• Mon, Oct 3 2011

14-Year-Old Called ‘Slut,’ ‘Attention Whore’ After Personal Photos Are Hacked

When Angie Varona was 14, she posted photos of herself that she had taken for her boyfriend into a private account. The pics were suggestive — she wasn’t nude, but she was wearing just lingerie and bikinis in some of the shots.

The photos were intended for her own private use, but they didn’t stay private for long. Varona’s account was hacked, and within months, pictures of her had gone viral, making their way onto sites that teeter on the edge of kiddie porn — sites that trade pictures of young girls often taken off their Facebook pages or, like in Varona’s situation, stolen from personal accounts.

Varona tried to get the pictures taken down, but with tens of thousands of sites now sharing her images, the situation had grown completely beyond her and her parents’ control. Soon, she began getting unwanted contact from men — sexually harassing messages, vulgar comments about her body, and even threats of violence.

“I began getting real stalkers,” Varona told a local newspaper: “People from other states found out my address and took pictures of my house. They threatened to rape me.”

Now 17 and essentially an inadvertent internet celebrity, Varona has had to be home-schooled, and can’t have an online presence at all because those photos get hacked immediately as well.

So. The whole story is disgusting, right? The hackers are sick fucks, and the men (and women, possibly, but it seems like it’s mostly men) harassing and threatening this child should have their internet privileges permanently revoked, at the very, very least.

At least, that’s what I think. As it turns out, though, most of the rest of the world — including commenters at our sister site, Mommyish — are much more interested in debating whether or not Varona was in the wrong for posting the pics in the first place.

Over at Gawker:

lucylurk says: She is no victim; she is loving every minute of this. Why didn’t her parents take away her phone and computer after they discovered it the first time?!

Donna Draper says: I would feel much worse for her if the images weren’t so intentionally porny. I feel bad that they were stolen or whatever she claims, but she is intentionally taking these photos in a sexualized manner featuring thong shots, cleavage, etc., which makes me just feel like she’s an attention-starved, immature idiot for complaining once they inevitably got leaked.

igloonorth says: After looking at her pics here: [thechive.com] I have two questions:

1. Are those booms real??

2. Aren’t those an awful lot of well-done provocative poses for a girl her age? It seems this girl has possibly viewed a lot of porn herself.

snobographer says: You can tell she’s just loving the attention by the way she bursts into tears when she talks about it.

At the Miami New Times:

Commonsense says: If that were my daughter… hell would break loose… on HER! She wont be the last little girl posing ‘like’ a slut for her Facebook pics to look sexy for her prepubescent boyfriend and friends.

PC says: She is an attention whore. True this got out of control, but no one hacked her account. It’s a cover up for her mistakes.

Jennifer Bouchard says: …why is she dressing like that and putting up such provocative shots at that age to begin with unless she wants to be labeled a slut, because its what she looks like. Have some pride girls, jesus!

And at Mommyish:

Giuseppe Verde says: Maybe if her parents hadn’t bought her breast implants, and all the familial psychology that goes along with that, she wouldn’t be in this situation, either.

Abigail says: I would venture to say that this is the fault of millions of parents who are terrified to talk to their child honestly about sex, nudity, and their bodies.

In other words, just about every thread focuses on whether or not Varona is to blame, or whether or not her parents are to blame. But what everyone seems to inexplicably and completely leave out, as they rush to attack this girl’s moral character and that of her family, are questions about the behavior of the people who actually did something wrong.

For example: hacking someone’s private photos is wrong. Spreading them around on the internet without their permission is wrong. An adult making sexual advances towards a child is wrong. Sending rape threats to anyone, of any age and any gender, for any reason, is wrong.

Those are the actions that this situation should call into question. Those are the behaviors that need to be accounted for. Those are the people — the only people — who should be held responsible for the shitty way this story turned out. Not the girl against whom all of these actions were committed.

But the fact that the blame is being roundly placed on Varona, with little to no mention of the perpetrators, suggests something frightening — that breaking into people’s property, stealing it and disseminating it, and making sexual threats against an adolescent is somehow more acceptable to the internet-commenting community than a young girl experimenting with her sexuality. This, even more than what the hackers and subsequent attackers did, may be the most concerning thing of all.

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  • P. G. O. A. T.

    Love that people are calling her out for being immature. A fourteen-year-old making unwise decisions about what to share with her boyfriend online? Shocking.

    A child who was pretty much ‘asking for it’, seems to be the disturbing consensus.

  • Rebecca MacKenzie

    I all kinds of agree with this post. Good on your for sticking up for her!

  • Sam

    The sort of people that blame a child (and, by definition, she IS a child) for having adults exploit a poor choice (which, practically by definition, kids tend to do…) they made at some point are the same sort of people that blame rape victims because they dressed “sluttily.”

    I mean, calling a child a “slut” is fucking disgusting. Disgusting. Calling anybody that word, of course, is disgusting by my goodness, it’s just plain disturbing to call a child that.

    And the fact that one mother seemed to think this child was “loving it” because how she was posed in the photos? Well, I’m gonna guess she looked happy in the photos because she had no goddamned idea that those photos would be hacked by creepy pedophilic who decided to threaten rape against the child. I mean, seriously–and that’s the kid’s fault? Guh, rape culture never fails to make me want to vomit and cry for humanity simultaneously.

    • Maggie

      Hear, hear! The comment that she was “loving it” is disgusting, and I think it’s terrible that all of these (presumably) grown women are calling a child a slut. What happened to women supporting each other, let alone adult women bashing a young girl? She clearly had no idea what would happen as a result of the pictures, and what Jessica wrote was right, we should focus on who is really to blame here, those people being the disgusting creeps who threatened to rape a 14-year-old.

  • Maris

    YES! You rock. I’m pretty sure I just marched in Slut Walk Providence to fight against what all those comments are- slut shaming.

  • Fatima

    People are so disgusting / disappointing sometimes and by that I mean her accusers not the 14 year old girl. If a guy did it, no one would care. A girl does it and she gets called all sorts of names. People make mistakes. We’ve come so far but have further still to go. I’m not saying actions like taking sexy kiddie pics should be celebrated but a lot of the comments were beyond uncalled for, especially the rape comment (wtf?). Is that supposed to be funny?

  • Jamie Peck

    Yes. I’m glad you wrote something on this.

  • Donna

    I’d just like to point out that she’s posing with her cat in one of those pictures. And smiling in most of them….not making some pornstar duckface. They were intended for her boyfriend, not 50,000 prying eyes. To “slut” shame her is ridiculous, and, in reply to the “her poses reflect that she herself has watched a lot of porn” WHAT IS YOUR POINT? the average male starts at 12, i don’t see anyone losing sleep over that.

  • Sarah

    I totally agree with you.

    Even readers here at theGloss are disappointing sometimes. The plastic surgery discussion the other day, many readers commented to blame the women who choose alternation, called them immoral, etc. But they never blame the society that caused us to have this mindset that appearance is everything.

  • gwen01

    she took pics like most of the people who are smearing her took pics. This is bullying and when the laws change, these cowards that want to attack a young woman and crucify her for doing something that they just haven’t been caught for are hopefully going to get charged and convicted. The comments are from girls at school who convince the boys at school to attack her and in the end when ip’s can be traced and these people can be charged, they will all be crying little babies in court. I hope a side effect of this is that the smut that they have online of themselves is also revealed so that this girl can see that she is being attacked by her peers who are doing exactly the same thing. Oh and to the parents, shame on you because I am sure that at least 1/2 of you know your kids are picking on her and you will do nothing about it because the kids run the home..Leave her alone.

  • Alyssa

    I think the worst part is that most of the people with negative comments are actually MOTHERS… with their own daughters. Seriously, is that how you would respond if someone was threatning to rape YOUR daughter?? Okay, maybe she shouldn’t have taken provocative photos of herself, maybe she shouldn’t have posted said photos to the internet… maybe as a parents you should find a suitable way to punish and to prevent… but what does any of that really matter once it’s over and done with. Shoulda woulda coulda. You’re a PARENT. Protect your child whether she’s in the wrong or not. Be a goddamn grownup and stop judging a CHILD.

  • Steve P

    This whole “blame the victim” ethic has got to end, and yes Angie IS a victim. The people who, to quote Ms. Ogilvie’s words, think that “breaking into people’s property, stealing it and disseminating it, and making sexual threats against an adolescent is somehow more acceptable to the internet-commenting community than a young girl experimenting with her sexuality,” have a totally messed up sense of proportion. Incidents like these are what make the Slutwalk so relevant and so necessary.

  • Amanda

    Thank you, Jessica. It’s nice to know some people have sense out there.

  • Blah

    Except Angie Varona still takes pictures and posts them HERSELF on various forums. She even writes personal fan signs for people with her boobs exposed. She is no angel.

    • Steve P

      @ Blah: Even IF that is true, that does not excuse stealing and disseminating her pictures, and would NEVER excuse the sexual threats. Even if she were to walk down Broadway stark naked that would not give anybody the right to touch her, or make threats to that effect! Your sense of justice and your sense of proporation seem just a wee bit perverted!

    • Blah

      Her photos were not hacked. She became more popular than she had intended, and when people found out who she really was, she made up a story about being hacked. And I never said anything about excusing threats, now did I?

  • Jeff

    Stumbled across this quite late, but just in case here are a few thoughts. No, it’s not right to hack people’s accounts, and yes, whoever made a comment that they would rape a child should be arrested if they can be found. I think part of the reason people didn’t comment much on it, though, was those things should be obvious. At least I hope that was the reason.

    That said, coddling her with “you poor innocent thing” isn’t helping. I have no problem with her getting a little crap for the photos. Sure, look for those who hacked her account and threatened her, and if you can catch them, punish them. The threats are messed up, and clearly way beyond the level of acceptable backlash, but the photos being distributed is a learning experience to not be a moron. It sucks, I’m sure it hurt, but when you do dumb things, you take a risk that there will be consequences. In the same way, catching and punishing the hackers will be a similar experience to them not to infringe on people’s privacy. If anything I think that the reason we see more and more of these extreme psycho responses is because so many people make out like the original stupidity is no big deal.

    Yes, we all make mistakes, but we learn by the world around us making it quite clear that it WAS a mistake. A 14 year old girl should not be sending underwear pics to boys. 12 year old boys should not be looking at porn. Will they try anyway? Of course, but how we respond when we find out will help determine how much farther they will go.

    Remember, when you’re young you want to be edgy and push boundaries. The farther the initial boundary, the farther you will push, so the smart adult would put the boundary as more conservative than what they can live with so when that line is inevitably crossed it’s not ending up with 14 year olds working in strip clubs or selling themselves and their younger sisters for sex (both happened in the last year). But you have to sell it. There can be no “oops, silly you”. It has to be a “you are such an idiot” moment. Otherwise they won’t take the response seriously, and then we’re back to them testing to see where the line really is.

    As for the blaming the rape victim thing, no one deserves to be raped (well, I suppose there’s always the occassional genocidal dictator or somesuch), and all rapists deserve to be in jail. Doesn’t mean that in some cases what someone did to put themselves in the position to be taken advantage of doesn’t deserve a “that was truly stupid”. Don’t get drunk and get into a car with a stranger. Don’t take most of your clothes off or walk around half naked next to drunken strangers. These are common sense things that people break because they think “no one has the right to do anything, so I’ll do what I want”. They’re right, no one has the right, but that doesn’t mean no one has the will.

    If I drive a porsche into the poorest part of the city, get out, and pass out on the ground next to it with the door open and keys in the ignition, does anyone have the right to take the car, or head back to my house and rob me blind? No. Would I be an absolute moron for giving them the opportunity? Yes. Would people be justified for letting me know that fact? Also yes. They have no right to rob me, and if they are caught they should be punished, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t my fault for giving them the opportunity in the first place. And yes, I realize that there are many rapes where no such stupidity occurred. That doesn’t mean we should ignore it when it does. There are people that want to take advantage of anyone they can. That is life, and won’t change so long as free will exists. With freedom of choice comes the need to take responsibility for the consequences when we push our luck. Don’t want the responsibility? Let others make your decisions for you.