#slanegirl and why this isn’t about female sexual desire

The #slanegirl hashtag refers to photographs of a teenage girl performing oral sex on at least two men in the audience of the Eminem concert at Slane Castle in Ireland. I do not know the exact details since it’s hard to shift through the rumours, of which there are many, and I do not want to accidentally come across the images. I do believe that photographing anyone without their consent is wrong: I don’t care if this is a child skipping in puddles, a celebrity picking their nose or Prince Harry naked. Taking photos without consent and then distributing them is unacceptable and feeds into bullying culture, particularly since most of the images shared without consent are of people in embarrassing situations.

This situation isn’t just the sharing of embarrassing photos: it’s sexual violence. Sharing photos of people engaged in sex, even if they are in public venue, is sexual violence. I don’t care if that isn’t the position of the law. It’s what the law should be.  The distribution of images of sex without the full consent of all participants is sexual violence.

The fact that the photos are of a teenage girl makes this crime child sexual abuse since a teenager cannot legally consent to sex with an adult nor can they consent to their images being shared publicly. If it were images of an adult woman performing a sex act, it would still be a case of sexual violence. This is without investigating the issue of consent due to substance misuse or the fact that these images have been shared online.

Every single person who has shared or retweeted these images has committed sexual violence. The people who first put the images online deserve to be prosecuted, as does every single  person who has shared them including the people who claimed to be sharing them to demonstrate their “moral outrage” at the images being placed online. 

I hope every single person who has helped to repeatedly sexually violate this young girl gets prosecuted and ends up with a criminal record. 

That said, I am equally concerned about the positive discussions of the article #Slanegirl and the shaming of female desire on Twitter.* The article claims to be a challenge to the shaming of female sexuality but that’s not quite what is happening in the piece. Ignoring the deliberate misrepresentation of radical feminist discourse of female sexuality**, which is disgraceful, the piece assumes that the young girl was an active participant in the act. As yet, we have no confirmation of this ‘fact’. In fact current media reports put the young girl below the age of consent which would make this a story of child sexual abuse. It doesn’t matter if the young girl was an active participant, the fact that adult men were involved makes this a crime. The Irish Independent is also suggesting that the young girl was sexually assaulted at the concert in an attack separate to that which is seen in the photos uploaded. This is a story of the sexual violation of a young girl. It is not the time to ‘celebrate’ female sexual desire.

Shaming women for enjoying sex is misogyny. It is about reinforcing patriarchal control of women’s bodies and creating a dichotomy of good and bad women. However, whether or not individual women enjoy specific sexual acts cannot be separated from a political analysis of the treatment of women as a class. The bodies of women and children are objectified and pornified daily. Suggesting that adult men using the body of a teenage girl for their sexual gratification is something we should celebrate as an example of female sexual desire completely decontextualises sexual violence. It ignores the reality of women’s lives and it belittles the pain this young girl is experiencing due to the abuse. It is rape culture.

Teenagers exploring their sexuality together is a different situation to adult men preying on young teenage girls. It is a constant in our culture and it occurs daily. The only difference now is that the authorities seem to be taking the abuse seriously. This is not to say that teenagers engaged in public sexual acts aren’t problematic but that this situation involving a young child is not a celebration of female sexual desire. It’s just another story of the abuse of a young girl by men and those who seek to minimise the responsibility of sexually abusive men.

This is rape culture.

A child has been sexually violated. Repeatedly. 

It is not a story of female sexual desire. This is a story of sexual violence.

* The comments underneath the article are a disgusting display of male violence, misogyny and the shaming of women. 

*This particular blogger has an obsession with radical feminism and has been caught on numerous occasions making outright lies about radical feminist theory. 

8 thoughts on “#slanegirl and why this isn’t about female sexual desire”

  1. Yes i fully agree with Louise and the law should change to criminalise the posting of photos or videos of any sexual act, without the consent of all concerned. Just because it happened in public does’nt give anyone the right to post them on the www. If the photos were taken by a hidden camera in a hotel room it would be a criminal act. The effects and embarrasement for this young girl are the same. The legislators need to address this modern sexual crime. It is wrong. Aidab Brennan

  2. I’ve mulled over this issue and I’d like to agree with you as well as disagree on some of the issues this event has raised:

    1. At 17 you are old enough to know what is right or wrong, giving oral sex in public is one of those decisions you shouldn’t struggle with.

    2. All acts of public sex in my opinion are just that Public. If people are walking by and decide to capture it and post your activity on the internet, it’s because they can and there should be NO law against it, it’s a public duty that exists to be able to report an inappropriate activity/expose unacceptable occurrences in public.

    3. And this is probably the most annoying of it all and where I agree with you, that “ONLY” the girl was singled out. The guy is equally responsible for this lewd public act.

    You say lets hang the cameraman? I say no because it because of him we now get an insight to what really happens when you let your 17 year old girl attend a concert on her own.

    This is not Rape Culture as you put it, its a decay of morals, the girl was not forced to perform the acts she did so lets not get angelic about this. It was done in a very public manner, I don’t see where the problem

    1. manonice,

      There are a couple of things that bother me about your comment.

      The first one – and I can’t really put my finger on precisely which part of your comment this applies to – is that there is a ‘shaming’ aspect to what you’ve said. And, despite wanting some of the focus to be on the two men, you seem particularly keen to direct that ‘shaming’ at the girl.

      The second one – and I’m clearer on this – is that your comment is victim-blaming. This is how I read what you said:
      – She, at 17, made the decision to ‘give oral sex’, but she really should have known better.
      – Indirectly, the girl’s parents are responsible for what happened – if you let your 17 year-old daughter leave the house, what do you think is going to happen?
      – The girl was not forced to perform the acts – she consented, so she’s to blame for what happened.
      – This happened because the girl has questionable morals.

      You say that ‘the guy is equally responsible’, but you spend something like 80% of your comment blaming the girl and analysing her morally-deficient actions.

      Just like Adam’s comment below, your comment is also rape culture.

  3. 17 is below the age of consent in pornography which makes the distribution of the images illegal.

    Anyone photographing others engaged in sexual acts without their consent is committing sexual violence.

    And, you may want to read some of the news media on this as you’ll find that the girl in question had already reported a sexual assault to the police that day.

    This is rape culture and the fact that you think its a decay of morals is disgusting. You have no idea whether or not the girl was forced into doing it but please continue making excuses for men who commit sexual violence but do so elsewhere.

  4. What on earth are you talking about? If I, as a consenting adult, chose to have sex in public with another consenting adult, I cannot then complain if someone takes a picture and shares it online. I can certainly not expect to have a case for ‘sexual violence’ against the person(s) who took/uploaded the pictures. When you decide to engage in any sexual act in a public place, by definition you do not have a right to privacy (which, incidentally, is usually why people do it). If you want privacy, you do it in a private place.

    Also you are mistaken that this is an act of child sexual abuse – the girl was over the age of consent, she is a consenting adult. Taking/sharing/distributing the pictures is illegal, as she is under the 18 year old limit for pornography, but you are wrong to say that these men (boys) in the picture were abusing a child. She was certainly of a legal age to consent, and does not look (though we will probably never know for sure) like she was being in any way forced into these acts.

    That said, she was certainly drinking, was very possibly drunk, and there’s a good chance she was on drugs, knowingly or not, so it is absolutely wrong to take advantage of a vulnerable girl in a public place.

    but you’re trying to make this into something it isn’t – ” story of the abuse of a young girl by men”? nope. It’s the POSSIBLY abusive, more likely consensual, sexual act between a legal young woman and a young man of what looks like a similar age.

    This isn’t rape culture – although the reaction we have seen on twitter and other social media sites does indeed point in that direction, and I’m certainly not condoning the treatment of this poor girl. She has either done something very stupid, probably under the influence, or has been drugged, in which case this becomes a matter of sexual assault.

  5. Adam

    You say, “She was certainly of a legal age to consent, and does not look (though we will probably never know for sure) like she was being in any way forced into these acts,” and also, “It’s the POSSIBLY abusive, more likely consensual, sexual act between a legal young woman and a young man of what looks like a similar age.”

    But you also say, “she was certainly drinking, was very possibly drunk, and there’s a good chance she was on drugs, knowingly or not,” and also, “She has either done something very stupid, probably under the influence, or has been drugged.”

    So…certainly drinking, very possibly drunk, probably under the influence, a good chance she was on drugs or had been drugged…yet somehow you are trying to make a case for this being a consensual act.

    I think you are very confused. Your comment is rape culture.

  6. I just wrote out a very long, well thought out response, which google chrome, in its infinite wisdom, decide to discard when I tried to post it.

    So this isn’t going to be half as well articulated.

    Of course its consensual, unless A: she was SO drunk or drugged that she was incapable of saying no (it seems apparent from the pictures that this was not the case) or B: she was drugged against her knowledge or consent, in which case this is a matter of rape or sexual assault. As I said in my original post, we do no yet know if this was the case, but I am making my arguments based on the strong possibility that she knew exactly what she was drinking/taking.

    So yes, of course it was consensual. Or are you claiming that if she was drunk (though not ‘passing-out drunk’), it couldn’t be consensual?

    I also made the point that neither you nor the original poster have found any way to refute some of my main points: that, at 17, she is legal, and furthermore, the boys in the pictures look to be of similar ages, so all the talk about ‘grown men abusing children’ is sensationalist bullshit. Two consenting adults does not equal men abusing children.

    Also, my comment ‘is rape culture’? No. you meant to type “your comment is indicative of rape culture”, but you’d be wrong there too.

    glad to clear that up for you.

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