Karen Rivers

some thoughts on Amanda Todd and the Reddit debacle.

Karen Rivers

There are things I want to know.  

Such as:  How do the boys feel now?  

You know the boys I mean: the ones who hated Amanda Todd (but wanted her at the same time); the ones who couldn't stay away from her, but also didn't want to befriend her;  the ones who wouldn't stop blaming her for what they wanted;  the ones who conveniently (and psychotically) "forgot" that she was a human being, just like their girlfriends and their sisters; the ones who used her and then hated her for it; the ones who couldn't leave it alone and followed her; the ones who drove her to kill herself.  

Are they sorry?  Do they feel anything?

What about their parents?

What about their friends?

How are you feeling now, everyone?  Shameless?  Blameless?

Guilty?

I read only a handful of the comments on the YouTube video before they were taken down.  I could only get through a few without feeling physically ill.   The thing with hate is that it's contagious.  "Everyone" hated Amanda Todd, so total strangers -- obviously (hopefully?) unaware that she is now dead -- were willing to jump in.  To judge.  To name-call and shame.  To hate this one kid, this Amanda Todd, who -- as far as I can tell -- didn't hurt any of them.  To say things like, "If she'd been better at it, they would've left her alone."

She just wanted them to like her.   She just wanted someone to like her.  Just like all the humans, right?  We just want to be liked. We crave validation.  We need reassurance.

But no such luck.  Some boy, somewhere, decided to wield his mighty boy power and the tides were turned against Amanda Todd.  From where she was sitting, I'm sure it was relentless and impossible and suffocating, the weight of all that hate.

What is happening here?  

I'm sorry, Amanda Todd.  I'm sorry for the whole world.  

 

I had never read Reddit until this morning.  I had thought -- if I thought about it at all -- that it was a Twitter-like thing and I have too much actual Twitter-like things in my life already.   So I didn't pay any attention to it.  

Reddit is not a Twitter-like thing at all.  Reddit is part of the problem.  It's a different problem, but the same problem.

Right?

What Reddit is -- for those who don't know -- is an old-school message board that looks like something the 90s coughed up and splattered onto our screens.  (America On Line, anyone?) On Reddit, people can post whatever vile thing they are thinking.  (I'm sure there are parts of Reddit that are perfectly lovely, but those are not the parts of Reddit that are getting all the press right now.  They aren't the parts of Reddit that are "driving traffic". They aren't the problem.)  

Reddit has a sub-board called where adult men (predominantly) post photos of girls (as often as not, underage teens) in tight or ill-fitting or accidentally revealing clothes.  Adult men with wives and children of their own, stroll around with their cell phones, casually sneaking shots of teenage girls' underwear lines.  Adult men with jobs and respect who have likely themselves never been victimized by sexual harrassment are -- without compunction -- taking what they want.  Guiltless.  Blameless.  

Click, click.

It isn't illegal because you can't see anything!

ADULT MEN SURREPTITIOUSLY TAKING PHOTOS OF UNDERAGE GIRLS FOR PURPOSES OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION ISN'T ILLEGAL?

Who are these men?  And what is wrong with them?

IT IS NOT OK.

I get so frustrated about things like this that I can't type coherently.  I can't make an eloquent statement about any of this because I'm too shocked.   And horrified.  And disgusted.  And sad.

I want to grab the world of men by the shoulders and go, "LOOK AT THIS.  LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE." And yes, it is not "all men".  It is not "all boys".  It is some.  A growing "some".   That's the scary part.  One of the scary parts. 

The other scary part is the whole, "They don't even know their picture is there, so it's all good! No one is getting hurt!"

But it isn't good.

People ARE getting hurt.

Ask Amanda Todd.

Oh, that's not the same thing.  But isn't it all a symptom of the same problem?

Exploitation is exploitation.

We need to be very very very careful here.  What are we doing?  As a society, are we teaching our sons that girls are disposable pleasure-givers that exist as sexual entities who they are free to exploit?  Are we teaching our daughters to play along so that they'll be liked?   Are we teaching everyone that our value as humans has to do with how many people feel aroused by the sight of us in tight clothes?  Are we teaching our sons that they are entitled to take what they want?

Because that's what it's starting to look like.

So we add Amanda Todd to the bullied-to-death file, a file that is growing larger by the day.   We put the Reddit exploitation garbage into the internet-porn-gone-mainstream file, a "fap" file that is normalizing and validating abhorrent (and criminal) behaviour.

Then we move on.

But should we move on?  

I want to wind this up with a conclusion, but what is the conclusion?  

There is only one:  This has to stop.

THIS HAS TO STOP.

But when and how will it stop?