Samantha Kelly and The Scarlet Letter

I saw the story of Samantha Kelly’s suicide posted on some feminist blogs a few days ago.  It seems this 14-year-old girl broke under a wave of misogynistic hate directed at her after she made sexual accusations of statutory rape against an 18-year-old neighbor.

Now the victim blaming, girl shaming, she asked for it heterosexist discourse that broke the spirit of this 14-year-old girl is an open sport in the comment lines and online bulletin boards about the event:

Meanwhile, fallout from the suicide of 14-year-old Samantha Kelly took new, sometimes vicious, twists Thursday, with hateful messages posted on social media sites meant to support her. 

And yes this does remind me of how Tyler Clementi’s life and death was and is still a public target for homophobic abuse after his death. 

As the news spread about the page which was started to celebrate Tyler’s life, gay-bashers and homophobes began posting hate-filled photos and messages.

This clear pattern can be seen in each of the articles and memorial pages about the highly publicized LGBTQ suicides this fall.  Scrool on down to the comments or go to the facebook wall and you will find yourself surrounded by gay bashing homophobic rants.  And if you were to track sexual and gendered violence against school girls you would discover that Samantha’s experience and the hateful public response are pretty damn similar.

And while Joseph Tarnopolski is shocked — shocked at how his sexual encounter with Samantha ruined her life.  And perhaps did some damage to another local school girl as well.  He can’t quite wrap his mind around what went wrong in this sexual encounter.  Even as Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei perhaps can not fathom how their voyeuristic homophobic fun and games impacted and crushed Tyler Clementi.

Everyone from ‘social conservatives’ to trolls and gawkers throughout internet land are ready to jump on board and affirm the sexist and homophobic logic of Joseph, Dharun and Molly.  Lets paint a big A on Samantha’s memorial page, lets threaten, mock and ridicule Tyler and damn him to hell.  I mean that’s what we do right?!

I just have to ask myself, how much more sexploitation of school girls do young men need to see to accept as normal the message that girls all want it, are waiting for it, and need it done ‘to’ them not ‘with’ them? 

And how easy was it for Ravi and Wei to conclude Tyler’s sexuality was a joke. I mean just look at the abundance of mainstream portrayals of queer folk… they’re just a joke, right?

This is a very old story isn’t it. 

Our lives and our values are all tied up in each other. 

There are no winners on this unequal playing field and no one comes out on top in the end.


My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
– Bishop Desmond Tutu

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5 responses to “Samantha Kelly and The Scarlet Letter

  1. After 23 years in juvenile court, I believe that teenagers often learn from the experiences of their peers, not just from being lectured by those in authority. Consequently, “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” was published in January, 2010.

    Endorsed by Dr. Phil on April 8, 2010 [“Bullied to Death” show], “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” presents real cases of teens in trouble over their online and cell phone activities. Civil & criminal sanctions have been imposed on teens over their emails, blogs, text and IM messages, Facebook entries and more. TCI is interactive and promotes education & awareness so that our youth will begin to “Think B4 U Click.”

    Thanks for looking at “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” on [publisher] or on [a free website for & about teens and the law].

    Regards, -Judge Tom

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