Friday 21 July 2017

Eilis O'Hanlon: Reaction to 'Slane Girl' is more complex than merely exposing evils of misogyny

It's a cliche to see the fallout from Slane as an example of the shaming of female sexual desire

SAME ACT, DIFFERENT OUTCOME: Tulisa received public sympathy, not condemnation, when a former lover posted a sex tape on the internet
SAME ACT, DIFFERENT OUTCOME: Tulisa received public sympathy, not condemnation, when a former lover posted a sex tape on the internet

Eilis O'Hanlon

OPINION on Slane Girl seems to be divided into two opposing camps. One is that she was no better than she should be and therefore deserved everything she got. This thoroughly nasty point of view was confined mainly to the uglier recesses of the internet. The second is that she was a victim of a societal double standard which considers men or boys to be 'legends' for getting their ends away, but condemns girls and women as morally corrupt for doing exactly the same thing. I have some sympathy for the second argument; something is clearly awry when a stark naked boy can engage in sexual activity in a field but it's only the girl who gets the blame. Rather than using that as a springboard into a deeper examination of what was going on here, however, many of those commenting on the story seemed content to simply stop thinking at that point, sit back smugly, satisfied to have exposed the evils of misogyny. It's not that simple.

Had Slane Girl and the boys in question retreated to a tent to make out, where they were then photographed without their consent, there may have been a few tut tuts at the moral decline of modern youth, but the focus of the story would have been entirely different. Slane Girl would have been the object of almost universal sympathy as the victim of a cruel invasion of privacy. Look at Tulisa. Private pictures from a man she thought she could trust appeared on the internet. The result was overwhelming sympathy for the X Factor star and wall-to-wall condemnation of him. Same act. Different outcome. The internet is filled, likewise, with images of women having sex with men, or other women, or combinations of the same. Far from considering these women worthless sluts, many men consider these women to be 'legends' too.

It's patently not the fact of having oral sex which brings shame on anyone, it is the context in which the act take place, and it's a ridiculous cliche to see the fallout from Slane then as an example of the shaming of female sexual desire. It's also incredibly shallow to assert that men do not face similar shame when found engaging in similar public acts. Tell that to Neil Prendeville, the Cork DJ who was accused of masturbating on a plane. A quick search on Google will return scores of stories of men whose lives have been destroyed after such exposure.

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