You know what they say… third time’s a charm. My third Feminism Friday post. Enjoy!
For this week’s post, I had a couple of ideas floating around in my head of topics that I wanted to tackle. But when I heard about this story today, it outweighed all the others.
For those of you who are not familiar with concept of “revenge porn”, let me enlighten you on yet another fabulous way our society has found to shame women. Revenge porn basically does what it says on the tin. It uses porn, as a form of revenge, most often against an ex, and/or, current girlfriend. It involves the disgruntled (in many of the cases I have read about), male partner, publishing and posting online intimate and naked pictures of their other half in the hopes of shaming them. Delightful.
Why do they do this, I hear you ask? This is both a simple, and complicated question, depending on how much time you have. At its simplest, it is a form of public humiliation, showing their partners in their most vulnerable for everyone to see. If you dig a little deeper, you find the cause of the humiliation and shame; the women in the pictures are naked. Pictures of the women fully clothed are not posted. No, no, no. That would defeat the purpose. It is pictures of them in their underwear, or naked, or in the middle of sexual acts that are posted. Why? Because there is nothing more shameful for a woman than to be seen in a sexual light, embracing her sexuality.
This new trend harks back to perhaps one of the oldest misogynistic ideas; that women should be pure. They shouldn’t have sex, and they most definitely should not enjoy it. However, it is okay for women to be sexually active as much as they want within the constraints of their relationship, for she pleases her partner, and he her. What’s that line in the Usher song? “You want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed”. Yeah. This is basically that. Though she may be in a relationship, what she does with her partner is ultimately up to him to use as he wishes. And with revenge porn, he uses it against her.
The pictures that are uploaded as revenge porn, are mostly done so after a nasty fight or break up. Perhaps the partner feels hurt, betrayed, upset etc., as you would do after a break-up. All these feelings are perfectly natural and acceptable. What is not acceptable, however, is using not only the most intimate part of your relationship, but images of a woman without clothes, as a tool to get back at her hurting you.
These men think that posting these intimate pictures of women are the most hurtful thing they could do. What they are doing instead, is highlighting how little society has come in its acceptance of women and their sexuality. It is clear that women cannot freely act sexually, even with a trusted partner, for fear of being shamed afterward should something go wrong within the relationship. The perpetrators of these crimes are the embodiment are the archaic, yet still current, underlying misogyny of our society. I would have thought they we would be past all this in 2016. Yet women are still not free to not even do as men do, but do what they want.
I’m not going to go into the whole argument about men being classified as a “hero” for sleeping with people, and women “slut”. I’ve already touched on that in a previous post, but that is not what this post about. Revenge porn, while yes it is about the fact that men are not shamed for having sex, but it is about the fact that women cannot have sex, even in her own relationship, without being afraid of seeing her vagina plastered all over the internet for everyone to see.
It is severely unsettling, for me, to know that there are still people out there who think the worst thing for a women to do is have sex. That to really embarrass, hurt, and torture me is to post naked pictures of me online. What’s worse, this epidemic is only getting bigger and bigger, and the perpetrators younger and younger.
UCD have found that there was a secret Facebook page involving their students, in which they upload pictures of women they have slept with, and communally rate them online. It is not known whether these pictures are sexual or not, but the President of the Student’s Union has classified the group as “revenge porn”. And too right he has. I am so glad that the college are taking this seriously. In Ireland we suffer badly from “lad culture”, which is “boys will be boys”‘s older brother. Incidents like this can be easily brushed off, branding it harmless, a joke, bit of fun etc.
But it is not one bit harmless. It is degrading to women everywhere. These acts are telling us that no matter how hard we work, how proud we are, or what we achieve, we are nothing more than a set of breasts and a vagina. And we should be ashamed of the fact that that’s all we are. That we, as women, carry with us everyday the very things men can use to bring us right back down. It is telling us that it is our responsibility to take care of these weapons, and use them wisely.
Almost immediately after Emma Watson’s “He For She” speech at UN, a website was created which threatened to upload naked pictures of her. Someone waved a flag, with an image from Kim Kardashian-West’s sex tape, during her husband’s set at Glastonbury. There are websites dedicated to the publication of intimate, and most importantly, sexual pictures of celebrities. You may have millions of followers on Twitter, but if you’re a woman, you’re subjected to the same shaming we are.
What was so shocking about this story in UCD was that these students are probably around my age. We grew up in the same country, but yet our mindsets seem miles apart. I like to think that our generation will be one that will implement great changes to society. That when we are our parents, my children won’t have to tell me they’re gay. They will be able to just come home with whomever they choose, and that will be that. That there will equal representation on our government. That women will be allowed to use their bodies in whatever way they choose, without fear of being judged for engaging something so natural and central to human kind. But then I hear stories like this. I hope they find these students who created this group, and I would love to hear their reasoning for creating such a Facebook group. I am genuinely curious as to what drew them to make this group, because I cannot understand it.
Let me tell you something. I’ll be straight with you here, and I want you to really listen to this. I am not my body. My body is not me. My body is something I have, and while it makes up who I am, in the fact it carries my organs and y’know, lets me live, that is not all there is to me. I am not a walking set of breasts and vagina, to be exploited by you. I am a person. I am a person who uses their body how I choose. I am not a slut for being sexually active, or for embracing my sexuality. If I share my body with you, that is my choice. If you see me naked, it’s because I let you. It is not something you can hold against me if you get angry at me, and use as a tool to humiliate me. Because that tool is a broken one. There is nothing embarrassing, shameful or disgusting about a woman embracing her sexuality and using her body.