I really hoped hatred of young girls was a marginal phenomenon but unfortunately, Soraya Chemaly’s article about a facebook page committed to hating “12-year-old sluts” got me thinking it’s a norm rather than an anomaly. (Here’s the article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/12-year-old-slut-meme-and_b_1911056.html?utm_hp_ref=tw).
The facebook page (here: https://www.facebook.com/12YearOldSlutMemes) dedicated to slut shaming little girls was created by two 19-year-old Australian guys who thought it was a good idea to have a page just to shame girls who have just reached puberty. They have now posted this message on their page:
Our intent in building this Facebook page was to bring to light the fact that many young girls under the age of consent are sexualising themselves in provocative photographs that they themselves post on their own Facebook pages to be seen by the world.Yes, we may have used language and content (publicly available content) that shocked many, that being said though; we did at least bring widespread attention to the issue.
Some have condemned our actions as promoting teen pornography or worse. The media have misrepresented our actions and our message, many articles, (even reputable news sources) have provided completely fabricated information that has since been taken as fact. A word to these entities, get your fucking facts straight.
We are two people who call it like we see it. We have made our point now and many people have agreed with us that these young girls are “not acting in their own best interests” … to put it mildly.
Having made our point.
In closing: Just because people don’t want to see, hear or know something, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.
We would like to close the page with immediate effect … but Facebook have taken away our capacity to do so.
Over to you Facebook.
So we’re moving on to uncover other “problems in society”. Watch this space.
James and Dom :)
I wish I had copied the original description of the page but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about “uncovering problems in the society.” It was more along the lines of “making fun of underage sluts.” The only hint of the original stated purpose of the page that remains visible is in the About section, where James and Dom state their personal interests: “Embarrassing those who embarrass themselves.” James and Dom are right that sexualisation of young girls is a problem in our society. However, if they REALLY thought online bullying was an appropriate answer to that problem, I hope they will reconsider.
When a girl reaches puberty, takes a picture of her brand new cleavage and posts it on facebook, it’s easy to point and cry, “Haa haa, what a slut!” But that’s not pointing out a problem in the society, that’s re-enforcing a problem in the society. But then, why do young girls feel like they have to show some cleavage to gain social status?
One answer to that question is simply that teens are engrossed with their developing bodies. Their world is focused on the physical changes they’re experiencing, and naturally, they want their new bodies to be accepted. Young girls want reassurance that they are sexually attractive, and they will test their new charms on teens and adults alike. They will act flirty and they will dress suggestively.
It’s a very natural thing to do, and girls are permitted to do it in societies where sexuality is less of a taboo. It’s up to adults to be mature about it, and allow teen girls to go through that phase in their development undisturbed. It’s just that now there’s the internet, girls can test their charms on a much wider audience. And maybe they’re doing it more boldly than before, partly because of half-naked women being such a common sight in media, and partly because they can expose themselves in the privacy of their bedrooms.
What makes this slut shaming thing particularly sinister is that boys also go through a similar phase in their sexual awakening, but they rarely get bullied for it, and certainly not by adults. Boys post pictures of themselves in tank tops, flexing their muscles, showing off their six-pack, and they get away with it without being called sluts. When boys post topless pictures of themselves on the beach, or just flexing for the camera, the pictures aren’t seen as slutty, but as sporty or funny. Apparently it’s okay to show off a male body but a female body should be demurely covered.
Boys also flirt at adult women. I’ve been on the receiving end of this behaviour, and let me tell you, it’s a bit disturbing to have a 15-year-old jock smoldering at you over the teacher’s desk, or a 17-year-old suddenly lifting his shirt to show off his abs. But as an adult, I know this behaviour is a normal part of teenagers’ development. Their crude flirting is about learning a new behaviour, and they aren’t expecting their flirting to lead into anything. They may act like they’re trying to seduce you but if you’re an adult, you must have enough sense to resist their efforts, and do it without ridiculing teens when they’re going through a fragile phase in their development. This goes for face to face encounters with flirty teens as well as the sexy pictures they post online.
Now, as for James and Dom, they’re still teenagers themselves, so maybe they can’t be expected to have an adult’s judgement. But still, attacking 12-year-old girls seems like a pretty base thing to do. Their page has 217000 likes. Think about it: 217000 people think that what James and Dom are doing is somehow commendable, or funny. Whatever happened to “Try picking on someone your own size”? If James and Dom had created a similar page dedicated to shaming and embarrassing 12-year-old boys, I’m sure people would have wondered what the hell was wrong with them. But they targeted girls, and 217000 people gave it the thumbs up.