in my opinion: facebook and its enabling of sexism
From the ever growing, mindlessly exploitative and derogatory file, we bring you another gem to go head to head with ‘Aboriginal Memes’ in terms of sheer gratuity and vileness. ‘12 Year Old Slut Memes’, come on down. I was first alerted to its presence when two people “liked” this page – one was a 22 year old man, who I consider a friend. The second, much more worryingly, was my 14 year old female cousin. I can only imagine the kind of message she takes away from this.
Because I am a masochist, I checked out the page (shortly before reporting it to Facebook, most likely fruitlessly), really just expecting to see a few pictures of adolescent girls in short skirts, maybe pouting provocatively at the camera. What I didn’t expect was the outpouring of misogynistic bile. Maybe I should have – it’s been a big few weeks for trolls. Charlotte Dawson, a media personality and anti-bullying advocate, was recently hospitalised after days of insults, death threats and tweets encouraging her to ‘kill herself’, as you’ve probably by now heard about extensively. Trolling is no longer something that involves taking the piss for a laugh; it’s an exercise in being a vicious and hateful little jerk on the internet, more often than not anonymously.
I’m sure you can imagine the things that were being said about the young girls on this page. I have to admit that even with a grain of salt and knowing that many of them has most likely been edited in some way, some of the images and screen prints of these adolescents were confronting and scary. I won’t deny there are a lot of impending issues involving the volatile combination of insecure teenage girls and the internet, but the feminist ground has been covered pretty extensively in that regard. The jury is still out on whether the sexualisation of girls is inherently bad or part of a ploy to restrict female sexual freedom from a young age by controlling what they wear and how they act.
It goes without saying that a majority of these girls do not know what they are doing and the impact of their words or actions. I would hate to think what they would do if they found out 144,000 people were suggesting they kill themselves. It’s interesting to think about where this hate comes from – a personalised note on the page from the two administrators helped give me some idea. They profess to be two educated, 19 year old males who ‘hate seeing children being filthy little whores’. Well, that was easy – it’s like Freud 101.
I personally know women who are good friends who lost their virginity around the ages of 14 or 15. That’s not 12, but I’m sure it still fits within the realm of “filthy little whore”. These women are well adjusted and sexually open to this day. It’s not about girls having sex at a certain age – it’s about a wide reaching societal problem that suggests there is still a deep seated discomfort with sexually independent women. Attacking these girls does not help; it exacerbates the problem in the worst way possible.
Needless to say, there is no mention of 12 year old male sluts on the page. And the idea that this is all “harmless fun” goes out the window with a “Got mad at boyfriend, fucked random guy, cried rape in the morning” meme. Perpetrating those kinds of ideals of a bunch of impressionable kids? Send help.
I know I come across as naïve and new to “the Internets” (I’m not) but I think it’s a disgrace and Facebook is MASSIVELY breaching a duty of care. Not only is the page sexually explicit and violent, it’s a dangerous propaganda tool. This page says: Hey, it’s a perfectly normal reaction to something you find abhorrent and distasteful to tell it to kill itself. Hey, 12 year old girls are sluts. HEY, girls are sluts – abuse them, shame them, belittle them. Because, it is NOT OKAY. Shut it down, Facebook, shut it down.
By Ruth Horsfall