Friday, 27 November 2015

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Bookish Spinsters: Revenge Porn/Non-Consensual Pornography

Bookish Spinsters

Bookish Spinsters is a weekly link-up where we discuss feminism based on a topic/question/prompt, and other feminist book bloggers and book tubers join in with their response. Feel free to join in at any time, I just ask that you link back to Bookish Spinsters. For more info and the list of future Bookish Spinsters topics, go to the Bookish Spinsters page.

This week's topic is Revenge Porn/Non-Consensual Pornography.

This is something that gets me so mad. So mad. Because, again, it's another way for people to blame women.

First up, what is revenge porn/non-consensual pornography? According to Gov.uk and The Ministry of Justice's Be Aware B4 You Share campaign, it's "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."

Imagine the situation. You are in a happy sexual relationship, one in which you trust your partner. For the fun and thrill of it, and to excite your partner, you send them sexy, intimate, private photos, or perhaps you take sexy, intimate, private photos together. Several months down the line, things in your relationship go awry, and you split up. In anger or jealously or spite, or god knows why, your partner posts your intimate photos online - along with your name, your address, your social media profiles. This person you loved and trusted enough to be intimate with has betrayed that love and trust, and left you exposed to the world. Thousands of people can now see your photos if they wanted. Disgusting comments - even threatening, aggressive, frightening comments - are left on your photos, and to your social media pages. And you are blamed for being "stupid" enough for taking those photos or allowing them to be taken in the first place.

Because we're obviously not going to blame the ex who put those private photos that they were trusted with online. And we're not going to blame the awful people who write such disgusting things in the comments of those photos. Nope. The fault is with the person who's photos have been shared, for taking those photos in the first place, because there is really only one outcome when you do such a thing.

You might have noticed that I've worded the above scenario without giving gender to either "you" or the ex, because this could happen to anyone. But I have only ever heard about it happening to women. I don't know why this is. Has it happened to men? Or are women not so vengeful? Or are people not so bothered about spitting out hate in the comments of guys' photos? I'm not going to rule out that it happens to guys, but what I have heard about - the women who's photos have been shared, the women who get such vile comments - is all based in misogyny; the hatred of women. Why else would such disgusting threats be made to women who are sexual beings? However, I will state that it's not just men who share non-consensual pornography: today it was reported in The Independent that a woman - the first woman - has been jailed for revenge porn.

What's worse, is that these photos posted online are so hard to get rid of. They can be copied by others and posted elsewhere. The sites they're posted on could be in another country, and might refuse to take them down or ignore them. These photos could be around for years. They affect the victim's life for years. What if employers decide to do a quick Google search? Or potential dates? Or, in the future, simply because they're young and they think it would be fun, your children? Once those photos are posted online, they can haunt you.

But I won't to go back to the idea of the victim being stupid enought to take those photos/allow those photos be taken. Why were they taken? Because the victim trusted their partner. Isn't society really saying, then, that people shouldn't trust their partners? Which is absurd. I'm pretty sure no person who takes or allows these photos to be taken believes that the person they're with will actually share their private photos. Most of the time, if there was any real doubt, they wouldn't be taken. There's this idea that if a woman - yes, I'm saying a woman, because guys simply do not get the same crap - take these photos, even if they aren't shared, that woman is doing something wrong. Because it's not really an issue about a woman being stupid enough to trust her partner, because society still has this idea of it being wrong, or the woman being *insert any insult for a promiscuous woman here*. It's more sex-shaming. It's disgust at a woman owning her sexuality and enjoying sex. And it's simply not on.

I'd like to add that some of the time, these photos aren't taken because the woman wants to. Some times, they're taken because the woman cajoled or pressured into taking photos, which is awful. An unhealthy, controlling relationship, and obviously a partner that shouldn't be trusted, but controlling realtionships can be difficult to get out of. What I also haven't touched on are the number of young people who are sharing sexual photos in an effort to be liked or seen as cool, or unsolicited sexual photos people are sent. All of these things, things that upset or anger me, are topics for another time.

I'd like to end to say that it's fantastic that there is now a new law in England and Ireland that means those who post revenge porn can face up to two years in prison. It's awesome that this is being taken so seriously.

Stop by tomorrow when I'll have an interview with Robin York, author of NA novel Deeper, in which the main character is a victim of revenge porn, where she will be discussing this topic further with me.

And now it's time for you to share your responses to this week's topic! Join the link-up below with the URL to your Bookish Spinsters post/video, along with your name and your email address. Then check out other people's posts and lets get talking!





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