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How To Fight Back Against Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn: How to Fight Back and Prevent It

As far as the UK is concerned, in the announcement regarding research on digital violence among young people, by the Autonomous Women’s Center from July of this year, it is stated that more than half of the girls in high schools in England have been exposed to online comments of sexual content, and almost one in ten experienced someone posting her photos or videos publicly that she privately sent to that person. On the other hand, more than half the boys of the same age group were exposed to online threats of physical violence. And 15% experienced pressure to watch pornography or participate in acts inspired by pornography.

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This research by this woman’s centre points out the typical blaming of the victim, which is a usual “justification” for sexual and physical violence in a patriarchal society. “Although girls show that they know that such behaviour is unacceptable and that this type of violence is something that deeply affects them intimately, the fact that a high percentage of young people of both sexes blame the victim is worrying. Almost a third of girls and boys point out that the girl whose naked photos ended up on the Internet is to blame for what happened,” says a member of the Autonomous Women’s Centre. “Symptomatic of a patriarchal society, the victims of digital violence are more often women and girls, and also, as is the case with physical violence, it is most often committed by a former or current partner. A third of girls say that almost every form of digital violence that happened to them was committed more than once by their current or former partner. More often than boys, they point out that they felt helpless and scared, while boys more often point out that they did not experience it as an important thing. This attitude towards online violence in the period of growing up leads to the normalization of various forms of violence in partner relationships later, as well as physical violence in the family and femicide. Hence the numerous attempts to view the phenomenon of revenge porn in the context of partner violence (“domestic violence”).”

Although it is absolutely necessary to emphasize the gender aspect of online violence, it should also be said that a large part to blame for this is the way of life in the digital sphere. You know, social and dating apps nowadays are part of the everyday life of teenagers of any gender. The UK data also display that more than a third of young people of both genders (39% of girls and 38% of boys) were exposed to receiving unsolicited photos of someone’s intimate body parts in their inbox. For years, digital violence and revenge pornography, especially among young people (and minors), has been growing precisely because of the normalization of the exchange of sexual content among young people on WhatsApp, Viber, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on dating and sex applications. As for men, they make up a smaller proportion of revenge porn victims. And when they try to defend their rights and get justice, the police and social services often care even less about the relevance of these cases, given that a victim is a man. Also, there is a lot of blackmailing men when it comes to cases of revenge porn. The practice of money blackmail or “sextortion” is mentioned. For example: “Pay us, or we won’t do anything about those published pictures.” Obviously, that can’t be confirmed as a fact, but sometimes rumours are true, and this one wouldn’t be too hard to believe.

How To Fight Back Against Revenge Porn – We will mention several examples of codes that recognize revenge pornography as a criminal offence. In the US, by 2019, 41 states and the District of Columbia had passed specific laws criminalizing the distribution of revenge pornography. However, the laws that sanction revenge porn are new and are still in the process of being amended. Numerous questions and problems remain regarding the very definition of pornographic content. For content distribution to be considered a criminal offence, the content must be explicitly sexual. That certainly includes photos and video content with parts of the body or in a sexual act but does not include, for example, hooking up photos of an ex-girlfriend in a bathing suit. In April of this year, a law was adopted in Belgium that criminalizes revenge pornography and foresees fines (between €200 and €15 000) or imprisonment (from 6 months to 5 years) for that crime.

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What Does This Law Look Like in Australia?

Australia’s example shows it is not enough to simply criminalize this type of behaviour. Although revenge porn is criminalized in every state except Tasmania, this still has not affected the reduction of this practice. And the laws are among the most progressive in the world. In Australia, even digital violence based on pornographic content has drastically increased. This means that one in five people was a victim of this violence, which has risen to one in three in the last three years. It still did not affect the reduction of this practice.
Victims of revenge porn go through mental and physical hell. From the feeling of being actually threatened by bullies and trolls to the fear of losing a partner, job, or friends, to panic from the condemnation of the environment, family, colleagues and wider society, and in the worst case, they go through all the consequences of the realization these fears (which are not at all unfounded). The lack of adequate laws leaves women in a situation where only a few choose to push this process to the end. Only rarely do brave ones like Angela dare to engage in the unpleasant process of gathering evidence for this court procedure. However, laws and court processes are only one part of the problem, and another, even bigger problem is the causes and possibilities.

As with other forms of sexual harassment or violence, we should emphasize that the existing models of normalizing heterosexual relationships create the patriarchal system that also normalizes violence and often blames the victim for the harassment or explicit content or stresses their consent. No, the problem is not that women (sometimes even girls) have the need to express sexual desires and fantasies, to be the object of someone else’s desire, to self-objectify the body, to explore sexuality through media such as video or photography, or sometimes just for entertainment. That’s all perfectly okay. The problem is abuse and exploitation of their needs. Female sexuality is used by men and serves as a way to prove masculinity, as the ultimate confirmation of the male ego and the establishment of hierarchy among other men by comparing “booty” or “trophies”. Women (and gays) know how to fight back by comparing “dick pics”, which only involve them in the same confrontation, without questioning how similar it is to the actions that endanger themselves. However, women far less often use explicit content obtained voluntarily (or often without even asking for it) as a weapon of social power. This again shows how patriarchal ways of behaving in society are grounded in the psychology of using power or feeling powerful. And not to mention the frequency of normalized voyeurism and non-consent, which among men is definitely inspired by porn where there is a category of revenge porn or hidden cameras as fetishes. Also, without considering how similar it is to the actions that endanger them.

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The problem is also the greater taboo of female sexuality, which men who threaten to publish revenge porn use since women are afraid of social stigma or family condemnation. And in a patriarchal society, that taboo is greater towards women than men. It is somewhere in the “honour” section for women and serves many judgmental labels. For men, pornographic content (or when they exchange it with each other) is considered evidence of “ability”. To make matters worse, men use this inequality to control women by blackmailing them into publishing pornographic content that directly reduces the “value” of the victim as a woman or person. Maybe men should feel first-hand what this difference means and feels like. Also, imagine if some closeted gay guy, who matched with some other closeted gay on Tinder, would secretly install a camera in the car, room or another place where the “occasional sexual activity” of these “straight” men took place and then threatened to send the recordings to family, colleagues and friends. They could ruin their lives. Since many measure masculinity as dominance over women, such videos would be a violation of privacy. They could lead to a decrease in their reputation, even if they were “top” in the video (let’s not talk about “bottom”). Such a comparison supports the fact that the personal and social experience of sexuality, body and gender is entangled in a patriarchal value system. And the collapse of that would eventually lead to an equal number of victims among men and women.

In addition to misogyny and patriarchy, the problem underlying the existence of revenge pornography is the taboo of sexuality and sexual exploration, whether it is about men or women. If the voluntary sexual relations of two adults were observed by the two, not in a creepy peeping Tom way, of course, they could learn and practise for mutual satisfaction. And for the purpose of their own research. Unfortunately, you can’t trust to film anyone anymore as others might use those recordings as a reason for gossip or worse.
Now, if we based the porn industry on voluntary, paid and feminist sexual content, we would not witness sex that serves as just another training ground for male violence against women. Or the reproduction of a patriarchal vision of power relations. No, we would be able to live, have sex and record ourselves without fear. Until then, it is crucial to fight for laws that protect us, for a society that does not stigmatize us and against the patriarchal view of sexuality, male, female, and any other.

Lastly, we’ll recommend a great Netflix documentary about this topic called “The Most Hated Man on The Internet”. So, what are your thoughts on this, and how do we break this cycle of violence?

Enjoy This: Revenge Porn & Why We Must End It!

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Kelly W
Kelly W
Dream big, play hard, take the wins and embrace the losses.
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