Marianna Taschinger, a victim of revenge porn, fights back 

 

In a recent piece, The New York Times’s Erica Goode exposes the corrupt, disgusting world of “revenge porn.” All around the country, people are founding websites onto which angry ex-lovers can post nude images previously sent or given to them in moments of intimacy. The goal of these websites is to provide a way for disgruntled men to exact revenge on their exes. Other men are free to peruse the pictures, and with ad space sales, the website owners can make thousands. 

 

And the women? Aside from the heartrending breach of trust, they often lose their jobs and are shamed and iced out by their friends and families. Victims of websites that provide personal contact information are stalked by web-fans and subject to danger. 

 

Goode examines the fact that little has been done legally to prosecute the people who participate in this horrible business. When victims of “revenge porn” contact the police, they are often shrugged off and ignored, and although some websites have been successfully shut down, most images have already been leaked to others. 

 

Despite obstacles, the women whose pictures have been posted on the sites aren’t giving up, and they have some amazing lawyers behind them. Goode explains legal tactics that are gaining some traction in the courts and amongst academics: “Women who have been victimized [...] have filed civil suits based on claims of copyright infringement, invasion of privacy or, in some cases, child pornography.” That’s right; some of these girls are underage. 

 

Legal experts act victims to "speak up" and join the cause

 

The lawyers representing the skeevy sites and those who post images contest that their clients are protected by First Amendment rights. The prosecution’s copyright argument is interesting in that it could completely undermine this “freedom of the press” argument; after all, the the images are the womens' intellectual and artistic property, not the website’s or the posters’. 

 

University of Miami professor Mary Anne Franks is working on a paper that outlines the legal ground for prosecuting revenge porn. She suggests that the hesitation to punish those who violate the women’s privacy has as much to do with victim-blaming and slut-shaming as it does First Amendment rights: “The moment the story is that [the victim] voluntarily gave this to her boyfriend, all the sympathy disappears,” she tells Goode. 

 

But the fact remains that each woman gave her lover an image in confidence and in a moment of intimacy, and in sharing it, he stole it from her. No one should ever, ever feel afraid to share her body with someone she wants to share it with for fear of public humiliation. And I think those who engage in that sort of violation should be held accountable, ethically and legally. 

 

How about you? Let us know what you think in the comments, and to get involved, visit End Revenge Porn.

 

Thanks to The New York Times and End Revenge Porn

 

Image via The New York Times and 

Tagged in: victim blaming, slut shaming, sexual harrassment, sexual assault awareness, revenge porn, Rape Culture, privacy, pornogrphy, legistlation, copyright infringement   

The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.


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