That porn-sharing web site: Time for a reality-check

Today I wanted to offer some comments in relation to an article entitled The police response I never expected, by Nina Funnell (18 August 2016). This article was prompted by the now highly-publicised discovery of a web site that is alleged to contain many nude photos of Australian high school girls.

The web site that was the focus of recent Australian media attention went off-line for a time only to re-emerge ten days later. The author of this article claimed that “police managed to have it taken down“, although I have found no evidence of that being the case.

Nina bemoans the ‘fact’ that Australian authorites are not taking the problem seriously, and that the action they did take included warning girls not to take compromising photos of themselves. The latter action is apparently not seen as constituting ‘education’ but rather ‘victim-blaming’.

This is the default feminist response to the issue of taking responsibility for one’s own actions, and doing what one can to minimise risks to oneself. This aspect, in the context of online porn, was addressed in an article by Corrine Barraclough. Articles detailing the feminist perspective on this issue can be reviewed here and here.

By way of background, articles *very* similar to those that recently appeared in the Australian media have regularly appeared in other western countries in recent years without generating much in the way of a fair and meaningful response. A cynic might suggest, given the salacious appeal/guaranteed outrage of the subject, they appear on a cycle as per gender wage gap, etc.

It is dubious whether Australian police can wield any power in relation to the ongoing operation of the web site. And even if they could – presumably via cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies – they would still need to identify those photographed and prove they were underage at the time they were photographed. No small task, especially when it appears that very few of those whose photos featured in the web site have lodged police reports. Perhaps, realistically, all Australian police could do was to warn young people of the danger of allowing themselves to be photographed whilst naked.

It’s ironic that various articles use the term ‘victims’ to describe the girls whose pictures are featured in the web site, whilst running photos of the girls within their articles (see for example).

The article contains a quote from Sharna Bremner, from ‘End Rape on Campus Australia‘:

“I agree we must be talking to young people about these issues, but we should start by talking to potential perpetrators about the consequences of their choices, rather than always putting it on girls to manage [and prevent] their own exploitation and victimisation”

Wait a minute – time for a reality check, for we know that:

As a consequence, Ms Bremner’s implication that “potential perpetrators” = men/boys is incorrect, as is the implication that girls have a monopoly on “exploitation and victimisation“. I might note here also whilst implied, it has not been verified that the web site in question only contained photos of nude women/girls.

Ms Bremner was also quoted as saying that:

“To direct parents to warn their daughters, without also directing them to talk to their sons is inappropriate. This stems from the same logic that tells girls not to get drunk or wear short skirts, while failing to spend even one second talking to boys about consent”

I agree that parents and other authority figures should talk to both boys and girls, but they should give the same message to both, in the knowledge perpetrators/victims aren’t split along gender lines.

This reminds me of ‘respectful relationships’ programs in schools, such as those run by the White Ribbon Campaign, that lecture boys about respecting girls but not necessarily the reverse. This despite that fact that Blind Freddy can see that girls can, and often do, disrepect and abuse boys.

Nina then proceeds to hold up the highly contentious Canadian public ‘awareness’ campaign known as ‘Don’t be that guy‘ as a good example of how authorities should take a more active role by educating (=shaming) people (=men/boys) into not posting online photos of people (=nude girls).

This despite the fact that the value of public awareness campaigns in changing errant behaviour is generally considered to be dubious, as is discussed in this post.

Nina claims that the Canadian campaign led to a 10% drop in the number of rapes in Vancouver BC. This article may be the source of her claim, but the evidence is hardly conclusive.

I do agree with her though that, in general terms, education campaigns targetted at specific groups in the community are more likely to be effective than broad-brush public campaigns. You just have to make sure you target the right groups based on objective evidence rather than ideological persuasion.

And yet curiously feminists lobby for/support broad-brush public awareness campaigns in the case of domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment/discrimination, etc. And although these are directed at the community generally, they still routinely imply that perpetrators/potential perpetrators are male, whereas in fact they are invariably either male or female.

And to close off this discussion, just one example of the double-standard that invariably goes hand-in-hand with any feminist position on gender:

Wilderness School girls under fire for ‘hook-up wall’ of boys, who claim a double standard of sexual objectification (11 November 2016) with related Reddit discussion thread here.

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