Editor's note: The audio version of this story contains some sexually graphic descriptions.
Sixteen-year-old Rookie Reporter Temitayo
Fagbenle says at her school girls are often the victims of "slut
shaming," having explicit photos and videos of themselves posted online
and shared with their peers.
Many teenagers are living half their lives on social media
sites, and they're writing the rules as they go. One online trend
16-year-old Temitayo Fagbenle finds disturbing is something she calls
"slut shaming" — using photos and videos to turn a girl's private life
inside out. Temitayo reported this story as part of the Radio Rookies program at member station WNYC.
In the Puritan times of the 17th century, shaming women as in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter for their wanton acts was a whole town effort.
this so-called slut shaming has a new tool. Instead of the town square,
some people now turn to social media sites to share explicit photos and
videos to shame these women and girls among their peers.
Radio Rookies will hold an in-class live chat
on Jan. 8, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST, with students from classrooms
around the country, to talk about the cyberbullying issues Temitayo's
story brings up.
To take part in the conversation,
students will need to have Internet access. Temitayo, the reporter, will
host the chat with Radio Rookies producers facilitating the discussion
and moderating comments.
Radio Rookies Live Chat — Jan. 8, 1 p.m.-2 p.m. EST
A recent Facebook posting I saw had a picture of a half-naked
girl, lying on bed. The boy who posted it tagged the picture so that
everyone could see it and go to the girl's page. Within less than an
hour, the photo had about 443 likes and 261 comments. Comments like
"your life is officially shot LMAO," and "I think she gonna cut her
veins when she see this."
People post these pictures and videos and make "smut lists" for their neighborhood or school.
boy who put up the picture posted a status update saying he received
2,000 friend requests because of the photo; and things like this are a
regular occurrence at my school.
Two years ago, when I was in
ninth grade, a girl in my class faced a similar situation. Her boyfriend
put an intimate video of them up on the Internet, and suddenly everyone
was talking about it. "He was going around holding his head high," the
girl says. "He gave me a bad name.
Talking to a group of girls
at my school about this online slut shaming, some of them say they often
feel the need to shame other girls for their improper behavior. "They
do it to themselves," one girls says. "Half the time we can't even blame
They do say, however, that it's not always the
girl's fault and that often the girls are photographed and recorded
without knowing. "That's not fair that a guy can actually hide his
phone, have sex with you and record you, and then show it to his
friends," one girl says.
When I was talking to the girl this
happened to, she said she didn't know she was being recorded. "I kind of
had a feeling that something was wrong, but I didn't want to believe
it," she says.
At school, she was hoping that it wouldn't be
too big of a deal, but even the principal knew about the video. He
brought her to his office and called her mom.
"I couldn't even
look at my mother because I felt hurt and I also felt that I
disrespected her," she says. "I didn't want kids in the school to look
at my mother and be like, 'Wow, she raised nothing.' "
I see girls get exposed like this on my Facebook newsfeed almost every day.
for the schools, they have had to take on a new role. Some students
take screenshots of the cyberbullying they see online, print them out
and bring it to their teachers as evidence.
In cases where
somebody might put up a sexually explicit video, Erica Doyle, the
assistant principal at my school, says school officials absolutely
contact the authorities. "Because once we're dealing with digital media
that is sexually explicit [and] that has been captured and shared with
the public, that actually now is a criminal matter," Doyle says.
today aren't necessarily crueler than they were in the 1600s. It's just
that now when we chastise each other, everybody who has access to the
Internet can see it. And once that picture or video is out, you can't be
completely safe in your mind that the past won't creep up on you at
some random time.
This is the new scarlet letter.