Friday, May 20, 2011

Facebook anti-bullying message

I've seen this facebook status come up a few times now;

A 15 year old girl holds her 1 year old son; people call her a slut. But no one knows she was raped at 13. People call a girl fat; no one knows she has a serious disease that causes her to be overweight. People call an old man ugly; no one knows he had a serious injury to his face while serving our country in Vietnam. Re-post this if your against bullying and stereotyping!!!! I bet none of you will post this!!!

So, this meme is meant to be supportive and have the best of intentions, but it seems off to me. It is as if it is saying that it is not ok to be a slut or to be fat or ugly, but not to make fun of people for it unless you know for sure that it isn't their fault.

When I first saw this post, I responded by saying that I was a teen mom from a consensual act... does that mean it is acceptable to call me a slut?

I get that the point of this status is that the stereotypes that you first jump to in order to explain why people look or act a certain way may not actually capture their lived experience, and I think that is an important point... for example, if one happens to come across someone who is overweight, the first assumptions are usually that the person eats too much unhealthy food and does not exercise. If this status can make a few people think about other possibilities before passing judgement, then that is great. But what it doesn't do is challenge the way we think about what is desirable and what is not.

What if there were no judgements allocated to being deemed promiscuous, unattractive or overweight by a specific set of standards? Instead of trying to justify why some people might exist in a way that we deem undesirable, what if we could come up with a post that would express an anti-bullying statement that was about actual acceptance?


  1. A brilliant post!

    The Facebook status you quoted seems to suggest that people who are different could hope for our acceptance if they have some attribute that will make us feel sorry for them. It is as if such people owed everybody an explanation as to why they dared to be "fat, slutty and ugly."

    This is one of those cases when an attempt to do something seemingly good reveals the prejudices that hide behind the effort.

  2. Thanks! I first started talking about this in the comments of a friends' status over a month ago, but then I started feeling kind of guilty because I know the status has the best of intentions... and that this person is not likely to be judgemental, even if there is no "excuse" for the attribute that is being discussed.

    Still, every time I see this post on my newsfeed I get a bit of an uneasy feeling. I want to be clear that the intent of my blog post was not to criticize the people that posted this, just to point out what some of the underlying assumptions of the status might be.