So I was doing my usual Wednesday, kids, Huffington Post reading, video search when I came across a video that I was not prepared for. I know you can learn something new every day, but it is very rare that my lesson is given to me by a very articulate young woman named Astrorice, who I feel is wise beyond her years.
In a video titled “Slut Shaming and Why It’s Wrong,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXH2K7OC37s) posted in August, 2011, then 13 year old Astrorice discusses the concept of “slut shaming.” Astrorice points out how slut shaming directly leads to “rape culture,” saying, “Slut shaming also contributes to rape culture/rape supportive culture. Rape culture is a culture in which sexual violence against women is common place and in which prevalent attitudes tolerate said sexual violence.”
Slut shaming is a form of bullying that is rarely addressed. However, in the recent national conversation that has gone on in light of the ever-present problem of school violence and bullying. In May of this year, another 13 year old named Rachel Ehmke hanged herself after a mass text went out to her entire school branding her a slut, telling everyone to try to get her to leave the school, and instructing everyone who read the text to forward it to everyone they knew. The word slut had been scrawled across her locker and it took the school a month to remove the graffiti. www.xojane.com/issues/bullying-suicide-and-why-point-we-all-know-better
There has been a minor uproar about Astrocie’s video from 2011, which will no doubt increase as it continues to go viral throughout the Internet and mainstream media. Many people are stating in the comment section that they believe that Astrorice is too young to discuss this topic and that she herself is at risk of participating in activities beyond her years. As a relationship expert who also happens to be the mother of two young girls under the age of ten years old, I feel obligated to offer my opinion on this video and the inevitable backlash to follow. To those who are outraged I say simply, “Get a grip.” If someone with only 13 years of experience under her belt can see this is wrong, it must be pretty obvious.
There is no grey area; this issue is completely black and white. Putting our collective heads in the sand does nothing to protect our girls from a culture that still demeans them for even the suggestion that they are being sexually active and puts them in harms way because of the belief still entrenched in our society that a girl/woman somehow asks to be sexually assaulted because of what she is wearing or her sexual history. Just because our teenagers have information about sex, it does not mean they are going to run out and engage in sexual activity before they are ready. In fact, the less they know, the more inclined they are to make bad decisions which can impact their lives for decades to come. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the MTV show “16 and Pregnant”. It is my firm belief that parents have a responsibility to give their children facts, so they are empowered to make good choices. We can’t always be there to monitor our children’s behavior, but we can give them the tools they need to make informed choices.
Perhaps if some of Rachel Ehmke’s peers (and parents) had seen Astrorice’s thoughtful and informative video, they may have thought better of their actions. As Astrorice so aptly puts it, “simple actions can have the biggest impact.”
Please feel free to email me with questions or ideas at email@example.com.