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Sat Jun 13, 2015, 08:47 AM

How it Feels When the Media Declares Your Teen Daughter a Whiny 'SLUT'

Last summer, then-17-year-old New Yorker Winnifred Bonjean-Alpert was arrested and detained for 18 hours for telling her friends—other teens at a party— that they didn’t have to show police officers their IDs. Now, her mother, a civil rights attorney, is attempting to sue the city over the alleged police misconduct. Tabloid coverage of the story has been especially charming.

The New York Daily News headlined its writeup of the suit “Former star of ‘SLUT: The Play’ wants to sue city for $2 million over wrongful arrest.” The ever-slack-jawed Daily Mail gave Winnifred the Daily Mail headline treatment, proclaiming, “Private school educated Brooklyn actress, 18, and her defense attorney mom sue NYPD for $2 MILLION over ‘mistreatment’ during underage drinking bust.” The New York Post really went for it, covering the pending litigation with a headline that reads, “OMG, the cops busted me for drinking and I’m totally having my mommy sue.” Most aggregations of the story I’ve seen today feature photos of Winnifred in a bikini skimmed from her Facebook page. The Daily News has a photo of Winnifred with a portion of her nipple exposed (they’ve done the classy thing and pixellated it, which is a good thing because Winnifred was underage in the photos).

To include images that Winnifred published to social media is annoying, but within their rights as the best newspapers upon which to wipe one’s ass in the absence of Charmin. But for Winnifred and Jeni, who have now found themselves caricatured and maligned as a spoiled teen harlot and her enabling opportunist mother, respectively, witnessing the obtuse disinterest in facts in favor of a sexist narrative is frustrating at best and enraging at worst.

Winifred is used to being in the public eye; in 2006, she was among the women and girls featured in the documentary Sexy Baby, and for that she was honored at Jezebel’s 5th anniversary celebration as one of the Jezebel 25. Since then, she starred in the critically acclaimed SLUT! The Play, a production about a girl who is raped at a party and has her reputation maligned as a result. Winnifred is also a mouthy, staunch feminist: qualities that her mother is proud she exhibits.

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