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When a sexual assault becomes a viral meme

A teenager speaks out after video of her sexual assault went viral on Twitter and Vine

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
July 10, 2014 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3812

Well, here’s the worst sentence you’ll ever read in your life: a 16-year-old girl spoke to reporters after a video of her sexual assault became a viral meme online. In related news: everybody is awful and I’m turning off my phone and going back to bed.

The victim—a Houston teenager named Jada—became the subject of a viral meme called #JadaPose, in which people posted pictures and videos of themselves splayed out unconscious on the floor to mimic the pictures taken of Jada, who was photographed unconscious and naked on the floor.

The teenager told reporters that she didn’t even know she’d been sexually assaulted. She had been invited to a classmate’s party and was offered a cup of punch. She ended up passing out—likely because the punch was drugged—and learned days later that pictures and videos of her were being circulated around the Internet.

Of course, images and videos of sexual assault being passed around online isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s what led to the conviction of the Steubenville rapists. James Madison University was recently skewered in the media after a video of three frat boys sexually assaulting a female student made its way around the campus, and the perpetrators (who, just to emphasize, were shown ON VIDEO sexually assaulting a classmate) were punished with expulsion—after graduation. Or, as Jon Stewart put it: graduation.

What makes Jada’s case particularly horrible is that the video and images went viral beyond the scope of her own high school—and complete strangers joined in the mockery by disseminating their own “Jada poses.” As of 3 pm CST, #JadaPose was getting as many as 2,300 tweets per hour, according to Hashtags.org.

What they may not realize is that by seeking out the video and photos—and then posting their own poses—they’re essentially implicating themselves in the dissemination of child pornography. Some Twitter users have been taking screenshots of others requesting the video, noting that the act amounts to the solicitation of child pornography.

Jada’s alleged rapist, @WhiteBoyLaFlare, was still tweeting as of Thursday morning, but his account has since been removed.

While the Houston police investigate the assault, the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault recommended that all those who are outraged about the mockery of a rape victim show their support for Jada by challenging rape culture with the hashtag #JadaCounterPose.

As Jada explained to KHOU 11 News, "There's no point in hiding. Everybody has already seen my face and my body, but that’s not what I am and who I am.”

And because people are awful, and their awfulness seems to magnify exponentially on the Internet, I will now be taking bets on how many death and rape threats Jada has gotten since coming forward. 

 


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