Adults blame victims of sexual crimes and indiscretions, asking “Why was she dressed like that?” or “Why did she drink so much?”
Adults also use the Internet for humiliation, like stocks in the town square.
And lest you forget, children are watching us and mimicking what we do. Don’t believe me? Just read this piece by 16-year-old high school student Temitayo Fagbenle, who explains how slutshaming on Facebook is an “every day” occurrence amongst her peers.
Temitayo describes how boys will post intimate pictures or videos on Facebook, some of which were taken consensually but others which were taken without a girl’s knowledge. (One girl interviewed in the piece described how being filmed having sex without consenting to the sex tape is “not fair,” seemingly unaware it’s not just unfair but illegal.) The boys then post this content online and get tons of “likes” and “comments.” The fact the pic or video has been posted is bad enough, but the “social” part of the fact this humiliation took place on social media only compounds the cyberbullying.
Making matters worse, other female students judge the girls in the images for, as Temitayo put it, “their improper behavior.” In classic slutshaming, these girls think the female students should have been smarter than to, oh, assume a guy is filming them having sex without asking her first. She quotes one female student who blames the victims (instead of the perpetrators), saying, “They do it to themselves. Half the time we can’t even blame the guys.”
Temitayo’s tale of the “new scarlet letter” is a grim tale, but absolutely one that we as a society need to confront.
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