Bullying’s Newest Trend: Slut Shaming

Breaking News

Girl against bullying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

Remember saying that back to the person who just made fun of you? It was your stand tall and proud moment that was often accompanied by the “I’m rubber, you’re glue. It bounces off me and sticks to you.” Our friends stood next to us, the bully walked away, and it was over.

But now, for this generation of teens, bullying is neverending.

Slut shaming

What is slut shaming ? It’s the newest “trend” in cyber bullying where a young tween or teen girl will post a photo, sometimes provocative or inappropriate, but oftentimes just one of those silly, bathroom-mirror poses, and other girls (or even boys) will take that photo, turn it into a meme by adding captions that ridicule and mock the subject of the photo. Then the pictures go viral–in fact there is a Facebook page dedicated to them.

Teens say, as they often do, that this is harmless. But the truth is that it is still another form of bullying and victimization.

And is it any surprise this is happening? There are social media trends such as “animal shaming” (where pet owners take a photo of their cat or dog wearing a sign with some silly saying if their pet has been behaving badly). Some parents are even punishing their kids by taking their photos standing on a street corner with a sign around their neck that encourages passing drivers to honk at the child to show solidarity with the parents. When our culture thrives on put downs how do we expect our teens to think differently about their own actions?

Adults, and many parents, are modeling the inappropriate, bullying behavior and calling it humor. What makes slut shaming any different?

When you take someone else’s image and appropriate it for your own use in a negative and hurtful way, that’s called bullying. Regardless of what the young woman is wearing in the photo, when the photo or image is taken out of context it is the caption that accompanies the photo and carries the weight and what needs to be addressed. What’s even worse, is that many of those who are being victimized know they are being victimized, and then turn around and do the same to someone else.

According to Stop Bullying, a website that provides bullying information from various government websites, bullying is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” When someone appropriates your image for their own use, that is an aggressive act, which is bullying. Making fun or mocking someone, even if they “say” they are okay with it, is not actually okay.

But short of taking all the technology away and continuing to talk with our children about what is appropriate to wear (or not wear) and how once a photo is posted it exists in cyberspace forever, what can adults and parents do?

Model good behavior

Think about what you might have said while watching the recent Golden Globes, maybe you made fun of an actress’s dress or said something negative about her based on her clothing. Words carry weight. You can certainly not agree with a fashion choice, but that doesn’t mean you have to use a curse word to describe the woman who made the choice.

Keep the lines of communication open

Talk honestly about why words are hurtful and address your own comments (if you’ve made any). But also be prepared to listen and always be available for a conversation if approached.

Describe bullying and explain why slut shaming hurts others

Talk to your kids about what bullying looks like and why something like the “slut shaming” meme is bullying and hurtful. Talk about the consequences of this type of behavior and address what is and what is not appropriate for your kids to post on their social media sites (if they have them).

Let’s encourage our teens to trend toward kindness and compassion. Sticks and stones may leave visible bruises, but hurtful words can leave the deepest scars of all.

What other methods do you use to teach your kids about bullying?

 



One Response to “Bullying’s Newest Trend: Slut Shaming”

  1. The “slut” slamming doesn’t happen just in high school. When I was in my mid-20′s in a top tier business school, a female classmate who was jealous of the attention I received from the male students (she didn’t receive similar attention) started spreading rumors that I was a slut. It was quite ironic as I was always the nerdy girl in high school who never got asked out and didn’t have a boyfriend. I was a late bloomer. It was sad that another this woman who was spreading rumors about me was so insecure that she had to demean another person by lying and throwing around the slut word.

    Bicultural Mama
    Reply

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>