School Scandal Targets “Her” Not “Him”

slut-shaming-candy-manBy Rebecca S. 

The sexual revolution has arrived. Women and men, alike, are free to enjoy sex, right?

Not if the school scandal that roared during my junior year is any measure.

“Janet” was popular, and a talented player on our school’s field hockey team.

Until word got around that she had filmed a sex tape with a guy from our school.

“The guy” recorded it on his cell phone and texted it to a friend who swore he wouldn’t tell anyone. Naturally, the friend texted it to another friend and by week’s end the sex tape was the most exciting gossip the school had known.

Everyone had an opinion about Janet:

What a slut!

I can’t believe she would do that!

Janet was slut-shamed for having sex, for enjoying sex, and for getting it on film.

But not one single criticism was directed at the guy – who had filmed it in the first place!

It didn’t cross anyone’s mind to question why he was having sex. And he certainly wasn’t shamed for it.

I’m not aware of any punishments that he may have received, either. But Janet was both mocked and kicked out of field hockey.

No wonder my friends say they feel comfortable having sex with their boyfriends or doing kinky things — but only so long as people don’t find out and talk about it.

Their boyfriends would probably get kudos for doing the same things that my friends would be shamed for.

Still waiting on the revolution.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on March 27, 2017, in sex and sexuality and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. The same thing happened at my high school, except that the video only got sent around after she broke up with him. This tape wasn’t even sex, just a blowjob, which was normally considered entirely acceptable at my high school–only the sluts had sex. I never saw the tape, nor did I have any desire to, but it only took a day for news to sweep across the whole school. It was a video she had theoretically consented to, though they were drunk at a party when it was taken. The hypocrisy among the popular crown astounded me. All the cheerleaders, football and basketball players, and the rich kids, were all part of this same party scene. They had all been at these same parties doing these same things–drinking and having sex with each other. There were even several occurrences of prom night orgies–because there was only one room? Or just because it was fun? It was somehow normalized that this was just what one did. But as soon as there was a video released of this one girl doing something that they had all done–they all turned their backs. The guy was on the football team, so he sent it to lots of football players, who each sent it to tons of people. The day it spread across school, many of us were disgusted at what happened. Who cares if she gave a blowjob, but the fact that HE, in his break up rage (he deserved the break up, it’s unsurprising he was a jerk), thought it appropriate to send this video, and that then ALL THESE OTHER GUYS, also felt it was okay to spread it around. Many of the girls at school discusses the hypocrisy and the disgust we felt at how she was being shamed when his behavior was what was really repulsive. And, of course, about half of the popular girls were complicit in this as well, taking the side that they’d always know she was really a slut. But I wonder how many of them felt comfortable trusting their own boyfriends with videos after that.

  2. Bang on! The same thing happens everywhere. In a conservative society like ours, the situation is worse. When will the revolution really occur?Sigh!

  3. There is a double standard at play here for men and women. No matter what anyone says to try and argue it, men are still viewed as cool guys when they have a lot of sex with a lot of girls but girls are viewed as sluts and whores and looked at like they’re lesser human beings if they have had a lot of sex with guys. I am not too sure who or what is enforcing this double standard but I can say for a fact that it is still a thing, especially in college and men and women around that age.

  4. It seems from comments here there is an ever increasing risk of having pictures or videos hacked and exposed. I wonder whether it is time to start holding the service providers responsible. If we expect a bank to keep our personal details safe, we should expect our provider to do the same.

    If compromising photos or videos are circulated at school or college, someone should be held responsible and they are the ones who should be punished rather than the innocent. I don’t know if sending compromising photos or videos without the person’s consent is illegal, but it should be, and those who do it should be shamed.

    Also, if there are so many cases of pictures getting into the wrong hands, everybody should think seriously before taking or sending them. Once they have been taken, they will probably be around for a very long time.

    • You ask some good questions.

      • To you and the Femanist. Well the problem and what was the problem two years ago when the first hacking happened. I’m actually surprised Apple hasn’t been sued for faulty security or their set up made just to have storage of data, selling it to consumers, but them knowing full well that, date, pictures, videos are not safe. What I’m talking about and what I’ve known for a long time, but not everybody knows is the “cloud”. The icloud which from iphones, which millions and million of american, well people across the world have. And you don’t have to even try saving it to the cloud, it gets stored there now anyway. And not just the phones but computes have storage that you can choose to go that way.

        But it’s forever lingering which is scary. It’s like never gone. So that’s what it’s so important to think about what pictures you take, etc that goes to the cloud, because even if you delete it. It’s never completely gone, which means a hacker can obtain it. That’what I suspect happened to the female celebrites, they might have had them on the cloud where it’s accessible if someone can figure the password or account and get into it as it’s like a shared library. Only locked based on password and such. And like I said some of the female celebrities could have had their pics or videos deleted so thinking it’s a non issue. But like I said, unfortunatley it’s not. Once it’s there,it;s kind of forever somewhere around. I mean it’s the same thing which is scary in regards to the internet too. But that’s why I’m surprosed rich celebrities affected by the hacking didn’t sue Apple. I know the first thing is getting the hackers caught, but it’s not good with how some things are with technology too. And this stuff can happen to just a regular girl too. A guy doesn’t have to show the pics she sent him, but some hacker guy could just decide he wants to hack her phone and leak said photos or videos.

      • Kind of a dark cloud then isn’t it?

        It’s a good thing to be aware of this and take precautions.

  5. Slut shame is “common” not only in the America, but other nations especially countries who are religious and traditional, and they think that women enjoying sex would be ashamed and unacceptable. However, it is something to be proud of and normal for men to have sex with many women, and this lead to another issue, the double standards. It’s so strange that girls get ashamed while men got kudos for the same thing when it comes to sex. In my country, girls who have sex tape and known by others would be a “topic” for people to gossip, and without doubt they are always the ones who got blamed while the guy who did this hardly got criticize. There was a scandal happened few years ago in Hong Kong, a male celebrity’s sex tapes with many other female celebrities was released on the internet, and it was sensational back then, and those women were criticized and shamed by public that they have to apologize for it, and one of those women who was married, and her husband decided to divorce her, which is ridiculous that they have to apologize for their private life, and having sex, and once again there still a long way to go on gender equality.

  6. It’s sad women don’t just get judged but exploited or their trusts used by a guy. This is nothing new though unfortunately. If it’s not video, it’s images. Snapchat and other sources used or just pictures sent to a guy or boyfriend and then, his immaturity and ego causes him to send them to his buddies to brag about or show off his hot hook up or hot girlfriends body. Or it could be used to get back at an ex, which is punishable by law now, as I believe it’s called revenge porn. I do have to say one thing though. And it’s not blaming the girl as it’s the dudes who are assholes. But I think it’s the technology or something that millenials grew up on. But there is a big trend or foolishness of millennials self recording or taking a picture of everything and some can be of them having sex or nude. It’s dangerous to do that regardless of a boyfriend sharing it. Nothing today is really safe from being hacked.

    The way to prevent that is not doing that in the first place and being careful. You remember in 2014 or 2015 it was. This was celebrities, but still, The Fappening? Where many female celebrities private and nude photoes were hacked from the cloud and leaked? Most phones have a storage like that if not the cloud. So even if said girl deletes them, they are not permanently gone and can be retrieved by a hacker. And this reminds me, there was a mini incident last week where Emma Watson and a few female celebrities were hacked and called the fappening 2.0. It happened again to a smaller scale. Obviously the assholes doing this are in the wrong, but I’d like to not see any women embarassed or harmed or lives ruined, which not doing that prevents that. It sucks for women though because women are the one’s who will be scrutinized about this and the one’s targeted. Whether a boyfriend sharing it from his gf or a hacker getting the videos or photos. The reason being, because women being sex objects and the demand is there. That’s why male celebrities are safer than female ones. Not because hackers can’t get to them. But most hackers are men, and hackers aren’t going to waste their effort on something there is less demand to see. Unfortunately since most men are visual and well men can be “pervy” or pervier than women. There is the demand for a hacker to target attractive women, especially since most men are straight too.

    • Yeah, and the girl gets punished instead of the hacker.

      Peggy Orenstein recently wrote a book called “girls and sex” about young women today in high school and college where she talked about girls (Particularly high school girls) being pressured by boyfriends (so called boyfriend) to sext. And then he would be the big hero and she would be put down.

      On the hackers, I’m not familiar with what is going on with Emma Watson right now but I know that a few years ago after she started working with the UN on feminist issues she was threatened with hacking but there were no actual pictures of her. And unfortunately there is such a thing as Photoshop which can make it look like it’s a picture of her but it actually isn’t. So I’m kind of curious about this new scandal. Is it her or is it Photoshop? Which creates the problem that women can’t even necessarily protect themselves by not doing it. (And I agree that it is wise to not do it, but it still bothers me that the men are praised for getting the picture.)

      • Well atleast you’re protected to some extent if a picture is used as you can say it’s not you and people can tell or there will be people who can tell if one is photoshopped. It sounds like Emma was safe as in none were of nudity but that’s still scary, but some women weren’t safe and got hit hard as they had sex tapes and stuff that got leaked.

        https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/3102066/demi-lovato-emma-watson-nude-photo-leak-celebrity-naked-pictures-sex-tape-hacks/amp

        And like I said men luck out in that they are generally safe from hackers as most hackers are men and men don’t want or give a shit about pictures of nude men because most guys are straight, must of the people that would view such leaked videos or photos are men. And since most are straight men, most men don’t want or have interest in seeing nude men. It’s supply and demand and in our culture women and their bodies are the visual demand, thus a hacker will target as that’s what they can cash in on because of women because sex objects and not men as well as how our culture creates is where men are the voyeurs and not women. Therefore, attractive women, especially celebrity women are the premium attention.

        I have to say there is an exception. It’s weird how the harm can go in different directions. Most often this hurts women because how women are slut shamed and men are safe from that. But it’s weird if there is harm a woman can be harmed that way and men not. But women aren’t harmed in the “she lost her feminiity way or like how something could emasculate a man or viewed that way or embarassing for a man. There isn’t that like equivalent, probably because how men are seen as tougher and stronger, etc. But if that sex video for some reason or just one in general of a celebrity male. The video had the male, I don’t know cross dressed like a woman. There was one where a male boxer had a phote leaked of him cross dressed and it was surprising as he’s straight, but it was humiliating for him of course.

        So it’s interesting in that. Like if that sex video was something in kink or fetish act and the boy was like doing something like that or submissive, then HE WOULD be ridculed. I’d think as much or even more than the girl. Isn’t that weird though? Because it would not be relative to “the slutty sense like for a woman or slut shamed. But emasculation sense. Men get lee way with the slut sense, unlike women. But they only get so much lee way if it’s in a masculine acting sphere all across the various walks of life. How they express themselve, act, talk, present themselves where out in public, sports, but even in private moments if something is leaked and the public gets a glimpse to see and thus judge. Women don’t get judged that way. It’s worse for women of course overall. But there is a trade off. Women get slut shamed, men can get shamed if not holding up to masculine ideals.

      • True. And think about how gender equality would change all that in a positive way.

  7. This is a great topic. When I was in college a girl dropped out because of a video circulating around campus of her performing oral sex on her then boyfriend. It was really terrible how they bullied her, and of course, he was praised. I felt bad for her, but I felt like she let them win when she left.

    • My students often talk about this sort of thing happening, usually in high school and college. One of them told her story, which reflects the one you described. It bothers her that she didn’t stick up for yourself at the time. I asked her if I could share her story on my blog and she agreed. So that will be coming up in the next few months. Thanks for sharing your experience with this.

      • Thank you! It’s really sad that women are being treated in that way for a consensual activity with a partner in privacy.

        More of these boys need to start facing charges for sharing without permission and filming without permission. A lot of these girls had no idea they were on film.

      • Yes! We should change the law to make people accountable for the hurt they cause.

      • I don’t think society will be punishing boys for “being boys” anytime soon.

      • Me neither. We definitely have to stop thinking of sexual assault as “Boys will be boys.”

        And by the way boys, this hurts all of you since women who are sexually attacked commonly lose interest in sex.

      • I agree. But where to start? I think maybe it starts with parents and how they raise their sons, as opposed to their daughters.

      • I think parents are so important here. And like you say, especially in how they raised their sons. Michael Kimmel wrote a book called “Guyland” where he talked about the importance of mothers in particular. Too often fathers encourage their sons in disrespect toward women while mothers disengaged themselves, thinking that it was time for dad to be the primary parent (and not realizing how their boys treated women). But it was the mothers who were more upset about this sort of behavior, So they are very needed.

      • You make a very good point regarding the inclusion of mothers. I was just discussing that today with someone, when they asked me how I think women can give back to society and heal the nation’s wounds.

        I realize though that mothers of these kind of sons not only ignore the behaviour, but sometimes enable it. They side with their son when others try to step in, because that’s their baby, esp when he’s the only child or the youngest. And then fail to see how that creates a scenario that is unfavourable for women in general – even her, because he never learned to respect them and never had to face the consequences.

      • Yeah, a lot of the time moms just don’t realize that their sons are behaving this way. And other times they defend them. Maybe they don’t want to believe that their son could behave that way – not to mention how it reflects on their mothering. But that is part of rape culture — when you defend a perpetrator to protect yourself.

      • You speak true words when you point out how it reflects on their mothering. I’ve said that to my mom before, that sometimes when women defend their sons, it’s not their sons they really aim to defend but themselves.

        That’s so selfish and counter to mothering instincts though, isn’t it? How does that help the offspring be better? I am only mother to a cat, so maybe it’s not my place to say.

      • Ha, me too! Mother of 2 🐱

      • That’s awesome! They are the best children. 😂

    • Btw, it’s really hard to comment on your blog. A popup comes up and can’t figure out how to get passed it.

  8. As if Brock Turner’s trial wasn’t enough of a wake-up call..

    I hear about stories like this one too many times. A friend of mine’s brother was caught sending nude photos of a female friend to classmates. Not only was my friend’s brother pardoned- he participated in the mass shaming of his female friend! Unfortunately for the female friend, she did not enable anyone’s access to her nude photos (photos obtained surreptitiously by a young man.) It would be a stretch to consider this non-consensual sex but it is most definitely a form of non-consensual sexual communication. Under no circumstance should anyone abuse your privacy and/or bodily choices. If you want to expose your body, fine- just understand the patriarchal consequences of it. Sexualizing oneself can severely limit future professional and personal opportunities, as many are unfortunately socialized to slut-shame. Just look at our female celebrities- hardly any make the lateral, successful transition to CEO/investor/entrepreneur/scientist because of patriarchy. Those who do tend to discuss additional hurdles they overcame, many due to their sexualization and femininity. Sexualized women are typically stereotyped as ‘ditsy’ and ‘passive.’ Our culture brainwashes men and women alike to disrespect ‘sluts’ and ‘hos’ because they are “only good for one thing.”

    If you do not choose to expose your body, that is fine too- just hopefully no participation in mass slut-shaming will result. Respect the choices and rights of everyone around you, and work actively to dismantle barriers for all. It’s not easy, but every progressive step counts.

    • The fact that sex is often used as a weapon against women helps explain why nearly half of American women experience sexual dysfunction. Women are shamed for their sexuality and they suppress it until you can go away. In the end that ends up not being good for men, either. The guys who use it as a weapon maybe winning, but they won’t end up very happy.

  9. The double standard is a myth. Only about 12% of people hold the double standard, and 13% hold the reverse double standard of shaming men even more than women, so if anything this is in women’s favour. As for Janet’s friend, it’s highly likely that she is a female and is therefore far more aware of the consequences that landed on Janet than the consequences that landed on her boyfriend. Or else it’s just a statistical outlier. EIther way, an anecdote does not make for a reasoned argument when the contrary data is in.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/even-guys-get-shamed-for-too-much-casual-sex/

    • This study makes things look more equal than they actually are because it looks only at college women and men. And it points out that the double standard lives in fraternities.

      I surveyed my students on this question and all of them have seen girls slut-shamed in high school and middle school. None of them have seen men slut shamed (and about a quarter of my students are guys).

      This is a particularly dangerous time for the health of women’s sexuality because air ideas about themselves and what is good and bad are just being formed. The punishment of women’s sexuality certainly helps explain why nearly half of American women experience major sexual dysfunctions like low or no interest in sex, painful sex, and difficulty with orgasm.

      When you are taught that you will be punished for being sexual girls suppress those feelings and after a while they go away.

      And, some young women have committed suicide after being shamed. Even shamed for being sexually assaulted! Yet the guys are bragging about their sexual assault and she’s shamed for being victimized. Like Audrie Pott. That is a huge double standard.

      So we have young women killing themselves and losing their sexuality because of the double standard.

      By the time they get to college things shift so that most of women don’t feel shamed in college. Unless they are dealing with fraternities. My own students and women I’ve read about at Harvard and Dartmouth have talked about the double standard at fraternities there. And unfortunately, fraternities seem to rule campus life.

      One of my students just wrote about this in a paper and I asked her just last week he if she would mind if I put it on my blog. So you will be reading about it sometime in the next few months.

      I’m afraid the double standard is alive and well and having devastating effects.

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