What kind of world do we live in when young men are so proud of violating unconscious girls that they pass proof around to their friends? It’s the same kind of world in which being labeled a slut comes with such torturous social repercussions that suicide is preferable to enduring them. As a woman named Sara Erdmann so aptly tweeted to me, “I will never understand why it is more shameful to be raped than to be a rapist.”
And yet it is: so much so that young men seem to think there’s nothing wrong with—and maybe something hilarious about—sharing pictures of themselves raping young women. And why not? Their friends will defend them, as they did in Steubenville, tweeting that the young woman was “asking for it” and that the boys were being unfairly targeted.
Women and girls are the ones expected to carry the shame of the sexual crimes perpetrated against them. And that shame is a tremendous load to bear, because once you’re labeled a slut, empathy and compassion go out the window. The word is more than a slur—it’s a designation.