And not meaning to doesn’t excuse you anyway.
It is an undoubtedly fascinating story, raising too many issues to discuss in one article. But I found myself with a growing sense of discomfort after reading much of the coverage and discussion surrounding the app. This stemmed from two points that were raised again and again:
- Our dismay at how publicly exposed these women are and how they need to be educated on the dangers of online privacy.
- What, exactly, Girls Around Me did wrong. All they did, after all, was hook into various services.
It was the first point that initially raised my hackles, because the tone was too similar to statements I had heard before. Not from those writing about this, but from those who believe that young black men shouldn’t be wearing hoodies, or that single women with two children shouldn’t be out at nightclubs. Those who believe in acceptable standards of behavior for groups of people, and that victims of crimes who deviated from these modes of behavior brought these crimes on.
Victim shaming simmers throughout the coverage, unsaid and unintentional, but so does the worst-case scenarios of sexual assault that remain largely unspoken but very clearly imagined. Unsurprisingly, as this a deeply uncomfortable and controversial subject.
Perhaps my ears were too finely-tuned by years of education at a liberal college campus. I may be alone; the majority of opinions formed in the last two days seem to agree that people, especially women, must be educated about the privacy implications of Facebook.
There is a discussion to be had about the default privacy settings of Facebook. But when I hear people proclaim the importance of educating these presumably ignorant young women about the dangers of Facebook, it is just a little too close to comfort to those seeking to educate women about the dangers of hemlines that end above the knee.”