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Why isn't anyone talking about the misogyny involved in Amanda Todd's life and death?

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Photo sourced from R.I.P Amanda Todd Facebook page

With the death of 15-year-old Amanda Todd, BC schools have some reckoning on their hands. Will they take the opportunity to look at the systemic causes of Todd’s experience of harassment and violence, or let the lessons that can be learned from this tragedy get lost in a swamp of ambiguities?

While articles rolled in on mainstream news websites, conversation erupted on Facebook and in personal correspondence over email with women who are engaged in anti-violence and anti-oppression work across the country. In the spirit of our immediate reactions, I am quoting their comments in full.

“I wasn't sure if I should read the [Toronto Sun] article, but I started and I'm disgusted by the framing, at least in what I've read so far. I didn't like how the first part hints that the moral of the story is ‘girls, don't flash your breasts on a webcam,’ like it was her fault,” says Zoe Mallet, a human rights advocate and scholar in Ottawa.

“It made me want to take a topless photo and post it online with a statement of protest. Of course, I won't do this because I know most people wouldn't understand or get it, but the urge was there.”

Jarrah Hodge, member of the City of Vancouver’s Women’s Advisory Committee and founder of feminist blog Gender Focus says, “I found it odd how there seemed to be no specific attempt to address the gender aspects including the factors that led to ‘the mistakes’ she made and the way she was manipulated and slut-shamed. At one point yesterday after they took the video down from YouTube, it was still up at some other sites like ebaumsworld,[...]and it was horrible to see how a lot of folks who didn't know she'd committed suicide were on about how ‘emo’ the video was and how it was ‘whining’ from someone who ‘doesn't know how to give a good BJ.’”

Feminist scholar and writer, and former BC high school teacher Fazeela Jiwa posted: “Why isn't anyone talking about the sexism and misogyny involved in Amanda Todd's life and death? 'Bullying' is important, yes, but it is a vague term that glosses over the structural reasons for why it happens, like race/gender/class/ability. If we don't start talking about the specifics of power structures in high schools, every ‘bullying’ campaign will be a waste of time.”

(182) Comments

Ashley Milbury October 12th 2012 | 5:17 PM

It's vital that we look more at the gendered power dynamics involved in bullying. The crimes committed against Amanda Todd were both adult and misogynist and our response to her death must reflect that.

Jake Wolf October 12th 2012 | 6:18 PM

How come Amanda's parents were never mentioned? Did they deny her as their child because of what she did? If yes, then those are some inhumane parents..instead of supporting her, they stay silent..

Rest In Peace Amanda Todd, you will be missed by everyone and me );

I think everyone makes mistakes, and deserve to have a second chance.

God have mercy on your beautiful soul Amanda.

R.I.P ♥

ShannonBurley October 12th 2012 | 6:18 PM

We decided after this tragic incident that BULLYING NEEDS TO BE STOPPED.  We have started a petition to try to make it illegal!

 

https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/canadian-government-punish-with-t...

 

Milano Lekensa October 12th 2012 | 8:20 PM

Can we please stop just thowing this word around? Do you call a woman a misandrist when she bullies or belittles a man?

There are many ugly angles to the Amanda Todd tragedy, but there is one I have not seen addressed, one sticking in my mind and that is the "mistake" of her momentary breast baring. What kind of a mistake? Well apparently common as many women admit they could have done something like that at her age. And then I have heard misogynists say things like, "Slut, that's what you get for flashing the camera" and it became clear what kind of a culture we are living in, one not much different from a place where a woman could get stoned to death for exposing a leg. Would this happen in a place like France where women sunbathe topless? Never. Would a man who mooned over the internet have the image captured and have a facebook page made to harass him? Ridiculous. A young girl encouraged to briefly expose herself should not be seen as guilty, in the same way as an underage girl cannot participate in consensual sex, but moreover flashing above the waist just shouldn't create this level of drama. Heck, I've flashed enough in my breastfeeding days. There are countless topless statues all over this city and the world. It's her body, her power and when that evil man captured it and did what he did he was taking her body and her power. It was a social media rape and he tortured her to death. Sure Amanda took a risk as we all have done in our lives at some time or another but she is not guilty of any moral transgression. She is a victim and I will be waiting to see whether justice will be served. Our gender equality in this country is counting on it.

S.O. October 12th 2012 | 9:21 PM

I'm so glad to see that someone so clearly articulated some of the thoughts I had when I first saw Amanda's video. All I could think about was why this was not being discussed in terms of sexual harrasment, a framework which *still* doesn't do justice to the intense sexual coercion at the heart of the "bullying" she faced. Thank you for bringing a much-needed analysis of the complex sexual and gender dynamics at work in this story. And thank you for the final lines - it can have a different ending.

I couldn't stop cringing every time I heard this lovely girl's choices referred to as "mistakes." We are so limited by judgements. This article opened my eyes to understand my gut reaction. The problem is more than bullying. Girls and women everywhere need to pay attention to the lesson: to not be defined by, or need constant approval of, our appearance in order to feel valued. We are worth so much more than that.

Nicole October 12th 2012 | 10:22 PM

You cringe when you hear about her choices being talked about as mistakes? Why? Why can we not (like Amanda herself) acknowledge that she *did* make unwise choices, as many teenagers do? Flashing your breasts for attention: not a great way to get a positive and life-affirming response from people. Sleeping with someone else's boyfriend: never, ever a good idea. Yes, the guy was an asshole, and no, Amanda certainly didn't "deserve" the cruelty inflicted upon her. But she still made choices that weren't great, and was aware of that. It's important that we *do* make judgments about behavior, but it's equally important that those judgments are made in a constructive, kind, and useful way. Tragically, as a teenager in the midst of high school hell Amanda did not have the wider perspective that would have shown her a way out of that hell. She needed people to guide her out of the pit she was in, but that help came too late. It's unspeakably sad and tragic, but it doesn't change the fact that unwise decisions were made that she then felt unable to change. RIP.

Jason Bryan October 12th 2012 | 10:22 PM

I'll flash my cock right now to prove that no matter what sex you are, people will call you horrible names for exposing your body.

Erika October 12th 2012 | 10:22 PM

Great article. I've also felt misgivings about the use of the word "bullying" as a catch-all that includes assault, sexual harassment, and a plethora of other systemic issues that are far more insidious and terrible than the cute label could even begin to explain. Among other things, this young woman is a victim of our culture's deep sense of shame related to the female body and female sexuality and how that shame is used as a weapon to control women from such a young age.

Jesse October 12th 2012 | 11:23 PM

everybody makes there own decisions, in this kind of situation somebody needs to be held responsible for the actions, this girl was pushed to this by people who blackmailed her and made her feel like she had nothing to live for.   The people that pushed her to this point should be put on stand and held responsible for the situation, bullying should be under the same level as asult and the people that pushed her to this should be charged to the full exstent of the law And made an example of... Rip amanda i never knew you im sure you were A amazing girl!

 

 

Ayumi October 12th 2012 | 11:23 PM

Also curious how few people seem to take issue with the fact that she was 13 when this happened -- which means just a year earlier, she was in grade six.  Even if it's a sexy and precocious 13-year-old, if you're a grown adult trying to come on to someone that young, you need to have your ass thrown in jail. 

Much more troubling than her "mistake" is how some pedo-predator can get away with luring children. And the utter lack of empathy and compassion among those around her for shaming her rather than her cyber-attacker. And how our culture teaches girls that young to go online looking for men. And that our supposedly "liberal" North American culture remains SO sex-phobic that it freaks out and goes berserk shaming a girl for showing her breasts.

Bullying isn't even the half of it. This whole society needs help.

StopIt JustStopIt! October 12th 2012 | 11:23 PM

What did this young lovely young girl do differently that many 100s no, thousands of girls do every year down in Mexico or Florida during spreak HUH??? They all act make mistakes!  Are they hounded for those mistakes to death!  God Da$^@#(*@%(#*$  it!! No, they are not.... they get away with their behaviours.... they take their tops off and flash... pictures are taken.... they sleep around and have sex with complete strangers during spring breaks.... NO, what was done to Amanda, was purely beyond bullying... it was harrassment, staulkment and vile behaviour by bullies who were brought up by bad parenting!  Plain and simple.  No values and no principles instilled in those ignorant bullies and they should be treated to the full extent of the law!  They bullied her to the point of altering the physiology of her brain.  She was a normal teenager before - and it wasn't after until she was bulllied for a couple years she began to descend into the dark world of anxiety, depression, cutting, bleach drinking and numerous attempts at suicide.... take that for what it is, as she was a happy go lucky girl who was in cheerleading before the jealous vultures couldn't deal with her anymore and decided to shove her into a dark place to where she could never EVER COME OUT OF! They are the ones who continously altered her mind AND MADE HER FEEL UNWORTHY.  NOT HER.  There is a lot to be said for the environment that you are in.... soooo sad.  They broke her spirit - it is true.

luc October 13th 2012 | 12:00 AM

It's so important to change the conversation around this. I read one article which wrote about this incident in as neutral a way as possible, and generally created this subtext: support was in place, she was deeply disturbed, we don't know how deeply her mental troubles ran, she was a troubled teen, no matter where she went her trouble followed her; everything was done according to procedures, but she still killed herself. Aka despite all odds, she chose to die - as if her extreme anxiety, depression and fear were not caused by things that were happening. It's very sad that even at a time like this, the 'institution' is trying to protect itself by stating that procedures were followed. As if that meant anything. Clearly the procedures don't work. Clearly things are very very wrong. Clearly we're all missing a lot of aspects. And you definitely addressed one of these in your article. Acknowledging this misogyny and sexism is huge towards opening a productive dialogue - huge towards creating a different future.

StopIt JustStopIt! October 13th 2012 | 12:00 AM

[quote=Lisa]

There are many ugly angles to the Amanda Todd tragedy, but there is one I have not seen addressed, one sticking in my mind and that is the "mistake" of her momentary breast baring. What kind of a mistake? Well apparently common as many women admit they could have done something like that at her age. And then I have heard misogynists say things like, "Slut, that's what you get for flashing the camera" and it became clear what kind of a culture we are living in, one not much different from a place where a woman could get stoned to death for exposing a leg. Would this happen in a place like France where women sunbathe topless? Never. Would a man who mooned over the internet have the image captured and have a facebook page made to harass him? Ridiculous. A young girl encouraged to briefly expose herself should not be seen as guilty, in the same way as an underage girl cannot participate in consensual sex, but moreover flashing above the waist just shouldn't create this level of drama. Heck, I've flashed enough in my breastfeeding days. There are countless topless statues all over this city and the world. It's her body, her power and when that evil man captured it and did what he did he was taking her body and her power. It was a social media rape and he tortured her to death. Sure Amanda took a risk as we all have done in our lives at some time or another but she is not guilty of any moral transgression. She is a victim and I will be waiting to see whether justice will be served. Our gender equality in this country is counting on it.

HELLO, HELLO, IS ANYONE HOME THERE?

What does her breast baring have to do with it - grow up.... 100s and 1000s of young girls do it every year during spring breaks - please don't act like you don't know that doesn't go on - DO THEY GET HOUNDED TO DEATH.... GRAB A BRAIN MAN!   OH, NO MAYBE YOU DON'T HAVE  ONE BIG ENOUGH TO THINK ABOUT THAT - THAT GOES ON ALL THE TIME! DUH

 

StopIt JustStopIt! October 13th 2012 | 12:00 AM
Jason Bryan wrote:

I'll flash my cock right now to prove that no matter what sex you are, people will call you horrible names for exposing your body.

TELL YOU WHAT- THIS is not the time and place ya goof, go find a more appropriate place, hhhm, say, like a porn site ok?  byebye good lord! unreal

Keith Maillard October 13th 2012 | 12:00 AM
Thanks for the article, Krissy. What's already been said is true: calling it "bullying" aims attention in the wrong direction, as though it's a personal defect, that all we have to do is convince the bullies of the error of their ways and all will be well, but that is not the case. What is going on is systemic--it's about children and teenagers having to deal with a brutal and sometimes deadly game that's played in the hell holes of contemporary high schools. It's about power. It's about boys controlling girls... and controlling access to girls. The girls who form "mean girl" groups are doing so to protect themselves. The system requires that not only do you form alliances for self-protection but that you bully other people. Only a small number of kids can opt out of this. As long as it's called simply "bullying," nothing will change, ever, ever. The violence, of course, is aimed not only at girls but at anyone who violates gender conventions. Teens themselves have to create an alternative, and we who have survived this shit have to do all we can to help them. Is it any wonder that The Hunger Games is such a huge success with teens, particularly teen girls? The story is about a girl who has to fight for her life with thousands of spectators watching while somebody else defines her sexuality. Isn't that a perfect metaphor for high school?
Elizabeth October 13th 2012 | 5:05 AM

I really do think that this man not only did he violate her, but I think that he is a Child Preditor. What he did, was commit Child Pornography towards the world. And that in it's own sense is sickening.

fed_up_with_the_bs October 13th 2012 | 6:06 AM

Sad part is... if this was a 16 year old boy who did the flashing and got bullied and killed himself, he would have been called a "sexual pervert" and he "deserved it"...

a girl does it, shes a heroine and / or a martyr. Notice the absence of females saying what she did (flashing online) was "wrong".

None of you. And with that absence, you are opening the door for it to happen to another female child because she doesn't know it's "wrong" cause you won't teach her that it is... and most of you got the nerve to call yourselves "mothers".

Amanda Todd's death is being used as a vehicle for feminazi's political ajendas and misandry ...that is just utterly disgusting. so once again, Amanda's being "used".. but this time by other women for their own selfish reasons.

Shame on you. Let the girl rest in peace and stop trying to politically rape her and scavange her death for fuel to run your  "misandry machine". Shes been through enough.

Stop being a bully.

May October 13th 2012 | 10:10 AM

I can't stop thinking about this horrible story.  I tried talking to my husband about it and he blamed the girl and her parents.  My 15 year old daughter was indifferent and said "well, what did you expect?". My friends blamed facebook. My 17 year old son just grunted and went back to awesomer. It's like I was walking around with a pebble in my shoe and I couldn't get it out.  I finally read your article, and yes, thank-you thank-you thank-you for putting into words what I was feeling. 

Your mom October 13th 2012 | 10:10 AM

Are we forgetting the fact that she was 15 and therefore should not be exposing herself? No, it doesn't make it okay to bully her, but there's nothing wrong with teaching children to have standards and boundaries. This wasn't about misogyny (as I recall, pleny of females picked on her too), it was about a bunch of heartless kids pushing a young girl over the edge.

PokeYourFace October 13th 2012 | 10:10 AM
StopIt JustStopIt! wrote:

Jason Bryan wrote:

I'll flash my cock right now to prove that no matter what sex you are, people will call you horrible names for exposing your body.

TELL YOU WHAT- THIS is not the time and place ya goof, go find a more appropriate place, hhhm, say, like a porn site ok?  byebye good lord! unreal

 

I believe he was trying to say that it's ridiculous how people judge others over-critically just for flashing "private parts".

Deanna Proach October 13th 2012 | 10:10 AM

I agree with EVERYTHING stated in this article. 110%. I saw the video yesterday morning, and the questions circulating in my brain last night were: 'where was Amanda's parents?' 'Why didn't anyone report this horrible man to the police before he extorted her? Why wasn't this made public before Amanda had to suffer so badly? He was the one who should have been punished severely. Not her. Furthermore, I strongly believe that the students involved in the bullying should also be held responsible for their behavior. BIG TIME!

Sick of Misandry October 13th 2012 | 11:11 AM
fed_up_with_the_bs wrote:

Sad part is... if this was a 16 year old boy who did the flashing and got bullied and killed himself, he would have been called a "sexual pervert" and he "deserved it"...

a girl does it, shes a heroine and / or a martyr. Notice the absence of females saying what she did (flashing online) was "wrong".

None of you. And with that absence, you are opening the door for it to happen to another female child because she doesn't know it's "wrong" cause you won't teach her that it is... and most of you got the nerve to call yourselves "mothers".

Amanda Todd's death is being used as a vehicle for feminazi's political ajendas and misandry ...that is just utterly disgusting. so once again, Amanda's being "used".. but this time by other women for their own selfish reasons.

Shame on you. Let the girl rest in peace and stop trying to politically rape her and scavange her death for fuel to run your  "misandry machine". Shes been through enough.

Stop being a bully.

THANK YOU! I was going to post something like this as well. I'm sick of seeing everyone blaming "the big bad man" as if Amanda Todd and other females in this story are completely and utterly innocent.

What these people do is disempower women. It's everybody else's fault. Was it Amanda's fault for CHOOSING to sleep with a boy? Of course  not! He's male so therefore he's to blame.

Hell, look at Amanda's video for proof of what these feminists are doing to girls. She said "He hooked up with me"

It wasn't "We hooked up". It wasn't "I hooked up with him". It was HE hooked up with me. It was HIS fault that she slept with him.

She is not completely blameless. The guys in this do not hold ALL of the blame. There are other girls who probably hold the lions share of the blame when it came to the actual bullying aspect of what happened. There is lots of blame to go around in this story. So stop using other people's tragedy as your soap box.

 

trucylla October 13th 2012 | 11:11 AM

Please do not disregard one of the worst criminal elements of this event as this child was only 12 or 13 at the time her picture was circulated.  Not only is the stalker/blackmailer guilty of harassment but should also be considered a sexual predator and a pedophile and should be charged as such.  These types of criminals never last very long in a penitentiary setting and that's where this perpetrator belongs.

Frithjof Petscheleit October 13th 2012 | 12:12 PM

Thank you for this perspective! I found your post as a reaction to my own blog post http://tweet4ok.com/stop-social-media-bullying-now/ 
You make an intersting point and I hope you don't mind me adding it to the discussion on the blog and on my Facebook Page.

As a dad and immigrant the hippocracy of our culture bothers me a lot - on one hand we rant about nudity and bleep out words on TV on the other hand porn websites are booming.

StopIt JustStopIt! October 13th 2012 | 1:13 PM
StopIt JustStopIt! wrote:

What did this young lovely young girl do differently that many 100s no, thousands of girls do every year down in Mexico or Florida during Spring Break HUH??? They all act make mistakes!  Are they hounded for those mistakes to death!  God Da$^@#(*$  it!! No, they are not- they get away with their behaviours.... they take their tops off and flash... pictures are taken.... they sleep around and have sex with complete strangers during these spring breaks! NO, what was done to Amanda Todd, was purely beyond bullying... it was harrassment, staulkment and vile behaviour by bullies who were brought up by bad parenting!  Plain and simple.  No values and no principles instilled in those ignorant bullies and they should be treated to the full extent of the law!  They bullied her to the point of altering the physiology of her brain.  She was a normal teenager before - and it wasn't after until she was bulllied for a couple years she began to descend into the dark world of anxiety, depression, cutting, bleach drinking and numerous attempts at suicide.... take that for what it is, as she was a happy go lucky girl who was in cheerleading before the jealous vultures couldn't deal with her anymore and decided to shove her brain into a dark place to where she could never EVER COME OUT OF! They are the ones who continously altered her mind AND MADE HER FEEL UNWORTHY.  NOT HER.  There is a lot to be said for the environment that you are in.... soooo sad.  They broke her spirit - it is true.

StopIt JustStopIt! October 13th 2012 | 1:13 PM
Sick of Misandry wrote:

fed_up_with_the_bs wrote:

Sad part is... if this was a 16 year old boy who did the flashing and got bullied and killed himself, he would have been called a "sexual pervert" and he "deserved it"...

a girl does it, shes a heroine and / or a martyr. Notice the absence of females saying what she did (flashing online) was "wrong".

None of you. And with that absence, you are opening the door for it to happen to another female child because she doesn't know it's "wrong" cause you won't teach her that it is... and most of you got the nerve to call yourselves "mothers".

Amanda Todd's death is being used as a vehicle for feminazi's political ajendas and misandry ...that is just utterly disgusting. so once again, Amanda's being "used".. but this time by other women for their own selfish reasons.

Shame on you. Let the girl rest in peace and stop trying to politically rape her and scavange her death for fuel to run your  "misandry machine". Shes been through enough.

Stop being a bully.

THANK YOU! I was going to post something like this as well. I'm sick of seeing everyone blaming "the big bad man" as if Amanda Todd and other females in this story are completely and utterly innocent.

What these people do is disempower women. It's everybody else's fault. Was it Amanda's fault for CHOOSING to sleep with a boy? Of course  not! He's male so therefore he's to blame.

Hell, look at Amanda's video for proof of what these feminists are doing to girls. She said "He hooked up with me"

It wasn't "We hooked up". It wasn't "I hooked up with him". It was HE hooked up with me. It was HIS fault that she slept with him.

She is not completely blameless. The guys in this do not hold ALL of the blame. There are other girls who probably hold the lions share of the blame when it came to the actual bullying aspect of what happened. There is lots of blame to go around in this story. So stop using other people's tragedy as your soap box.

 

Amanda - as young as she was, was also wise enough to know that she made mistakes!!!!!! Did you not get that part! Now, she made MISTAKES!!!!! So, she should DIE  for them??? Should you DIE for mistakes you have made.... oh my goodness  - what is with people, not mention she was a lost lilttle soul!!  A child for crying out loud looking for a place to belong....this society is unreal

Shasha October 13th 2012 | 2:14 PM

Some of the comments on here are running what little hope I have left for humanity.... My god.  

She would be alive today if she were a man. A man would not be slut shamed the way Amanda was for exposing her chest online. A man would not be so encouraged to do it in the first place, became a mans worth is not placed on his physical attributes the way a woman's worth is in society. A man would not be beaten and publicly humiliated for sleeping with another guy's girlfriend, he'd be f**king high-fived for it.

The denial of misogyny makes me sick.

 

Confused October 13th 2012 | 2:14 PM
"Instead... We rally around her, publicly decry the man’s behaviour as coercive, criminal. We come together in the public domain to talk about sexism and how it is wielded to remove a woman’s power, convince her that there is nowhere that is safe for her, and shun her in the eyes of the communities on which she depends." I'm confused. Is the author trying to say that this is what happens now or what she wishes would happen? Because it doesn't seem ideal or in line with what the story is saying. Perhaps I'm not reading this properly :|