats what they all really want to do anyway.

    • RealDeal says:

      Surprised you had the guts to post this. Good on you mate.

    • Laura
      Twitter:
      says:

      If it were her daughter, or my sister, or someone close to us, I think, even MORE so, we would NOT want to debase these girls/women. We’d know them for MORE than those sexual choices and we would absolutely not name them a slut or want them to be shamed.

      It seems like you have a very skewed perspective of female sexuality to argue on a post that is asking us to stop calling women “sluts” and “whores”. The point isn’t whether women are shy or open about sex. The point is that they are defined by it, whereas a man can be promiscuous and not have it come up when discussing him 20 years later.

  • Roshni
    Twitter:
    says:

    To be judging someone for what they did in high school means that the person commenting probably hasn’t left it either!
    Roshni recently posted…Random Thoughts from the T-Ball DiamondMy Profile

  • Chelsea
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is so incredibly good. Every woman needs to read this.

  • MomWithaDot says:

    Been a long time Kiran….. C’mon, break the silence !!

  • Ana says:

    You got me when you called out the fact that no one is talking about what her partners were doing under the bleachers 20 years ago. If they were, it’d be in a congratulatory “way to go!” fashion. The double standard is sickening. Good for you for speaking out about it and refusing to let judgement cloud your vision of others.

  • Aras Androck says:

    Yes. We need to put slut-shaming to rest.
    Aras Androck recently posted…Nubri.comMy Profile

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I'm Kiran, I'm a dreamer. A writer. A singer. A mother. An ugly crier. An Indian-American. Who loves Gandhi. My stories are full of truth that is sometimes hard for me to say out loud. This blog is where I overcome my fears and live (and love) out loud. Read More....
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