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Revenge Porn: The Real 21st Century Problem

Revenge Porn. The term has been splashed all over headlines in recent years, with notable celebs falling victim to explicit pictures/videos of themselves going viral on social media without their consent. Stars such as Rhianna, TOWIE’s Laura Goodyer, Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence and even the Duchess of Cambridge have all had private images accessed, manipulated and spread over the internet.

This personal invasion is totally unacceptable and whilst some celebs such as Kim K have used their experience as a platform for success, for the majority of the population, having someone else view private images or videos of you is a personal violation.

As a society, we’ve developed a culture recently where people aren’t sure what constitutes consent, where it’s sadly become the norm to share intimate pictures online and people find it completely acceptable to form groups on social media to comment and rate explicit images of others. Even now, there’s still some confusion as to what exactly revenge porn is. Is it uploading personal images in a vengeful manner? Is it just images? Does it matter who has these explicit files? What happens if you do?

The government defines revenge porn as the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress.

It’s this key reference to consent that has sparked a range of campaigns over recent months to remind people that they are in control of what they do and how they do it and where this control suddenly disappears. Thames Valley police decided to show, in a short video, what constitutes consent by using a cup of tea instead of sex. It’s simple but conveys this potentially blurred area clearly.

It’s easy to think that the images/videos you share with your partner are just between you two, but things can turn sour and before you know it you’ve lost control over where these images go and who has access to them.

A rise in ‘lad culture’ has been put forward as one of the reasons for this behaviour being considered acceptable, with the stereotypical rowdy, I don’t care, objectifying, misogynist outlook associated with lad culture being attacked. A recent example from the University College Dublin found male students part of a revenge porn group on Facebook called, ‘Girls I’d shift if I was tipsy’, a group where the guys openly shared and rated explicit pictures of girls from the university. A student at the university and a member of the group commentated on Yik Yak that not everyone in the group actively participated and that he only ‘sent 3 photos & a story of 2’. This is where the root of the problem lies. The attitude that it is ok to send images of anyone and that it only becomes an issue if you do it on a regular basis.

It is a violation, it victimises people and takes away their rights to their own body. It is a problem, a problem that is continually growing and getting out of control. From the private sphere to the public domain, imagine having no control over who sees personal, explicit images of you and where they go. Men or women are not to be objectified, their bodies not to be shamed upon and used without their consent.  It’s more important than ever to support campaigns such as the #MyBodyMyTerms movement to raise awareness, educate people on where their control begins and ends and stop this culture of exploitation and victim-blaming.

This is the real 21st century problem.

References:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/revenge-porn-university-row-male-s…

http://metro.co.uk/2015/10/28/this-new-sexual-consent-and-tea-video-from-the-police-is-brilliant-5466392/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bradesposito/my-body-my-terms#.ehLqDPqaxW

 

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