I was outraged when I read about Jada, a 16-year-old girl from Houston, Texas who blew up on social media overnight after pictures of her - drunk, unconscious, and splayed out on the floor - went viral. As the story goes, she attended a house party with friends, but unbeknownst to her, sipped from a spiked drink from the her teenage male host. Her appearance on the meme was not her doing, as she was stripped naked and allegedly raped assaulted. Other teens began mimicking her pose under the hashtag #jadapose, followed by vulgar captions such as 'hit that'.
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Can you imagine waking up and seeing your face being mocked as an anonymous caricature on social media? People have dehumanised you in order to displace responsibility and erase any guilt loaded on their conscience when made aware of the gravity of their conduct. I have seen this happen to acquaintances; older and younger women, and I have seen first hand, the effects it has on their confidence. These memes might be comical to the naked eye, but the people behind them are scarred for life. We are, in essence, engaging in the berating of a young girl, with no care as to who she is or her wellbeing.
Speaking to an assembly of secondary school girls in Kuje, Nigeria
Grounds of the Secondary School in Kuje, Nigeria
As a mentor, I was faced with much the same dilemma, when a mentee stated she wouldn't attend school for the final week as a result of bullying, I had to tread the fine line between feeding her inspirational quotes or scolding her to see the realities of life like her mother probably would. I chose neither, instead adopting my usual skill to serve reality as I've learned to see it, while also urging her to live the sort of life that'll allow her the opportunity to view it for herself but from a far more victorious seat that I was unfortunate to be ushered to in my teens. Working with young girls, almost the same age as Jada, I saw how impressionable they were and how the words and actions of others moulded them into the women they would become. More so now, than ever before, it is important to consciously aid the healthy development of young girls to enlighten them as to what is morally acceptable and unacceptable.
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Jada? She's one of the young girl, who I'm sure, have the support of good parents and mentors because not only has she churned a positive from a negative, but she has created awareness among the millenials of rape culture and gender bias. As an expression of solidarity, people have been posting pictures on social media of a raised fist or holding signs with a new hashtag; #IAmJada. Empowering captions demanding a change in rape culture and social education ensue. This shows, yet again, that the power of social media cannot be streamlined to negate social values alone, but can be adopted to strengthen moral etiquette and charges Millenials to take ownership of their content and post things to empower and not tear down their readership.
It's time we stood together to educate the young as to the value of the female body. It is no body is entitled to it, but the owner alone, and rape / sexual assault cannot be taken lightly. BLEURGH