Millburn High’s ‘slut list’: When the cool get hazed


By TINA KELLEY
The New York Times
Girl-on-girl bullying or hazing is old news by now, for anyone who has seen “Mean Girls” or “Heathers” or “Gossip Girl”: popular girls organize a perfectly-coiffed and designer-clothed gang; fringe girl is targeted; bullies use their meanness and power to further marginalize fringe girl and reassert their status.

But news of a “slut list” at a top-ranked New Jersey high school last week highlighted two disturbing points: the increasingly explicit and sexual nature of the taunts, magnified by the Internet. And, in another twist, the perception that allegations of promiscuity — however fictional — are a badge of honor, a way into the cool group, and not a cause for shame.

The result is a 180-degree reversal of what a “slut list” might have meant, especially when the parents of these girls were growing up.

That the list and other hazing went on for more than 10 years at Millburn High School in New Jersey was only half the shock to parents and the national news media who set up cameras outside the school, which includes students from the affluent Essex County towns of Millburn and Short Hills. The repercussions to officials for allowing it to go on, only lightly checked over that time, are still playing out.

More surprising to many was the cachet that seemed to come to those on the list — even though it accuses the anointed girls of sleeping around, lap dancing and lusting after their own brothers.

The list makes unsettling links between a girl’s power and popularity and what she allegedly will do with a boy. Or seven of them.

And yet students, recent graduates and even the principal (who, with other administrators, was sent for sensitivity training last week) said a spot on the “slut list,” which spread on Facebook, has been the way popular and athletic ninth-grade girls have been tapped by their older counterparts to possibly take their place. As one recent graduate commented on The Local, The Times’ hyperlocal news Web site covering Millburn: “Being on the list means you are rich, you wear expensive clothing, and probably fall under the general umbrella of attractiveness. Essentially, the slut list is the Goldman Sachs daughters list, a distorted assertion of wealth and power within a highly pressured upper middle class environment.” Full story.

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