HALIFAX - Nearly one year after the alleged rape and suicide of Cole Harbour teen Rehtaeh Parsons, a woman has travelled to Halifax to film a documentary she hopes will spark more discussion around sexual bullying.
“The point of the film is to demonstrate how widespread the issue of slut shaming is,” said Emily Lindin, founder of the UnSlut Project.
“If you don’t think about it, start thinking about it.”
Lindin — who defines slut shaming as making a woman feel inferior or guilty for real or perceived sexuality — decided to take action after a string of young girls across North America, including Amanda Todd and Audrie Pott, committed suicide because of sexual bullying.
“It rang true for me because I had been the school slut,” said the 27-year-old PhD student based in southern California.
“When I was 11 years old, my then-boyfriend started rumours about me and they spread like wildfire.”
After learning of Parsons’s death, Lindin founded the UnSlut Project, publishing online the detailed and unedited diary entries from her younger self.
“(Parsons) took her own life, and that could have been me,” said Lindin.
Launched in April 2013, the UnSlut Project promotes gender equality, sex positivity and comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education for all ages.
It quickly caught on and soon hundreds of people — men and women, old and young — had created an online community.
Then came the idea for a documentary. Lindin, along with friend and director Jessica Caimi, crowdfunded nearly $20,000 in summer 2013 and began filming.
“We want people to start talking about it,” said Caimi, who drew a parallel between the fight against sexual bullying and the gay rights movement.
“Nobody should ever have their sexuality held against them. Period.”
The documentary will tell the stories of girls who took their own lives because of sexual bullying.
“We’re hoping that the film can kind of be a tool to start a conversation,” said Lindin.
“It’s (also) a matter of getting schools involved to normalize safe, consensual sex … and encourage adults to question how they see female sexuality and the message they pass on to their kids.”
A symbol of their goal: “We’re hoping that the word slut won’t make sense as an insult.”
The film is scheduled for release in early 2015.