Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Misogyny, Exploitation and Disrespect

These are three things that are so deeply rooted in our culture that it makes me almost literally ill to think about it.

I just read this  piece about a 14 year old girl who, yesterday, became a trending topic on Twitter. This happened after she was recorded, without her knowledge or consent, performing oral sex on a classmate. (At this point, I'm assuming the oral sex was consensual, but I don't know, and I would not be surprised to learn that it wasn't.) The tape was then uploaded to the internet, again without her knowledge or her consent, and her name was attached to the video!

Twitter users then responded, in large part, with with vitriol. All of which was directed at this girl.

I can't even begin to express how angry and frustrated this makes me. The fact that this girl is receiving all of the blame, ridicule and hatred for engaging in a sexual act just makes me sick. Especially when you consider that:

1. She engaged in said act with another human being; a human being who, though he is her peer, is receiving no ridicule, blame, or hatred.
2. She did not give permission for the video to made, let alone for it to be made public. Those who made the video, and made the video public are receiving very little ridicule, blame, or hatred.

What is wrong here is NOT that this 14 year-old girl performed oral sex on a classmate. I don't want to have a discussion about whether or not 14 years olds should be having sex. Whether I think they should or not, and whether you think they should or not, doesn't mean they aren't going to. "Should or not" is irrelevant.  I remember being 14. I remember how grown up we all felt, and I remember having 14-year-old friends who were having sex.

14-year-olds are having sex, and they will continue to have sex, regardless of how adults feel about it.

Instead this conversation should be about safe, respectful sex. This conversation should be about teaching teenagers that, if they are going to engage in sexual acts, they should do so in a manner that is safe and respectful.

This conversation should be about how we as a society blame girls and women for being disrespected by boys and men, and what we as a society are going to do to change that.

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