Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse than 'revenge porn', there's a new fun thing that grew from it like a mould. For those still blissfully unaware of this practice, Image Based Sexual Abuse (Revenge Porn) is the act of uploading and posting to the internet intimate and explicit images or videos of an ex partner (or anyone known to the posters, overwhelmingly women). It dates as far back as 'Hustlers' vs 'Beaver Hut' in the 1980s and it is vile.
The poster of the material captions it with the victim's full name, age, home address, email address, Facebook account, Twitter account and any other contact methods that they know of. Additionally they may also post the victim's colleagues and family's email addresses, school or university Facebook page, and so on. This is done to facilitate the other user's sharing of the material directly into the victim's life. They call the victim a collection of abusive names, rate her looks and body, and discuss what they would like to do to her physically.
The intention of revenge porn is to humiliate and demean the victim and to trample her privacy and dignity. The original poster of the material chooses to massively breach any trust the victim had in him until that point, most of them relishing in how devastated she will be to discover what he has done. The website users get off on the knowledge that a stranger's life will soon fall apart, hence including the victim's colleague's work email address and so on. Often it is used to blackmail the victim.
Needless to say the victim does not consent to this behaviour. Sometimes they are forced to pay huge fees to 'reputation management' agencies to cover the tracks online. Often the victim's life is destroyed; they get inexplicably fired, can't find a new job, families and relationships are irrevocably damaged. Additionally, the psychological response is similar to that of any sexual trauma - intrusive thoughts and images, dissociation, depression , hyper vigilance and anxiety plague a victim, with the additional torture of knowing that there is no knowing when or where these images might pop up again. It can and has led to suicidal ideation and suicide.
Some jurisdictions have passed laws against revenge porn - Germany, the UK, Victoria in Australia, Israel, and 27 states of the US. In Ireland this abuse is completely legal, but luckily there are resources; organisations, and certain pieces of legislation that can help.
Revenge porn is so last year though. This year in new ways to demean and humiliate women and how to top the charts in low living creepdom, it's all about 'C*m Tributes'. And it is highly disturbing.
A couple of weeks ago some teenage girls from Cork, Ireland, discovered that photos of themselves were found on a revenge porn type website. The photos had been taken from the girl's Facebook pages and were not explicit; mostly they were selfies or pictures of the girls ready for a night out.
A 'c*m tribute' is the act of printing out a picture of a person's face and ejaculating on it. Glossing over the fact that it originates from the porn-fueled act of ejaculating on a face (which is a whole topic in itself) this behaviour is your own business. However, it's a totally different story when you print a picture of a teenage girl's face, ejaculate on it, take a photo, and post the results online on a specialist niche website, or just all over the internet as happened to Emma Watson.
The material posted might be different to the explicit content found in revenge porn (though user 'Irish Exposed' promises 'nude pics' upon request), but everything else is exactly the same; the identical ingredients of power, control, and intention to sexually demean, are all present and grimly accounted for.
The victim's name, location and sometimes place of work is revealed, amongst other details about her life.
The users allude to knowing the victim: "This is my 'friend'/I work with the slut/What age is she now? She's living in London isn't she?/She works in a pub in town I go to a lot./She thinks I'm her friend. Dumb slag./See her out sometimes/She's a friend of mine/I recognise a few of these, even f*cked one of them".
They don't care about whether the victim is underage or not, some request it - "Got any of her when she was 13?" one user asks hopefully. Another exclaims that one girl "only just 18!" They call her names like f*ckmeat, whore, f*ckpig, uptight c*nt, cow, rapemeat, f*ck toys, sl*t. They refer to the girl as "it"; "You just know this one thinks it's a classy lady. Now it's only wankmeat on the internet hahaha". They describe her physicality -"fat cow" - and her personality; "my snobby arrogant pal" / "cock tease".
Often they include polls to vote on what the best course of action would be if one had the opportunity of romancing the victim: In one poll the users discuss this hypothetical circumstance in relation to "a 19 year old f*ck pig from Cork"; 16 users want to "rape her violently", 1 user would prefer to "kidnap her, rape her, and sell her to a brothel", 13 want to "face f*ck her", 8 want to "f*ck her ass", four lean towards "beat her within an inch of her life", two would like to "make her another rape/murder statistic", and a whole 10 are keen to "keep her in a dungeon as a sex slave".
The original poster of the poll, the aptly named 'Woman Hater' says that she deserves "some serious beating" and opines that she is "perfect rapemeat". They know what they are doing is wrong; "the whore trusts me completely, lol", chuckles anonymous user 'Hornymachine'.
You may think that for these men and boys this is not reality, they do not have genuine plans to rape and murder the target, they aren't currently researching how to force her into prostitution. You are probably right. Or not. Who knows? Think about how terrifying it must be for these women and girls not to know. These men are in their locality, talking online about how they would like to degrade and assault them, and they don't know who they are. Also, think about how these misogynistic attitudes, completely lacking in respect, for themselves or otherwise, is impacting on the women unfortunate to be in these men's lives. Think about how their woman hating might be influencing their children. I can hazard a guess that it isn't great.
The anonymous users like our friends 'Irish Exposed', 'HornyMachine', and 'Woman Hater' are likely not bespeckled sweaty loner teenaged stereotypes, with no social interaction bar one handed clacking away on a keyboard. Like all men who sexually offend they are our brothers and our fathers and our sons and our uncles and our cousins and our friends. They are men with wives and girlfriends and men with children and jobs and friends and hobbies and a social life.
Abusing women and girls online is a minimal effort, risk free method of sexually abusing someone and expressing your gross misogyny from the comfort of your own laptop. It's consequence free, encouraged, enabled and nurtured woman hating. And whenever there is misogyny we all gaily trip over ourselves to make sure the blame lands on women and it's all her fault for allowing it. We basically apologise to the offenders when even the scent of responsibility wafts in their direction. We enthusiastically let the offenders off the hook because it is easier than looking at the root of the problem, which is the misogyny inherent in our society. Enough.
'Revenge porn' and whatever it spawns is psychological and sexual abuse. It is breathtakingly misogynistic. It is violence and it is terrorism and it has to stop.
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If you have been a victim there is help here.