Fed-Up Teens Are Outing Their Rapists on TikTok
Social media may feel like some women’s only route to justice
Since Covid-19 hit, I’ve become a bit of a TikTok addict. The social media app offers entertaining, quick content that makes me feel connected to what young people are up to, an algorithm that’s proven remarkably mindful of my interests: dog videos, mom humor, and — of course — feminism.
It’s pretty heartening to watch a younger generation of women pick up the mantle of innovative activism and run with it. I’ve seen teens dancing to voicemails of their abusive ex-boyfriends as a way to raise awareness about red flags in dating, watched young women rapping about online abuse, and laughed as college clinic escorts superimposed pieces of broccoli onto anti-abortion protesters’ faces (trust me, it’s hilarious).
But there’s something else I’ve noticed lately, a trend not quite so widespread that it’s gained national attention, but one that could very well change how America deals with sexual assault.
Young women on TikTok are outing their alleged rapists.
Tired of schools that don’t take them seriously and a culture that often will still resort to victim-blaming, these women — some of them are still in high school — aren’t just naming the classmates and acquaintances that sexually assaulted them; they’re posting pictures of their bruises, sharing screenshots of apologetic text messages sent from their alleged attackers, and encouraging commenters to pressure school administrators and local police to take action.
This isn’t the first time young women have used social media to out their rapists. In 2012, Kentucky teenager Savannah Dietrich took to Twitter to name the two high school lacrosse players who sexually assaulted her — an action that defied a judge’s order not to talk about the rape and nearly landed her in jail. (Her two attackers, of course, were given community service and told they could have their records expunged once they turned 19-and-a-half.)
We’ve seen similar kinds of activism through #MeToo: women sharing their stories of sexual assault and naming their abusers. And like with #MeToo, we’ve seen a similar backlash to these women’s decision to…