Is Social Media Ruining Teenage Girls?

Social media has become an all-consuming culture that people all over the world can’t get enough of. However, it seems to be doing much more harm than good. According to an outstanding expose by Vanity Fair entitled Friends Without Benefits, not only has social media distorted gender roles for young people but more importantly, it has given young boys “the right to expect everything from social submission to outright sex from their female peers”.

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The twenty-first century generation of children are a generation like no other. Strapped with the latest gadgets and smartphones, majority of them hardly come up for air, let alone engagement with the world outside their social media reality. Instead of developing long-lasting friendships and relationships, kids these days are preoccupied with how many “likes” they get on Instagram and how many followers they have on Twitter.

While this may seem harmless to many people, a new generation of apps, readily available to kids as young as 13 can be threatening in more ways than one. Tinder, a mobile dating app is one of the most commonly used app for teens to “hook up”. No, not get to know each other but solely “hook up”. In fact, apps like Tinder and Grinder have been accused of being too “time-consuming”. The almost 5 minutes you take to analyse a person’s profile and decide whether he/she is good enough for you to “hook up” with is seen as a rather long time stamp when a new app called Pure, offers its subscribers sex in an instant.

If this isn’t astonishing enough for you, not to worry, it only gets worse.

Once you become a member and you decide you’d like to hook up, you submit a request. You say if you’re looking for a man or a woman, and if you can host or travel. The app then presents you with some optional matches. Your photos are only visible to your matches, and no nudity is allowed on your profile photos. If you like a match, you choose him or her. If you both choose each other, you get connected. From there, you can request more photos of your match’s face and body.  According to the application’s website, “If you want to see more pictures, just request them. No prior chat necessary”.

In fact, according to the Vanity Fair article, the reason for hooking up is less about pleasure and fun than performance and gossip—it’s being able to update (on social media) about it. “Social media is fostering a very unthinking and unfeeling culture. We’re raising our kids to be performers.”

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To me, the fact that such young people willingly utilized or would be willing to utilize such apps was baffling. I simply could not wrap my head around the fact that young girls, fully aware of the dangers lurking online, would be more than happy to participate and engage in a social medium like this. Upon further reading, I started to understand that majority of the girls who actively participated in social media were looking for one main thing, approval and validation. The number of likes they got on pictures, or the number of requests they got to “hook up” in some sense not only validated their self-worth but, their social status. In fact, one of the questions posed to the girls interviewed for the article in Vanity Fair, was whether or not “they knew girls who posted provocative pictures of themselves”. They all answered yes.

“More provocative equals more likes,” said Greta.

“It attracts more guys and then it makes other girls think about doing it just for the attention. They’re attention whores,” said Padma, frowning.

“I think some girls post slutty pictures of themselves to show guys the side to them that guys want to see,” said Zoe. “It’s annoying.”

“Girls call them sluts. Boys call it hot,” said Padma.

Greta shrugged. “I call it hilarious.”

Firstly, when did  attracting men or boys become dependent on how provocatively you portrayed yourself? Secondly, if women themselves insist on perpetuating certain underhanded stereotypes of the female gender, how can we as women, expect men to not feed off this stereotype? And lastly, if these young women’s sense of their own agency is so detached, how can we expect young men to show the adequate respect that is due every woman?

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This post is not to disregard the enormous good that social media has done in its attempts to discourage and eliminate sexual violence among the youth. In fact, the app Circle 6, the winner of the White House’s “Apps Against Abuse” technology challenge, allows users to reach a group of six trusted friends with clear messages for help in one to two clicks of a button. It is designed to help men and women create support networks and communities on whom they can rely for help in both immediately threatening situations and more entrenched, relationship-based ones.

However, the bigger and more important question we should ask ourselves is how effective will apps like this be in preventing sexual violence?

What do you guys think? What are the rewards for upholding our socially scripted roles, and what are the penalties and punishments doled out for those who transgress unintentionally or willingly? Can these penalties be dangerous?

We have a voice, lets use it.

Do note that every once in a while, I will explore issues outside the exclusive realm of sexual violence, that I feel deserve a great amount of attention. Do Check out “Hot Topics” for more prolific issues around the world.

Why Women May Be Perpetuating Rape Myths

As women, when issues of rape are brought to the table, we often point the finger whole-heartedly at men. However, in a recent survey, almost a third of the women surveyed claimed that there are varying degrees of rape. The same proportion also believe that if a woman does not fight back, the assault cannot amount to rape.

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This implies that the problem could lie with women’s perception of what rape truly is, reducing the conviction rate of a crime that is evidently on the rise.

In fact, the latest figures from the UK’s Ministry of Justice, show an estimated 60,000 to 95,000 incidents of rape on average in the last three years. Only 15,670 of these were reported to police, of which 2,910 rape cases went to court. This resulted in a total of 1,070 rape prosecutions.

While the dismal conviction rate may have something to do with the UK’s judicial system, it also has something to do with the lack of knowledge among women in terms what really amounts to being raped. In the survey carried out by the Charity Rape Crisis, a quarter of the 1,000 women surveyed, incorrectly thought if someone was drunk it could not be classified as rape, while 60% thought it did not count if a woman does not say no.

What struck me the most was the fact that rape was so completely misunderstood. Rape is a subset of sexual violence, defined by the World Health Organization as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting.

It is easy to doubt a victim’s story especially if she was intoxicated when the assault had taken place. However, it should be noted that no woman who was drinking or drunk, is inviting rape. Instead, the fact that a person was too drunk or was under the influence of alcohol should imply that they were probably incapable of consenting to sex or making a sound decision in the first place.

The bottom line still remains that sex without consent is rape, and trying to justify a sexual encounter by claiming that the woman provided consent despite the fact that she was heavily intoxicated, is an extremely flawed argument.

Myths like this need to be dispelled not only so that rape can be reported accurately, but more so that the victim feels safe and secure enough in their decision to come forward with a possible rape charge.

What are your thoughts, can situations exist where rape isn’t rape? Can rape ever have varying degrees to constitute it actually happening?

We have a voice, lets use it.

For more information on rape myths, do check out the Rape Crisis website where accurate and clear information about what does and does not constitute rape is provided.