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'Slut-shaming' – The Disturbing New Facebook Trend

‘Slut-shaming’ is a disturbing new trend in cyberbullying. Teenagers are using social media to do everything from keep up with homework assignments and connect with friends; to posting sexually explicit photos of each other and shaming young girls online. Many teen girls have reported that they have had their sexual encounters recorded and racy photos posted to social networking sites without their knowledge. Worse yet, the media is then shared with their peers.

With the new privacy settings, you might think that posting such material to Facebook would be difficult. However, Facebook continues to be a popular forum for teens to expose and shame their peers. Young men are posting compromising pictures and videos and making ‘slut lists’ of their female peers in their neighborhoods and schools. A new Facebook page called ‘Hey Girls, Did You Know…’ is an example of the ‘slut shaming’ trend in action.

The page, started in June 2012, has almost 40,000 likes. The ‘Hey Girls, Did You Know’ page features pictures and videos of girls taken from the internet or stolen from Facebook and shared with the world. Comments on the page range from the disrespectful (“Girls, did you know? That uhm, your boobs…Oh wait, you don’t have any”) to benign (“Hey girls, did you know that uhmm…Your boobs…can go wherever they want….because it’s your body.”)

Many of the boys who share this type of material are held in high esteem, while the girls are torn apart in the court of public opinion; often most viciously by other girls. But, a new trend is emerging as well. Girls are fighting back with the help of school officials, parents and even law enforcement. The internet has been so pervasive in the lives of adolescents that many times they are unaware that slandering a classmate or former friend online can have legal consequences. Slandering, defaming and relentlessly targeting someone over the internet can result in a harassment charge.

Besides taking concerns to the proper adults, some girls have hijacked the ‘slut-shaming’ Facebook page to post nice comments under the pictures and videos. Effectively, they are counteracting the culture of cyberbullying and ‘slut-shaming.’

For all the advances that women have made in the workforce and other areas of society, the issue of a woman’s sexual behavior is the one area that we have not achieved much progress. This past election season highlighted that as presidential candidate Romney proposed to repeal abortion laws, dismantle Planned Parenthood and allow employers the right to choose whether or not female employees were given access to birth control methods via their insurance plan.

As there was an all-out assault on women’s rights this past year, the reproductive and sexual rights of men remained untouched. They were prescribed the Viagra pill with little to no opposition. Despite the fact the birth control pills are prescribed for uses other than to prevent pregnancy, lawmakers seemed adamant about stripping women of their reproductive rights. The message is loud and clear: women’s bodies are not our own. They are subjects to be debated in politics; to be simultaneously admired and detested; and to be put on display for public ridicule.

The trend of ‘slut-shaming’ is one that is growing among adolescents, but sadly – it’s one that has been going on for years now in the adult community.

Have you or your kids had first-hand experience with ‘slut-shaming’? How can we not only reprimand but educate our children about the dangers of this pervasive act?

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