Lately I’ve felt like my gender has been under attack. I’m not talking about the anti-women, anti-choice legislation that can strangle any hope of progress on sex trafficking up on the Hill. This is a more subtle, incendiary scheme – the media’s role in humiliating women. Let’s talk briefly about an intern.
Monica Lewinsky delivered a TED talk, and by all accounts it was something worth seeing. She talked about having to deal with becoming a pariah in her early 20s, the punch line of a joke. And she talked about cyber-bullying on a monumental scale: “I was branded as a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo and, of course, ‘that woman.’ I was known by many, but actually known by few. I get it. It was easy to forget ‘that woman’ was dimensional and had a soul.”
I thought to myself, she really did have an “A” branded to her chest. She didn’t ask for that, she simply confided in the wrong person. I wonder how many young women JFK corralled in the White House, BI (before internet)? How many young women are seduced by older men, say their professors, and maybe what comes of it is a May-December wedding, or maybe not. Certainly not front-page fodder for years.
Yesterday I caught the end of our Police Chief’s news conference on the investigation and fall-out of the Rolling Stone article last November. Don’t get me wrong, I happen to adore Chief Longo. But, he managed to politely say that they interviewed over 70 people and maybe something terrible did happen, but they found no evidence of a crime.
We’re not able to conclude to any substantive degree that an incident occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house or any other fraternity house, for that matter,” Longo said at a news conference. “That doesn’t mean something terrible didn’t happen to Jackie … we’re just not able to gather sufficient facts to determine what that is.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/03/23/charlottesville-police-to-issue-report-on-u-va-sex-assault-investigation/
A female reporter asked the Chief if this conclusion may have a “chilling effect” going forward for victims of rape. He paused, and reiterated the many levels of support the University has for these women (“and sometimes men” he added), and that if bringing a criminal charge was going to be the next step, that time would be of the essence. Which sounded alot to me like, first go through the University system and only come to us IF you really want to proceed with a very messy criminal case; and don’t think about it over the weekend, or for two weeks or two years. Oh and btw, go to the ER right away in order to gather evidence.
All of this sounds good, but imagine if you are 18 and not wanting to admit what just happened. Not wanting to tell your parents, let alone a dean, or the police. In “Jackie’s” case, even her supposed friends remembered that night differently. You begin by blaming yourself, and move up the humiliation ladder slowly. If only you didn’t drink; if only you didn’t go to his room; if only you stayed with your friends.
Just recently the secret Facebook page of Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Penn State University came to light with its pictures of nude, unconscious girls, drugs and hazing incidents. Why should we act surprised. Even today, long after my generation fought for our rights, it’s the woman who does the “walk of shame,” not the man. And in our anonymous world of social media, that walk only gets longer and can go on forever. http://www.buzzfeed.com/maryanngeorgantopoulos/penn-state-students-demand-university-suspend-people-with-ac#.ddZyg9ExxP
I’d call this culture very chilling indeed. Boys, here are some basic rules: DON’T RAPE, and don’t hack, post or share nude or any other pictures of girls without their consent. Newspapers used to end up in bird cages, public scandal and shaming had its limitations. Today, we need to think twice before throwing virtual stones.