New Posts / Womanhood

Revenge Porn, a Reflection of Society’s Victim Fetish

lauren-goodger-itv

Last week ex-TOWIE star Lauren Goodger hit the headlines with a ‘sex tape’ scandal. This sort of nasty story gets red top newspapers and gossip magazine’s chomping at the bit to unveil each gory detail. We’ve seen this before, it’s an extremely unpleasant betrayal of trust, but what is even more unpleasant is our reaction to it.

Revenge porn. Those two words sitting next to each other make me feel very uncomfortable. The use of porn to seek revenge on another individual seems to me like a lot more than a low blow or a dirty trick. The term revenge porn can be a little misleading, when I first heard it my initial instinct was that this was porn involving rape or violence. But it isn’t. It is the use of explicit images of ex-partners online to humiliate them following a break-up.

However, I have to argue maybe the words rape and violence can be attributed to this behaviour. The psychological damage that something like this can do to an individual is huge, firstly the betrayal of trust from someone you once had an intimate relationship with, and secondly the public humiliation can have lasting effects. For Goodger sadly the psychological torture continues after being accused releasing the video herself which she adamantly denies. Comments like “But some things are better left private, leaking one yourself is…. I can’t even tweet it #theshame”, form Apprentice star Louisa Zissman leave me bewildered.

We all know the famous cases – Paris Hilton, Kim Kardasian, Tulisa to name a few. The latest issue of Closer women’s magazine has reported Goodgers story with these three celebrity case studies next to it. The texts state the amount of money each has made from it. It reports that Paris made £8m, and Kim has her whole career to thank for it.  We have to ask ourselves, why is this humiliating breach of trust bankable? Why is society so interested in it? It has become acceptable to publically shame someone like this, especially if you’re a young female. The simple idea that you are able to make money gives us licence to ignore the person responsible for leaking your most intimate moments. You are praised for being a good business woman if you take advantage of this, but not given the respect by society to feel anything about it. And what’s also dangerous is that this attitude filters down to all areas of society.

Sometimes we forget that this sort of thing happens to us mere muggles as well. And it’s not a particularly modern thing. With the insurgence of technology revenge porn has become instant and easily accessible, but I remember this in the early 00’s as a teenager.  Pictures of drunk girls at parties, up the skirt shots of girls passed out or filthy conversations being had about a girl too drunk to know what’s going on. It might not have been a video/ pic that can be snap chatted to all of your friends but it was the same idea. Finger pointing at a vulnerable woman who don’t have a choice in the matter. Now it’s modern, more instant and more dangerous. With the ease of technology it has become almost causal. We are one click or two away from the ‘share all’ button.

But sadly this isn’t only a young woman’s problem as we’re led to believe by the press surrounding this subject. Sex sells but only the sort of sex that our youth obsessed culture allows us to fetishize. Whilst there are no clear statistics yet, Woman’s Aid have reported that their helplines have a mix of ages reporting these crimes. “Many of these women are in their 30s or 40s or older – and are very worried about the career repercussions or the effect on their children.” And sadly these aren’t standalone instances but part of abusive relationships. “It’s often very difficult to tease out the impact of the revenge porn specifically from the impact of the other abuse these women are often experiencing.”

Every time we see an ‘up the skirt’ shot in a paper or click on a celebrity sex tape we are feeding into this idea that exploiting women like this is ok. But the reality is we are mimicking the abuse that women of all ages are facing behind closed doors. This abuse in plain sight almost becomes palatable when the victims fit the model of societies fantasies; young, beautiful and objectified. We kid ourselves into thinking its fine because they can make money out of it.

Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, has been campaigning for revenge porn to be criminalised, along with a bill being put forward to give a 1 year jail sentence. This is practised in various parts of the US. In this country harassment laws are in place, but there is difficulty discovering the identity of users online. We are now a global community so we would need an international treaty to force operators to crack down on this. Whilst these things are being considered and talked about in Westminster, maybe we need to take some time to re-educate ourselves.

So instead of slut shamming or the fetishization of the victims, maybe we should pervert shame. And by that I mean feel ashamed of ourselves.

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