As most web users will already know, over the past few days there have been pictures circulating online, of a young girl performing a sexual act on a man in public. These pictures were supposedly taken at Slane last Saturday, and the girl in question has been nicknamed “Slane Girl.” Once these pictures began to circulate (with many Twitter users gleefully creating jokes at this girl’s expense) the hash tag #SlaneGirl became popular and after only a few hours it became a trending topic worldwide.
I couldn’t really believe what I was reading as I scanned through the #slanegirl tweets. This young girl, who is reportedly underage (only 17 years old) has quickly become a national joke. Many complain about how easy it is to bully someone anonymously on websites such as Formspring and Ask.FM, but here are people openly and publicly abusing a stranger due to one mistake. You would have to wonder why Twitter authorities have not stopped it. The girl was, presumably, already embarrassed, but now the situation has gotten out of hand. There have been far too many stories of teenage suicide in recent years, where it has come to light that online bullying played a part in the unfortunate sequence of events. Nobody wants to see the #SlaneGirl matter escalate to this level. No-one knows what state of mind this girl is in but I do hope that she is strong enough to cope with what is coming to her.
A prominent issue which has once again revealed itself through this incident, however, is the clear double standards which our world is plagued with. While the girl who features in the picture is given abuse, the young man involved (and let’s not forget that there are two people involved in the sex act) is instead receiving props for being a “legend.” This is an issue I have had for a while now. You cannot judge a person based solely on one mistake or foolish action. The attention and certainly the abuse that “Slane Girl” is receiving as a result of this incident has blown out of proportion, and yet, the young man remains to be perceived as a hero almost.
I saw one Twitter user stating that it was “Slane Girl’s” fault that she was receiving abuse. I asked him if it was perfectly acceptable so for the boy to go along with it also. He argued that no guy would say no, while she could have. Apparently it is perceived that all men have no choice in the matter but to say yes (which makes them all sound quite desperate really, so nice one lads) – but why do these double standards exist? Why is it that a woman may be publicly humiliated while a man in the same situation is not considered shamed? This is not to say that I would like to see the same hate campaign for the young man in the picture – I would rather that it would stop immediately as I completely disagree with it all – but I would like to know why he is being given an ego boost while the girl is being kicked in the teeth?
One of the most shocking comments I have read came from a famous Irish broadcaster (who can voice his opinion loudly due to the platform he’s on) saying that this girl “should have known better” because it was sure to end up online. Yes, in this day an age there is the danger of any of our actions being documented and appearing online, but, young people are not as aware of this and are doubtedly thinking that this will be the repercussion of a drunken decision. For all anybody knows, she may have even had her drink spiked. If the young man in question knew that she was intoxicated, why is he not being blamed for taking advantage of her? Again, these double standards linger without so much as a question asked.
I am a feminist – but not in the sense that I go around protesting and preaching, like the stigma attached to the word usually suggests. I simply believe in equal rights for all, which simply means that I would fight for the rights of men as much as I would fight for the rights of women. I believe that we need to call people out on their double standards and that, by drawing attention to these issues, hopefully it will eventually be seen as wrong to encourage this inequality.
Overall, I believe that this whole situation has gotten unbelievably out of hand. The sharing of the pictures online and the negative tweets attached to them are, in my opinion, just as bad, if not worse, than the situation they were commenting on. Many of the “jokes” are simply abusive, intended to degrade a young girl. If one thing does come from the “Slane Girl” incident, however, I hope that it brings to light the double standards which still exist in today’s world, particularly in Irish society.