I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge reality TV fan. Regardless of what I watch on TV, though, I quickly became aware of the news with Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna. If you are not familiar with this story, check it out here and for an update on the story, click here.
Take away the mere fact that these individuals are celebrities for a second and this is the most basic outline of what happened:
- a couple breaks up
- a person from that relationship angrily posts nude pictures of their ex on Instagram with insults and hateful comments about their ex
- Instagram takes these photos down and blocks the account as it was deemed inappropriate
- this person then takes the same photos and posts them on Twitter, with the same hateful messages
- Twitter also takes these posts down and blocks the account as it was deemed inappropriate
When you take away the details, the backstory, and the celebrity names, there is no question of the intent of this person or the fact that what this person did is wrong. Suddenly, this person is a celebrity and his ex whose pictures were exposed is a former exotic dancer who is very open about her sexuality. Suddenly, it becomes: well, she shouldn’t have sent those pictures, or she has no respect for herself, or he thought she cheated so he was just angry and therefore justified. The list of excuses and victim-blaming continues.
The bottom line here is simple: revenge porn is illegal in California among many other states. Private messages that are sent between two consenting adults are meant to be just that: private. When one person then shares or exposes that photo to others (in this case, 10 million others…) with the intention of humiliating or insulting that person, it becomes a crime.
Much like we address victim-blaming in sexual assault cases, revenge porn is a form of sexual violence and domestic violence and it is not the victim’s fault. Instead of asking why she took those photos of herself (which many individuals may choose to do to be intimate with their partners), we should be asking why he chose to publicly shame her not once but twice. This was an act of power and control over Chyna; to prove to her that he could humiliate her and hurt her by the click of a button.
Revenge porn is a huge issue we are seeing more and more of. We often forget that sexual assaults occur via technology through revenge porn as well as coerced or unwanted sexts. We live in a digital age, and thankfully our laws are catching on to these new crimes and attempting to keep up as best they can. But we clearly still have a lot of work to do. Rather than needing to create a new law every time a new crime of interpersonal violence occurs, perhaps we can focus on working to change the culture that cultivates these behaviors rooted in harmful beliefs and attitudes. (I ❤ prevention).