Recently I joined a certain site that functions quite like Formspring. People can ask questions to others, anonymously or otherwise. Like many other sites, this one also allows you to connect your Facebook account with it and receive notifications and stuff.
And I noticed something very disturbing. At least something that is quite reminiscent of the tragedy of Amanda Todd.
So, I was simply going through the many names in the stream section, when I came across this girl. She's young, supposedly twelve, immature and pretty. Just as a young girl of her age should be. The question she answered to was one sent by an anonymous person, peppered with words such as 'slut' and 'whore'.
This struck me. Why should a twelve year old, happy pre-teen have to deal with shady words she still has a shady understanding of ? Why can't she simply talk about her crush and joke with her friends ?
I did a bit of stalking. I went to her page, I read all the questions. There weren't many of them, just about twenty or thirty. The questions at the top of the page were all sent by anonymous persons, or rather, an anonymous person. The gist of the first five questions was the same : She was a slut.
Now, let's assume that she being a twelve year old, will probably have a majority of twelve year old friends and contacts through Faceboook. With a few exceptions, of course. The anonymous person appeared to be someone who knew her in real life. Now, why would any pre-teen want to throw around a word like a 'slut' so carelessly in a public forum, especially to someone he/she knows in real life ? Hell, they shouldn't even be on the Internet in the first place.
Anyway. Let's just be through with this.
I scrolled to the end of her page to see what brought on such a 'public outrage'. The first few questions were normal ones - auto-generated ones of the site and a few remarks made by her friends. Nothing wrong. Then, a few back-and-forth messages from an anonymous person. The guy starts with a cheesy compliment towards her looks, and after a few messages, the conversation shifts to the colour of her 'knickers' and 'iron man junior' in his pants. By this time, her answers have become somewhat clueless and flustered. I understand. She feels flattered by the attention from an older person of the opposite sex, the strange direction the conversation had taken makes her feel more mature, but she is also struggling to keep up with his indications. The guy seems to be polite and courteous, though a bit cheesy.
The cyber-bullying starts within another four days. There are floods of questions telling her how 'fat' and 'ugly' she is. After scrolling through five such messages, I found a little piece of head-ache rolled into a question in a few poorly-constructed sentences. Another anon, a friend of hers probably ( I'm assuming this by the standard of the grammar ), claims that she is a 'slut and a whore' and he will post all the 'slutty' conversation on Facebook. She is horrified, with reason, and she apologizes. Not just once. After that, there are streams of anonymous people telling her what a 'slut' she is, one in particular telling her that she "deserves to be bullied for answering those questions." The question ends with a 'whore', inevitably.
When I asked her why she doesn't censor anonymous comments, she said that she is afraid that it will lead to something worse. She hopes that they would give up. She continues to reply to all questions like that with a 'Sorry'.
So, not only would she be cyber-bullied for answering questions - hell, she didn't even answer them properly, she only participated in the conversation - that are considered near-to-normal in today's world, but also told that she "deserved to be bullied" for answering to what an anonymous guy on the Internet asked her, and being a 'slut'. Oh, and she was also blackmailed so that she would submissively say sorry to any offense coming her way without raising any objection at all.
This fries my beans.
First of all, what is a 'slut' ? And how do you become a 'slut' so easily ? Oh well, so you are curious about your body-functions, curious about sex from our free media, you are, let's say, sexually aware. Does that makes you a 'slut' ? Wow, that makes identifying a 'slut' so much easier than the medieval ages, doesn't it ? And who are these gangs of anons, these self-proclaimed moral police of the Internet who would decide on punishments for these 'sluts' but forget to uncheck the 'ask as anon' box at the top every day ? Most of all, what are we being reduced to ?
What frightens me is how similar her case is to Amanda Todd's last days. At least, Amanda tormentors had an indecent image to blackmail her. In this case, it was only written conversation and her name. What frightens me is how our society seems to have begun to roll backward instead of moving forward. What frightens me is how the shadows of our society is reaching out, effectively, towards young, impressionable minds. Don't tell me this is how it is. There is simply no excuse for it. You, I and everyone else should hold down our heads in shame for the 'progressive' society we ended up creating.
A young, naive girl who makes a stupid mistake due to her lack of experience is branded a slut, and not the man who had to hide under the cover of an anon to ask indecent questions to someone who was clearly an under-age girl. Who are we to judge others at the drop of a hat ? Who are we to define sexist terms and apply them again and again to women just to look for holes to judge them ? Is this the 'progress' we made towards gender equality ? Way to go, America.
What enrages me more is how primitive we all are beneath the cover of the translucent burqa. Our younger selves go so far as to make sick indications towards a girl of their own age and call her sexist names instead. Didn't the sexual movement take place back in the 80's when we all preached and talked about this wonderful aura of sexual freedom ? Didn't the schools decide on making sex-ed mandatory by the new millennium ?
Oh well. Who am I ranting at ? We know we are hypocrites. We talk impassively about how 'sex sells' and preach about modern contraceptions - all the while allowing the sick virus of gender-role obsession grow inside the back of our minds. And this is why women are still 'sluts' at the drop of a hat. Or tampon.
What angers me is how most people tend to brush past the issue of Amanda Todd by calling it 'bullying'. No. It was not bullying. It was sexual harassment, coercion of a minor, blackmail, stalking, isolation and physical harm. Not to mention how everyone around her seemed to take advantage of her while she looked for company. What disgusts me even more is how no one stepped forward when she called for help through her Youtube video. And now she is gone. What also annoys me is how no one, absolutely no one, believes in a second chance. One mistake, boom, you are done for.
Lastly, why can't we all keep our real selves slightly detached from the Internet ? I won't ask you to 'get a life' because I myself have none. What I mean is to disguise one's true identity while we are using the Internet. We don't need to make everything public. A new site may have my Internet handle and not my name, it may not have my real picture at the very beginning. Why not make our identities a little more private ? We all know of cyber-bullies and cyber-crimes. Trust is like a mirror, better not put it in wrong hands. And why take a risk ?