Feminism / Politics / Relationships / Sex

Girls On Film – The Unstoppable Rise Of Revenge Porn

23585638_SAIf you spend even five minutes browsing through the headlines on any of the major UK news websites this week, you’re inevitably going to run into the row over ‘revenge porn.’

For those who aren’t aware of this phenomenon, the term is used to refer to the act of deliberately leaking sexually graphic images and videos of ex-lovers, usually because a relationship has ended badly. There is only one clear and constant truth when it comes to revenge porn, and it’s that the people who engage in it are the worst kind of human beings.

I feel like it’s important to get that out of the way early. If you don’t think that men (not exclusively, but almost entirely) who intentionally post explicit pictures of their lovers and girlfriends online without consent are hideous human beings, I think we can agree that you’re probably one of them.

It’s a shitty thing to do and you’re a shitty person if you’ve ever even considered it. I don’t care how bad your breakup was, whether she slept with your best friend, broke your PlayStation, or made fun of the size of your penis – it’s not okay.

From here on out, the issue gets more complicated – especially now that ministers are lobbying to make the dissemination of revenge porn a criminal act.

There are currently calls for new legislation that would sentence perpetrators to a twelve month custodial sentence. It’s become a very high profile issue over the last few weeks and it’s deeply encouraging to see our politicians recognise revenge porn for what it is – a way to violate a woman, within the confines of the law.

There’s a violence to revenge porn that is extremely concerning – to me, it’s a way to hit a woman without actually having to raise your fists. It’s a spiteful, childish riposte that I have no doubt would be physical if there were no fear of repercussions.

If you’ve ever stumbled onto a website dedicated to revenge porn – usually called something like ‘Cheating Whores’ ‘Breakup here-for-youfbSluts’ or ‘Fuck My Ex’ – you’ll know that the men responsible for them are the kind of guys who chant things like ‘No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal’ at girls in nightclubs and think that Robin Thicke is the apex of masculinity.

They’re Neanderthals, not misunderstood patsies who only did it because they loved her and she made them cry. To upload and spread nude pictures of an ex-girlfriend is, for these men, a way to reassert their manliness in the most violent way that a decent society allows.

It quite clearly says ‘I own her, whether she likes it or not.’

I believe that revenge porn absolutely does deserve to be made a criminal act. Yet, a monkey could see why introducing jail sentences for spiteful ex-boyfriends just isn’t a good idea.

For a start, how would new legislation be practically upheld? As we all know, the internet is essentially a lawless place and once an image or a video has been duplicated, it will spread from anonymous user to anonymous user with no real possibility of intervention.

Plus, is there any legally justifiable way to prove that content has been uploaded without permission? If a man is wicked enough to spread it in the first place, he’s certainly wicked enough to lie about whether or not he was given consent. What happens if a girl initially gives permission for explicit content to be posted online and then changes her mind?

In theory, the new legislation is a great idea. In practice, I genuinely believe that it would only create more problems. At the risk of inviting feminist wrath, I think making it easier to prosecute these pricks would also end up making it easier for completely innocent men to get in trouble too.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that there aren’t women out there who wouldn’t suddenly change their mind about being an online exhibitionist, post-breakup.

my-starring-role-on-a-revenge-porn-siteAs usual, it’s attitudes that need to change rather than the law. After reading the comments posted on a BBC article about revenge porn this week, I was appalled to find that the vast majority of people think that girls who share sexy pictures or videos should expect to be exposed in this way.

The amount of comments along the lines of ‘If they behave like sluts, they shouldn’t be surprised if they’re treated like sluts’ was truly shocking to me. I’ve never heard such rubbish in my life.

There is nothing heinous, disgusting or shameful about taking a picture of your naked body. It’s there, under your clothes, all the time – acknowledging that fact doesn’t make you a bad person. If you want to share a naked photo with ten or a thousand people, that’s your right. It’s a right that belongs to you and you alone.

Yet, if you are going to share explicit material with anybody – you have to accept the possibility that once it’s gone, you have no control over it. A man who shares private content without permission is the worst kind of man, that’s a given, but I do very much agree with the notion that if you know that you couldn’t cope with a leak, you shouldn’t be sharing in the first place.

I’m more than happy to admit that I have shared explicit photos with past lovers. I’ve trusted every recipient wholeheartedly and I’ve never been betrayed, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t ever happen. I sent each image with a full and frank awareness of the fact that once shared, there’s no real way to prevent a person from leaking them.

If a frustrated ex-boyfriend ever did decide to strike a blow via the internet, I’d initially be very upset. I’d feel angry and deceived, but then I’d remind myself that my body isn’t a source of shame and never will be. I’d accept my culpability in the act and I’d stand tall and proud, a willing ambassador for reckless sexuality.

And if you called me a slut, I’d print it on a fucking T-shirt and wear it every day.

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2 thoughts on “Girls On Film – The Unstoppable Rise Of Revenge Porn

  1. Reblogged this on Tiffany's Non-Blog and commented:
    I like this blogger’s take on revenge porn, though I would challenge her to consider whether some women/girls even know they are being recorded by such creeps in many cases, which further complicates the legality of the situation.

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