I’m 32 and I don’t know if I have ever fully recovered from seventh grade. When I graduated my beloved elementary school and went to a much bigger middle school across town, some of my old classmates also switched to the same middle school, one of whom was my sixth grade ex-boyfriend.
We had a messy “separation” after I came back from summer camp and realized that he was no longer interested in knowing me anymore, no less holding my hand at the park and buying me beanie babies.
I was scared enough as it was, going to a new school, and having him there was even worse. However, I never could have imagined things would have been as bad as they got for me.
See, he became the most popular boy in seventh grade. He had a following of little boys that wanted to be like him—a starter on the junior league football team and new boyfriend of the prettiest girl in our middle school. I, on the other hand, was not so popular. I was tall and shy. I just wanted to make some friends, get good grades and blend. However, my ex didn’t want to let that happen.
He apparently told his friends about how we once dated and for some reason or another (probably because it was popular in rap music at the time), they started to call me “the hooch.” And they didn't mean whiskey.
They would pretend to cough and say the word as I passed in a hallway at by their table in the cafeteria. They wrote it on notes and left it in my backpack, they called my house and said it and hung up. It was terrible. I felt like I was branded and plagued with a description I didn’t even fully understand at that age.
Well, “hooch” later turned into “slut” and other names. There were rumors spread about my private parts and my abilities to perform oral sex. Mind you, I didn’t even know what a “blow job” really was and had never even touched a penis. I can’t imagine how hurt I would have been if I had actually been sexual at the time.
Eventually the boys got bored with me and found new targets but at this point I had just a few girl friends that wanted to be associated with me.
Now, I know that kids are childish and that I was not even sexually active at the time, but the point is I BELIEVED these things about myself. I thought I was a “dirty” young lady and whatever tall-girl slouch I had had before then, was severely exaggerated by my new self-image.
And I didn’t really know who to talk to about it all. I asked my mom what a “hooch” was and she answered, “A promiscuous woman?” She didn’t even really know. I was far too ashamed to tell her that the kids at school were calling me that. I was too ashamed to actively seek out counsel from any adult.
Sexually derogatory words are used a lot by kids and most don’t even know the meanings of the words they use. Girls as young as seven years old get labeled in school as “sluts” and “hoes”, whether they are sexually activity or not. And many end up becoming very sexually active because of these labels.