[Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

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[Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Jessica » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:50 pm UTC

because of the trigger warning, I didn't want the subject to be to explicit.
Trigger Warning for discussions of suicide, descriptions of non-consensual sexual conduct, victim-blaming and slut-shaming
Spoiler:
13-Year-Old Girl Commits Suicide After Classmates Spread Nude Photos : The curvature wrote:The Tampa Bay St. Petersburg Times has printed the truly gut-wrenching, tragic story of a 13-year-old girl named Hope Witsell, who committed suicide after a photograph of her breasts, which she sent to a boy’s cell phone, was forwarded all over the school.

At the end of the school year at Beth Shields Middle School, the taunting became so bad that Hope Witsell’s friends surrounded her between classes. They escorted her down hallways like human shields, fending off insults such as “whore” and “slut.” A few days before, Hope had forwarded a nude photo of herself to a boy she liked — a practice widely known as “sexting.” The image found its way to other students, who forwarded it to their friends. Soon the nude photo was circulating through cell phones at Shields Middle and Lennard High School, according to multiple students at both schools. … School authorities learned of the nude photo around the end of the school year and suspended Hope for the first week of eighth grade, which started in August. About two weeks after she returned to school, a counselor observed cuts on Hope’s legs and had her sign a “no-harm” contract, in which Hope agreed to tell an adult if she felt inclined to hurt herself, her family says. The next day, Hope hanged herself in her bedroom. She was 13.

Her death is the second in the nation in which a connection between sexting and teen suicide can clearly be drawn.

I recommend that you go read the full article, because despite the many problems with it, there is a lot of information there, some of which I will not have the time to discuss here.

As Veronica Arreola said on her Twitter, while the media insists on calling this a “sexting-related suicide,” it’s much more accurately referred to as a “slut-shaming suicide.” Because the photograph she sent is not what drove this poor girl to kill herself — the non-consensual spreading of the photograph, and the subsequent reaction that her classmates and all adults in positions of authority had to it seems to absolutely have been what drove her to despair. And that is a truly vital distinction to make if we actually care about the fact that a 13-year-old girl is dead, and why.

The set of circumstances here are increasingly common ones — and by “set of circumstances” I do not mean “teenage girls sending sexual photographs of themselves to others” but “the non-consensual spreading of said photographs.”

A poll conducted by her organization, WiredSafety, found that 44 percent of boys in co-ed high schools had seen at least one naked picture of a female classmate. Overwhelmingly, they shared the images with others.

And while everyone sure as hell seems to be worried about What! We’re! Teaching! Our! Girls! that they send the photographs, no one seems to be saying a goddamn peep about what we’re teaching our boys when they think that non-consensual sexual conduct is okay. Yet again, apparently consensual female sexuality is seen as a bigger threat to society — and to girls themselves — than non-consensual male sexual behavior perpetrated against them.

But it’s also important to note that while boys appear to overwhelmingly be the ones to receive these types of photos and then spread them, in Hope Witsell’s case, it was another girl who was the culprit:

Accounts vary, but many students describe the chain of events this way: The last week of school in June, Hope forwarded a photo of her breasts to the cell phone of Alex Eargood, a boy she liked. A rival girl, who was the girlfriend of another boy Hope liked and a friend of Alex’s, asked to borrow Alex’s phone on the bus. That girl found the image and forwarded it to other students.

Alex, now 16 and a freshman at Armwood High School, told the St. Petersburg Times last week that he deleted the photo. He does not remember whether he deleted it before or after the girl borrowed his phone. The mother of the girl told the Times that her daughter would not comment for this article.

Non-consensual sexual conduct is no more consensual, no more right, and no less devastating when committed by a girl against another girl. Bullying is no better when committed by girls — and anecdotal evidence seems to show that while boys are more likely to spread the photographs in the first place, girls are more likely to attack the victim afterward. Sexual harassment and slut-shaming does not magically turn into something else when it’s not boys doing it. And while a partial explanation, internalized misogyny is no more of an excuse for girls and women who commit such acts than rape culture is an excuse for boys and men.

And no matter who is the perpetrator, victim-blaming is still victim-blaming, which is something else Hope was made a victim of. First, she was a victim of cultural messages that told her that what her classmates did to her was her own fault:

At the same time, friends say, Hope knew that the biggest mistakes made were her own.

“She didn’t blame it on anybody,” said Rebecca Knowles, 14. “She realized it was her fault for sending them in the first place.

Secondly, she was a victim of attitudes like ones in that quote right above: attitudes that confirm and refuse to contradict this false belief. Even after she died because she couldn’t cope anymore, the newspaper is sitting there telling her that she was the one to blame. Hope didn’t believe that she made the biggest mistakes. She didn’t think it. Apparently, she knew it, because who could ever question the idea that if you send a nude photograph of yourself to another person, you’re obviously a slutty slutty slut slut who deserves whatever is coming to you?

The display of these kinds of attitudes went beyond words, though; they were also shown in actions. Hope Witsell was punished severely for taking the photograph. She was grounded for the summer. She was suspended from the first week of school. She lost her position as student adviser. And when another boy coerced her into sending another photograph, and she complied out of fear, she was again treated as a culprit rather than a victim:

No one knows how Hope met a group of boys staying across the hall. Rebecca Knowles, who is the FFA president, saw Hope talking to the boys by the hotel pool.

The boys were in their late teens and were not there for the FFA convention. They insisted she send a nude photo to them.

One of the boys was especially aggressive and called the room repeatedly on the conference’s last night, asking Hope for a photo of her breasts.

“They kept calling and they kept bugging her,” said Rebecca, 14, who said she was in the room but asleep. “I think she was just scared. One of our roommates was scared as well and said, ‘Oh, my God, just do it.’ They were scared and wanted to get it over.”

The boy calling didn’t have a cell phone. So Hope used Rebecca’s phone to take a picture of her breasts, then slipped it outside her door.

The phone, which Hope had left outside for the boy, was still in the hallway when an adult found it and saw the photo.

As for the boys who demanded the second photo, the girl who orginally forwarded the first photo, the girls and boys who harassed Hope in the hallways, chased her, taunted her, and made her life a living hell … there is not a single word indicating that they faced any consequences for their actions.

And while the article rightfully goes on at length about the certainly awful way that the school dealt with their knowledge that Hope was self-harming and in danger, there is no mention of how the school’s actions also contributed to her being in danger in the first place. The fact is that they punished her — they told her over and over again that she was being called a slut and a whore because of her own actions, that being a “slut” or “whore” are very, very bad things that deserve punishment and bring reason for shame, that sluts and whores deserve to be taken out of school and to be used as an example of what happens when girls display any form of sexuality (with your consent or not), and that sluts and whores cannot be trusted to advise other students, because apparently they have no moral compasses. And the fact is that they apparently failed to punish the other slut-shamers, sexual harassers, bullies, and sexual perpetrators for whom they were responsible.

Hope Witsell made the decision to end her own life. A whole lot of other people seemingly decided that keeping women in their place was a lot more important than protecting a 13-year-old girl, and than stamping out sexual misconduct. A whole society backed that second decision up.

And so while Hope Witsell made her decision, that decision rests not only on her, but also on the head of our misogynistic, victim-blaming, rape culture. And we can either wash our hands of the whole business, blame teenage angst, and say “you know how kids are,” or we can accept responsibility, and do our damnedest to try and change that culture and prevent this from happening again.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:02 pm UTC

Yeah...why isn't there a story about the guys spreading these photos around?
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby scrovak » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:04 pm UTC

Lotta things fucked up here. I'll rally them off as I reread.

First: "No-Harm" contract? Given the information and torment the school KNEW about, and the obvious physical harm she had committed to herself, she should have been put on suicide watch. Definitely something beyond the scope of a school counselor.

Second: She should not have been suspended form school, assuming the picture wasn't taken on school grounds. If it wasn't, it's out of their jurisdiction, and the little fuckers forwarding it IN school should have been suspended.

Third: "another boy coerced her into sending another photograph" Um, that fits the definition of rape. Why were there no charges filed against this sick fuck?

I'm disgraced at kids these days.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Dauric » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:10 pm UTC

The thing that comes to mind reading this is that most people don't deal with document security. When I was growing up my dad worked for defense contractors, and this was in the 80's and the Cold War was still in full swing. Even at home both my parents were very careful about things like bank statements and other important documents.

Why did this come to mind?

Cell phones have become ubiquitous, and they're more and more powerful with ever passing year, however relatively few people even understand the -concept- of private information, much less actually keeping that information safe, distributing that information only to trusted individuals, securing information that is given in trust, and/or not generating insecure information in the first place.

I'm not placing blame, I'm -not- saying she should have kept her information secure, or known that such an image should be treated as secured information.

I do think however that, as a society, we should be more aware of our personal information and teach that awareness to our kids at an early age so they'll internalize the lessons they need to keep their privacy when they do get that cell-phone.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Cynical Idealist » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:21 pm UTC

I'm very glad I read the whole thing before posting. The "Her death is the second in the nation in which a connection between sexting and teen suicide can clearly be drawn." line got me raging. I mean, its related to sexting, but its much more closely related to the spreading of the image around and the constant insults.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Belial » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:23 pm UTC

Cynical Idealist wrote:I'm very glad I read the whole thing before posting. The "Her death is the second in the nation in which a connection between sexting and teen suicide can clearly be drawn." line got me raging. I mean, its related to sexting, but its much more closely related to the spreading of the image around and the constant insults.


Oh yes, but "suicide connected to bullying" would imply that we have a big problem with the way we're bringing our kids up to be utter shitheads rather than a fun fun moral panic over our slutty, slutty daughters (those dirty sluts).
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:23 pm UTC

@Dauric: Personally, I agree with you in the sense that I think sexting is a pretty stupid thing to do unless both parties have been communicating and consent has been given. So, a teenager did a pretty inadvisable action.

However, I do find it absolutely inconsistent and unbalanced that media coverage of her story, hell, everything to do with her story, puts the onus mostly on her and then proceeds to reinforce that message in subtle and unsubtle ways. Why the emphasis on everyone saying "she knows it was her fault?" Where is the fault of that rival girl who forwarded the sext (a malicious act with intent to harm)? Where is the fault of the guys who forwarded it around? Where is the fault of the students who bullied her about it? Where is the fault of the second group of guys who sexually harassed her for the second photo (I agree with scrovak, what those guys did would be at the very least grounds for a lawsuit, if not criminal charges).
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Not A Raptor » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:28 pm UTC

Can civilization just collapse already so the (hopefully saner) survivors can build the future utopia? (Because I've completely lost confidence in the ability of civilization to reform itself)
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Dauric » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:28 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:@Dauric: Personally, I agree with you in the sense that I think sexting is a pretty stupid thing to do unless both parties have been communicating and consent has been given. So, a teenager did a pretty inadvisable action.

However, I do find it absolutely inconsistent and unbalanced that media coverage of her story, hell, everything to do with her story, puts the onus mostly on her and then proceeds to reinforce that message in subtle and unsubtle ways. Why the emphasis on everyone saying "she knows it was her fault?" Where is the fault of that rival girl who forwarded the sext (a malicious act with intent to harm)? Where is the fault of the guys who forwarded it around? Where is the fault of the students who bullied her about it? Where is the fault of the second group of guys who sexually harassed her for the second photo (I agree with scrovak, what those guys did would be at the very least grounds for a lawsuit, if not criminal charges).


I have no argument with you here at all, though at this point I've gotten in the habit of reading most news through a POV filter. In addition to some basic information security I'd agree with Belial as well:
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Osha » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:32 pm UTC

Yeah, I saw that post on The Curvature and... it's just terrible, I couldn't read it all in one sitting.
It talks about several *severe* punishments she received... and for what? sending her boyfriend a picture? Are we not letting (woman) teenagers express any sort of sexuality now? Instead of supporting women who are the targets of sexual harassment we ground them, suspend them, and drive them to suicide?
Also there's no mention on if his boyfriend asked her for the picture, if sending someone a sexy photograph is such a *huge terrible thing*, if (and I don't think it is), then why do they let him off so easy while heaping tons of blame on her? You don't see anyone calling him, or the people who forwarded the photo, or the guys *harassing* her in the hotel sluts, or wanting to punish them. This has an obvious parallel with feminist discourse on rape: How many times do people have to say It's not a persons responsibility to make sure other people don't rape them, harass them, kill them, or forward explicit photos of them

And the worst part is I can't really be surprised about stories like this :(

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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Dauric » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:47 pm UTC

Osha wrote:It's not a persons responsibility to make sure other people don't ... forward explicit photos of them


I disagree with this line, and it goes back to what I said about information security. You take a personal image and send it to someone you don't really know, then you have no reasonable expectation as to what they will do with the image. Now I'm not saying responsibility for not forwarding the image lies -solely- with the original sender, if the sender knows the recipient, and the recipient knows that the picture should be treated as secured information but forwards it anyway then it is the recipient's fault. In this specific case standard procedures would lay the breach of security at the boy's feet, having handed his phone over to the girl that forwarded the message. But that begs the question how frequently did the students hand their phones around? If it was a regular occurrence then no-ones phones could have been considered a safe place to store or even receive information.

Again, I was raised in the thick of cold-war paranoia, she wasn't and I don't blame her for not considering how her image could be sent to unwanted recipients. I do think that parents, teachers, and pretty much everyone could stand to lean some basics of information security if for no other reason than to protect our collective right to privacy.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:51 pm UTC

Haven't had time to read the thread, but I got through most of the article and...

Why the fuck is the focus on "Oh me yarm sending nude pictures is a huge problem!"? The problem is everybody flipping their fucking shit over nude pictures like a bunch of Puritans. It's ridiculous, disgusting, and I think contributes far more to the overall psychological impact of such things than the initial act itself. I'll probably write a nice diatribe or some shit later...

These few sentences in particular indicate that the girl's parents, teachers, and even the writer of the article are missing the point entirely.
Two weeks after school let out, the school learned of the nude photo and called Charlie and Donna Witsell for a conference. Officials issued the one-week suspension for the fall.

The Witsells confiscated Hope's cell phone and computer and grounded her for the summer.
They were dismayed, but also thought it could be a learning opportunity.

"In a strange way I was glad she got caught, because at least that way we got to see what's going on," Charlie Witsell said.

Hope said she was sorry for her actions, which she could not explain. She vowed to undergo her punishment and start the new school year afresh.
Last edited by Princess Marzipan on Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:54 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:52 pm UTC

@Dauric: I think the danger comes from making "information security" the central issue, as it's being indirectly done in discussion of this story. Sure, everyone involved should be aware of information security, and she was not practicing good information security. But the decision to forward the picture, the decision to bully the girl, the decision to harass her - none of these were her decisions. They were moral ones that are totally irrelevant to information security. I think that's what the discussion should center around, where a discussion of information security could potentially derail it, and I don't think it's nearly as important an issue in our culture as consent and bullying are.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Not A Raptor » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:55 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:Haven't had time to read the thread, but I got through most of the article and...

Why the fuck is the focus on "Oh me yarm sending nude pictures is a huge problem!"? The problem is everybody flipping their fucking shit over nude pictures like a bunch of Puritans. It's ridiculous, disgusting, and I think contributes far more to the overall psychological impact of such things than the initial act itself. I'll probably write a nice diatribe or some shit later...

These few sentences in particular indicate that the girl's parents, teachers, and even the writer of the article are missing the point entirely.
Two weeks after school let out, the school learned of the nude photo and called Charlie and Donna Witsell for a conference. Officials issued the one-week suspension for the fall.

The Witsells confiscated Hope's cell phone and computer and grounded her for the summer.
They were dismayed, but also thought it could be a learning opportunity.

"In a strange way I was glad she got caught, because at least that way we got to see what's going on," Charlie Witsell said.

Hope said she was sorry for her actions, which she could not explain. She vowed to undergo her punishment and start the new school year afresh.

Although the writer of the article might be consciously missing the point to get readers. This is arguably worse.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Dauric » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:57 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:Haven't had time to read the thread, but I got through most of the article and...

Why the fuck is the focus on "Oh me yarm sending nude pictures is a huge problem!"? The problem is everybody flipping their fucking shit over nude pictures like a bunch of Puritans. It's ridiculous, disgusting, and I think contributes far more to the overall psychological impact of such things than the initial act itself. I'll probably write a nice diatribe or some shit later...


In the bold lies the crux of the problem. Some degree of nudity is perfectly acceptable in most other first word nations, however the founding of the U.S. on puritanical principles remains as much a foundation of our culture today as it has been for generations. The only time that that paradigm was challenged was the "Free Love" movement of the 60's, and even then it did not result in the overturning of sex and sexuality as taboo subjects, it just changed the way that we (don't) discuss the topic, and changed the way the media (unhealthily) portrays the topic.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Telchar » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:58 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote: The problem is everybody flipping their fucking shit over nude pictures like a bunch of Puritans. It's ridiculous, disgusting, and I think contributes far more to the overall psychological impact of such things than the initial act itself.


This.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Malice » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:59 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:In this specific case standard procedures would lay the breach of security at the boy's feet, having handed his phone over to the girl that forwarded the message. But that begs the question how frequently did the students hand their phones around? If it was a regular occurrence then no-ones phones could have been considered a safe place to store or even receive information.


In my experience somebody borrows your phone to make a phone call, or possibly to look something up on the net if it's an internet phone, not to search through your stored photographs. I cannot think of a single example I've ever seen of somebody looking at pictures on somebody else's phone without the phone owner going, "Here, look at my pictures, isn't this one cool." I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the person you send a picture to won't share it, if you think they won't; and I think the problem here falls on the girl who essentially stole the picture by forwarding it, not the boy (who did the right thing by deleting it*).

*because deleting it is safer, not because there's something wrong with breasts or anything. There's nothing wrong with healthy teen sexuality.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:09 pm UTC

Malice wrote:*because deleting it is safer, not because there's something wrong with breasts or anything. There's nothing wrong with healthy teen sexuality.

That's pretty key.

*There was absolutely nothing wrong with her sending such a picture.* Well, once you account for that fact that she was apparently heavily pressured into it. But this poor girl didn't do a single 'wrong' thing.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:10 pm UTC

That's one of the first things I thought - "Who the fuck borrows a phone and then looks at all your fucking pictures? Wtf."

This is really fucked up, that's about all I can say. Almost entirely 'our fucked up culture' in action incarnate.



As a side note unrelated to the concepts in the article:
Spoiler:
"the non-consensual spreading of the photograph, and the subsequent reaction that her classmates and all adults in positions of authority had to it seems to absolutely have been what drove her to despair."

Watching too much Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei means I had to re-read that line and mentally replace the last bit so as to remove the humor from it... >.<
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby tzvibish » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:20 pm UTC

I don't this girl can be blamed for anything. Normally, I would say that sexting is a horrible and demeaning thing, and the girls who willingly engage in the practice have some serious self-worth issues issues to deal with. However, the pressure here on this girl to do what she did was simply irresistible for a 13-year old. Fear, and her friends urging her on at the same time (just to get it over with) is not something that a normal 13 year girl can overcome.

It's impossible to blame one party, but the boys who coerced her into doing this basically raped her. I mean, this whole thing could have been played out physically, and the same results would have transpired. The boys would have kept intimidating her until her "friends" just tell her to do it, it's not so bad, just get it over with.

This story just ruined my day.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:22 pm UTC

tzvibish wrote:Normally, I would say that sexting is a horrible and demeaning thing, and the girls who willingly engage in the practice have some serious self-worth issues issues to deal with.
Yeah, and normally you'd be WRONG.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby scrovak » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:26 pm UTC

@Dauric, I work for those sorts of people now. biggest issue? OpSec. The way I see what happened is she trusted an individual with a confidential document, a nude picture, and he breached the security of the picture by widely dispersing it.

Also, Belial, i agree whole heartedly, and would love you even if you were a raptor for that kind of blatant truthiness.

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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby scrovak » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:33 pm UTC

Also,

Malice wrote:There's nothing wrong with healthy teen sexuality.
MrGee wrote:I would never eat a person. Have you seen the conditions they're raised in?
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Dauric » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

Malice wrote:
Dauric wrote:In this specific case standard procedures would lay the breach of security at the boy's feet, having handed his phone over to the girl that forwarded the message. But that begs the question how frequently did the students hand their phones around? If it was a regular occurrence then no-ones phones could have been considered a safe place to store or even receive information.


In my experience somebody borrows your phone to make a phone call, or possibly to look something up on the net if it's an internet phone, not to search through your stored photographs. I cannot think of a single example I've ever seen of somebody looking at pictures on somebody else's phone without the phone owner going, "Here, look at my pictures, isn't this one cool." I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the person you send a picture to won't share it, if you think they won't; and I think the problem here falls on the girl who essentially stole the picture by forwarding it, not the boy (who did the right thing by deleting it*).

*because deleting it is safer, not because there's something wrong with breasts or anything. There's nothing wrong with healthy teen sexuality.


Again, I agree that snooping through his phone is a Dick Move(tm) but (my understanding anyway) snooping, backstabbing, and general treachery comes with the territory amongst hormonally-driven-high-school-age girls, and goes back to:

Dauric wrote:
Belial wrote: we have a big problem with the way we're bringing our kids up to be utter shitheads.


Also I do not feel that this is a main point, or a central focus. It's simply an observation I had reading the article that people treat information they want kept private, or know should be kept private with an oddly casual attitude, and that this situation would have been a minor event if the image was handled differently. I'm not making judgments about the content (I'll agree that the US is hardly the healthiest country to deal with the topic of sex, and frankly the administrators handled this atrociously), just the way the data was handled.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby SummerGlauFan » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:36 pm UTC

Personally, I couldn't care less about nudity taboos, and the true evil in this story has nothing to do with it. The awful thing of the article is, the school pulled out all the stops to punish the girl who had sent pictures of herself to a boy she liked, but did next to nothing about the tidal wave of bullying, harassment, and freaking borderline rape that followed.

Although, I really did like the part where her friends escorted her through the school to try and protect her. At least some of the parents didn't raise their children to be demon spawn of Hell.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Walter.Horvath » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:14 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:Yeah...why isn't there a story about the guys spreading these photos around?

The first suicide that was a clear result of sexting focused solely on the guy, who was arrested for distributing child pornography, iirc.

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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby EmptySet » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:49 pm UTC

I'm actually somewhat surprised nobody was charged with distributing child porn this time.

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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby SummerGlauFan » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:51 pm UTC

EmptySet wrote:I'm actually somewhat surprised nobody was charged with distributing child porn this time.


Which, I suppose, is an improvement over charging the girl with distributing child porn.

But not by enough.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:57 pm UTC

EmptySet wrote:I'm actually somewhat surprised nobody was charged with distributing child porn this time.


Probably only due to the large amount of young people that contributed to it. I suppose they don't like the idea of arresting a whole school.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Princess Marzipan » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:13 am UTC

It's also just incredibly fucked up to charge MINORS for violating laws that exist to protect them from being manipulated or taken advantage of by adults.

Also, side note, I'm pretty pissed about the way the article presents Hope's family's Christianity as if that means they're some bastion of moral purity. If you're Christian you can't be a bad person, right!?
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Aetius » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:44 am UTC

An aside to the older generation(s): Whatever shitheadery is present in the younger generation, yours was worse. Climb down off your high horse before you fall off it.

On to the topic at hand. I agree with the condemnations pretty much across the board of the fellow students, the teachers, the parents, etc.

I think this is in large part a function of a [rough] transition our culture is going through right now due to the internet and ease of communication. In the past, a person's identity was segmented. There was the person they were at work, the person they were in polite society, the person they were at home, the person they were in the bedroom. Those lines are coming down, and they're coming down fairly quickly. The slut shaming that followed this girl's private pictures going public is, at its core, no different than the [blank]-shaming that follows an employer finding an employee's unprotected facebook page. It's going to be rough for a while as individuals and groups exploit the gap between those who are still holding close to the vest (or in the case of age gaps never had their youthful stupidity recorded) and those who are public, but eventually we're going to enter a period where everyone is public. It's going to be a radically different world in terms of the way we interact with one another, and despite the growing pains I think it's going to be for the best, at least in terms of the amount of empathy seeing the totality of other people generates.

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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Belial » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:48 am UTC

Aetius wrote:An aside to the older generation(s): Whatever shitheadery is present in the younger generation, yours was worse. Climb down off your high horse before you fall off it.


You know how things can be both entirely true and entirely irrelevant?
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Aetius » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:57 am UTC

Belial wrote:
Aetius wrote:An aside to the older generation(s): Whatever shitheadery is present in the younger generation, yours was worse. Climb down off your high horse before you fall off it.


You know how things can be both entirely true and entirely irrelevant?


Like your post?

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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Dream » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:00 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:Personally, I couldn't care less about nudity taboos, and the true evil in this story has nothing to do with it.

Yes it does. This poor girl was ashamed of her actions, actions that were in no way wrong, even if they were a little risky. I would understand your point if she were merely embarrassed, tried to shrug it off like any other teenage mishap (say, being seen kissing an unpopular boy, for instance). That would be in keeping with a silly error that was not a social taboo, and could easily have led to the levels of bullying she endured. As it is, the taboo against a female exhibiting her nude body was what both drove the bullying and what potentially made the victim unable to find the support and help she needed. Had there been no taboo, she would not have been punished for her actions, and would not have (as seems to be the case) the school lined up against her, rather than with her. The bullies may be the most responsible parties to this tragedy, but the only explanation for the behaviour of every single authority figure in the story is that they don't like young girls to be sexually exhibitive. Had any of them the spine to ignore the taboo and truly support the victim, things might not have led to the end that they did.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Diadem » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:05 am UTC

My experience is: Bullies will find a way. Ultimately their reason for bullying is pretty immaterial. It can be red hair, glasses, or a funny accent, or whatever, it doesn't really matter. It's not the reason for their bullying, merely an excuse. And if they can't think of one for you, they'll pick on someone else.

What the article says is all true. But the root problem is bullying itself. Maybe this is the second sexting-related suicide. But it's certainly not the second bullying-related suicide. Nor the 200th or the 2000th.

And yes, I suppose bullying about something like this might hurt a lot more, in our sex-negative culture. The poor girl was attacked for being a slut - something perfectly normal and okay to be. Our culture does have a serious problem there. But in this case, the root problem is still bullying. Sex-negativity is merely an aggravating factor.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Diadem » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:07 am UTC

Dream wrote:
SummerGlauFan wrote:Personally, I couldn't care less about nudity taboos, and the true evil in this story has nothing to do with it.

The bullies may be the most responsible parties to this tragedy

Assuming they were the same age as her (13) I'd say no, they aren't. The most responsible parties would be the parents of those bullies, and the ones in charge of the school.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Anubis » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:07 am UTC

I think the biggest issue here is not the "sexting" thing, nor even the "slut-shaming" thing, but the fact that bullying of all sorts is routinely overlooked and ignored in our schools. Distributing the picture without her consent is undeniably bad, but I think it's clear that she killed herself not because some people saw her breasts, but because of the bullying that followed, which was allowed to continue unchecked.

Also, I am really surprised at the reaction of the other students. At least two similar incidents happened at my school a few years back, and neither girl was publicly shamed or ridiculed, although I'm sure they were embarrassed enough without that (at least, one of them was; I think the other girl actually liked the attention she got (which of course does not excuse those who distributed the picture without her consent)). Granted, this was a high school and not a middle school.

And to those who are outraged that the boys in the hotel were apparently not charged with anything, I don't think anyone actually knows who they were. As far as I know they were just some random people who happened to be staying in the same hotel, and the story didn't come out until after they were long gone. If this is wrong, someone can post an article to the contrary.

As a final note, one of the things that really irritates me is schools overstepping their authority, and I think it's pretty clear that they did so in this case. Unless the picture was taken on school grounds (extremely unlikely), this should have been completely outside their jurisdiction.

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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Quordlepleen » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:09 am UTC

Concerning the issue of trusting others with private information, I do think that the girl was a bit naive if she thought nothing bad could come from sending a naked picture of herself to a guy that she didn't know that well. But really as far as mistakes go that is pretty minor as far as mistakes go especially considering some of the completely idiotic things that some adolescents do. It certainly is no justification for blaming her for the events that lead to her death. The problem here is the cruel and insensitive way that her parents the school and her peers treated her. Everyone makes mistakes and gets grief for them but the way that she was treated was totally out of proportion and just plain wrong. In reality if a kid was treated in this same manner for any little mistake they could probably be driven to suicide if faced with such endless emotional abuse and hostile from both peers and authority figures.

I would also like to point out some inherent sexism in the reactions that people had to nude pictures of a girl getting spread around. The reaction by fellow students, teachers, and parents would have been far different if it had been a guy. The reaction in this case was certainly different than in my senior year high school when a picture of a naked guy got spread around. Sure there were jokes about it but nothing blatantly hateful or mean and it was generally just passed off as an embarrassing situation. The situation was treated much more lightheartedly overall and this was in a private Catholic School. Certainly no one was going around calling him a whore or slut, hell the english language doesn't even really have any equivalent words for guys that carry the same negative connotation. Any expression of sexuality by a woman is too often labeled as being whorish, but if a guy does something similar he is more likely to get labeled as a stud.

The fact that society is so biased against women when it comes to sexuality and feels the need to blows things complete out of proportion is the problem in situations like this. This whole thing just makes me sick.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Diadem » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:19 am UTC

Anubis wrote:As a final note, one of the things that really irritates me is schools overstepping their authority, and I think it's pretty clear that they did so in this case. Unless the picture was taken on school grounds (extremely unlikely), this should have been completely outside their jurisdiction.

Even if it were within their jurisdiction, it would still be evil and stupid. This is a girl making a (stupid) mistake. She did not hurt, or try to hurt, anyone. She did not do anything immoral. She wasn't trying to be bad or anything like that. She, at the immature age of 13, merely did something that was not very wise. Punishment is simply not appropriate for such a situation. In fact it is an evil response. Even if she broke the rules. If there were any rules against what she did, surely they were for her protection and nothing else? When a 13 year old girl breaks a rule you made for her own protection, the proper response is not to destroy her! It is to offer help and protection.
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Re: [Trigger warning] sexting, suicide and shame

Postby Vaniver » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:58 am UTC

Not A Raptor wrote:Can civilization just collapse already so the (hopefully saner) survivors can build the future utopia? (Because I've completely lost confidence in the ability of civilization to reform itself)
The survivors of dark times are dark people. If you want to nurture the light, civilization is the best place to do so.

My sympathy to the poor girl and her family.
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