The obsession with nudity and the details of the consensual sexual exploits of perfect strangers, I find, disturbing. With each release of nudes and amateur pornography, often without the permission of the local “talents” therein, social media erupts, and scores of individuals all but salivate for a copy of whatever is going around at the time. And very few attempts are made to protect the individual who is now the focus of all sorts of bullying and other abuse, mostly from strangers, many of them women.
Part of me thought we were finished with this, yet part of me also understands that in a small country like ours, it is almost impossible to move on altogether without some serious work.
Using the slipups and downfalls of others, particularly young women as a form of amusement and entertainment is nothing new, and if things stay as they are, this will continue for a long time. Sad, but true.
After all the ‘fun’ is over, or perhaps even before it begins, how many of us think about the people in the video or the picture that has found its way to our mobile devices? Do we ever think of what we would do in that situation? Or how we would react if someone close to us found themselves in a similar ordeal?
Many of us don’t.
We always think we’re untouchable and that it’s okay to laugh and jeer and share because, “it can never happen to me.”
But, it can.
Contrary to popular belief, the people in these homemade videos aren’t getting anything but embarrassment, guilt, shame and devastating blows to their self-esteem and trust in others that often takes years to amend. And for sure, these people had no intention of letting, you, far less an entire country, see what was meant to be an intimate and very private moment.
One young woman, who is now in her 30’s hasn’t had one sexual encounter since an erotic video of her was published by an ex-boyfriend in college. Another I spoke to, who is in her early 20’s, described her nude leak as “high key the most embarrassing moment of my life.” Dozens of pictures of her naked body were shared at lightning speed and eventually ended on her father’s desktop.
“Honestly,” she started, “there have been times where I just cry and cry and cry. Every single time I feel like I’m getting ahead at something… those pictures come up and I feel so small and so insignificant. It changed my life, I wish I didn’t have to go through that.”
Like her, many others end up plagued with anguish and wish to turn back the hands of time. Hoping that people would forget what happened to them. Apparently, people don’t forget, or rather choose not forget.
In fact, many who should be occupied with other pressing matters that, mind you, are more their business and more urgent to attend to than a video of people participating in consensual sex, make it their duty to indulge and forge on with the abasement.
In turn, making way for the age-old argument that it is the victim’s fault why this video or these pictures are now floating in cyberspace. Women are usually the victim and once these things happen, accusatory statements ring out and it is always, “she shouldn’t have been there”, “she went to look for her thing”, “She well like it” or “So long ‘mamselle’ in her thing, it was bound to happen.”
No, it wasn’t bound to happen. And when we make up reasons why it was “bound to happen” it makes it seem normal. But invasion of someone’s privacy is never okay. Distribution of revenge porn is never okay. Voyeurism, or whatever we would like to call this peeping-tom behaviour is not okay. And to participate in a social homicide by pushing someone over the edge to depression and seclusion is somewhere next to killing kittens for sport – it’s sick.
When nudes leak, the conversation which usually starts with, “she should have never put herself in that situation…” needs to turn into, “the perpetrator should not have not done ‘xyz’ in the first place.” Now, more than ever, the discussion needs to turn away from what victims need to do to protect themselves into what perpetrators and potential perpetrators and enablers need to do to stop adding to this issue. And with enough activism, with more reporting and less sharing I believe fewer victims, especially women, will not find themselves in a paranoid fit because her nudes leaked.