Slate posted an article called “Why do we tolerate revenge porn?” that talks about the practice of posting nude or sexual photos/videos of someone else online in order to ruin their reputation. The article talks about the harm this can do, why we should legislate against it, and ways that could work.
I agree that revenge porn should be illegal. But I also believe we as a society should rethink our reaction to it. More and more, Americans are taking the attitude that what consenting adults do with their bodies is their business. Is anyone truly shocked that a woman in a relationship might share nude photos of herself with her partner, or allow that partner to take such photos?
I say “woman” here knowing that men can be victims, too. But a quick perusal of revenge porn sites shows the victims are overwhelmingly female. This is not surprising. I don’t think that partners of men are any less vengeful than partners of women. It’s just that the double standard we live under–where highly sexual men are lauded, while highly sexual women are shamed–makes this avenue of revenge much more effective against females. Having naked pictures online can damage a woman’s reputation much more than a man’s.
But it can only do that if we let it. A reputation, after all, is simply a collection of opinions. What if, when someone anonymously sends you a video of your female coworker in the buff, instead of thinking less of her, you tought less of the asshole that violated her trust, deleted the email immediately (unless she wants it for pursuing legal action), and reminded yourself that a person’s behavior in the bedroom has no effect on her competence outside of it?
There was an old episode of The Simpsons in which a bunch of advertisements came to life and began destroying Springfield. Paul Anka came to the rescue, explaining that advertisements are powerless if no one pays attention to them. He created a jingle, “Just Don’t Look,” to remind everyone to ignore the ads, which promptly stopped destroying the town.
Revenge porn is similar. It’s put out there to be seen, and to influence people’s perceptions. It’s there to cause harm. So how about we just don’t let it? Everyone you know is a sexual person. Even people who don’t consent to having nude photos taken can fall victim to hidden cameras in their intimate moments, or up-skirt shots on public places. This is the nature of modern life, where everyone is equipped with discreet cameras almost constantly. Maybe we just need to get over it and stop letting it be a big deal.