Triple M blames women victims of “revenge porn.” Can we stop using that phrase now please?

Great video by John Oliver discussing the chillingly specific and potentially dangerous online threats that women receive and comparing them to the ones he receives. Hint –people mock his hands. It’s a comical comparision.

“This can affect any woman who makes the mistake of having a thought in her mind and then vocalising it online….”

Oliver also discusses “revenge porn” and how law enforcement is not up to date with technology. Police officers having no understanding what twitter is to a woman who has had rape and death threats against her over that social media medium is just terrible! I’m glad Oliver addresses the FLAWED victim blaming warped belief that “you just shouldn’t take naked photos of yourself!” Read my defense of sexy selfies here!

Anyway, so I was driving home late one night last week and was flicking around the radio. It was really late and I needed something  to keep me awake. I settled on Triple M and heard the male DJ ranting incessantly about “revenge porn.” However his rage and anger was directed at the female victims in these cases and not once at the criminals themselves.

“Women should just stop taking naked photos of themselves!” he boomed in a shaming way. “Why are women taking naked photographs of themselves in the first place? What do they expect?”

 

Um. Sounds oddly reminiscent of the victim blaming nonsense told to rape victims, “Why did you walk somewhere in public at night? Why did you wear a skirt? Why did you have a drink at a party? What did you expect?”

 

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Hmmm. Rather than swerve off the road I fumed silently. I had to concentrate as it was a rainy and windy. My fists clenched the wheel as yet another media commentator normalised non-consensual sexual activity and victim blamed.  This radio commentator was discussing a sex crime as if it was the victims fault! Grrrr..

“Bicycle theft is a common and intractable crime and yet I’ve never heard a police officer come out and say: “If you don’t want to have your bike stolen don’t ride a bike.”

Perhaps that’s because victim blaming is all too often reserved for crimes against women.”

Anyone remember the program Sunrise where they did the same thing as Triple M a few years ago?

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“When Channel 7’s Sunrise asks ‘when will women learn’ instead of ‘why do men continue to view women as objects they can defile and violate while the world watches and tut-tuts’, they are victim blaming. They are saying it’s the responsibility of victims of crime and assault to prevent it and not the responsibility of society to make such crimes intolerable and unacceptable.

When will women learn? Learn what? That our bodies do not belong to us? That we have no right to determine who sees those bodies, touches those bodies, fucks those bodies, and shares in those bodies? Honey, we don’t need to learn that. We already know the answer. We don’t have those rights. We are not allowed to be the masters of ourselves, only the gatekeepers. ”

Clementine Ford

 

First of all Mr triple M presenter, (who I’m assuming is Ugly Phil) let’s get this straight.

Often the women in “revenge porn” don’t know they’re being photographed or have been pressured by their partners for months to pose.  Sometimes the partners take their pictures without them knowing or the photos are stolen from their phone or email account through hacking scams. OR -and I’m starting a sentence with OR because I’m so incensed – innocent women’s faces are PHOTOSHOPPED onto pornographic pictures.  It’s not the woman’s body but the effect on her life and career is the same. Some women have changed names, states, jobs because of these leaked fake images…….

Secondly, taking naked photos of yourself or your partner is NOT a crime and I’m so sick of the morality police blaming women in these stories!  And yes it’s mainly women who are victims of “revenge porn.”  Plenty of women and men enjoy taking naked photos of themselves and that  is not a crime! It can be a lot of fun, liberating, sexy and an exploration into self portraiture!  We live in the digital age.  For sure, don’t let anyone pressure you to send photos of yourself and only do it if you want to.  Lots of people send each other sexy selfies, especially if they’re in a long distance relationship. It can be a great way to keep the fire alive in a relationship!

There needs to be education about HOW NOT TO SHARE NAKED PHOTOS OF SOMEONE WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT AND WHY THAT’S A CRIME! This education would have to be careful not to fall into the age old, toxic way of thinking- “women need to protect and safeguard their bodies/sexuality at all costs whilst men don’t have to change their behaviour at all”– that fuels gendered violence in this country. The onus must be on the criminal here, not the victim.
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Ok, so let’s get this clear!

Releasing naked and intimate photos onto the internet and sharing them with anyone without the express consent of the subject is a crime!

Revenge porn is image-based sexual abuse with the intention to shame or humiliate.

It is a crime of invasion of privacy and theft that can devastate lives.
Let’s look at the criminals here. Do you remember that 20 something year old Hunter Moore  that lived at his parents suburban home where he ran the despicable, frat boy and misogynistic website – Is Anyone Up? He’s in gaol now thanks to the hard word of a mother of one of his victims and the FBI- but only for two years!

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Moore’s website used to release topless and naked photos of mainly women which his followers would then collectively comment on in extrememly sexist and derogatory ways. The victims were called names such as “ugly whores” or “white trash sluts.”  Next to the images he posted the women’s full name, job, social media address and city which meant these nude photos would appear in the first page of Google. His followers would then post the images to the victims job and family. They would often release the victims home address or phone number to increase harassment or to intimidate.

This was about ruining women’s lives, driving them from their jobs and driving people to suicide. Cyber bullying at its peak.

40% of the photos had been hacked from women’s email addresses and 12% of the photos had been photoshopped. This meant their face had been photoshopped onto a photo from a porn shoot.

Moore called himself a “professional life ruiner” and teased his victims telling them to go and kill themselves. He said that the victims on his website were sluts who were asking for the abuse, losing their jobs, humiliation to their family and their life and reputation in ruins. Notice that victim blaming ideology at work again?

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Remember last year when teenage girls in an Australian school had their photos hacked as part of a school porn ring? The girls were told they should wear shorter skirts if they want to stay out of trouble and they brought it upon themselves for taking nude photos of themselves in the first place!  This highlights a huge problem our society has with blaming women and blaming female sexuality.

The teenage girls were taking photos of themselves naked. Big deal. Their bodies are changing and they’re documenting it. Nothing wrong with that. Yet the media and the schools responded by punishing them for being sexual.

We only have to look at how the media treats male victims of “revenge porn” to see how much women victims are routinely blamed. When Kim Duthie published nude photos of St Kilda AFL footballers in 2010 not one word of condemnation touched the footballers. Not one commentator angrily speaking out about “tut tut naughty boys! What did those footballers with their loose morals expect with taking naked photos of themselves anyway?”
You guessed it. All the vitriol was saved for Kim Duthie while nothing but sympathy for the footballers as innocent victims.

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And can we just stop using the flawed term “revenge porn?” now please.

It’s such a victim blaming term! The images aren’t necessarily “porn” and the reasoning behind the crime can be complex, varied, not singular and possibly not even about revenge at all.

Hunter Moore’s website wasn’t about porn but more about hurting and humiliating other people.

I prefer the term image based sexual abuse because it evokes pain and emotional distress that can be caused by the non-consensual making and distribution of private sexual images. It is not porn!

The Women’s Legal Services NSW says “revenge porn” is a misnomer that incorrectly places the focus on the victim, “categorising their actions as pornography and victim blaming, rather than focusing squarely on real harm, which is caused by the perpetrator”.

“Image-based sexual exploitation” is a term that the Sexual Assault Support Service recommends.

Domestic Violence Victoria says that freely given consent must be at the centre of any new laws. Yes! Let’s bring agency and  consent back into the discussion!

The organisation also says that image based sexual abuse needs to be viewed through the lens of domestic/intimate partner violence. For example, the threat of posting photos online can keep a current or past partner under an abusers power or control. The organisation says;

“In the context of family violence, it’s important to recognise the highly problematic nature of consent because women in this situation may not feel able to refuse to participate in the production of images or materials and/or to consent to their subsequent distribution. Due consideration must therefore be given to the limitations to the personal agency of those in a family violence situation.”

 

So the most important thing is to get laws in place to protect the victims and it’s heartening to see laws finally changing around Australia to catch up with technology.
Revenge porn is illegal in England and Wales and banned on sites like Reddit and Twitter.

Have you taken naked photos of yourself? Have you ever had a partner pressure you to send naked pics or pose for their camera? Have you ever had naked or sexual photos of yourself leaked online? I’d love to hear from you.

 

Art-Vanessa Omoregie from her camgirls series.

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