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Monday, June 3, 2013

On Revenge Porn

“Hey boo! How was your day?”
“Bleh! I had an awful day.”
“Ahan! What happened?”
“On the way to work, my tyre burst. It was on the express so I had to take an okada to the nearest Vulcanizer’s and then pay a cab to take us there. It took us forever and I ended up getting half an hour late to my appointment and the people I pitched to didn’t feel it so we didn’t even get the deal. As if all that was not enough, I got into that Ozumba traffic and it took me 2 and a half hours to get home.”
“*sigh*Sorry, baby. I wish I could be with you and make this easier for you”
“I know. You know I’m not seeing you for the next 3 weeks”
“I know *crying*”
“Send me something to take a look at”
“Aii boo. Give me a couple of minutes”
*file sent*
*file received*

A couple of months later, girl decides relationship isn’t progressing as she would like. Guy gets upset, looks at file. Clicks on ‘Send’ option and scrolls down. ‘To Twitter’ and then ‘Facebook’. In his mind, revenge is served. Welcome to the world of Revenge Porn.  This reads like the latest chapter in  the ‘Social Media at its worst’ book. As technology has advanced, the room and margin for stupidity has increased. We put out thoughts which should be kept in the inner conscious. We detail our every location and activity for the rest of the world to take in. Our fingers are constantly twitchy and we tend to act without taking cognisance of repercussions and effects. Thinking and acting sensibly? Nah! That’s too mainstream. It comes after the deed has been done.


Kim Kardashian’s infamous sex tape would probably stand as one of the more notable instances where this has taken place. In Ms Kardashian’s case her sex tape, with then boyfriend Ray J, was pawned off to marketers, Vivid Entertainment for a million dollars and who subsequently released the ‘film’. She’s on record as saying it was one of the worst experiences of her life, as her younger sisters had to deal with gossip at school coupled with having to explain herself to her grandmother. Having to discuss your sexual life with your grandparents must be the most awkward thing ever. Her stance is tainted by the fact that she received $5 million from Vivid after a suit contesting the ownership of the tape although that would seem fair considering the embarrassment that would surely have come from that episode.


I have noticed that as a people, we have been socialized to being cynical and unsympathetic leading to the persecution of girls whose trust has been breached by saying things like “She’s stupid. Why did she pose and send picture?” That is victim blaming. What’s different between that and throwing up the very ignorant “Her skirt was short so she was asking for it” line that attempts to defend rape? (That might be a tad extreme) It goes without saying that when people are in love, they are bound to do things they won’t do normally.


It might be silly, unreasonable or just plain daft in hindsight but being in love tends to leave people at their most vulnerable. Isn’t that the beauty of it? Feeling what you have never felt and chasing thrills. Those who should be persecuted are those who breach trust to then release that piece of work for the wider consumption of the world.  Why not? When Bernie Madoff made off with investor’s money, the world was aghast. No one put up any argument about the investor’s making the right checks in ensuring that Madoff was performing his role legitimately. Besides, blaming them then deviates from the point of finding a convenient resolution.


Breach of trust, no matter the circumstances is a violation of someone’s confidence and trust and tends to put one party in a weaker position than they would otherwise be. I have told people things in confidence which they have gone on to feed to the parties spoken about and I know how annoyed I have felt at that. Even worse is  when you tell someone whom you thought you could trust and then they use that information against you. That’s not to say I am a saint. I’ve been guilty of betraying the trust espoused in me thinking I was being of help. The truth is in both instances, I have felt at my lowest. What’s the point of friendship if you can’t tell people sensitive things without having doubts that someone who’s not supposed to hear would hear? I imagine it is worse when it concerns people whom you were romantically involved with. Not too long ago, that person was the reason behind that smile when your phone vibrated. All of a sudden, they are the ones making your life living hell. I try and wonder what one stands to gain from posting pictures online and I struggle. It’s not therapeutic in any way. It’s dumb and reeks of inability to act logically.


Holly Jacobs, an American lady, has been at the receiving end of the Revenge Porn cane. Her ex posted pictures of her online causing her to change her name, lose her job and a vain attempt to pursue the pictures that blew up in smoke when she was told  that it was likely that they would have spread to as many as a 100,000 sites. She captures it perfectly when she says “Everyone’s naked in the era of the internet”. The next line of action has to come from the legislative and judiciary institutions.

In the state of New Jersey, it has become law after a victim committed suicide. Evidently, that’s an extreme situation. Laws are central to the regulation of conduct in society. They are there to act as a deterrent to people. They are there to protect vulnerable parties from being exploited or harmed. Legislating on Revenge Porn would tick these boxes.  Judges tend to have traditionalist views but in cases like these, they have to get with the times. There needs to be a greater desire to protect women, who more times than not are the victims. Yes, a mistake was made in sending a picture but that deed is done and everyone is Einstein in hindsight.


Bring an end to revenge porn today.


Bella Naija

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