I was introduced to Vine about 6 months ago. Most of the videos that were uploaded were either trying too hard to be funny, incoherent, or mind numbingly boring; however, a few caught my eye and kept me from deleting the app. I would check it occasionally when i had a few minutes to spare (98% of which was spent on the toilet…no shame in my game). One of my immediate favorites was a tattooed, blue-eyed Corey Matthews(Boy Meets World reference, ya’ll) look-a-like who seemed to have an unhealthy (admittedly endearing) obssession with his dog. His name was Curtis LePore and I(like most girls) found myself wildly attracted to him.
Not too long after I started following Curtis, I started noticing some of the user comments on his posts. I saw the name Jessi Smiles floating around quite a bit and remembered a few videos where he tagged her. Instantaneously my female stalking impulse ignited. Much to my chagrin, Smiles turned out to be the last person any girl would want to see their “celebrity” crush flirting with: beautiful, charismatic, and funny. She was the girl you wanted to hate, but couldn’t.
The two engaged in video flirtation for weeks, met in the City, and in front of all of their adoring fans, Curtis asked her to be his girlfriend. Their entire relationship was documented via Vine (and seen by their 2 million + followers). It was a romance for the smart-phone generation. The entire thing was cheesy and middle school-esque, but I was genuinely happy for them. Not long after they announced they split up but would remain friends, yadda yadda yadda. A few weeks later the sound on my iPhone mysteriously stopped working, rendering my Vine app useless. After I sent Vine to shaky deleted app purgatory, I forgot about the couple. I followed them both on Instagram so occasionally they would show up on my newsfeed, but would breeze right past whatever it was they posted.
Last week while browsing Buzzfeed(the monopolizer of my toilet time), their names reappeared in an article that took me comletely by surprise. Jessi Smiles had accused Curtis of raping her. I’ve read enough cases where a woman accused a good looking, confident, “nice guy” of raping her, only to receive hateful backlash. Knowing that most of Curtis’ fan base consists of younger, female viewers, I could only imagine the onslaught Smiles was going to receive. A morbid curiosity led me to their Instagram pages.
Unsurprisingly, most of the comments on his most recent pictures consisted of young girls voicing words of encouragement. “Look how much Curtis loves Buster(his dog). Dog lovers aren’t rapists!” “Your fans are behind you Curtis. We all know the truth!” “Who WOULDN’T want to have sex with Curtis? I mean seriously?!” The more arguments I read defending his innocence, the more I feared for the safety of our future… especially for young girls. As disturbing as these justifications were, they were noting compared to the comments directed toward Jessie. “That dumb whore! Fuck her!”, “She’s an attention whore… of course Curtis didn’t rape her!”, “Just kill yourself Jessie!”. I had expected backlash toward Smiles.. I didn’t expect death threats. Her Instagram showed many of the same comments.There were definitely more comments supporting Smiles on her own pictures than there were on Curtis’, but I’d the say majority of comments were accusing her of lying and being “an attention whore”.
The comments infuriated me and I wrote a comment defending her, Not accusing LePore, not insulting anyone, and admitting that I have no idea what happened the night she said this all went down. I simply questioned why people are blaming this girl, when they too have no idea what happened. I received a lot of feed back. Many were girls who agreed and thanked me for my comment. There were a few telling me to leave Curtis alone, to go fuck myself, etc. all abundant with grammar errors so glaring that I wanted to cuddle up next to my English degree and cry tears of joy in thanks for my ability to create a coherent sentence.
So all of this leads to the question you might be asking yourself.. Why? Why did I spend valuable Netflix time writing a blog entry on two people who I’ve never met? Why do I care? Why do I keep forcing you to imagine me checking my smart phone on the toilet?
Why did I write this? Simple. For the girls who have gone through the trauma of being raped. For those same girls who had to not only endure that trauma, but endure the vicious verbal onslaughts that their peers unleash upon them. For the girls who feel like they’re alone. For the girls who are so desperate and insecure within themselves that they accuse a man of rape. For the men falsely accused of rape. The men/boys that all the previous categories apply to as well(the idea that only women can be raped as insipid and archaic). For Jessi Smiles, who has to endure all of this in front of millions of people. Essentially for anyone who has gone through a shitty circumstance and thought they wouldn’t make it past it. YOU WILL. AND IT WILL GET BETTER.
As for the second question… why do I care? I care because seeing the way women treat one another sickens me. There are chauvinists everywhere… do we really need to give them more ammunition against us? Is this what women who fought for our rights were hoping for? Would the Alice Pauls and Susan B. Anthonys be proud of where we are right now? Doubtful. We should be uplifiting one another, cheering for one another, and helping one another. Instead, there’s enough girl on girl hatred to put Mean Girls to shame. It needs to end. And I’ll sleep a little better tonight knowing that I at least tried to make a difference.
And I would answer that last question but I just ate buffalo chicken pizza and I haven’t checked BuzzFeed yet today.