Disclaimer: While this Editorial represents the facts behind the incidents of Slane Girl, it also contains parts that are solely the Editor’s point of view and doesn’t represent the official views/policies of NoBullying.com
As a woman, reading the story of Slane Girl is traumatizing and confusing to say the least. Before beginning to understand and analyse the situation of this 17 year old girl and the global social consequences of it. Let’s examine the facts first.
1- A 17 year old girl went to attend an Eminem concert in Slane Castle near Dublin.
2- The 17 year old, above legal consent age, choose to perform a sexual act on two men.
3- Without her knowing, several pictures were taken of those sexual acts.
4- The pictures went viral via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets and at some point the hashtag #SlaneGirl was the second most trending hashtag globally.
5- As of August 20th, Police in Ireland have launched an investigation after the photographs went viral.
Gardaí are now investigating the matter and have spoken to the girl, believed to be a secondary school pupil from the west of Ireland, and her family.
A spokesman said: “Gardaí have spoken with the female involved and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.
“We would ask the media to respect the privacy of the people involved and their families.”. It is also now reported that Gardaí are planning to talk to the victim who may have wanted to report a separate sexual assault incident from the same day. The details remain unclear. There are also reports that Twitter Users who reposted the photos may face prosecution.
6- Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have now taken steps to block the photographs and suspend users sharing the images.
There are three main issues that need to be looked at.
Slane Girl “Slut Shaming”
The sad truth remains that on social media networks, some people believe that making fun of, shaming and mocking people count as free speech and can be accepted and tolerated. In this case a big wave of “slut shaming” directed to the slanegirl took twitter by storm. She was told to have brought this on herself and that she only has herself to blame.
SlaneGirl Cyber Bullying and Child Pornography Distribution
Taking on social media outlets to spread the photos and try to identify the victim and making the boys in question “heroes” and “legends” does count as cyber bullying and distribution of child pornography, let’s remember that the girl is 17 years old, while she is of legal consent age for sex, she is still a teenager at the brink of youth.
It must be praised that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram took extreme measures to remove and block and suspend accounts that posted these photos and released the following statements.
Facebook confirmed it had removed at least one page that published photographs of the schoolgirl because the images violated its terms of service.
A spokesperson for Twitter said it did not tolerate “child sexual exploitation” adding “When we are made aware of links to images of or content promoting child sexual exploitation they will be removed from the site without further notice and reported to the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).”
“We permanently suspend accounts promoting or containing updates with links to child sexual exploitation.” They added.
The victim remains heavily sedated after being reported to have been “so distressed by the online images”
Slane Girl and Sexism
Words cannot begin to describe how women everywhere must feel with the sexist comments made in reference to this case, men and women of all ages and backgrounds went on to shame the girl and say she “brought this to herself” and that she should “suck it up and move on.”
A campaign called “Slanegirl solidarity” was trending on twitter on Ireland as women began speaking out calling for an end to “sexist shaming” of the victim and showing anger at naming the boys “heroes” and “legends”, as social media users described them for getting the girl to perform those acts knowing well they were being photographed.
Angela Nagle, a Dublin researcher into internet misogyny, told Channel 4 News that the attitudes expressed by many young Irish men in question were that “the girl deserved it”.
“What is striking about this story is how common it was to see young people with their full names and their college, school or workplace displayed publicly beside some of the most shockingly misogynist sentiments you could imagine,” she explained.
“Those engaging in the cruelty were not anonymous underground trolls, they were young people in school and college, proud to publicly say that the girl deserved all she got.”
According to Belfast Telegraph: The age at which someone is considered a child in terms of explicit images is not necessarily the same as the age of consent. In Northern Ireland, the age of consent is 16, but indecent images of children relate to anyone under 18. In the Republic of Ireland, the age of consent is 17 and indecent images relate to under 17s.
To sum it up, this is the worst kind of cyber bullying anyone can get subjected to because in this girl’s story, millions of people, sadly, made it their business to interfere in her life and discuss an intimate private aspect of her behavior and went to great lengths to shame her and call her the worst names in history.
Soraya Chemaly of the Huffington Post shares her point of view on SlaneGirl “There is nothing new about slut-shaming or intrinsically misogynistic language used to silence girls and women. But, at least now we can take these words and this socially sanctioned, hypocritical cruelty and have them make their way all over the world at the speed of light… And, just to be sure, when the shaming and the name-calling happen, whether in school halls, or for the whole world to see, targeted girls are just examples for other girls. Because who wants to end up like Amanda Todd, Raetah Parsons, Lizzy Seeberg, Audrie Potts, Felicia Garcia, Rachel Emke, Steubenville’s Jane Doe, the Torrington girls, or the 17-year-old Slanegirl?”
As a woman writing this, I hope the brave Slane Girl can pull through and stand up to her bullies with the help of the government, activists and righteous people all over the world.
Another Writer chimes in on Slane Girl
On August 17, 2013, thousands of young music fans filled the grounds of Ireland’s historic Slane Castle — which can accommodate up to 80,000 — for an Eminem concert. One fan – an anonymous teenage girl — had no idea that the night would change her life, indelibly imprinting her with the “Slane girl” moniker and launching a thousand international debates over the nuances of child pornography and age of consent laws, as well as rape culture in general.
The girl behind the hashtag is a seventeen-year-old who was captured in multiple photos and videos throughout the night of the concert, as multiple teenage boys taunted, pushed, teased, kissed, and had oral sex with her. People across the global instantly spread these photos over Instagram and Twitter, with the hashtag phrase “# Slane Girl” attached. Social media sites scrambled to delete the images – which depicted a minor being sexually exploited – but the damage was done, and after one of the girls’ peers identified her by name, she reportedly collapsed and needed medical treatment.
If the case sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Exactly one year and six days earlier in the midwestern United States, another teenage girl was captured in similar situations throughout the night, as her classmates at Steubenville High School took turns undressing her and having sex with her at a house party. In both cases, it wasn’t the acts themselves that triggered the outrage and police intervention; it was the proof. Not only did the boys incriminate themselves by capturing and sharing the images; they also committed another sexual crime: possession and distribution of child pornography.
In Ireland, the debate swirled mostly around the girl’s age. Seventeen is the age of consent in Ireland, so some argued that it shouldn’t be treated as a crime but merely a sex act between consenting adults. However, that’s the wrong place to dwell. This isn’t about the legal technicalities of taking photos that will haunt these young women for the rest of their lives. This is about the horrific pattern that still continues among the rising generation of tech-savvy students. This isn’t about whether the girl deserves the blame or not — though it’s highly problematic to use the entire force of a patriarchal culture against one young person — but about why the boys escaped both justice and blame for the situation.
Social media and smartphones have transformed the way we connect with one another, but like anything else, it’s a double-edged sword. Any medium can be used for evil, and because the Internet makes it exceptionally easy to spread both words and images, it’s the best way to ruin someone’s reputation in an instant. It’s also the best way to share illicit images that wouldn’t have existed at all ten years ago.
At the very heart of all of this is the antiquated notion that female sexuality is vulgar, while male sexuality is normal. But even if the events in Ireland truly were completely consensual, the public reaction would be largely the same: to ridicule the girl, but not the boys. To victim-blame by defaming her character, and to ignore the actions of the boys in favor of questioning her credibility.
In her memoir The Girl: A Life in the Shadows of Roman Polanski, Samantha Geimer reflected on the media circus and aggressive speculation that surrounded her after she divulged the details of her own sexual assault at age thirteen. She was called everything from a liar to a prostitute – “Slane Girl” can relate – and admitted that the rape itself wasn’t as torturous as the trial and publicity that came afterwards Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like much has changed in the whopping 37 years since then.
When will the media learn their lesson? More importantly, when will boys genuinely respect their female peers as equals, and stop harnessing the power of social media to pump themselves up and destroy lives?
— TWMembers (@TWMembers) March 24, 2014
As Dylan Farrow can tell you, word-of-mouth isn’t very effective in the court of law, let alone the court of public opinion. When a young woman is placed at the center of a sexual assault story, she loses all control of the narrative and becomes a pawn in the media back-and-forth about accountability, victim-blaming, and the legal meaning of rape. Neither of these cases would have gone to trial at all without the images – as though rape weren’t horrific enough – and one has to wonder whether the assaults would have been as severe, either.
But regardless, if boys are capable of using and abusing a peer for their own amusement and popularity, that deep-rooted misogyny needs to be addressed head-on, and education systems need to account for it. The conversation shouldn’t be about whether the victim was drugged or just got drunk herself; it should be about the mentality that leads a young man to see an incapacitated, vulnerable woman and to take advantage of her, with no regard for the consequences she may face. Until they start facing some of those consequences too, why should they even try?
Sources: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/slane-girl-police-awaiting-blood-2199533, http://nobullying.com/slane-girl-girl-bullying/, http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/08/22/behind-slanegirl-young-girl-hospitalized-after-photographed-having-oral-sex.html, http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/no-charges-in-slane-girl-case-29737095.html,