People need to stop blaming women for “allowing” awful things to happen to them. When a girl says she has been raped, a person’s first thought should not be “How drunk were you?” or “what were you wearing?” And when a girl’s nude pictures are leaked, calling her a “whore” is not a proper response. The invasion of women’s privacy happens way too often and as technology rapidly advances, it becomes easier to access all sorts of information, some of which is not too flattering.
The number of recent examples of malicious disrespect towards women’s privacy is staggering. There was the iCloud hack of Aug. 2014 that leaked hundreds of photos of nude celebrities. Then there was the Penn State Kappa Delta Rho scandal in which the fraternity posted and shared nude pictures of girls to a private server without their permission. Most recently, a “Revenge Porn” website was created that charges women up to $300 to get their private nude photographs removed. The worst part of these scandals are the public’s reactions to them.
During the iCloud hack, people created subreddits and websites dedicated to the circulation of these pictures. Average people shared these photos and ridiculed the women in them by labeling them “sluts” and “whores.” Leaking the photos became the victim’s fault because they took the pictures in the first place. People were jumping at the chance to see the explicit photographs of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton. When something like this happens, people should respect the privacy of others by deleting the pictures, not circulating them.
In the Penn State Kappa Delta Rho scandal, however, these photographs were taken without the victim’s knowledge. Many of the photographed young women were half-dressed or nude, passed out and unable to object to the photographs being taken. “Police have said anyone who posted such pictures might be subject to criminal charges including invasion of privacy,” The Guardian reported. “Might be” should not be the phrase used in that statement. These young men went out of their way to invade the privacy of these women. They need to know that there are consequences for their actions. Having the KDR house put under suspension is not an adequate punishment.
The scariest part of the whole ordeal is the complete lack of remorse from an anonymous KDR member in his interview with Philadelphia Magazine. “It is shameful to see the self-righteousness that has sprung from the woodworks in response to the alleged Penn State fraternity ‘scandal.’ Here’s a quick reality check: everyone — from Bill Clinton to your grandfather to every Greek organization in the nation does the same old stuff, just as they have been for the entirety of human history,” the member said. The KDR member spent the entire interview defending the actions of his fraternity. Though he was laughably unconvincing, it’s terrifying to think that a young man thinks this way. He thinks the actions of KDR are acceptable conduct and that they shouldn’t be punished for it on the grounds that they were all just “fooling around.”
Recently, a man was sentenced to 18 years in prison for six counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft when it was discovered that he was running a “revenge porn” website, according to National Public Radio. The man, Kevin Bollaert, encouraged men to post nude photographs of their ex-girlfriends to his website without their consent and then charged the women up to $300 to have them removed. What is significant here is that Bollaert was not sent to prison for the revenge porn website, he was sent to prison for extortion.
Fortunately, this case has encouraged lawmakers to create laws that will criminalize revenge porn. California criminalized the distribution of nude photos taken by another person, if it can be proven that the distribution was malicious. They are also amending their law to include the distribution of “selfies.” In California the charges are similar to orderly misconduct, according to Criminaldefenselawyer.com. The U.K. also just created a law that will send anyone who shares revenge porn to prison for two years, Time reported. With laws like this in place, fewer women will find themselves victims of this malicious practice. At Bollaert’s trial, many women testified with their stories of how his website impacted their lives. “Women testified that they had been disowned, become homeless, and lost their religious faith on account of Bollaert’s actions,” Vice reported.
It is way too easy to say “well maybe they shouldn’t have take those nude pictures in the first place.” Men who circulate nude photographs without the subject’s consent are vindictive and their behavior needs to be punished. When a victim is blamed for something like this, it makes the guilty believe that their actions are acceptable. This mentality needs to be changed. If a person ever shares a private photograph with you, regardless of your relationship with them in the future, it is your responsibility to keep it private.
Sam Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.