The New Scarlet Letter

the scarlet letterSixteen-year-old Temitayo Fagbenle published a measured and searingly honest piece on teenage slut shaming as part of WNYC’s Radio Rookies program. Many a seasoned, mainstreamed journalist could learn from her intelligent, clear coverage of sexual harassment and cyberbullying.

She details a single case of a 14-year-old whose boyfriend posted a sexually explicit video of her online, speaking to the girl about her experience and her subsequent shame. Fagbenle also interviewed a Facebook administrator, who refused to go on the record about the company’s sexual harassment and pornography policies; an unremorseful teenage boy who had emailed pictures of his girlfriend’s breasts to his friends, which went viral; and a panel of teenage girls on their opinions of girls who are “exposed” on the Internet. Spoiler alert: They are not always sympathetic.

Fagbenle was 10 when she first read The Scarlet Letter. She knows slut shaming is nothing new.

Slut shaming has been going on for centuries but now there’s a new tool – instead of shaming hussies in the town square there are thousands of Facebook and web pages literally called “exposing hos.”

She sees pictures of girls being slut-shamed on her Facebook feed nearly every day. This, she says, is the new scarlet letter, and one that for teenage girls, can never be erased.

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