The issue of “revenge porn” has been around since the dawn of the Internet and the ability to send images over the web or on a cellular device. In fact, “revenge porn” has been around long before it was even acknowledged with a name. Students across America are using laptops at younger ages in the classroom and are receiving cellphones at younger ages as well. These technological devices come with great responsibility. Occasionally in the news you would hear about a young girl who sent provocative images to her boyfriend who then sent the images out to other students or more recently you might read articles regarding a hacker releasing nude images of celebrities that were taken in private.
Cases of revenge porn have included young people, even middle school students. Essentially children are mimicking acts that they have seen via the media, movies, TV etc. which are “sexy” and then sending images of these acts out to recipients whom they might want to impress. Young impressionable girls are continually getting the concept that sex and nakedness are the only way to get male attention. They might hear their male classmates talking about porn they’ve watched or see them showing their friends a nude magazine they’ve found and suddenly it seems to these girls that their nudity is the only device they have to attract male attention. Yes attraction is a major element of nature and human kind, but degrading your worth for the sole purpose that you’ll be liked if you please someone with your naked body or sexual images is an issue. Clearly I’m not talking about strippers or other adults who understand what they are participating in and agree and consent to that lifestyle. I am talking about young girls who don’t yet know that they don’t have to send a naked selfie for someone to like them. Young boys also participate in sending images of themselves to others perhaps because they see scenes of older men texting such images to impress their partners in movies and on television. In my mind there are two distinct and (both wrong) types of revenge porn. There is the type that comes out of young impressionable pre-teens and teens taking pictures of themselves as a way to fit in or be liked by someone, because they hear that “everyone else is doing it”. Then there is the type that comes from consenting adults who are fully aware of the possible consequences of sending their nude or sexual photos to someone. Using images from either of these examples to publically humiliate, degrade or black mail an individual is horrific and wrong and laws must be in place to protect victims.
The reason I separated these two cases is because underage individuals who take pictures of themselves and send them to others can still be prosecuted in some states and have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. It is wrong to look at a group of young kids who send sexual pictures of themselves and compare them to and convict them like adult pedophiles who are fully aware of their wrongdoing and offenses. It’s actually unbelievable. To me arresting and convicting underage kids for sending pictures is the equivalent of arresting a prostitute and letting the pimp walk free. How can you convict essentially a kid who can’t fully grasp the consequence of their actions, hasn’t physically hurt anyone and someone who made a mistake they’ve likely learned from after an embarrassing leak of privacy? Perhaps if society stops telling young people their most valuable trait is their bodies underage kids won’t feel like the one way to fit in or be wanted by someone is by sending nude images. Furthermore telling someone that is the victim of a nude photo leaked that they “asked for this” or maybe that it’s “their fault this happened” is a blatant form of victim blaming and is in no way helping the issue. People who send photos to others generally aren’t expecting that they will be shared with the public. The focus should not be only on the people transmitting sexual pictures of themselves but instead on the people exploiting victims of revenge porn. We need to start teaching the consequence of harming another individual’s reputation, which inevitably will harm their life quality. We must continue to tell middle school students and high school students that there are potential consequences if you put a certain picture online. However legal consequences must be put in place for those who exploit others with the use of revenge porn; more emphasis of conviction must be put on the perpetrator of the act instead of the victim.
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