• Sweden's news in English
 

'Instagram slut shaming riot was healthy'

Published: 20 Dec 2012 08:00 GMT+01:00

When I was a teenager in the 80s, it was common to find sexist graffiti in the bathrooms at my schools. It wasn't rare to find that someone had called a girl a whore or a slut. Or that people left comments about their appearance for all to see.

As I recall, none of the adults ever commented on these public messages left on the school walls. I can't remember a single teacher addressing the content of the scribbles, nor discuss what they said about dignity and respect and how we treat each other.

What I did sometimes hear was a mumbled complaint about the graffiti per se, the actual act of vandalism, and whether that was acceptable.

The content, however, never came up. It didn't matter if the pencil marks spelled out insults or cuss words, or whether they instead formed a sketched outline of a heart containing the name of a loved one.

I was reminded of all this when local Gothenburg politician Robert Hammarstrand asked, in the wake of the Instagram 'slut shaming' riot, if the schools in Sweden's second biggest city ever discuss values with their pupils?

Because what happened in Gothenburg isn't a story about Instagram. It isn't a story about the internet. It's the story of how people treat one another.

We're talking about ancient social structures where a few try to gain popularity by making others feel bad.

This is a story about bullying, which existed long before the internet.

Of course, the internet plays its part. Rumours can spread in the blink of an eye with the internet, in this case setting of a demonstration that turned riotous in part. But let's remember that the internet is not the cause, it's a mere tool.

The internet mirrors what is going on in society at large. In a way, the internet helps us to detect, and hopefully to deal with, problems that we never acknowledged before, or that we somehow thought were beyond our control, or some sort of given.

When I was a teenage girl in the 80s, I never once thought to protest those scribbles on the bathroom wall. I never thought to question that someone had scrawled "the school's biggest boobs" across the dining hall door, with my name written beside it.

It didn't matter that every time I saw those words I wanted to hide, to hide my breasts.

The riot in Gothenburg is a healthy expression of teenagers refusing to accept that others have the right to name, shame, and abuse them.

Of course, we have to question how they decided to stand up and say it, but protests are in and of themselves good. In this case, they hopefully signal the start of something new.

But in order for it to be the start of something new, us adults cannot fear the internet because that is not the underlying problem - dignity and respect for your fellow human beings, that's where the key lies.

And we must question ourselves and how we, even as adults, address each other. What signals we are sending to today's teenagers and to our children.

We won't achieve that by spinning into a moral panic about the big bad internet.

We need to understand what our youth get up to online but also offline.

And one more thing, and an important thing, to remember....

To turn around and point our fingers accusingly at young girls and tell them not to upload "provocative" pictures of themselves is not helpful. It is the equivalent of telling a rape victim that she has herself to blame because she wore a short skirt.

The solution is not to ask our teenagers to adapt to the rules of the games written by their abusers, the solution is to change the rules of the games by questioning the abusers' values.

Sofia Mirjamsdotter

Follow Sofia Mirjamsdotter on Twitter

Follow The Local on Twitter

Your comments about this article

09:58 December 20, 2012 by RobinHood
Ms Mirjamsdotter's intelligent piece fails to cover two important points.

Firstly, it's one thing to make a "healthy expression" of outrage against bullying, it's quite another to hunt down a girl, beat her half to death, and then hang her from a lamp post. There was no beating or hanging only because a quick thinking teacher hustled the girl out the back door.

Secondly, the angry mob were not the victims of bullying, healthily expressing themselves. The mob were the actual bullies themselves. They thought their postings to the Facebook and Instagram accounts would be anonymous, but in fact they were public and they were exposed as the nasty backstabbers that they are.
10:04 December 20, 2012 by Mxzf
"I can't remember a single teacher addressing the content of the scribbles, nor discuss what they said about dignity and respect and how we treat each other"

You forget that at that time, teachers weren't there to raise the kids, like they seem to be these days. When we were in school, teachers were there to help us grasp the school subjects. Raising kids were left to parents or fritidsledare (or in worst case, kurator or psychiatrist).
12:29 December 20, 2012 by djkroo
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
12:45 December 20, 2012 by TG22
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:01 December 20, 2012 by Nomark
This is a bizarre article. As pointed out above the demonstration was actually an attempt to mob one person; as such it resembled a lynch mob rather a principled stand. Furthermore, the demonstrators consisted in no small part of bullies who had their anonymity removed and were annoyed about this.

Furthermore, the internet played a crucial role in all of this; perhaps even the key role. Previously, this type of bullying was localised. A far greater community is now involved and, as seen above, involves the systematic removal of an anonymity which someone who scrawls on a toilet wall need not fear.

In amongst all of this there were of course some people there who genuinely concerned about the whole issue of mobbing. However, the author ought to remove her rose tinted glances and see it for what it is rather than what she would like it to be.
18:41 December 20, 2012 by redfish
When people get offended about the idea of telling the girls they should change their behavior, it reminds me of Americans who get offended by the idea that their foreign policy causes enemies abroad.

No, Americans aren't responsible for terrorists who kill them, and girls aren't responsible for people who bully them. But a "war on bullying" won't end bullying more than a "war on terrorism" will end terrorism. Bullies will always exist, terrorists will always exist.

"Ancient social structures". Please. In her ancient history of bullying, the author starts in the 1980s. Yet, when parents and school teachers had less tolerance for lewd behavior by students, they also had less tolerance for shaming and name-calling.
14:39 December 21, 2012 by godnatt
Yes, public lynchings and vigilantism are very healthy things...

I didn't see crowds of girls out there "protesting". It was a crowd of thugs looking for blood.

Once again the violent offenders are victims according to the sheltered lefties safe in fortress Vasastan.
01:25 December 23, 2012 by Lars Porsenna
Sure; it would have been even healthier if the police had beaten the soul out of those "protesters".

>The riot in Gothenburg is a healthy expression of teenagers refusing to accept that

>others have the right to name, shame, and abuse them.

I still can't understand how healthy can be a angry mob that in search of a scapegoat would not mind of beating an innocent in the street. (And I can't see the connection with jumping on cars).
22:43 December 27, 2012 by mungo
The slut-shaming itself IS a questioning of values - the values of licentiousness and loose sexuality where any sense of spirituality and sacredness of ones sexual persona is thrown away and girls/boys act out as animalistic - in the sexual realm. Any Tom , Dick or Harry will do and why be so narrow-minded as to exclude the basketball team ! ... freedom !

While sex is not a perversity ....the animalistic and 'anyone can do me' type attitudes are not sex at all ...but a spiritual perversity.

kudo's to those who Do possess values, are affronted by casually perverse sexuality ... and are willing to call a slut ....a slut. Notice that the offended 'sluts' want to be left completely free from criticism or outing ...in fact...they appear only too willing to beat their critics senseless. Freedom doesn't reach as far as disagreeing and pointing out people's actions that you do not agree with.

Everyone in their social circles apparently knows what these girls are up to ....they are no doubt locally famous ...at least with all the boys ...so why be ashamed ?
00:11 January 3, 2013 by Bentham
@mungo

according to what i've read nobody knew these girls personally. it started out with an argumentation between somone/some people and the girl who got to take the blame. according to her her antagonists had created an facebook account with her name to make it look like she had spread all the (false) rumours and then the snowball began rolling with an call to demonstration which then was used by hoards of stupid thugs that had nothing to do with it other than just for the sake to make a riot.
16:58 January 4, 2013 by jvtx3232
Typical lefty twit. Imagine! Defending & rationalizing rioting, disturbing of the peace, violence, property destruction, and other sundry offenses associated with this immigrant riot! That's pretty sick. Her article is without value.
Today's headlines
Swedish WW2 soldier buried 70 yrs after death
Vetlanda church. Photo: Karin Thuresson

Swedish WW2 soldier buried 70 yrs after death

A Swedish soldier has been buried 70 years after he died fighting with Finland against Soviet troops during World War Two. Remarkably, his sister was still alive to attend the service. READ  

World's first limousine snowplough for hire
Håkan Andersson's limousine snowplough. Photo: Haga Limo

World's first limousine snowplough for hire

A businessman in central Sweden is advertising what he claims is the world’s first Hummer limousine snowplough for hire on Blocket, Sweden’s version of eBay. READ  

Breastmilk drug could fight resistant bacteria

Breastmilk drug could fight resistant bacteria

Swedish researchers may have found a solution to the growing resistance to antibiotics in the most unlikely of places — breastmilk. READ  

Video
Swedish baby wins TV fame in US
A screenshot of Alma and Maja before the collision from America's Funniest Home Videos

Swedish baby wins TV fame in US

A Swedish baby and her King Charles Spaniel scored more than three million views on America’s Funniest Home Videos in just one day, after the baby's father sent a video of the then six-month-old being bowled over by the puppy. READ  

Royal couple blames tax woes on identity theft
Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill in December 2014. Photo: TT

Royal couple blames tax woes on identity theft

Chris O'Neill, the British-American banker married to Sweden’s Princess Madeleine, has admitted to having had problems over unpaid US taxes, explaining that he had been the victim of identity theft. READ  

Up to four subs feared in Stockholm waters
An enlarged look at the mystery sighting of a suspected submarine in the Stockholm archipelago in October. Photo: TT

Up to four subs feared in Stockholm waters

Sweden’s armed forces now estimate that as many as four submarines were operating in the Stockholm Archipelago in mid-October, the country’s Dagens Industri (DI) newspaper reported on Saturday. READ  

Sweden mulls ticket controls for jihadis
The war in Syria and Iraq has attracted many young Swedish Muslims. Photo: STRINGER/Scanpix

Sweden mulls ticket controls for jihadis

Sweden could introduce controls over airline ticket sales and border crossings as part of a new anti-terror strategy aimed at preventing citizens going abroad to fight for extremist groups. READ  

'Frozen' hanging woman died 'climbing fence'
The fence in Norrköping where the woman was found hanging. Photo: TT

'Frozen' hanging woman died 'climbing fence'

A woman found hanging dead on a fence in Norrköping, about one hour south of Stockholm, was pierced by razor-sharp spikes, but probably ended up there 'by accident', police have concluded. READ  

Sweden's first LGBT pool makes a loud splash
Sweden's first LGBT swimming pool. Photo: Sundbyberg Stad

Sweden's first LGBT pool makes a loud splash

The first swimming pool in Sweden designed for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is making waves in the Swedish media, ahead of its official opening next week. READ  

Princess Madeleine 'not involved in any debt'
Princess Madeleine at the Nobel Prize ceremony in December 2014. Photo: TT

Princess Madeleine 'not involved in any debt'

Sweden's royal family has strongly denied claims that Princess Madeleine's husband Chris O'Neill has debts in the US, saying the US tax authorities 'made a mistake'. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Meet the 'beggars' buttoning up immigration critics
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Features
Learn Sweden's bizarre dating lingo
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Gallery
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Blog updates

23 January

Editor’s blog, January 23rd (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday from The Local’s team in Stockholm. We can’t wait for the weekend, when we’re planning..." READ »

 

14 January

Adjectives and nouns (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hi there, The other day I got a question about combining adjectives and nouns: When you have a..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
'Life as a Swedish candy-maker is sweet'
Society
Why Sweden's viral 'genital' video is getting an English remake
Gallery
IN PICTURES: January snow snaps
National
Why does Sweden's Luleå have a giant ice beaver?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who are Sweden's richest one percent?
Business & Money
How a classic Swedish snack got a revamp for 'busy' Stockholmers
Lifestyle
The Local's top Swedish acts for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Årets Bild photography prize winners
Business & Money
'I met my Swedish man in Tokyo's first Ikea store'
Gallery
Property of the week: A cozy apartment in Bromma, Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: January 17th - 18th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish gravad lax
Lifestyle
Four hot Swedish home design trends
National
How The Local's video on a strange Swedish sound went viral
Gallery
People-watching: January 14th
National
The Local's guide to Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
Swedish Muslims react to new Charlie Hebdo magazine
National
The Local talks to Sweden's Home Affairs Minister about Paris attacks
Business & Money
Will Spotify launch on stock market after users rocket?
Accelerated
Texans and Swedes to play ice instruments
Gallery
Property of the week: An 18th century mansion in Stockholm
Business & Money
'Snowboarding drew me to work in chilly Sweden'
National
Are Sweden's royals moving to London?
National
How Sweden's Charlie Hebdo rally broke a winter protest record
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Stockholm's 'no pants' subway day 2015
Gallery
People-watching: January 10th - 11th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Stockholm holds Charlie Hebdo rally
National
Have you seen Sweden's viral children's 'genital' song?
National
Mother of 'Superman' victim warns of ecstasy drug trend in Sweden
National
Are wolves on the loose in the Swedish capital?
Gallery
People-watching: January 7th
National
Stockholmers discuss why they joined global Paris shooting vigils
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's reaction to Paris magazine shootings
National
The best Swedish songs of the month
National
Ten Swedes who made a lasting impact on the United States
National
The Local meets northern Sweden's frozen Roma beggars
Sponsored Article
Everything you need to know about moving to Stockholm
Sponsored Article
How to jump-start your career in southern Sweden
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

1,140
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options