The sad truth of revenge porn – and the crusade against it

Charlotte Laws

Former private investigator Charlotte Laws (in the above photo) published a great firsthand account of her experience as an anti-revenge porn crusader on XOJane – and anyone curious about the darkest corners of the Internet should read it. Since duplicating its content here would be pointless, I’d rather like to make a few observations about this weird subject.
There is no doubt on the evilness of the whole “revenge porn” phenomenon: people have lost their jobs, their loved ones and even their lives for it. The article linked above describes in detail the horrors its unwilling stars have gone through. Knowing that the law is moving forward to put an end to it is absolutely positive. But have you stopped to think for a moment how bizarre this thing really is?

Let’s put aside the legal aspects of being able to go unpunished for knowingly ruin some innocent’s life. Among the things that shocked me in Laws’ story were little details about the damaging photos at the heart of it all:  «one fully visible nipple», «the bloody, bandaged breasts in a doctor’s photograph of one accident victim», «the self-portraits of two women documenting their weight loss progresses». Hold on a minute: this is almost 2014, the Web is full of real extreme porn, and this is the sort of thing people flip out over?
I am not merely referring to the subject of the photos themselves: of course they were shocked to be unwillingly exposed online. You would too if you were in their shoes. But what about the website owner? Did he really believe those pictures were “sexy” enough to risk being indicted in a federal crime? And what were his users thinking to go along with his female-hating act? Are there really such frustrated and small-minded people out there?

The answer is, of course, yes. Our social culture – or lack thereof – really breeds such an ignorance and fear of sexuality that males of every age feel entitled to spew blind and senseless hate against a stranger simply because she has a body. Mention a nipple, and they’ll go berserk for no sensible reason at all, even encouraging said strangers to suicide.
Granted, this sort of reaction would be literally unthinkable outside of the United States and, maybe, a couple of radical Islamic countries with the same level of bigotry and pathological denial of sex. Even if we are talking about a sad minority in the greater picture of things, however, the whole fracas is plainly just another example of the dangers deriving from the cultural disconnect of “normal life” and sexuality. Thinking about these tragic facts, are you sure it’s really worth continuing the charade?

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