Social Question

Bart19's avatar

(NSFW?) Why are girls that have their periods young seen as sluts?

Asked by Bart19 (1020 points ) January 5th, 2012

I remember when a girl, Becca, had her period at the age of twelve. Nearly all the people in my class, namely the boys, called her a slut, a whore and dirty. Granted the atmosphere in my class was never what you call ‘healthy’ but I heard from other people that they know people who were also called names for getting their periods young.

I was wondering if this is a sexist culture thing and if it’s happening or has happened elsewhere. I find it quite peculiar that some associate something as natural as periods and age with the negative.

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39 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yes, it’s a sexist thing. It’s just the go-to name for calling a girl you don’t like (for whatever reason) mean things. Plus, girls/women aren’t supposed to be sexual, and getting your period is a reminder to everyone that you are a sexual being.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Strange. I’ve never heard of such a thing happening.

Blueroses's avatar

There’s a very long history of the onset of menses being frightening to males. Ridiculing and subjugating what we don’t understand is a coping device.

JLeslie's avatar

Huh? I never heard of such a thing. I guess maybe if she is starting to get a figure people might put some sort of ridiculous label on her because she appears sexy? Still, I never heard of such a thing.

Most girls start around age 12 I think. I did.

JLeslie's avatar

I just looked it up, age 12.5 is the average in the US. Not that it matters at all. I don’t care if a girl is 10 or 16, what does menstrauting have to do with being a slut?

Shocking to me. Just totally shocking. I am also stunned that there are actually people answering who think that is some sort of common thought process.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie I got mine when I was 10, along with a few other girls. All of us were called slut, whore, tease, and a few other nice things.

FutureMemory's avatar

When I was 11,12,13 I remember my peers being pretty moronic when it came to such things. Not surprising.

marinelife's avatar

I have never heard of that. I got my period when I was 9. I guess that would made me a super slut.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed Where did you grow up? I had a couple friends who got their periods in 5th grade, I guess that is 10? And, some in 6th grade, also young. I never ever heard such a thing.

My aunt wished me Mazletov when I started my period. She embarrassed me, you don’t want your aunt making a big deal about such things when you are young I guess. Still, no one in my circles, family or friends, ever said anything close to what is being asked here.

Some of my friends who developed breasts early felt self conscious, that I can see.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I don’t understand. How would your classmates even know?

Bart19's avatar

She made the mistake of telling one of the other girls. Her “friend” spread it through the class and the boys began to make sexual remarks, well excluding me and a close friend. They even checked the toilet after her she went and laughed when there was blood. It was pretty sick actually. Like I said not a good class atmosphere there. More like an asylum with some messed up kids.

The average age when I was about 12 to have a period was around 14/15 but it has been dropping significantly over the last few years. At that point in time, early 2000s, I think having a period at twelve was early and therefore unusual, which was reason enough to be bullied.

Like I said I found it strange that they associated something as natural as periods with something so negatively sexual. I wondered if others knew if there was a deeper, cultural context behind it or if it were just kids being morons. I’ve heard of other cases before, in Britain and the Netherlands.

JLeslie's avatar

@Bart19 Where do you live? if you are in the US the average age for periods in 2000 was definitely not 14. Caucasians and Asians start a little later than Hispanics and blacks on average, so if you are from a very white or Asian community where the students tend to be average weight or thinner, maybe your average was closer to 14, but still in America I would think many many girls were getting their period before 14 even if they were white or Asian.

And, do your toilets not flush? How would anyone see her menstrual blood in a toilet?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of 10, 11, 12 year old boys even having a grasp on what menstruation is, let alone making a sexual connection. Maybe some, but enough to warrant teasing in a way that connects the two? My kids are this age, and just taking a glance at my boys and their friends, this seems very difficult to imagine. I understand that some children are more naive than others, but I would be really stunned to learn that this is a common occurrence.
I might be able to understand general teasing if the information were to spread around, for the reasons that @Blueroses pointed out. It’s easy to make fun of things that make us uncomfortable. But to make a sexual link? I don’t know, that seems crazy to me, at that age.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Because asshole assume she’s clearly going to be having sex asap and that doing so makes her a ‘slut’ – a term I despise and find to be meaningless, in all actuality.

JLeslie's avatar

Back to the original question: Why are girls that have their periods young seen as sluts? My answer is, they aren’t. What stupid 12 year old boys think means nothing. They think and do all sorts of ridiculous, untrue, hurtful, mean things. Not all 12 year old boys of course, but the ones who do, are idiots. Doesn’t matter if they are bullying a girl who is menstruating, a boy who wears glasses, or someone who doesn’t wear designer jeans, they are just bullies who enjoy upsetting others. Makes me sick.

wundayatta's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I’m surprised that you are surprised that kids that age know what menstruation is. Efforts to bring some sanity to the process of maturation have led to many “health” or other similarly-named classes being taught to middle schoolers or even pre-middle schoolers so they can learn about puberty, physical maturation, sex and most importantly, its consequences. Parents are encouraged by most progressive parenting experts to have raised the issue years earlier.

And since messages about sex are so prevalent in our society, I think there is hardly any wonder that kids that age know all kinds of things (right and wrong) about sex even if their parents shirk this duty.

@Bart19 Where I live (the United States), middle school age kids (ages 10–12) are the most difficult age to deal with. They are experiencing puberty and most parents and schools have no clue about how to guide them through it. People are afraid to talk about it. They are too uncomfortable to deal with it. Probably because most people’s desires for sexual experience are outside the bounds of what is socially acceptable. We’re not supposed to even admit we think about sex. But if we do, it must be done in the most scatological and violent way.

That’s how our comedians talk about sex, and they are the only example of how to talk about sex in a public space that I can think of. So middle schoolers see this, and they think they are cool imitating adults, and they use words and concepts without really knowing what they mean. Worse, since they are also newly practicing sexual/social behavior, they use it as a way to create in-groups and outcasts. Any reason will do. You bleed? You must be a…. what’s the meanest word we know? How about “slut?” You bleed? That’s sexual. You’re a slut. Ha ha ha ha ha. Ooo look! She is upset. Let’s do it some more. Maybe she’ll kill herself. Wouldn’t that be a hoot!

And I’m not kidding, girls that age have thrown themselves in front of buses because their classmates all called them sluts. The human social world can be very tough and cruel and if adults don’t take responsibility for bringing their kids up to be kind, then this kind of malicious behavior is almost inevitable.

Coloma's avatar

I’m in @ANef_is_Enuf & @JLeslie ‘s camp..never heard of this association, and, I am shocked!

Aethelflaed's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Because some girls think it’s totally cool to just pop their head over the stall and see what you’re doing, like maybe changing out a maxi pad, and then tell everyone else. Or taking a dump. Apparently, there’s also nothing quite as uncool as using a public bathroom to “go number 2”.

blueiiznh's avatar

Never heard of it. IMHO a belief like this can only come from being naive, uninformed, and/or immature.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed OMG! How can that be? I swear I think these kids are terrorists. I mean it must be terrorizing for the girl who is being followed, watched in the bathroom. So outrageous. I don’t have children, and I certainly would never say my kids would never, because sometimes kids do mean things, but what you just wrote would never even ever occur to me.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie Basically, yeah. Kids are cruel. Innocent, but cruel.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I can’t imagine anyone in my school doing such a thing. I sent the Q to Auggie because we went to school together, curious to see her answer. If her perception is different.

@wundayatta So you think the boys actually relate a girl getting her period with having or being ready for sex? I’m a girl and I did not even relate those two things when I was young. I agree mean kids will just think of mean words to harrass another child, but you think they actually connect it all up? Or, it is just name calling?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@wundayatta as far as I know, they separate the girls from class to teach about menstruation. And telling a 10 year old what sex is, doesn’t mean that they really understand what it means. Like most parents (at least, I assume most parents), I have overheard the conversations that the kids think we can’t hear… and they say some obnoxious stuff, but I don’t get the impression that they really grasp it. They are pushing boundaries, trying to sound “cool.”

I really don’t believe that 10–12 year old children are making a connection between menstruation, sex, and what is supposedly socially acceptable for women (girls?) sexuality to mean.

I’m not suggesting that children are stupid or have never heard these terms or have no idea what they are, but I just don’t see the majority of children in this age group making these kind of connections. It sounds like plain old bullying, to me. Menstruating makes this girl “different” from her classmates, both boys and girls, and that makes her an easy target. I don’t think these kids have decided that they are threatened by her sudden “sexuality,” but that they know that “slut” and “whore” are the meanest words they know to call a girl. That’s what I think.

JLeslie's avatar

A bit of irony is girls who start late feel left behind usually, wondering why she is the only one of all of her friends who still hasn’t started.

Blueroses's avatar

@JLeslie “Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret.” Accurate for every generation.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blueroses Judy Blume was amazing! A close friend of mine writes books for young teens also. Linda Lewis.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

WTF? I’ve never heard of that.

wundayatta's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I think you’re right. It’s all mixed up. Some bits of knowledge, but mostly meanness and prurience and trying to figure out how to get one foot up over everyone else in this race for status that they are just starting to become aware of.

They know sex is powerful, even if they don’t know what it really is. Although, it’s not clear to me what we mean when we say “know.” If you haven’t had intercourse, does that mean you can’t know what it is? Or does know a penis goes inside a vagina count as far as knowing what sex is?

Because a boy up the street from me informed me that was what sex is when I was 9. I didn’t believe him. Then he wanted to bet me. If he was right, he would get to fuck my sister, and if I was right…. well, the point was moot. I didn’t take the bet because my sister wasn’t mine to bet (and I wondered how he could think his was).

So, as of then, I officially “knew” what sex was. But of course there was so much more to know. And still, I already knew the power of it. I already understood sexual dynamics. I was already a feminist. I already had my opinion about how boys and girls (or men and women) should relate to each other.

Now I was a very naive person. I grew up so slowly compared to most. My sexual initiations came much later than most people’s. Yet, I understood intuitively some things about right and wrong with regard to relations between the sexes. I did not need to believe the technical definition of sexual intercourse (and of course, even though it shocked me, I knew it had to be right) in order to understand human interactions.

Kids these days know this stuff sooner than in my day (the sixties). Our children know. They don’t need to have an in depth understanding to know that for women, having too much to do with sex in the wrong way is going to kill your reputation. We are tribal creatures. We pick that stuff up out of the air. You hear the word “slut” and you know how to use it almost instantly. You don’t have to understand the specifics. All you have to get is that you can push someone else down and if you’re lucky, you’ll push yourself up over everyone else in the process.

Jude's avatar

Never heard of that either. I started mine when I was 12. Boys back then were all “Ooh, look! Boobies!” That was it.

Zaku's avatar

“Why are girls that have their periods young seen as sluts?”
They are not, except in this case by certain nasty perverted kids.

So why are the kids nasty and perverted? Because they are from the sick culture in the USA, and are probably victims of abuse and are projecting and now perpetrating themselves in this way. Why do I say culture in the USA is sick? Because such patterns of crazy abuse are common, and examples such as this are not likely to get called out and addressed in an effective way.

mrrich724's avatar

I’ve never heard of this. So it might be localized to certain areas. I’d imagine it has to do with ignorance. They didn’t have a sexual education class or something!?

No one ever mentioned a girl in my class being a slut or anything negative when she got a period!

That’s truly a shame that there is ignorance like this still going on! Kids are learning all the wrong things. But I’m sure that’s been said about every future generation.

GracieT's avatar

I had my first when I was 11 and in sixth grade. I found out when another girl saw me during lunch. I was lucky, though. Instead of names or anything else bad I was just mortified that someone saw me before I had a chance to fix it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Bart19 I started around 12. This would have been in 1971.

King_Pariah's avatar

Another for I have never heard of this happening. It’s just stupid, immature… and sadly a lot of the boys who did that aren’t going to grow up for a while, if ever.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

What? I had my first period when I was 11 and I don’t remember ever being called a slut over it. That’s just weird. I don’t remember anyone I know being called a slut for simply having a period at a young age.

augustlan's avatar

Never heard of this, either. I started ‘late’ (13), and did wonder what was wrong with me, but nobody ever called me a slut. Well, not for that at least.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ Really? I thought there was something wrong with me because I felt like I was the only person in the class who had those.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, Auggie…we were called sluts LONG before we deserved it, huh! : ) JK everyone!!

But…I can tell you from experience, if you’re one one of the first girls to develop, or if you happen to be more well endowed than average, you will get a “reputation” no matter what. It was really painful to go through that undeserved assumption all through Middle School and half of High School.

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