Slut Shaming & Public Crucifixion: How Lebanon Handled A Nursing Student’s Instagram Caption

Memories of a garbage crisis that is still as is over 8 months after it began are distant now in the country that is in upheaval, outrage, uproar, you name it… over a nursing student’s Instagram caption.

For reference, a nursing student on her way to become a midwife at Université St. Joseph posted to her 14,000+ Instagram followers a selfie of her in pink scrubs, indicating her tenure at Hotel Dieu de France, the hospital with which USJ deals in medical and nursing fields, with the caption: “Be careful bitches, we can kill your babies one day.”

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Despite her account being private, albeit privacy must be extremely futile when you’re sharing posts with over 14,000 people, the picture soon made itself onto the Lebanese blogosphere, and the response has been deafening. In a matter of hours, the girl has been expelled from her university with her entire future up in tatters. If anything can be used as an example as to how careful you need to be on social media, it’s her story.

For starters, what this girl did is abhorrent. Her caption is a disgrace to her profession and to the medical field of which she hoped to become part one day, unlikely as that may be now. There’s no nice way to spin this. This goes against every principle in medical ethics that she’s exposed to, against every oath that either nurses or doctors are obliged to swear before starting their careers, and, in non-medical terms, against all rules of compassion that a human being should have.

But in the grand scheme of things, it remains a fucked up Instagram caption by a young, naive girl who didn’t think it through, who was chasing some attention (as is obvious by the 290+ likes as of screenshot time), and who didn’t know that silly, useless and horrific jokes, when said by people whose impact when it comes to those jokes can be tangible, tend to backfire.

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The girl’s university was quick to respond. She has been expelled. I believe expulsion is an extremely harsh punishment for such an offense. Suspension with a public apology would have been the better way to go, especially that the girl hasn’t actually affected any woman giving birth or her babies, and will probably never be able to given the fact that midwives in hospitals don’t have that level of authority that belongs to doctors only, which she is not.

Regardless of where you stand regarding the punishment this girl received, one thing has to be discussed in the aftermath: the Lebanese public’s response was as horrific as her caption. It was akin to watching a mob lynching an unsuspecting passerby.

As I combed through online responses to the tens of thousands of shares that screenshot got, people of all kinds were united in either calling her a whore, saying that the only job she’d be fit to do was to be a stripper, attacking her looks by alluding to her undergoing prior plastic surgeries, throwing threats at her, among other things. And the constellation of those “comments” and “tweets” is nothing short of disgusting as well.

Say what you want about her caption, but to attack a person in such a systematic and public way, to call them whores and sluts and retarded over and over again is not only unacceptable, but clearly not the best way for any society or community to deal with such a thing. Doing this to this girl means you wouldn’t have an issue others doing it to you in case you fall in the cracks like she did. Are we supposed to go through our entire social media presence now because someone out there might decide that something we posted a long time ago could turn into a viral public shaming post? The idea terrifies me.

The fact of the matter is that girl’s joke, bad as it was, would always be just a joke and never a threat. Your children’s futures are more threatened today by the situation in the country than by an Instagram caption, but that doesn’t outrage you enough. Your babies are more threatened by the carcinogens filling your food and water and air from the garbage crisis and other kinds of pollution than by that girl’s Instagram caption. And yet here we are today, with a silly joke getting the country up in arms.

Lebanon, you have your priorities very well sorted.