If you weren’t tuned into the many Twitter kerfuffles last week, let me help you get caught up in as few words as possible. College boys find high school girl cute and talk about her in an obscenely sexual manner — complete with a penis drawn over her selfie, of course, and fantasies of masturbating to a young picture of her when they’re old — in a Facebook group chat. High school girl finds out about the conversation because college boys intentionally add her into the group at least three times. High school girl’s cousin posts screenshots of this conversation on Twitter, in an attempt to raise awareness of blatant misogyny, sexism and objectification, and while many rallied support behind the high school girl and her cousin, many still cried “foul” and claimed that public shaming of the college boys was “going too far” and “done for attention,” because obviously, women are just being their usual noisy selves and “boys will be boys.”
This may seem like a very small issue, when so many anti-women males are grabbing seats of power all over the world, but this is how sexism seeps into human consciousness. When we fail to stand up against “small” crimes like this one, we fail to stop sexism in its tracks, and we let it grow into a monster that’s even harder to fight. What is the message we’re sending to men, women, and to young boys and girls, when we say it’s okay to talk about women this way?
Much of the anger surrounding the issue likely escalated when unrelated parties jumped in to defend the college boys. We’re told: It’s not that big a deal. But it is. This is how sexist behavior develops and festers. When we say that it’s okay to engage in these “harmless” jokes that ultimately degrade and demean women, we say that it’s okay to do it on a larger scale. We can try and stop this from happening again and again by calling sexists out and debunking the myths surrounding the issue.
They’re doing it for attention. Even if they were doing it for attention, it’s not for the kind of attention defenders seem to think. The fact that this situation blew up means that, thankfully, more women have spoken up to say that this kind of behavior is not okay. And even though there are also women who spoke in favor of the perpetrators, at least it’s being discussed and the issue has come to light.