Georgina Guedes

What the #jadapose rape has taught us

2014-07-11 14:17

Georgina Guedes

A young American girl's sexual assault was publicised and mocked on social media. There’s something very wrong with a society in which this can happen, says Georgina Guedes, but there are lessons to be learnt.

A 16-year-old American girl called Jada was given a drink that caused her to lose consciousness at a party in Houston. She was undressed and, she believes, raped.

The boys at the party took photos of her while she was unconscious but fully clothed, and then afterwards of her naked body. They posted the pictures on Instagram. This was the first that Jada knew of the assault.

This is a pretty awful set of circumstances. She was raped or assaulted, her privacy was invaded, her dignity was torn to shreds, and then, everything that happened to her was posted on social media.

But that's not where it ended. Oh no. Just when you think that the world has shown the levels of indecency to which it is able to stoop, it uses the magnifying glass of social media to increase the horror.

The girl had already been sexually assaulted, stripped naked, photographed and humiliated on social media. So what did the internet do? Did it rap the boys circulating these photos over the knuckles? Did it say something like, "Hang on, guys, this ain't cool. That girl's naked; she's certainly not consenting. Don't do this to her!" Anybody?

Nope! Not even a little bit.

Do you know what the fine people of social media did instead? They began taking photographs of themselves, replicating the crumpled pose of her naked, used body and spread them on Instagram and Twitter, with the hashtag #jadapose. Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, right?

Jada speaks out

The story gets a little better after this. Jada herself, reckoning that there's really no more humiliation to be had, went public. The world has seen her face and her naked body, and has made a mockery of what happened to her, so what the hell?

She came forward and spoke out bravely about what happened to her on television. "The picture, everybody already seen my face and my body, but that's not what I am and who I am. I'm angry, scared and in pain." She wants to see her alleged attackers brought to justice.

One of the alleged perpetrators took to social media to, rather inexpertly, defend himself, calling her paradoxically both a "hoe" and a "snitch".

However, the one uplifting - if you can call it that - thing that has come out of all of this, is that the social media backlash against the #jadapose meme has been a powerful wave of fury and support. When I heard about #jadapose and searched for the hashtag to find out more, I couldn't find any of the offending tweets, but instead encountered a fast-refreshing stream of love and support for Jada. I hope she's watching.

Teach respect for women

So, why am I talking about this? It's a reminder to all parents to teach their children respect for women, to teach them what is kind, and right, and good. If "snitch" and "hoe" are the responses from someone who did this to a girl, there's something very broken in society. And I can say "society" with confidence, rather than targeting this one boy, because we know what happened next.

There is an equal - worse - state of disregard for women and their dignity and their right to make their own decisions about their own bodies in South Africa.

Raise your sons with care.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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