Lena Chen, as a freshman at Harvard, started a blog called Sex and the Ivy, where she wrote about her hookups, self-medication with alcohol, recovery from an eating disorder and crushing desire to be liked. All standard stuff for a college student. But then an ex-boyfriend posted naked pictures of her on the Internet.
Writes Claire Gordon in Al Jazeera:
“For some, this was righteous comeuppance for the campus harlot. For others it was just great gossip. Classmates and other titillated parties reposted the images around the Web, and comment threads exploded with colorful debate.”
Ophelia comments: “You know the kind of thing. Ugly, whore, disgusting, blah.”
Read the rest at Ophelia’s blog.
What struck me while reading the story on Al-Jazeera’s site was this delightful comment, which appears conjured from the streams of idiocy the article highlights and proves Lewis’ Law.
“So let me get this straight… some chick posts about her intimate affairs online for everyone to see, takes nude pics of herself, and is then surprised when all of that blows up in her face? Cry more, over privileged dimwit. There is a word for people who behave this way, “attention whore”. Grow up and take responsibility for your own careless actions. If people who read your revealing blog, and view pictures that you took of yourself naked have the opinion that you are a “skank”, or anything else you find offensive, that is their opinion, and you put yourself out there to be judged. Deal with it.”
So women, listen up: According to Lord Davidson, Minister of Internet Manners and Behaviour, you may not post anything about your intimate affairs, take nude pics and expect decent treatment as an adult. Surprisingly, Mr Davidson might discover that plenty of adults do this everyday and are responded to without horrific treatment as if they’re pariahs on society half-a-beat away from eating children. Instead, they’re ignored, respected, or treated in any number of ways that does not undermine their capacity to be part of human society.
What I “expect” is for adults to treat other adults in ways that align to decency and respect, unless they’ve done something worthy of no respect – such as murder or rape. No case is made or has been made to show that naked people, proudly sexual people and so forth deserve such horrific treatment.
As always I don’t understand what’s wrong with “whore” or “slut”: I’m not asking people to adopt these terms, only asking those who use them negatively to explain what’s wrong with behaviour that makes you namecall such people using these terms.
Oh no: A woman really likes having sex consensually with lots of people? Hellfire, brimstone, lakes of blood, dogs marrying cats! A person consensually exchanges money for sexual favours? Bring forth the torches and oil!
The victim-blaming is terrible, as always. No focus is given to the fact that she doesn’t deserve such comments. But what’s always “intrigued” me about such comments is how the victim-blamer expects the victim to control responses: what powers do they think women have to control the entire Internet in its treatment of women? Women have to just exist and make their presence known to be treated this way: adding the sexual element only gives them an added element.
My friend Caroline Criado-Perez fought to create more sex diversity on British bank-notes – and for that, she was treated in the most horrific ways: rape and death threats.
Would Mr Victim Blamer say: “Oh well what did she expect, campaigning for equal treatment and representation?” If he would not, what makes sex get a free moral pass to turn adults into lecherous monsters?
Either women have no power and so must be controlled or they appear to have infinite power in managing the responses of all the world, since they “bring it on themselves”.
I hate knowing that it appears to be mostly men saying and doing these things. It makes me ashamed to have any even vaguely similar characteristic to such people. But, disgustingly, it also makes me glad I’m not a woman on the Internet. I don’t think I’m strong enough to withstand such treatment.
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