Revenge Porn and “Rape Culture” Culture

Business Insider found some folks who see revenge porn not as a free-speech issue but as “a kind of high tech rape”:

When we teach women not to walk alone in public after dark, not to wear particular kinds of clothing, not to engage in consensual acts like taking nude photos or making sex tapes, we’re saying that women can expect to be victims because they are women, and that it is more important to limit a victim’s participation in public life than it is to remedy the systemic injustices that lead to victimization in the first place. Revenge porn is merely a high tech piece of rape culture, and sadly it doesn’t say anything about our culture that we didn’t already know.

Wait, what?

When we teach women? How condescending is that?

I don’t think grownups teach grownups much. So let’s talk about those whom we have some chance of influencing: our kids.

When we teach our daughters not to take nude photos, we’re saying that women can expect to be victims because they are women, and that it is more important to limit a victim’s participation in public life than it is to remedy the systemic injustices that lead to victimization in the first place?

Making sex tapes is participation in public life?

This victimocracy is criminally insane. 

Those among us who are not insane victimocrats teach our children to live happy, productive, self-reliant lives in the world as it is, and to try to make it a better world.

When we teach our children to lock the doors at night, we are not saying that they can expect to be victims. We are teaching them, rather, to take their safety into their own hands.

Do we wish that doors did not have to be locked at night, that keys could be left in ignitions, that attackers never lurked in the dark? Absolutely. But that is not the world we inhabit.

When we teach our children to dress appropriately for their surroundings, and that they don’t get to choose what is appropriate, we are not teaching them that it is not important “to remedy the systemic injustices that lead to victimization in the first place.” We are teaching them to take responsibility for their own safety and pay attention to their surroundings.

Mitigating risks and remedying injustice are not mutually exclusive; in fact they are complementary. It’s hard to remedy systemic injustices from a hospital bed, and harder from a grave.

The victims of revenge-porn websites should not have allowed the pictures to be taken. This is not moralization, but indisuputable truth with which the victims would certainly, in hindsight, agree. The victimizers should not have shared the pictures. So what lessons can we impart to our children? Obviously, not to violate others’ trust. But also to be extremely careful where they place their own trust.

Clearly, sending naked pictures to your lover has potential benefits. But people have had great sex lives for tens of thousands of years without the benefit of iPhones. Would you teach your children that they should put a loaded gun in the hands of a lover? Why teach them that it’s an unreservedly good idea to put nude photos or sex tapes in that same lover’s hands? The world is full of betrayals; if you trust someone with your secrets, that person may some day betray that trust. Once you’re grown up (this will be later than you think) you will probably be able to count on your fingers the number of people you can trust absolutely, now and forever, and if you don’t have any fingers left over you’re a lucky person indeed. 

If we don’t teach our children to keep themselves safe, we are doing them a disservice, not preparing them for the realities of the world.

A browse of one of the sites named in the Business Insider article (the things I do for my readers!) revealed men’s photos as well as women’s posted. So what about that?

When we teach our sons not to make sex tapes, are we saying that men can expect to be victims because they are men? 

And if we are saying that women qua women can expect to be victims and men qua men can expect to be victims, aren’t we teaching everyone to expect to be victims?

When you fetishize victimhood, everything is about being a victim. 

But of course it’s nonsense. We’re not doing that. We’re fighting victimhood. We’re teaching our children, if we’re doing our job, that the world can be a dangerous place for the unwary, and that decisions made in the heat of passion can have far-reaching consequences. The world is dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be scary: with some preparation, we can mitigate the risks and probably not be victims while living full lives.

At the same time that we’re teaching our children to balance life’s risks against its rewards, we’re teaching them to be good people and to minimize the consequences of others’ decisions. We teach them on the one hand to be careful where they walk alone after dark, and on the other to protect others walking alone after dark.

Do women face more danger than men? The risks for men and the risks for women are different. Women are more likely to be chosen as victims of predatory attacks because most attackers are men and most women are smaller, with less upper-body strength—predators look for maximum reward and minimum risk. On the other hand, men are more likely to be the victims of hotblooded attacks because young men antagonize each other. This is all physiology, ethology, and endocrinology; we are going to change none of it by changing our culture.

It is true, though, that our culture is screwed up in many ways that we must address:

It is decadent and degrading.

It sexualizes our children.

It teaches us to worship consumption.

It creates irrational fear.

And it fetishizes victimhood. 

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
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2 Responses to Revenge Porn and “Rape Culture” Culture

  1. Ric Moore says:

    “Victim stance” is regarded as one of the Elements of Criminal Thinking. I learned that in SOAR, the program for sex offenders held at Harnett Correctional in Lillington NC. So, those of us who have been through a course of rehab know what you are stating to be the gospel truth. Such things led to our crimes. It’s a shame that many other’s, outside the the razor wire, don’t. It is a precursor to an offence, along with “Stinky Thinking” and roughly 100 other “cognitive distortions”. It should be a required course of study in our high schools. Ric

  2. Diantha Garrett Brennan says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and well-informed opinion on victimization.

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