By Dana Zillgitt, Regular ContributorDecember 8, 2015
image via dailymail.co.uk
With help of the media and an ever increasing global interconnected community, I realize that today’s world is more and more sexualized. Whether we like it or not, sexualized advertisements catch our attention. But usually, the people we see in these ads are adults, and we don’t realize that this kind of sexualization is often imprinted onto our youth. Case and point, recent 12-year-old Junior MasterChef contestant, Valentina Schulz, has barely hit puberty, but she’s causing a storm on Twitter. It’s not because of something she’s said or due to her immense talents in the kitchen. It’s solely because she’s a reasonably attractive 12 year old.
Recently, she’s inspired horrific tweets such as “If there’s consent, is it pedophilia?” “She’ll be a porn star at 12,” and many others just as vile. Keep in mind, she’s barely 12 years old, not even in her teens yet, and grown men are making her a product of their own heinous sexuality. I’m all for promoting your personal comfortability in your own respective sexuality but keep it consenting and with somebody your own age. Don’t prey on a child.
Now, normally I would just shake my head and sigh at this, being profoundly disgusted by the response she’s received, but I’m strangely inspired by the other response these disgusting tweets have garnered. Bring in the trending #premeroasséido, or ‘first harassment’ when translated from Portuguese into English.
Women have taken several social media platforms by storm—over 82,000 times to be exact--to discuss their memories of being sexually harassed for the first time.
An analysis of over 3000 of these posts noted that the first time was usually just when the girl was 9 years old. That’s not even double-digit age yet, and our girls are already being catcalled on the street, if not worse.
This new hash-tag trend has brought to light a global phenomenon of sexual violence and just how prevalent it is in our society. A UN study recently found that 1 in three women will be raped, beaten, or abused by an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime. Another study found that of the 527,000 rapes reported in Brazil last year, 89% were female, 70% were children or adolescents, and they’re guessing that only 10% of total sexual assaults or violence were actually reported to the police. These numbers are terrifying, vile, and truly nauseating. It brings tears to my eyes that these are actual real numbers representing real survivors of crimes.
What other trends has #premeroasséido created or inspired? Well, it’s also shed light on projects like the Everyday Sexism Project, which highlights daily acts of sexism women face on a daily basis, as well as the #HerVoice campaign in India that prompted 9 Indian NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to join forces in order to shed light on and instigate action against sexism, sexual violence, and harassment in India. And, these trends are fortunately just the tip of the iceberg.
This hashtag has opened the floodgates as to what young girls-and young boys-are growing up with and surrounded by.
I think we can all agree that Valentina Schulz is just a child and should not have to be confronted with this kind of harassment. While I’m glad these numbers are shedding light internationally on an epidemic all women can relate to in some sense, I so hope that these numbers do not fall on deaf ears; that they fall on truly active ears with an intrinsic desire to make sure we don’t have more people being included in these statistics. After all, who wants to be reduced to a number? I know I don’t.
So what can we do? We can start educating not only our girls but our boys as well. We can start creating discussions about this part of our society and why it’s so taboo to talk about. We can keep creating discussions to talk about what we can really do to change, so our youth don’t have to experience it.
Can you remember the first time you were sexual harassed? How can we use our own experiences to raise awareness and end this trend? Tell us below!
Dana has her BA in International Affairs & Spanish as well as a mild obsession with rescue animals and all things caffeinated. She’s mastered the art of the selfie, fort building, and even the sass battle. Plus, she can quote 95% of Anchorman and Zoolander.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.