Last night at dinner my daughter said her guidance teacher asked all of them to ask their parents- “Do you remember the name of the sluts in high school ?” She fumbled a little with the word slut- making a point of saying the teacher said it was ok to use that word.
I love this stuff.
The teacher was telling these 13 year old girls that a reputation is something that follows you everywhere like a dark shadow. You can be remembered as kind, brilliant, athletic, funny, awkward, pretty, silly, friendly, aggressive, mean. You can be remembered as the slut.
The word is as nasty as any. It seems slippery and dirty- like something that grows under wet rocks and behind things that have gone bad and smell rank.
The challenge with daughters (and certainly with sons- although perhaps differently) is acknowledging and embracing sexuality, impulse, desire and passion without letting them confuse that with anything nudging up against the s word.
I can’t help but say in more general discussions about who we are, that what people think of us is “none of our business”. That we should be our authentic selves regardless of anything that might please or not please the general public. However, the truth is our reputation is our passport to everything that we do, every new experience and every situation we encounter. It announces us at the ‘border’.
It can open doors wide or slam them shut.
More importantly, who we are is a collage of everything we do or don’t do. Experience either enhances us or takes us down.
In 8th grade, in any school there is a girl at a dance or in a basement room house party giving a boy she hardly knows a blow job.
In our 40’s there is a woman, married with children and a Range Rover, giving blow jobs in stair wells at private clubs to a tennis pro.
We always know their names. But behind their names is a person, desperate to be seen and adored and accepted. And to feel something.
And they have know idea how to get there.