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      Cincinnati Woman's Lawsuit Highlights Facebook Slut-Shaming Trend

      Cincinnati Woman's Lawsuit Highlights Facebook Slut-Shaming Trend Cincinnati Woman's Lawsuit Highlights Facebook Slut-Shaming Trend Cincinnati Woman's Lawsuit Highlights Facebook Slut-Shaming Trend
      Image via Hamilton Ohio Common Pleas Court

      Americas

      Cincinnati Woman's Lawsuit Highlights Facebook Slut-Shaming Trend

      By Mary Emily O’Hara

      When an unnamed Cincinnati woman went to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for a pregnancy check up and STD screening, she hadn’t expected to be diagnosed with maternal syphilis. But she really didn’t expect her private medical records to show up on a Facebook group called “Team No Hoes” just a few days later.

      Attorney Mike Allen filed a nine-count lawsuit on the woman's behalf against the hospital on Tuesday, accusing it of unauthorized disclosure, invasion of privacy, negligent supervision, and infliction of emotional distress. The suit also slams two people, one a hospital employee, with counts of malice for publicly releasing the records.

      The lawsuit alleges that Raphael Bradley, the man who got the plaintiff pregnant, wanted to know the reason she was going to the hospital that day. When she refused to tell Bradley, he said he would make Ryan Rawls a UC Medical employee and the mother of his other child give him the plaintiff's medical records.

      Then on September 18, Bradley called the plaintiff and read her records over the phone. But it didn't end there. One day later, they showed up on “Team No Hoes,” with the her name and STD diagnosis. A screenshot was also emailed to every member of the Facebook group, and circulated widely online. The suit claims Rawls is responsible for leaking the documents and posting them to the group.

      Among comments on the group calling the plaintiff a “slut” and a “hoe,” there was a comment reading, “What if that hoe commit suicide or something. If she do got that shit [syphilis] I’m sure it was her deep secret… now she exposed.”

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      Allen is asking for a jury trial and damages in excess of $25,000, the maximum a plaintiff is allowed to request under Ohio court reform law.

      “She has become very withdrawn, she doesn’t want to socialize. Obviously the posting on Facebook was disseminated to a number of people and it’s really affected her life,” Allen told VICE News.

      So what the hell is “Team No Hoes”? On Facebook there were about seven distinct groups with names varying on the “Team No Hoes” theme (including a Toledo edition), another seven pages and groups called “Expose a Hoe,” several dedicated to exposing “THOTs” (a slang term for slut that stands for That Hoe Over There), and even a page for pissed-off military service members called Joes Against Hoes which had over 14,000 likes.

      All of the “hoes” Facebook pages the ones publicly viewable anyway, as several are members only are dedicated to a common cause: publicly shaming and humiliating women and girls who are perceived to have sexually transgressed in some way. Many of the most vitreous postings were by women accusing other women of trying to steal their husbands and boyfriends.


      Image via Facebook

      Most of the groups share photos of women alongside accusations of “sucking dick” and other sexual acts. Others simply appear to be warehouses for hate speech directed at women, like the Joes Against Hoes offshoot “Dear Dependa” (dependa being a derogatory term for a military wife). On Dear Dependa, members often posted imagery that seemed to have little to do with the subject of military relationships, such as this image of a man kicking a woman in the vagina for no apparent reason:

      Image via Facebook

      Some of the other pages, like “THOTS Surprised (Expose Hoes)” mostly featured photos of girls that were clearly underage, both teens and preteens.

      Some were flops. One regional page didn’t have any postings aside from several desperate pleas from the moderator inviting people to “message me pictures to expose a painsville hoe.” Such messages could be sent to slapahoe6944@yahoo.com.

      VICE News contacted Facebook for a response to this phenomenon, and sent a list of six URL’s that exemplified the trend of “hoe-bashing."

      Facebook spokesperson Matt Steinfeld responded quickly, saying that the team had examined and removed each of the sites for violating its community standards.

      Steinfeld said that the community standards banning hate speech, bullying, and harassment also apply to private, closed groups, and profiles, including the several Team No Hoes groups. He said the company relies on its users to identify and flag such activities so they can be removed.

      So there’s no more Joes Against Hoes Facebook page. But you can still find it on Tumblr.

      Carrie Goldberg, a Brooklyn attorney who works on cyber rights and revenge porn issues, told VICE News that this happens often with Facebook.

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      “We saw this with the Elliot Rodgers case. There were a bunch of Facebook pages created to applaud the heinous murders, followed by very vocal outrage by users and Facebook removed those,” Goldberg said.

      Goldberg said the law is “patchwork” and confusing when it comes to cyberbullying.

      “When something goes viral like that you have different people forwarding it to other people and the law doesn’t always hold the original distributor liable for the secondary distribution,” she said.

      Criminal statutes often don’t even cover cyber harassment. Today, the New York Court of Appeals argued the constitutionality of a cyberbullying law in another case where Facebook pages were used to slut-shame.

      “All of this comes down to people using humiliation as a currency and the Internet being the marketplace for it,” Goldberg said. “It’s so upsettingly hard to remove anything and so hard to repair once images, falsehoods, and embarrassing truths are released.”

      Follow Mary Emily O'Hara on Twitter: @maryemilyohara

      Topics: university of cincinnati medical center, cincinnati, stds, mike allen, facebook, team no hoes, raphael bradley, dear dependa, cyber bullying, tumblr, carrie goldberg, revenge porn, cyber rights, elliot rodgers, new york court of appeals, slut shaming, americas

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