Under the Bleachers and Far Away
“When I grow up I want to be a slut,” said no girl. EVER.
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.”
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.