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.