The Double Standards of Slut-Shaming

So, imagine you’re a teenage boy. You’re at a concert. A really drunk girl has been flirting with you for a few minutes. All of a sudden, she offers to perform oral sex on you. Right there. In the middle of the concert. You happily accept. While she is pleasuring you, you put your hands up in the air, cheering for your lucky, lucky self. You are the epitome of “cool.” 

Now – imagine you’re a 17-year-old girl. You are at your favorite singer’s concert. You have had way too much to drink and you’re incredible intoxicated. You see a really cute guy standing nearby. You approach him and begin flirting with him. You really want him to like you, so in your drunken stupor, you offer oral sex to him. He enthusiastically says, “YES!” and so, you kneel down, unbutton his pants, and begin. You are a total slut. 

My question is – why is there such a discrepancy in the way society views both people in this scenario? Both teenagers are engaged in explicit sexual activity in public, but somehow, most people would view the girl in a more negative light than they would the boy. This picture I have painted is basically exactly what happened at an Eminem concert at Slane Castle in Ireland last month. The photographs went viral and were all over social media. Needless to say, the story got a lot of people talking. Some people were rightfully upset about the fact that these pictures were similar to (if not exactly) child pornography. More importantly to this discussion, however, is the multitude of comments made about the young girl. One tweet said, “Lesson to be learnt from #slanegirl dont give head in public ..twice ..with 80,000 people watching” [sic]. While I agree – that is great advice – my problem is the lack of similar commentary concerning the boy’s behavior. How about, “Lesson I learned from #slaneboy: Don’t take advantage of an obviously drunk girl”?

The problem is that this type of hypocrisy isn’t rare. Remember Miley’s twerking incident a few weeks ago? The entire world is upset about Miley setting a bad example to young girls (which, don’t get me wrong – I agree, she did), but what about Robin Thicke sending a terrible example to males of all generations? He’s married and yet, he finds it somehow appropriate to allow a young woman to grind on him (which he admitted that he had prior knowledge of) and sing a song that has rape-y lyrics about “blurred lines.” While Robin Thicke did, admittedly, get criticized for his performance, I think most would agree that his reputation is not permanently destroyed the way Miley Cyrus’ is.

All of this relates to a concept in feminist philosophy called, “slut-shaming.” Basically, this term refers to making women feel guilty or inferior for certain sexual behaviors or desires that deviate from traditional gender expectations. Slut-shaming is the phenomenon that exists when women are “sluts” when they dress provocatively, request birth control, or have premarital sex – but men are not judged in the same manner for behaving in a way that indicates they desire sex, or when they buy condoms or have premarital sex.

I’d like to know what the readers think – why is there this discrepancy in the way we view sexuality in women and men? And what can we do to fix this problem?

Massachusetts Raises Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction to Age 18

On Wednesday, September 18, 2013, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation which raises the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years.  The legislation, H. 1432 “An Act Expanding Juvenile Jurisdiction,” expands juvenile court jurisdiction to 17-year-olds accused of crimes, and also provides for them to be ordered into the custody of the Department of Youth Services rather than adult prison or jail.  However, juvenile court judges have discretion to impose an adult sentence in cases involving extremely violent crimes.  Additionally, the 17-year-olds will no longer receive an adult criminal record, and they will benefit from other safeguards provided to juveniles.

9805579335-6680465958-zThe official website of the Massachusetts Governor quoted Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court Michael F. Edgerton:  “‘This bill acknowledges that the brain development and maturity of a 17-year-old are legally important factors in addressing antisocial behavior and that the capacity of juveniles for rehabilitation exceeds that of adults.’”  Another supporter, Representative Alice Peisch, also focused on the role of adolescent development:  “Given research findings on adolescent development, I believe that the Commonwealth will benefit from housing 17-year-old offenders in juvenile correction facilities rather than the adult prison system.”  Further, she stated, “This law now ensures that all incarcerated youth are able to receive age-appropriate services and brings the Commonwealth into compliance with federal regulations on the separation of younger prisoners from adults.”

Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Kay Khan sponsored H. 1432.  Senator Spilka stated, “I have fought for many years to make this change a reality.”  Moreover, “Our juvenile justice system plays a critical role in helping youth offenders get back on track.  Seventeen-year-olds are not adults – they are developmentally much more like the younger teenagers in the system, and their crimes are often the same types of offenses.  Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction will provide teenagers with the age-appropriate rehabilitation and support services they need for future success.”

Massachusetts now joins thirty-nine other states and the federal government who use the age of 18 as the age of adult criminal jurisdiction.

Photo:  Iaritza Menjivar / Governor’s Office

For more information:  http://www.mass.gov/governor/pressoffice/pressreleases/2013/0918-juvenile-jurisdiction-legislation.html.

UH Law Professor comments on Houston case involving 12-year-old convicted of felony

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In Houston, a 12-year-old girl was recently convicted of a felony for taking a photograph of a classmate in a locker room. Professor Marrus, from the University of Houston Law Center, was quoted in a Houston Chronicle article covering the case.

Following quoted from Houston Chronicle article:

‍University ‍of ‍Houston ‍law professor Ellen Marrus sympathized with the victim but said prosecutors should not have charged the girl with a felony. “If we’re trying to make children into criminals and make them have a record and to have them be punished, then a felony is appropriate,” Marrus said. “If the idea is that our juvenile courts are different and we’re trying to change children’s behavior, then there are better options.”

To read the entire Houston Chronicle article, click here: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/12-year-old-convicted-of-felony-for-locker-room-4813385.php