Second “sexting suicide” on record: When can we talk about slut-shaming?

This story is tragic: ‘Sexting’ bullying cited in teen girl’s suicide – TODAY show.

But we need to look past the shiny new label “sexting suicide” and put this in a larger context. We need to stop punishing girls for expressing their sexuality–parents, peers, and the justice system, you’re all responsible.

How can we understand this suicide, which seems so new and different, in the context of our long history of labeling some women “sluts” and “whores”? Instead of another quotation from Parry Aftab (“it’s dangerous, don’t do it”) what could Leora Tanenbaum and the hundreds of women she interviewed about being tormented as the “slut” in high school add to this conversation?

We need to think seriously about the connection between the well-established statistics of gay teen suicide and Hope Witsell’s “sexting” suicide.  Can we fight homophobia with dramatic narratives of dead gay teenagers?

What can we accomplish with stories of “sexting suicides”? Can we re-write them to raise the alarm about the unrealistic and damaging sexual standards that adolescent girls are (still) held to? Is it possible to use these stories to argue that our sexual and gender norms are deadly?

UPDATE: an excellent analysis at The Curvature. More great commentary at Sylvia Has A Problem.

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