In the Trenches

Understanding the adolescent mind.

The Westchester Smut List

What's the difference between a stud and a slut.

The Westchester Smut (Slut) List on Facebook drew the attention of students, parents and school authorities last week in Westchester County, New York. The list consisted of the names of 99 high school girls; the page registered over 7,000 fans within 24 hours.  

Last Tuesday, in an interview with RNN Channel 6, I spoke about the seriousness of cyberbullying and the lethal effects it can have on susceptible teenage victims. Yet there are bigger concerns that pertain to cyberbullying: sexual harassment and sexual discrimination.

The purpose of the smut list is to demean, humiliate, stigmatize, and isolate females. The list also creates unwanted sexual attention, as the girls are ultimately reduced to the category of slut.

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By now we should have advanced beyond the double standard: Males who engage in sexual behavior are still called studs, and females who may or may not have engaged in sexual activity are still called sluts. Below are several posts from the Westchester Smut List:

"Make sure to put _ name of girl__ from Scarsdale, that Jew bitch."

"LOL this is wack. only white girls!!! Dude who made this page is def a white boy."

"These girls are slimes SLIIIIIIIIMMMMMMEEEES."

"This s--t is retarded. U call girls sluts then u f--k them... what does that make u?"

The urban dictionary's definition of stud and slut gives us additional insight into today's youth culture and their view of the world.

Stud: A guy who is popular with the ladies and has no trouble getting laid, and who may also be attractive-looking, but not always.

Slut: Refers to a sexually promiscuous person, usually female. One who engages in sexual activity with a large number of persons, occasionally simultaneously. Also refers to one who engages in sexual activity outside of a long-term relationship within the duration of said relationship. Less commonly, used as a derogatory term by one female for another during periods of conflict.

Females do form strong bonds with one another, but they are also highly competitive. Humiliating and denigrating another female, by calling her a slut, shows that women have internalized society's view of females as sluts not studs.

While the FB Westchester Smut List is not the first of its kind, it hits home for me because my children attended these schools and many of the adolescents I work with are students in Westchester. 

It is imperative for parents and schools to join forces against sexual discrimination and sexual harassment by educating their children and students. Parents need to look within themselves and ask if they are contributing to the problem. 

Parents are responsible for raising respectful and empathetic children; they must take an active role in educating their daughters and sons about kindness, respect, and what constitutes discrimination and harassment. For their part, schools must institute no-tolerance policies against sexual harassment. They must also respond to incidents like the Facebook list with the same intensity as threats of school violence.

Imagine, if all parents and schools joined together in support of educating and stopping cyberbullying, gender, racial and religious discrimination among our children--we can change the world one child at a time.

2011 Wanda Behrens-Horrell, All Rights Reserved

wjb60@columbia.edu

Wanda Behrens-Horrell, L.C.S.W., N.C.Psy.A, is a child developmental psychoanalyst in Scarsdale, NY.

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