Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Swedish teens don’t want to be called sluts

In a unique social media phenomenon earlier today, a group of high school students took to the streets to protest an Instagram account that requested photos of Gothenburg sluts and got a bunch of shots of girls as young as 13.

While it looks like the whole thing was based on a prank – the request was allegedly posted by a 17 year old girl – the photos posted in response included identifying names, photos and notes on sexual habits.

The 17-year-old girl has been taken into police custody.

The Instagram request led to a large protest that some papers describe as a riot. High school students took to the streets and a group of protesters marched from a local Gothenburg high school to a nearby mall and resulted in 27 people being brought in by the police.

This isn’t the first time Swedish teens have fought hard against being called sluts online. And it is nice to see this incident get a bit of international attention.

Previously, a high school feminist choir was repeatedly lambasted on Facebook. When the girls reported the harassment to their principal, the principal did not feel it was something the school needed to do much about as the harassment was online. He also suggested the feminist choir was insulting to some students.

The girls took their fight to social media and local media, and managed to get results including a new principal, a new student council and new routines for online harassment.

Things like this remind me that culture is always changing, and perhaps the quiet, non-confrontational Swede is on its way out. Perhaps all of those loud and ‘busig’ – mischievous- kids, are growing up and being able to stand up for themselves and demand a little more space in society.

Maybe it’s not just us immigrants’ fault that Swedish culture is shifting at high speeds.


  1. Riots/demonstrations/political actions have always been quite common in sweden. Individual non-confrontation is a luxury we can afford ourselves thanks to a whole lot of ideological confrontation that made society just in the first place.

    I remember hearing a talk on the radio a few years back about why on earth there are never any riots in america like every other democracy. Don't remember the conclusion, but I think america would be the outlier in this case, not sweden.

    That being said, I've never heard of anything quite like this before, it's going to be interesting to read the full story.

    1. I am a bit hesitant to call this a riot, and agree with you that it will be interesting when we know the full story. I tried to label this more of a protest, mostly because I think the tabloids were trying to sell the idea of rioting girls. That said, your response is interesting, since I have blogged before about my opinion that Americans are much more likely to protest, particularly their own government, than Swedes - who like to protest broad international issues - but this isn't that kind of thing either. But riots are not very common, no. Maybe because of all the guns? :)

      I thought this story was interesting mostly because it was a new response to online bullying, particularly slut shaming of young girls, and given the way that Anonymous and others have started to respond to online bullying, I, like you, wonder where this is going....

  2. Also, as someone just said on twitter - the same thingx10 happens every time there's a football match, and no one calls that a riot.

    1. I very much agree with you, I don't like calling this a riot, and think I only mentioned above that the papers called it a riot, I thought of it more as a protest. But on one site they pointed out that, like many 'high-school' protests, a lot of partciipants just kind of stumbled into it, without knowing what it was about.

      Maybe they should call these kids 'internet hooligans' instead? :)

  3. In one of the videos they were throwing snow balls at the police :)