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

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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, which caused her so much distress that she became suicidal. 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.

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