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Amanda Todd’s Slut Shaming & Suicide

by October 13, 2012
filed under Activism
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Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old Vancouver teen allegedly committed suicide (the preliminary investigation shows she took her own life) after suffering years of cyber bullying. In the last weeks of her life, she posted a haunting video on YouTube that has been labeled both “anti bullying” and “a cry for help.”

Her story is all the more depressing because it has become a common narrative for teenage gurls. In the years of early adolescence, Amanda was webcamming with friends and meeting people. This is a time in a gurl’s life when she feels isolated from her family and yet greatly desires to belong to her peer group. Amanda tells her story in the 9 minute video by silently showing cure cards. She met men who would call her ‘stunning’ and ‘perfect’— things all young gurls desire to be called. Lured in by the compliments at only 13, Amanda flashed one of her admirers. The man resurfaced a year later, demanding “a show” or else he would send the photos to all of her friends and family. She didn’t give him that show, and in turn, he carried out the threat.

Because of the embarrassment Amanda suffered, she became diagnosed with anxiety and depression. She turned to drugs and drinking to try to stop the pain. After switching schools, the man relentlessly bullied her online, creating a Facebook page with her naked breasts as his profile photo. Amanda tried to kill herself twice before she finally succeeded – much to the supposed pleasure of the commenter’s on YouTube.

And now that Amanda is gone, we care – making Amanda a poster-child for cyber bullying. Now people will ask “where were the police?” or “what was she doing on Facebook?” while ignoring the deeper issues. Amanda was viciously slut shamed and hung out to dry by a society that tells you to wait until marriage while they consume vast amounts of internet porn. The prevalent culture around her sends mixed messages, such as take your clothes off to get the affection you desire, but don’t do it in the wrong way or with the wrong people or you’ll be seen as a dirty, worthless whore.

Amanda’s parents are going to be an obvious target of blame for not intervening, but it’s very likely that they did not know the full extent of her situation. Teenagers hide things from their parents, and this was a pretty big secret for Amanda to reveal. Amanda lived in a world where kids are cruel; they’ve always been that way. My grandmother used to have rocks thrown at her on her way home from school. My 15-year-old niece receives nasty text messages from her peers. Back in grade school, my clothes were stolen out of my locker and thrown into the shower during gym class. The internet makes bullying worse with a veneer of anonymity and a feeling that what you do or say doesn’t matter. Will Amanda’s suicide finally convince people to start talking? Will the man responsible for distributing child pornography be convicted of murder, or will we shame the gurl who succumbed to peer pressure and push the issue under the rug?

We at Flurt! mourn Amanda’s passing, and wish we could have been there to talk to her — to tell her that things get better. If you’ve been a victim of cyber bullying, email us your story and we’ll post it on the website anonymously. Or post in the comments below to show your support for Amanda.


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