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Slut! Growing Up Female With a Bad Reputation

Listen to Leora in conversation with Laura Sessions Stepp about the tenth-anniversary of the publication of Slut! in this

Read the Ecosalon article that names Slut! as one of the 20 "must-read" books of all time for women.

Listen to Leora talk about slut-bashing as a form of harmful gossip in the acclaimed Canadian CBC radio program "Definitely Not the Opera" in this podcast. (Leora's segment begins 23 minutes into the program.)

The statistics are daunting: ‘Two out of five girls nationwide have had sexual rumors spread about them,’ reports Leora Tanenbaum. ‘Three out of four girls have received sexual comments or looks, and one in five has had sexual messages written about her in public areas.’ The 50 women interviewed for this book differ greatly in ethnic background, age, and economic status, but they share one thing in common--each of them, along with Tanenbaum herself, was labeled a "slut" in junior high or high school. As such, they became victims of a double standard that winks at sexual promiscuity among teenage boys but insists that young women remain virginal and pure.

Even worse, the slut bashing is perpetuated in nearly every case by female classmates. In addition to insisting that schools get serious about combating sexual harassment, Tanenbaum urges the development of sex education programs that acknowledge responsible alternatives to abstinence, programs that would recognize the sexual desires of young women (and men) without condemnation. Her social critique is solid, but it's the personal accounts of emotional abuse--and, thankfully, perseverance--that will thoroughly convince you that the current tolerance of slut bashing is simply unacceptable.

"Slut! is a bracing corrective for any young woman who finds herself at the mercy of the double standard."
--Susan Faludi

"Startling, poignant, real-life stories of how good girls are turned into 'sluts'--and why. Leora Tanenbaum is a brilliant young writer."
--Gail Sheehy

"An excellent book. . . . It should be mandatory for [students in] high schools and colleges to read it. These stories are heart-breaking."
--Janeane Garafolo

“Leora Tanenbaum is one of the most astute and thoughtful of the new generation of feminist writers.”
--Elizabeth Wurtzel

“Through bitter experience, either their own or a friend’s, [young women] know that Leora Tanenbaum is right.”
--The Washington Post

"Tanenbaum's argument is as sharp as the tongue of a ninth grade girl."
--The Women’s Review of Books

"Tanenbaum [has made a] bold step into the literary world to start a bold discussion."

“A brisk and straightforward analysis of sexual harassment among preteens and adolescents. … An especially good resource for young women and their parents.”
--Publishers Weekly

“Author Leora Tanenbaum makes an alternately powerful and touching case for the abolition of the use of the word slut. … An excellent resource.”
--New York Amsterdam News

“Slut! is a powerful book. … It has the potential as an instructional tool (and a cautionary tale) for educators.”
--Seattle Times

“As Tanenbaum persuasively shows, slut-bashing has enormous consequences for everyone, not only for the girls who are harassed.”
--San Francisco Bay Times

“Highly recommended for anyone who has ever judged or been judged, which means pretty much everyone.”
--Bitch magazine



Chapter One: Insult of Insults

Chapter Two: “Then There Were The Tramps”: “The Slut” Label in the 1950s

Chapter Three: “She’s So Loose”: The Sexual Girl

Chapter Four: “She Asked For It”: The Raped Girl

Chapter Five: “She’s Not One Of Us”: The Outsider

Chapter Six: From Sexism To Sexual Freedom


Appendix A: What To Do

Appendix B: Recommended Resources