Podcast: The sexualization of girls, 12 year old slut memes, and Amanda Todd

The tragic story of Amanda Todd has been covered widely by the media and has impacted people across the continent. Todd was only fifteen years old when she killed herself last Wednesday after having been subjected to three years of sexual harassment and abuse both online and at school. After a man convinced her to show her breasts to him on a webcam, images of her were circulated online, which led to her being tormented, stalked, harassed, and beat up at school. Her story got both the public and the media talking about the issue of bullying, but does ‘bullying’ really describe what happened to Todd? In a culture that places an inordinate amount of value on women’s bodies and appearances, wherein younger and younger girls are being taught that they should aspire to be ‘sexy’, when pornographic imagery is mainstreamed and easily accessible,  there is more to this story than simple ‘bullying’ or ‘cyberbullying’.  It’s been noted that the connected issues of sexualization, misogyny and violence against women have been left out of much of the media coverage.

In the first half of the show I speak with Melinda Tankard Reist about the sexualization of young girls, the 12 year old slut meme Facebook page, and the Amanda Todd tragedy. Melinda is a Canberra author, speaker, media commentator, and advocate for women and girls. She is known for her work on the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls and her work to address violence against women. Melinda has published several books, including: Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls.

In the second half of the show I speak with Fazeela Jiwa, a South Asian woman who grew up in Vancouver, B.C. She has an MA in literature and is trained as a teacher. Fazeela has done work with Vancouver Rape Relief and many alternative education organizations. You can read her article: “’Bullying’ is too vague when we’re dealing with sexism and misogyny” in The Georgia Straight.

Listen here:

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • river

    cbc.ca is hosting an open line on this topic 7 pm Central time today. 5 Mountain, 4 Pacific. Hope some of you can get in there. The REAL issue, objectification and sexual exploitation has barely broken the surface in all the media on what happened to Amanda. I think it’s important to make your voice heard on this site, because it’s the public, the people in the neighbourhood. http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2012/10/cbc-your-news-live-online-sexism-and-amanda-todd.html

    And while you’re at it, please go here and write Feminist Current in for the 2012 Canadian blog awards. http://www.jkleiman.com/toronto-law/round-1/

  • river

    That was a waste of time and effort.

    I can’t describe how disappointed I am. Thanks to you and Melinda and the woman writing in Georgia Strait for the only feminist analysis of what is going on. There are other things I could say but not on a public site.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Do you mean the CBC conversation was disappointing? I wasn’t able to tune in, though based on the guests they chose I’m not particularly surprised…

      • river

        Yes. I hadn’t seen who all the guests would be before I logged off earlier today.

        How desperately necessary that we reclaim the word Feminism. Right now, it’s looking so shallow and plastic.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I wish there were an archive of the conversation somewhere? I’d be interested to know what was discussed…

          • river

            Bullying, and how educate about it, and to get Facebook to live up to their safety policies. That latter briefly mentioned. As you must know, that’s never going to happen. It’s cesspit of male hate against women. Makes Redditt look like amateur hour. Honestly Meghan it was pointless and shallow. Even without being disappointed it wasn’t feminist.

            When I first heard of it I thought of you right away. Thought you’d be one of the guests. When will I grow up?

  • river

    I’m off FB. I don’t think I can stand it any longer. Every so-called feminist site is all about sexually objectifying females, and run by males who identify as Female. So there that’s slotted in now, we, ovum bearers, can go home.

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