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Shame on Buzzfeed for Outing the Woman Behind Latest Weiner Revelations

The young woman wished to remain anonymous, but Buzzfeed would rather drag her through the mud.
 
 
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When The Dirty broke the story that Anthony Weiner engaged in yet another online sexual relationship, it was clear that the young woman behind the leak wished to remain anonymous. Nonetheless, a team of "reporters" at Buzzfeed took it upon themselves to identify and post photographs of Weiner's sextress, a young "Progressive activist" from Indiana.

Aside from opening up the flood gates to shame and harassment, Buzzfeed's revelation did nothing to advance the conversation about Weiner's behavior, begging the question: What is the point?

Weiner was not just participating in a consensual sext relationship, as some have sugested. He was using his position of power to sexually exploit a young woman who, aspiring to a life of politics, admired his work. Anonymous is the latest victim of Weiner's privileged perversion, and Buzzfeed either failed to recognize that, or doesn't care.

"I’m trusting you to keep my name out of it, because like I said, it was obviously a mistake," Anonymous told The Dirty, "I was young and dumb. I just want people to really know he’s lying when he acts like he has changed." And, unfortunately for women everywhere, Buzzfeed just wants the world to see her face.

Anonymous appears to consider herself a victim, whose naivety Weiner had no problem using his privilege to exploit. Worse, it's clear she already feels shame for their relationship, and does not need Buzzfeed adding insult to injury. "The part that’s most annoying is that I was 22 and in a bad place," she  told The Dirty, "but if anyone asked him he would say the same thing about himself, yet he’s an adult. This was a bad situation for me because I really admired him. Even post scandal, I thought he was misunderstood. Until I got to know him. I thought I loved him. Pretty pathetic." The Dirty also reported that, "like a true sex predator," Weiner " promised Anonymous many things like a job at Politico and a condo in Chicago."

At least once, the target of Weiner's provocative message did not consent, making him no better than a flasher. Weiner's Twit pic boner recipient, Gennette Cordova, said she "did not send him any suggestive messages."  Weiner said he was just kidding, but Cordova said she "still didn't get the joke part of it." Despite evidence of Weiner's predatory behavior, Buzzfeed's identification of Anonymous suggests their belief that she is not really a victim, but just as responsible as he.

Moreover, ignoring her wish to stay anonymous demonstrates grave insensitivity to her commendable decision to do the right thing by speaking out. As she told the Dirty, "I quite literally have nothing to gain from this."   Now that her name is public, she will certainly be the target of vitrol -- on both the internet and in real life -- and may even even face career challenges as a result. Is dragging her through the mud really worth the click bait? If this the kind of treatment women who blow the whistle on high-profile men should expect, they definitely do not deserve it. Anonymous attempted to start a conversation about the the politics of sex and power, but rather than thank her, the internet has officially slut shamed her. 

Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne

 
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