September 25, 2020, 2:19

COVID Is Creating A ‘Revenge Porn’ Pandemic

COVID Is Creating A ‘Revenge Porn’ Pandemic

The nude selfie is acting as a replacement for sex during lockdown, says Diana Spechler for DNYUZ in an op-ed titled, “The Nude Selfie Is Now High Art.”

She wrote that “since the pandemic began, sex has changed: It’s imagined, monogamous, Zoomed or Skyped. And nude selfies have become one symbol of resilience, a refusal to let social distancing render us sexless. Nude selfies are no longer foreplay, a whetting of a lover’s appetite, but the whole meal.”

The piece quoted Zoe, a marketing assistant from Los Angeles, who told DNYUZ “before the quarantine, I navigated under a ‘nudes are for boyfriends’ rule … Something special for someone I trust. But in times of loneliness I turn to serial dating and now that plays out via virtual connections.”

But it appears that alongside this celebrated rise of the sex-replacing ‘high art’ of nudes, a murkier trend is rocketing. Britain’s Revenge Porn Helpline has reported a surge of demand during the lockdown.

The Revenge Porn Helpline was launched in 2015 after section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act —–the law making intimate image abuse a criminal offense for the first time—was given royal assent.

Intimate image abuse, colloquially referred to as “revenge porn,” is broadly defined as the sharing of an individual’s sexually explicit images or videos without their consent.

The government hotline opened over 200 cases in the four weeks following March 23. There were more new cases last week than any other since it started operations.

Clare McGlynn, a professor of Law at Durham University, told the BBC that she blamed the rise in cases of intimate image abuse to “the increased use of the internet and social media, as well as heightened emotions” during the coronavirus lockdown.

Online safety charity South West Grid for Learning wrote in a study conducted with the University of Exeter that there are two common groups of revenge porn perpetrators. “Type one” abusers will anonymously share images on popular porn sites and their motivations are largely unknown. “Type two” perpetrators, the charity claimed, “use threats to share images as part of a broader pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.”

Both types are predominantly male; both are benefiting from coronavirus.

I don’t like the term “revenge porn” as it characterizes victims as ‘deserving’ their suffering and disregards the sexually abusive nature of this act. Intimate image abuse is a fairer term which places the blame firmly on the side of the perpetrator.

Since the lockdown started, it seems that lots of women like Zoe, the marketing assistant from Los Angeles, have fallen foul of these pond scum.

The hotline’s manager—just one of two full-time staff member —said that over half post-lockdown cases originated in “an abusive or controlling relationship.”

She added that “the level of distress caused shouldn’t be underestimated. We are frequently hearing from people seeking our help that they are contemplating suicide or self-harm, the impact of the abuse seems so overwhelming.”

Experts in the damage caused by intimate image abuse have highlighted how its impacts are near-identical to the aftermath of other sexual offenses such as rape and sexual harassment.

With this in mind, perhaps one would expect even the most ardently pro-porn advocate to attack the many sites seemingly entirely devoted to hosting and facilitating intimate image abuse. If I were ever to adopt a moral position that supported continuing liberal attitudes to porn, attacking the intimate image abuse sites and those who run them would be at the top of my list of priorities.

Sadly, it seems that concerns lie elsewhere, namely with cherry-picking and failing to consider the problem of porn through any other moral prism than deontological, freedom-first thinking. Elizabeth Nolan Brown, a senior editor at Reason who called me an “incel” after my last piece for The American Conservative on OnlyFans, has propped up Sioux City Journal Columnist Linda Holub as an easy target.

Holub claimed that amid the coronavirus pandemic, porn is “just as infectious and damaging to individuals, families and our children.” This is quite obviously untrue and I would like to have it on record that as a conservative opposed to porn I do not think it is as damaging as COVID-19. But Holub’s view is hardly representative of the current sensible, reasonable opposition to porn.

Brown goes on to argue that my piece was full of “misplaced ire” and that OnlyFans was “especially triggering to conservative anti-porn activists, who have long insisted their biggest concern is stopping sexual exploitation, not controlling what women can do with their bodies.”

I have little to no interest in controlling what women can do with their bodies beyond all the usual legal limits surrounding violence. That same attitude is not shared by intimate image abusers, however, such as the “type two” perpetrators who use their vile behavior as an attempt to control and coerce women.

The same is true of men who screenshot and save content supposedly protected by a paywall on OnlyFans. Perhaps Brown failed to note the example of the British girl highlighted in my piece whose brother was sent her nude OnlyFans posts; maybe she chose to ignore it as it doesn’t fit her belief that the platform gives “sex workers more control over their own boundaries, clientele, and earnings than the porn world has traditionally offered.”

Did that British girl include her brother in her clientele? Did her boundaries extend to her family members? No, but hey, at least she had better control of her earnings than the porn world has traditionally offered.

The wider industry of porn is implicated in this harm. It commodifies sex and teaches boys and young men to treat women in appalling ways. Sadly, the horrific crime of intimate image abuse is hosted on the more ‘traditional’ websites too. Reason’s senior editor wrote that a “Pornhub traffic spike further upset moralists” in March.

Now I’m no theologically trained ethicist eager to judge everything as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but if branding a website that hosts a 14-year-old’s rape for months despite regularly being begged to remove it as completely and utterly evil makes me a “moralist” then so be it. I take no shame in that.

The whole thing is sickening. It reeks of exploitation—no matter how much libertarians wax lyrical about how young women selling naked photos is just about liberation—the reality is laid bare for all to see: OnlyFans, major porn sites and the heartbreaking instances of intimate image abuse that stem from them hurt women.

Charlie Peters writes from London.

Sourse: theamericanconservative.com

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