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Your Nude Selfies: Why They Matter on a National Scale

The First Amendment to the US Constitution grants citizens many essential rights including the right to free speech and freedom of the press. Generally, the First Amendment is a boon to citizens- allowing us to express our opinions freely and without consequence. However, in the context of “The Fappenig”/”Celebgate” and revenge porn, the First Amendment often acts as a roadblock for victims.

Blue states have either adopted 'revenge porn' legislation, or have legislation pending. The black states represent the states that currently offer no protection for victims of revenge porn. Photo courtesy of: http://gawker.com/the-case-for-making-revenge-porn-a-federal-crime-1552861507

Blue states have either adopted ‘revenge porn’ legislation, or have legislation pending. The black states represent the states that currently offer no protection for victims of revenge porn.
Photo courtesy of: http://gawker.com/the-case-for-making-revenge-porn-a-federal-crime-1552861507

Currently only 13 states have enacted revenge porn legislature. So, if you don’t happen to live in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, or Wisconsin, your private pictures are not protected. If sensitive media is posted, the only way to force a site to take down the images/video is to enact legal action for either harassment or copyright infringement.

For example, when thousands of nude pictures were stolen from over 100 female celebrities two weeks ago, popular sites like Reddit allowed the content to remain on their sites for several days and even vowed not to take the content down despite requests by the victims to take down the images. Only after some celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence filed copyright suits were the images removed. With the way our laws currently stand, victim have to jump through legal hoops just to get images removed, and bringing perpetrators to justice is an extremely complicated and arduous process.

That being said, how do we create effective legislature to combat this issue that will only get worse as technology evolves yet protects citizens’ intrinsic First Amendment rights? There’s no clear cut answer which is why many drafted laws have been deemed unconstitutional.

Although legislative action on a federal level may be months or maybe even years off, there are actions we can take as citizens to reduce the prevalence of revenge porn and invasion of privacy:

1. Stop engaging

Before Reddit banned the subredit r/thefappening, it was the quickest growing subreddit ever. I understand the appeal of looking at naked pictures of your favorite female celebrities, I really do. Women’s bodies are beautiful and interesting. Celebrities are beautiful, and the aspect of nudity is just kind of intrinsically exciting, but engaging with stolen, private media violates the right to consent.

David Futrelle put it best:

“The enthusiasm with which so many male Redditors – and skeezy dudes in general – have greeted this latest leak of celebrity pics makes one wonder if it is not the celebrity of the women in question that is the draw but the lack of consent. After all, there are plenty of other celebrity nudes out there that the celebrities in question consented to have taken and published… I suspect the real thrill comes not from seeing the nude bodies of these particular celebs – which, after all, are pretty similar to the nude bodies of porn actresses that can be found everywhere online – but from the violation of privacy that these pictures represent. There is a real sadism here, driven in part, I suspect, by resentment that many female celebrities don’t agree to appear nude in their movies or to pose nude or topless for magazines. Sharing these stolen nudes is a way to punish JLaw and other female celebs who have so far refused to share every inch of their bodies with their male, er, fans.”

2. Stop victim shaming

Whenever someone is the victim of having sensitive media shared without their consent, the response is generally some variation of “assume everything you send will be shared.” The problem with this argument is that it shifts the blame from the unauthorized sharer to the victim. Stop. Just stop engaging in these types of dialogues.

Ricky Gervais' victim blaming.

Ricky Gervais’ victim blaming.

If people want to have naked photos of themselves on their computer, THAT IS THEIR RIGHT. We need to stop blaming victims and start blaming the people who are committing blatant invasion of privacy and theft… which are actual crimes.

3. Support victims

Unfortunately, most victims who are not also celebrities see no justice for the crimes committed against them. Pursuing legal action is extremely costly, sites that host pictures are often uncooperative, and there is very little public support of victims.

Some resources for victims and people who want to impact change are:

Tips and FAQ for Victims

Women Against Revenge Porn– resource for discussion forums and impacting legislation

Without My Consent– support for victims, resource for attorneys and legal professionals who would like to help

Sign the Petition to Criminalize Revenge Porn

America is known as “the land of the free” and if I choose to express my sexuality through nude selfies, that’s my prerogative. As a consenting adult, I’m not breaking any laws by photographing myself or posing for photographs. Instead, we need to change the dialogue surrounding revenge porn/stolen pictures and start prosecuting the people who actually commit the crime.

4 Responses to “Your Nude Selfies: Why They Matter on a National Scale”

  1. Shelby

    This is so dope and I love that you approached this topic from a legal standpoint of persecuting the people who leak these images/ photos rather than advocating for women to stop sharing nudes. It’s a very sensitive thing because even when a photo is posted online to one website, it gets spread all over the internet so if it gets taken down by the site it was originally posted to it’s still floating around the abyss potentially even ruining lives. Men need to be taught to respect confidentiality when it comes to possessing nude photos the same way they’re taught to respect women in other aspects. You da bomb, Dionne!
    Love,
    Cher

    Reply
    • msdionnedavenport

      Hi Cher,
      Thanks for your response! I definitely believe that the photos people choose to take/ have taken of them are their business. If people find nude pictures beneficial to their sex lives, personally empowering, or any other positive reason for taking them, then more power to them!
      I just wanted to clarify your point about “men need[ing] to be taught to respect confidentiality”. Although my post focused on the topic through the experience of female celebs, men can and have been the victims of revenge porn and deserve the same rights as women in that regard.
      Yay equality and privacy for everyone!
      Love,
      Dionne

      Reply
  2. ChelleBelle

    This is so great! I did want to weigh in that my sister was the victim of a “revenge porn” type experience, but it was much more complicated because he hadn’t posted the pictures anywhere. That’s the issue I have with our current laws because it doesn’t matter if someone takes and posesses pictures of you that you didn’t consent to. It’s only a crime if they post them online. So this creep just has these pictures of her naked, passed out asleep. She didn’t even know he had them until when they broke up he threatened to send them out! Granted, the police have informed him of the consequences that could happen if he ever did decide to leak them….so he probably won’t because his professional life would be over (he’s a photographer…ironic). I just don’t understand how that isn’t a violation of privacy, harassment or something! Glad I live in a state that protects sensitive media leaks, but come on…we could prevent these from happening before they started if we allowed the police to DELETE the photos. So happy you wrote about this from a legal perspective because the laws right now are a hot mess! Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
    • msdionnedavenport

      ChelleBelle, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I never even considered what happens if someone obtains pictures without permission and doesn’t distribute them.
      I’m sorry your sister had to go through that, and I think its ridiculous that there is no protection at all for victims whose photos are not distributed.

      Reply

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