Amber, a 14-year old from Tennessee was performing oral sex on a boy behind her school while other boys looked on — and living in this digital age of fast-action media, one of them decided to point his cell-phone camera in her direction and hit “record.” The video went viral and the Internet crowd jumped at the opportunity to slut-shame a 14-year-old. Amber was unabashedly harassed by hundreds, so much so that the viral YouTube video “Leave Amber Alone” had to actually be created.
The reaction of so many Internet trolls is especially unsurprising once we deconstruct the media messages that are sent to girls like Amber in the first place. These messages tell young girls that the most important thing to be in life is sexy, desirable, and for lack of a better term, fuckable — no matter what age you are, or how inappropriate that might be.
Amber, presumably, has been exposed to these messages, like the rest of us, for years. Believing them doesn’t make her bad or slutty — it makes her human. Who hasn’t fallen for the “people would like you more if…” pabulum we’re fed from the moment we learn to pick up a magazine or turn on the TV?
I knew plenty of people who were doing what Amber did when I was 14 — and I’m willing to bet that plenty of you did, too. The only difference is that our exploits were shared only via gossipy whispers rather than via YouTube. This new risk — and Amber’s heartbreaking story — proves that parents of young boys need to be teach their sons, now even more than ever, that female bodies and female sexuality are not theirs for the taking… or taping.
Good, important, open and honest text. I especially like the focus on the need to educate boys better.