Thursday 22 August 2013

#Slanegirl: sex, (double) standards, and sluts

Update: Jan 2/2014

Let me start with an F word, facts, before I get to another F word which will begin my analysis.

On Saturday, August 17, 2013, Eminem gave a concert at Slane Castle in Ireland to a crowd of 80,000. Apparently the police made 63 arrests during the event. All right! Sex, drugs, and Rock'n'Roll. Woo-hoo! Everybody into the mosh pit. Let's get wild!

Sometime during the concert, somebody took a picture of a rock concert no holds barred nothing is verboten moment of a 17-year-old girl performing oral sex on a young man. More pictures show her kissing this man while he sexually touches her and later show her performing oral sex on a second man.

Those pictures were posted and went viral. The reaction?

The first guy, the main guy of this story, is either out of the discussion or is considered a hero. All right, bro. You da man.

The girl? Let's haul out every negative moniker you can think of starting with the big S, slut. The cruelty unleashed on this girl has been disturbing. People on Twitter and Facebook reportedly went nuts reposting the pictures and vilifying this woman from here to kingdom come. Various hashtags shot through the trending roof: #Slanegirl, #Slaneboy, #Slaneslut, etc. Since she was 17, a minor in Ireland, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram stepped in to remove the pictures and shut down associated accounts citing laws about child pornography. The police are now investigating who originally posted the photos.

Everybody seemed to pile on.

Many internet users were quick to condemn her behaviour - Bridget Moynihan tweeted that the girl "has only herself to blame, out in the open surrounded by people with camera phones. What did she expect." (The Daily Mail - Aug 20/2013)

FYI: I had originally said that "Bridget Moynahan" referred to the American model and actress. A commentator said this was just some Irish girl with the same name. I stand corrected.

The girl has only herself to blame. And so it goes. The guy in question bears no culpability at all. He only took down his pants and offered his penis in public. It takes two not just to tango.

The girl has only herself to blame. Whoever took the pictures was the one who got this whole ball rolling by posting them on social media. He also bears no culpability at all.

The girl has only herself to blame. Her sexual behaviour justifies anybody slut shaming her, vilifying her, and embarrassing her to no end. A guy can drop his drawers and whip out his junk. He's a man. He is to be congratulated. He is what? Strong, virile? He's a man. But a girl? She's a slut and she only has herself to blame.

Okay, that's end of my initial F word, facts. Below in references, I offer various newspaper articles dealing with this issue. Now, on with the show.

My Opinion
What the f**k? No, I'm sorry, what the fuck? I see two issues to this story: the way things are and the way things could be or should be.

First of all, if you are a woman and you display anything sexual in public, you are going to be a target for slut shaming. Yes, in this instance we're talking about something as obvious as giving a BJ in public, but it could be something more innocuous as sexy clothes or semi-lewd behaviour. Beyoncé can strut her stuff; Lady Gaga can pose stark naked; any one of a number of starlets can release a sex tape. It's de rigor in the world of media hype. But you, little Miss Ordinary? Keep it in your pants. Button up that blouse. Stay off your knees. Sexual shit will register 9.5 on the Richter scale. In today's society, a man is a man and a woman is a slut. A man can wipe out his dick and that's a good thing. If a woman wipes out a nip, it is scandalous to the nth degree.

Secondly, how could things be or how should things be? Why oh why is female sexuality vilified?

Why is female sexuality considered bad, if not dangerous?
In the West, we laugh at some Middle Eastern countries demanding that women wear a burqa, that women completely cover themselves up and hide their sexuality. We may think we're progressive because women are not required to wear a burqa in Western countries but we collectively practice slut shaming. In other words, we, like these other countries, are attempting to suppress female sexuality, to control it.


Are we men nothing more than mindless lotharios who, at the drop of a hat, will copulate with anything that moves? Are we so out of control, are we so led by our primal urges, that we must remove the red cape from in front of the bull out of fear the bull will charge? Where did this idea come from? How did it develop? And lastly, is it really true?

Is society threatened by female sexuality? Are men threatened by female sexuality? Personally, I find it delightful but is there some sort of society-wide lack of male confidence which explains this phenomenon? There is something very very odd here. I will continue to investigate.

Slut Shaming
The following definition comes from Urban Dictionary:
An unfortunate phenomenon in which people degrade or mock a woman because she enjoys having sex, has sex a lot, or may even just be rumoured to participate in sexual activity. Often it's accompanied by urban legends such as the common virgin misconception that the vagina becomes larger or looser with use-- in fact, sex has no effect on vaginal size.

However, since most people would rather women be MORE sexually active than less, slut shaming is counterproductive to the aims of most men and quite a few ladies. (my bold)

Today's World
Despite the progress of women in society, we remain pretty much in a man's world. Sorry, I know any woman isn't going to like to hear that. I would like to make a better report about what's going on but I think, in some cases, not all cases, the changes we see in society are more of a veneer. I have written that as a man standing around the water cooler chitchatting with other men, I hear what "slips" out of their mouths from time to time. Sometimes a guy says something that I wouldn't say in a million years. What I mean is that I wouldn't even think of saying it. Other guys don't say stuff because there are rules in place about workplace sexual harassment, because they know they will be public condemned or ostracised by their peers. My point is that it isn't like they don't think that way and want to say it.

In February, 2012, Sandra Fluke was invited to testify before House Democratic members. She argued in favour of requiring private insurance companies to cover contraception, not for sexual purposes, but for health concerns relating to hormones. Radio host Rush Limbaugh went off on a rant calling Fluke a slut on his radio show and saying that Fluke wanted the government to pay for birth control so she, Fluke, could have sex all the time. (see my blog: Rush Limbaugh: That's spelled with one F and one U) It was the all time winner for uneducated, ill-informed, and misogynistic tirades of recent memory. While Rush can easily be qualified as a buffoon (okay, a f**kin' buffoon), I noted that this man does have a following and was merely expressing an attitude prevalent among the far right of American politics.

Sex is Power
The media uses sex to capture our attention. Sex sells. Or at least it makes us look. Music videos make use of sex. Movie stars use it as part of their brand. Billboards and magazine draw us in with a hint of sex.

I see in media, maybe more youth oriented, that being sexual in public is a way of appearing hip or cool. Our musical icons are nasty and tough and we want to be nasty and tough too. Displaying your sexuality in an overt manner is an act of defiance. It is power. It is empowering. We all, men and women, want to be desired, wanted, and pursued and in the media limelight, sex sells.

But then we come back to reality. Is reality being a rock star? Or is reality being just another of eighty thousand people at the rock concert? Is reality living in conservative Anytown, USA? (or Anytown, Ireland) Do we have our moments when we see ourselves as rock stars? Do those fantasies about being rich and famous bubble up to the surface and make us go a little wild? Give me a couple of beers and I'll be wearing the lampshade. So far, nobody's snapped a picture of me wearing a lampshade and posted it to the world.

Reality for the majority of us is pedestrian. We pretty much mind our P's and Q's and our names do not end up in the headlines. However, social media now means that anybody, your average Dick and Jane, can post to the world or can be posted to the world and run the risk of going viral. I hope that the lampshade is large enough to hide my face.

A few years back, it was the rage for a while in the newspapers to talk about the dangers of posting stuff on Facebook. Apparently employers would scour the Net trying to do background checks on potential employees and there were stories of photos being found of people being drunk at a party or possibly in flagrant delicto. This would lead to a candidate being dropped from the short list. Your past comes back to haunt you only if somebody can find it. If your record has been expunged, you're safe. Unfortunately, these days, the rule is: The Internet never forgets.

Scandalous pictures are bad
These photos are a non event. What do I mean? Visit any one of a number of web sites that caters to posting amateur pictures and videos like TangoTime. Here are your normal everyday people wanting to be nasty and tough in public by displaying their sexuality. (NSFW = Not Safe For Work) But, admittedly, nobody is reprinting their stories and pictures on the front page of every newspaper in the country. Nevertheless, they are exposed but as unknowns, nobody cares.

In my blog Anthony Weiner Redux: Outed to the World (Jul 30/2013), I show a commercial for the Samsung Galaxy S III which describes how you easily exchange video via Bluetooth. A wife gives her husband a video and the suggestion is that the video is naughty. We chuckle. Isn't that cute? Yes, it is. But what if somebody posted that video to YouTube? Or better yet, since YouTube would probably take it down, Pornhub, supposedly the world's largest porn site?

My point? It's not the naughtiness; it's the publicity. Then again, it's not even the publicity because somebody like Lady Gaga is deliberately going after publicity. No, it's the lie. It's living your life in the closet. Huh?

I have written about various bloggers who were fired from their jobs when their employers found out they were writing about sex. There are other bloggers who are completely open about their writing about sex and as a consequence, they aren't fired because their work is accepted.

Sex in public, do I care?
I'm in the midst of listening to Eminem when I glance over and see a couple in the throes of passion. Tasteful? Acceptable? I'll shrug and say, "Knock yourself out," then turn back to listen to the concert. Yeah, yeah, the kiddies are trying to portray themselves as nasty and tough in public. Big deal. Grow up. Being nasty in public is more about posturing than passion.

But you should care. The reality is that when we are in public, anybody can snap our picture and post it to the Internet. I hate to think of us all being paranoid but this is a fact of life. 99.9% of the time we are unknown; we are not famous people and hence, the paparazzi couldn't care less about taking our picture. I can get drunk and wear a lampshade and it isn't going to end up on the front page of the newspaper. But, with YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, every single person with a cellphone has become part of the paparazzi and could potentially post that incriminating picture of me with a lampshade. Maybe, just maybe, I should save my acting like an idiot for those private moments with close friends. Of course, I'm going to take away everybody's cellphone at the door and make them sign a waiver. Rob Ford, the current mayor of Toronto, Canada, should have thought of that before getting his picture taken at a party in the company of drug dealers. (But Rob did not smoke crack cocaine. He said so himself. Yeah, right.)

There's a disturbance in the force
My amusing reference to Star Wars is about the general sense of uneasiness I get when something bad happens but not necessarily to myself. When 9/11 occurred and I watched the towers fall on television, I was not personally affected by anything. I didn't personally know of anybody involved. Nevertheless, I felt disturbed. I felt worried. About what exactly? I don't know.

When George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, I felt disturbed. (my blog: What if George Zimmerman didn't have a gun? - Jul 16/2013) Now I'm worried about going to Florida.

When Anthony Weiner got outed a second time for sexting, my take on the issue wasn't to heap scorn on Weiner - the issue is between him and his wife - but to worry about anything I say and do with any member of the public. (my blog: Anthony Weiner Redux: Outed to the World - Jul 30/2013) Sydney Leathers, the woman who outed Weiner, is just as complicit as Weiner in the entire affair. She decided to out him to exploit a famous person for personal gain.

How do I know, how do you know, that anybody, whether a stranger, acquaintance, or possibly a friend might not deliberately or inadvertently do something which could potentially ruin your career and your reputation? Fifty years ago, if I got drunk at a party and wore a lampshade, everybody would laugh it off and the entire incident would be forgotten the next day. Now, posted photographic evidence could be the shot heard around the world. And as I said, the Internet never forgets. So, what if somebody decided to exploit you? What if somebody held a grudge and decided to get even with you?

Why women do not feel safe and secure
When I listened to the recordings of Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut, I had to do a facepalm. (see my blog: Rush Limbaugh: That's spelled with one F and one U) Our patriarchal society has vilified female sexuality. I do not understand where this idea came from - probably sociologists have studied this - but I have always found this frustrating. The old saying is that a man wants a lady in public and a whore in bed. Unfortunately, I have always conjectured that the public condemnation of female sexuality has spilled over our collective consciousness to the point where women are afraid to be sexual, even in ideal situations of being safely married. If you have the idea pounded into your head from when you're a young child, do you ever really escape this value system? Rush shoots his goddamn mouth off calling Sandra Fluke a slut and I can just feel every pair of female thighs in America clenching just a little tighter shut.

Oh, now don't get me wrong. A lot has changed in the past 50 years, a lot. But statistically (I hate people explaining "the truth" by telling me an anecdote.), we are not as advanced as we could be, as we should be. Below, in the section "References: The Way Things Are", I talk about a number of incidences like the Steubenville rape case and the bullying and suicide of Amanda Todd which make me shake my head at the unbelievable cruelty which still exists in our society.

Can we change the world?
In our society, women have been taught to suppress their sexuality. Men have been taught to suppress their sensuality. I don't like it, but that does seem to be the situation. Now the question is, can we collectively do anything to change this? It may not be today; it may not be this year. Heck, it may not be in our lifetime, but can we collectively take a step in the right direction? Can we change the world? Can we this a better place?

I would love it if every woman felt safe and secure. I would love it if every woman felt confident about being a sexual being. I would love it if we all accepted this as the normal course of events and dispensed with all that is bad from the traditions of our patriarchal society.

I have found many variations of the following, sometimes attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas and sometimes to others even earlier in time.

Woman was created from the rib of man.
She was not made from his head to be above him,
nor was she made from his feet to be trampled on.
She was created out of his side to equal him,
under his arm to be protected by him
and near his heart to be loved.

That poem may seem corny to some, but, as a man, I want to say that every woman has as much right to here as me. They have every right to being equal. They have every right to being sexual without recrimination. Slut shaming is a bunch of bullshit carried out by small dick man boys. Let's collectively grow up.

Final Word
I sit here shaking my head. What the f**k? Does a goldfish knows it's living in a fish bowl? Do we know what's going on in our society? Do we know what we're doing and why? Are we no smarter than a goldfish? Collectively, we are frighteningly stupid. We're myopic. We haven't got a clue about what's going on and yet, we continue to do what we do with no rational analysis as to the validity of those actions.

"Everybody does stupid things; it shouldn't cost them everything they want in life."
- Gregory House, fictional character from the TV medical drama House

When Anthony Weiner tweeted a picture of his junk. I didn't care.( Isn't it odd that nobody had anything to say against the person who outed him?) When Janet Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction, I didn't care. When Kim Kardasian made a sex tape, I didn't care. When Monica Lewinsky did Bill in the Oval Office (Oral Office?), I didn't care. Sex, sex, sex. You'll excuse me if I'm tied up with more important matters like pestilence, war, famine, and death.

I found the following tweet which sums up the essential of this story.

Laura Buckley ‏@LuaraBuckley95 - 2:05 PM - 21 Aug 13
Don't understand what the #SlaneSlut did wrong other than get her pic taken, we've all gave blow jobs at coverts

#Slanegirl. This poor woman. The cruelty of her detractors. The shame of elevating a non event to international importance. I only hope I can find a rock big enough to hide under when the picture of me wearing a lampshade goes viral.

Update: Jan 2/1014 - Nov 8/2013
No charges in 'Slane Girl' case
GARDAI [Irish police force] are not pursuing a criminal investigation in relation to the infamous 'Slane Girl' case... Officers confirmed the teenager at the centre of the controversy has not made an official complaint... A source explained: "There will be no charges in this case -- no complaint has been made." - Dec 20/2013
Twitter suspends account after topless pic at Dublin concert emerges

A picture of a young woman in her underwear at last night’s Calvin Harris gig [The O2 (Dublin)] has gone viral. The picture shows the young woman topless and wearing just her underwear. A man appears to be kissing her chest... There are fears that the young woman is identifiable from the image, and fears are growing that she will be targeted online... the image has gone viral and is attracting a lot of negative comment online... In August, a similar incident occurred involving an underage schoolgirl performing a sex act on a man during the Eminem concert.

References: The Facts

The Daily Mail - Aug 20/2013
'Distraught' girl, 17, faces humiliation on the web after explicit pictures of her performing sex acts at Eminem gig go viral on Twitter and Instagram
A 17-year-old girl has found herself at the centre of an internet storm after web users shared explicit photographs of her giving oral sex to two men at an Eminem concert in Ireland.

Police are investigating the disturbing incident amid concerns that the images - apparently taken in a public area of the concert site and now widely circulating on the internet - amount to child pornography because she is under 18.

The Mirror - Aug 21/2013
Sluts, stereotypes and Slane Girl – the modern-day stoning which shames us all
[This is an excellent article.]
Two thousand years ago, some idiot wrote this: “If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her… and say… I found her not a maid… Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die.”

In 2013, a teenage girl is reportedly sedated in hospital after pictures of her having oral sex with a boy at an Eminem concert went viral on the internet. Police are investigating the incident and the internet is awash with people who think sharing pictures of sex they weren’t involved in is the height of wit.
I wish Moses had come down from the Mount bearing a stone which said ‘If thou are not nice to women thou shalt have to suck thy own dick.’

The Daily Beast - Aug 22/2013
Behind #SlaneGirl: Young Girl Hospitalized After Photographed Having Oral Sex by Caroline Linton
In the days after the incident, the girl's plight started to gain sympathy and support online—especially as it became more and more apparent that there was a double standard inovlved. As for the men in the picture, early reactions ranged from “men will be men” to hero-worshipping (especially since one of the men she performed oral sex on had his arms raised triumphantly).

“The conclusion that people jump to is she is a slut and it’s my duty to show as many people as possible,” said Emily Lindin, the writer behind the Unslut Project, which helps women share their own experiences to stop public shaming and is raising money toward a documentary film called Slut. “This really made me sick to my stomach—a young girl suffering in this place of public shame for getting a picture taken of her in public.”

Uploaded on Aug 20, 2011 by Sarah Sloan MacLeod
Slut Shaming and Why it's Wrong
While I am fully aware that this is a bit of an unorthodox topic for a then-thirteen-now-fourteen year old to be talking about, it's an issue close to my heart, as some of my friends have been slut-shamed despite having never had sex. So many teenage girls call each other sluts and they don't know about the meaning behind their words and I know it's just ignorance but it pisses me off, so here, have a video about why slut shaming is total bullshit.

References: The Way Things Are

my blog: Steubenville Rape Case: It could be your daughter. - Jan 13/2013
The media is filled with the back and forth debating of whether the boys are guilty or not. ... The bigger issue is what's going on in our society. This type of situation has cropped up so many times that anybody who stands back and looks at the big picture has to ask themselves whether or not we fully grasp what's going on in society. You go to a party and see a girl who has made the mistake of drinking too much. What do you do? Try to help her out by sobering her up. See if she has a purse and try to find the telephone number of her parents and call them. Pull off her panties and insert your fingers in her vagina.

my blog: Amanda Todd: The cruelty in all of us - Oct 14/2012
On October 7, 2012, 15 year old Amanda Michelle Todd posted a YouTube video (at end of article) in which she showed a series of flashcards describing her experiences of being the target of bullying both on-line and in real life that had been going on for years. Watching the video and reading her story is both startling and perplexing. Why would classmates and total strangers go so far in displaying such cruelty towards Amanda? On October 10, 2012, Amanda committed suicide in her home in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada.

my blog: How to avoid sexual assault: Don't dress like a whore - Aug 30/2012
Krista Ford is the niece of Rob Ford, the current major of Toronto, Canada's largest city. ... Around 6pm on Wednesday, August 29, 2012, Ms. Ford tweeted some advice on how to avoid sexual assault: Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don’t dress like a whore. #DontBeAVictim #StreetSmart

my blog: There's a disturbance in the force - Jan 24/2012
While this quote from the Star Wars movies is an amusing way of using pop culture as a common reference point, I am pointing out a phenomenon I experience from time to time. I pick up the paper and read about some tragic story. However, even though the event took place many miles away and maybe even some time in the past, the gravity of situation affects me. It psychologically throws me slightly off kilter. I have a certain sense of uneasiness, a certain apprehension. I feel disturbed. I walk down the street and even though the day may be sunny and everything should feel all right with the world, something is off. I don't what exactly, but something, some little thing somewhere in the back of my mind is not quite right.

my blog: Justice Robert Dewar: rape is inconsiderate - Feb 25/2011
The judge in the case is in hot water now over remarks he made during the sentencing of Kenneth Rhodes. Dewar made mention of the women wearing no bras (you don't wear a bra with a tube top), of the women talking about going swimming even though they didn't have bathing suits, of wearing high heels and having "plenty of makeup". Manitoba Queen's Bench Judge Robert Dewar described Rhodes as a “clumsy Don Juan” but said the circumstances were "inviting" and that "Sex was in the air." He concluded by saying, "This is a case of misunderstanding signals and inconsiderate behaviour."

My take: The judge said that "Sex was in the air." "Money is in the air" every time I buy a lottery ticket but that doesn't mean I'm gettin' any.

my blog: Sex: I'm a man and you're a... - Jul 13/2010
I'm a man and you're a sl*t. There, I've said it. I know you don't like it; I know you're going to be angry with me but that is the truth. Yes? The fundamental reality we all live with can be expressed in these basest of terms: if a man sleeps around; he's a man; if a woman sleeps around; she's a sl*t. Why? That doesn't seem at all fair, does it?

References: Do we know what's going on?

my blog: Why Do We Repress Our Sexuality? - Aug 14/2013
Do you know what's going? I don't think I know what's going on. But I do "interpret" what I see around me. And what do I interpret? Sex is bad. Sex is scary. Sex is confusing. Sex is dangerous. Say "Mmmm" to a piece of chocolate but don't you ever express pleasure over anything sexual. You're going to hell. You could go to jail. Or, at least, be criticised, ostracised, fired, shot, killed, burned at the stake, then shot again for good measure. As Sheila Kelley said, "You're a naughty girl and you should be ashamed of yourself."

my blog: Sex: What are the neighbours doing? - Aug 5/2013
So, this leads me up to a couple of poolside lounge chairs shooting the breeze with Gary who is 59 years old. He's been divorced for 15 years. He's been with Karen for about 10 years and she moved in about 5 years ago. They are not married. I admit when I see these two, there is a bit of an undercurrent. It's controlled but I can't help feeling something is tense between them.

We chat about the usual innocuous stuff but I've got all the above stuff buzzing around in my head, so out of the blue, I turn to Gary and ask, "When was the last time you had sex?"

"We haven't had sex in three years."

my blog: Anthony Weiner Redux: Outed to the World - Jul 30/2013
We're all having a good laugh over this. Late night talk show comedians are having a field day. But let me ask you one little thing: What if it was you?


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Anonymous said...

It wasn't Bridget Moynahan the actress; it was just some random Irish girl called Bridget Moynahan who made that comment.

Anonymous said...

Good article. #slanegirlsolidarity