Revenge Porn – From Texting to Trust to Traumatic Crimes

"I remember it like it was yesterday. I was looking for a past blog I wrote when I Googled my name. I discovered an online gallery of nudes of myself. Everything was there – every single photo and video I had sent to an ex. My name. My job. My address. Everything was there. It felt like my lungs were screaming. The room was spinning, my hands were shaking and a sick feeling where my body used to be. My soul felt colder than ice, but every inch of my body felt violated and on fire." Ms Wells is one of many womxn who have been victims of revenge porn and has since become a founder of an activist organisation.  

You swiped right. He swiped right. Now you’re chatting, making plans and maybe indulging in some sexy time together. Sexting has become as natural as sex itself, but it comes with many dangers, particularly for womxn. One stands out above all: revenge porn.

Revenge porn refers to the sharing of someone else’s intimate photographs without their consent. It is a crime in South Africa to distribute or share private photos or videos without the consent of the person involved, and it can land you in prison and with a very hefty fine. Revenge porn can surface anywhere and getting it removed requires great efforts and even needing a court order. The trauma of revenge porn is catastrophic. Revenge porn violates your privacy, it is intruding, can be humiliating and degrading.

We talk a lot about smashing the patriarchy and we embrace our feminist ideals. Revenge porn is the tip of male entitlement. Somehow you angered your ex, you stood up against him, you were a ‘woman who did not know her place.’ In a few clicks he uploads your nudes. This is cyber-rape. There is no consent to revenge porn. It is the only way an almost incel-like misogynist can start to feel like a man. #MenAreTrash, right? I am not saying every single man on the planet shares nudes without consent, but how do we know which ones are safe? Which guy is going to compliment you, make you feel good and be man enough to keep intimate stuff just between the two of you? And which guy is going to share them online for millions of people to get off to? There is no way of knowing.

While I am urging every womxn to be careful about who they share their nudes with, we must remember that the horrific nature of revenge porn is not the fault of women who shares nudes. Taking a sexy picture and sending it to a flame is not against the law. It is not immoral. It is as natural as sex itself. The problem is with the offender. The person who violates your rights, your privacy and your body. They are the criminals, the degenerates, the ones ripping your humanity away. The entitled men.

Even if you have never been a victim of revenge porn, I urge you to think critically about the erotic material you use during your own solo sexy time. Take a moment and think about the porn you are watching. Could it have been uploaded without someone’s consent? Is everyone involved a willing adult participant? Even our ‘girl-next-door’ ever-so reliable Pornhub has been under fire for profiting off of revenge and underage porn. 

Next time you are feeling ‘dirty’ and in the mood for some serotonin rushing to your brain, ask yourself whether those few moments of pleasure are worth the damage it could do.