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Slut-Shamed Snapper: The Riona Big Story

If you have Snapchat and don’t list your address as “under a rock,” then odds are you’ve heard of Riona Big. The eighteen-year-old woman from Kildare racked up thousands of followers because viewers were curious/fascinated/horrified by her job; Riona Big is a sugarbaby.

For those of you who don’t know, a sugar baby is a younger recipient (usually female) of a sugar daddy or sugar mama and they are payed in cash, contacts, gifts, etc. Riona gave a pretty open insight in to the ins out outs of her “business” relationship with her sugar daddy, Taylor. She checked in daily with her audience, giving a sneak peak of exclusive London parties, luxurious cars and even had sex while filming. The more scandalous the content, the more viewers she gained.

Yet things have gone south. The girl has been off-line now for weeks, ever since her Snapchat got “hacked” and explicit videos were posted of her under her name. Rumours have been swirling ever since; was it really a hack or a ploy to gain publicity?

I doubt anyone can answer that question except Riona herself, but that doesn’t mean commentators aren’t going to speculate. I’m all for free speech and throwing in your two pence but the language used by some commentators has been revolting to say the least. Slut, whore, tramp, prostitute… the girl has been put through the ringer – if every word was a pebble she would have been stoned to death.

I’m not asking anybody to agree with the actions or attitudes of Riona, as I don’t even know where I stand on the situation, but I am asking you to strip this story back to its bare bones. This is an eighteen-year-old consenting adult who is voluntarily documenting her life. She is not putting herself out there to be bullied. The extent to which she is being tormented is horrific. There are hate pages dedicated to her on Twitter and endless debates in the comments of Facebook groups. It would be logical to assume that this is probably a major factor in Riona’s “disappearance” from Snapchat.

Slut-shaming oppresses women, it squishes and stamps an entire life to fit in the box labelled “whore”. We’ve all been thought that bullying is wrong, yet some believe that name-calling someone with a lifestyle like Riona’s is totally acceptable. There is a way to disagree with a view without course and sexist language. Just remember, no matter how vulgar the slur you throw at Riona may be, the impression you’re giving of yourself is ten times worse.

Journalism and New Media student in UL. Official Contributor for HCUL.
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