“True Victims are Dead Victims”: Slut-Shaming on the Internet

By Sarah Ball

In the article “Habits of Leaking: Of Sluts and Network Cards,” the authors discuss slut-shaming as it pertains to social media and the Internet. On page 16, they state that “with Web 2.0, true victims are dead victims.”

Dude…wait, what?
My Reaction 

They then go on to discuss the case of Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old Canadian who was bullied online and eventually committed suicide. We’ve all heard the story of Amanda Todd. If you’re like me, it was discussed in multiple different high school classrooms as a lesson about online identity and staying safe; it was a story of a young girl who exposes herself online and is bullied and attacked because of it, leading to her eventual and inevitable suicide. All but one teacher presented the case in a way that framed Amanda Todd as the guilty party – ‘she made the choice to take her life,’ one even said. And if you’re not like me, well, maybe you had it better.

I agree, Amanda Todd was a victim of Web 2.0, but she’s not the only one. And the fact that her case resulted in her death does make it tragic – it is a sad story that we need to prevent from happening again – but death isn’t the only end to a tragic story.

There are two other cases in the article that I would like to present as tragic in their own right, despite not end with the “permanent ruin of the subject—a death” (16).

Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Chaney’s photo was displayed in an assembly on Internet safety at a public school in Georgia. It was used to teach the students a lesson about what happens when you expose yourself on the Internet, tagged with the line “Once It’s There, It’s There to Stay.” The thing is, the photo was taken from the girl’s Facebook account – WITHOUT CONSENT. This school branded Chelsea Chaney as a “sexually promiscuous abuser of alcohol” – or, a slut. This isn’t the only time a young girl has been slut-shamed on the Internet; no, unfortunately, it happens all the time to a lot of people.

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Consent is a basic human right!

The article later brings in the case of #slanegirl (which disgusts me that it was ever a thing on the Internet). Let’s set the scene: an Eminem concert, Slane Castle in Ireland, a seventeen-year-old woman, and some photos. Photos of a young woman (a teenager, really, though the article doesn’t say that), showed her in the midst of sexual acts with a “shirtless man”; these photos went viral after the concert with hashtags calling her a “slut.” She was eventually hospitalized, though the cause was apparently “left unclear as to whether slanegirl’s hospitalization was due to the injury of her image’s circulation or to the alleged sexual assault.” As if that’s all that matters.

My Reaction, Again

The thing that really gets me about this article is its denial that these two women were victims. They didn’t die, so they can’t have really suffered, right? Wrong. I know the authors are not condoning slut-shaming by any means, but the article comes across as insensitive and, well, wrong.
People can be victims regardless of whether they end up dead. Saying that true victims are the dead ones is like saying that only murder victims are real victims. It’s stupid, idiotic, and wrong.

Amanda Todd, Chelsea Chaney, and Slane Girl are all victims in their own right. I don’t really care what these authors have to say about them because they all suffered and they all had to cope with what happened to them. The Internet is a cruel place for young girls – and in no situation are they deserving of being hated and slut-shamed. They’re people – they deserve to be treated like people. And they are all sad, tragic, horrible cases. Yes, Amanda Todd died and yes, it is horrible – still, but that doesn’t overpower what the other girls went through.

Not at all.

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Article Source:
Habits of Leaking: Of Sluts and Network Cards

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