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 In the titular story, “Barbara the Slut,” Barbara is a high school senior who enjoys sleeping around: “Maybe I wasn’t hard to get, but I did have standards,” she says.Barbara is also bright, and after she’s admitted to the college of her choice — Princeton — her classmates react by attacking her: “At lunch I went to the cafeteria to get chocolate milk and somebody yelled ‘whore,’ so I went to eat in my car,” Holmes narrates.
Much has been written about ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise and its strange portrayal of sexual relationships between the contestants, which it simultaneously exploits and pretends doesn’t exist.
In Holmes’s collection, men also fail to escape the consequences of their sexual choices.
In “My Humans,” the family dog Princess catalogues the breakup of her owners, Mike and Jenna, after Mike catches Jenna cheating on him: “There is a space between Mike and Jenna and I sleep in it.” At first Mike is angry, but when a friend calls Jenna “a lying, cheating whore,” he defends her. “Don’t call her that.” Mike could’ve been a one-dimensional jilted, angry man.
“But spreading hate the way people have been is not okay. I think the hardest part for me is it affects my family. “When I’m reading that, I just don’t understand how someone who is a mother figure can go out of their way to write that for the world to see, for me to see,” Kaitlyn said tearfully.
“She’s talking about how I’m teaching bad behavior, yet she’s speaking like that to somebody.” Harrison tried to comfort her.
As Slate’s Willa Paskin wrote in her masterful takedown last year, “‘The Bachelor’ encapsulated the conundrum on Monday night’s “The Bachelorette: Men Tell All,” the penultimate episode in which the rejected contestants confront the bachelorette.
But this year’s special played out differently given it was “the most controversial season in ‘Bachelor’ history,” as host Chris Harrison put it.Then, cut to commercial break: When the show came back, it was time to get on with the proceedings and have Kaitlyn face her rejected suitors, as is “Men Tell All” tradition.“I know that was difficult, but that was something that needed to be done.Is Holmes announcing that men can finally be vulnerable? Much of “Barbara the Slut” is just plain funny, Holmes toeing the line between mundanity and dire circumstances, love and something in between.And in a time when most women don’t truly own the word “slut,” much less claim it, the book is a rallying cry.Out of the 10 stories in “Barbara the Slut and Other People,” the debut short-story collection of author Lauren Holmes, half feature breakups.