Viral post ‘Cancelled at 17’ sparks heated debate over cancel culture

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A New York magazine The article titled ‘Cancelled at 17’ – in which author Elizabeth Weil investigates the fallout at a US high school after a teenager shared nude photos of his girlfriend without her consent – sparked a new discussion on the cancel culture.

In the article, Weil describes a situation involving a high school student named Diego (all names in the article are pseudonyms), in which he shared a nude photo of his teenage girlfriend Fiona at a party. Following the incident, a number of students called Diego out for sharing the photo without his consent, calling him an “abuser”. They planned a walkout over the school’s handling of sexual misconduct, and a list even appeared on the girls’ bathroom wall titled “People to Watch,” including Diego’s name.

Since its publication on June 21, the article “Cancelled at 17” has been the subject of numerous criticisms. Arguably the biggest criticism was that it framed Diego as a victim of cancel culture rather than focusing on Fiona, an actual victim of sexual misconduct. Others have offered a critique of the term “cancel culture” itself. Is it really null culture if a boy who shared nude photos of a girl without her consent suffered consequences for her, suggested writer Jordan Crucchiola on Twitter.

“‘Cancelled at 17’ is a truly irresponsible title for a story about a boy who shared nude photos of a girl without her consent and suffered the consequences,” she wrote. “Ask yourself if these consequences are fair, of course. But stop confusing “cancel” with CONSEQUENCE. »

“When I was at HS, a girl was shunned and made fun of by the whole school for being overweight. Adults called it an inevitable part of the HS experience,” said writer Brittany Van Horne, also on Twitter. “She’s never received an article from NY Mag. When a boy shares nudes of a girl and kids choose to shun him for it, why does it suddenly cancel the culture?”

Rape culture is undeniably perpetuated in environments – ie schools – where sexual violence against women is normalized and excused. Teens using misogynistic language or trivializing rape with offensive jokes are part of the problem, but how school administrations handle reports of sexual assault plays a major, if not more, important role.

“It’s worth reading as a human story, but framing it around ‘cancel culture’ rather than institutional failure, social media and utterly predictable adolescent behavior seems far off” , commented journalist and You are wrong about host Michael Hobbes.

“The track ‘Cancelled at 17’ actually made me physically angry. Viewing assault, bullying etc. as a ‘mistake’ and demanding that abused people be held to forgiveness – when the system has let it down and they had to take matters into their own hands – is nonsense,” wrote journalist Ruth Etiesit Samuel.

In the wake of the Me Too movement, high school students across the United States have taken a stand against sexual abuse, but more specifically against the failure of school administrations to seriously deal with reports of sexual assault. Although government policies such as Title IX are in place to supposedly support victims of gender discrimination, activists say this is still insufficient.

In 2020, the Trump administration finalized new regulations for Title IX, which allowed for more protections for those accused of sexual assault or rape on college campuses. President Joe Biden is set to undo many of these provisions with his Title IX amendments, but that still might not be enough.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), women between the ages of 16 and 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault. And of those students between the ages of 18 and 24, only 20 percent report cases of rape to campus law enforcement.

Cancel culture, a term used to describe attempts to “cancel” a person or group for what is considered unacceptable behavior or opinions, of course, has been having a moment for some time now. Comedians protest against the cancellation of culture that will lead to the death of comedy. Former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard once linked cancel culture to extremist groups like Isis and al-Qaeda. Even Pope Francis gave his two opinions on canceling culture earlier this year, calling it a “form of ideological colonization” that leaves no room for freedom of expression.

Clearly, the public debate around cancel culture and sexual misconduct is ongoing. But in the case of the “Cancelled at 17” article, critics think what may not be discussed is who the real victim is in a sexual assault case.

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