BY
December 8, 2008
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A Public Shaming

We don’t brand people anymore–at least, not with hot irons. No, today we do it with the hot camera lights.

An Iowa woman says her “life has been ruined” after she was discovered having sex in the restroom at a football game. She’s been the subject of harassment, publicly humiliated and lost her job.

But the story gets even more disturbing than the usual sex-negative media morality play. The woman is married, not to the man she was found with, and the police notified her husband because “she gave an inaccurate middle name”. Because they couldn’t just take the first and last? Why not call her mother or perhaps dear Aunt Sadie and show them pictures?

Add to this the woman has claimed she was so intoxicated she did not know the man and can’t recall any of the events. Yet nowhere does anyone ask if she was capable of even giving consent?

Both have been charged with “Indecent Conduct” and they were released. It’s a misdemeanor offense and yet she’s already lost her job, perhaps her marriage and been publicly identified in numerous press reports.  Her name is effectively a punchline.

While there’s a good argument for personal accountability to be made, at what point does our need to giggle, point and shame when it comes to sex? Two people in a bathroom stall might not be the recommended use of a toilet, but it’s hardly a crime worth laying waste to a person’s life over.

[Photo by rbrwr]

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