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« Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, by Jimmy Carter | Main | Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter »


Slut! by Leora Tanenbaum

By an everyday book reader
May 1, 2007

Leora Tanenbaum's Slut! is a groundbreaking account of the lives of young women who stand up to the destructive power of namecalling, written by one of the rising young talents of journalism today.

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

Slut! seamlessly weaves together three narrative threads: powerful oral histories of girls and women who tell us their stories and how they finally overcame sexual labeling, Leora's own story, and her cogent analysis of the underlying problem of sexual stereotyping.

Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation
by Leora TanenbaumBook Picture

Softcover: 304 pages
ISBN: 9780060957407, 0060957409
Harper Paperbacks
August 2000

Girls may be labeled "sluts" for any number of reasons, including expressions of sexuality, but also for nonsexual expressions of independence or openness, or because they were raped. Tanenbaum herself was labeled a slut in high school. The confessional article she wrote about the experience caused a sensation after it was published in Seventeen and led her to write this book.

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. (And, as recent cases involving Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky demonstrate, a woman can face such taunts no matter what her age or professional level.) 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.

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

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

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

"Tanenbaum's argument is as sharp as the tongue of a ninth grade girl." -- BUST Magazine

"An eye-opening book." -- Redbook

"Tanenbaum has written an important and alarming book; it deserves serious attention and should encourage serious action." -- The Women's Review of Books

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

Leora Tanenbaum is the author of Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation and a rising young talent of journalism today. She has written for Newsday, Seventeen, Ms., and The Nation, among others, and appears regularly on a variety of national television programs. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

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