Australia needs to criminalise ‘image-based sexual abuse’. This includes:
revenge porn – the non-consensual sharing of intimate images;
morphed porn – the non-consensual doctoring of ordinary images into pornographic material; and
parasite porn – the non-consensual sharing of ordinary images onto pornographic websites.
Online sexual exploitation can happen to anyone but it primarily affects women. It is used as a tool by perpetrators to harm, intimidate, control, threaten, misrepresent or sexually objectify their victims. Technology-facilitated abuse can cause significant harm to victims including emotional distress, violation, shame, humiliation, damage to their reputation and employability and disruption to their employment or education. Victims can fear for their safety and have suicidal thoughts and/or attempt suicide.
A national inquiry on ‘revenge porn’ has already taken place, and in early 2016 the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee recommended in a report that the Commonwealth Government and the states/territories make the ‘non-consensual sharing of intimate images’ a criminal offence. The Commonwealth and the majority of our states/territories are yet to enact such laws or any laws that specifically tackle sexual cybercrime in its various forms. (Seriously Australia, the US, UK, Wales, Canada and New Zealand are already on top of it)
Despite the Committee’s recommendations, the Federal Government has shifted its focus to civil penalties, in part due to the distressing and slow nature of criminal proceedings. A move which raises significant concerns because pursuing civil actions are arguably the most costly, lengthy, inaccessible and emotionally taxing features of our entire legal system. The criminalisation of ‘image-based sexual abuse’ would not only provide justice for victims but would serve as a powerful deterrent.
Whilst there are challenges in enforcing laws in this area, such as matters of jurisdiction, the potential anonymity of perpetrators and the rapid dissemination of online material. The Commonwealth does have the tools to fight sexual cybercrime through empowering government agencies such as the recently expanded Office of the eSafety Commissioner, the AFP, and working with internet and social media providers.
Federal Government – A new reporting tool won’t be enough, please criminalise ‘image-based sexual abuse’.
PLEASE SIGN OR SHARE THIS PETITION to send a message to the Australian Government, the Minister for Communications and the states/territories of Australia, that online sexual exploitation ought to be criminally sanctioned, that we want justice for victims, that we want the criminalisation of ‘image-based sexual assault’ #peoplepower
Nowmore than ever before, the West is seeing the rise of Indians and people of Indian heritage in Hollywood, and it’s glorious.
Lately, the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Dev Patel, Lilly Singh, Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari have been taking the entertainment industry by storm. Back in 2012, Mindy Kaling paved the way for Indians on television, being the first Indian-American to create, produce and star in a television sitcom in ‘The Mindy Project.’ In 2016 Lilly Singh was ranked one the highest paid YouTube Stars by Forbes, and now has over 11 million subscribers #unicornisland.
This year Priyanka Chopra won her second consecutive People’s Choice Award for ‘Quantico’, Deepika Padukone is making her Hollywood debut in the movie ‘XXX: Return of Xander Cage’ also starring Vin Diesel, and Dev Patel’s movie ‘Lion’ has earned six Oscar nominations.
Having said this, seeing Indians on screen in the West hasn’t always been the case.
Growing up as young woman of Indian descent who was born and bred in the West, I would seldom see people who looked like me or who shared the same culture as me make their way onto our screens. On the rare occasion I would see an Indian on television or in a film, they were often depicted as the grossly stereotypical ‘token’ Indian with thick accents: the socially-inept nerd, telemarketer or Kwik-E-Mart operator, you get the picture.
Diversity by definition, is the inclusion of individuals representing more than one race, religion, colour, sexual orientation and so on. Diversity or lack thereof is a prevalent issue in contemporary western society as a whole. But when it comes to film and television in the West, it seems that the predominant narrative of diversity tends to be filtered through a monochromatic lens, in that, the focus is on white or black – quite literally. Arguably, this black or white focus makes sense given the long and dark history of systematic oppression of African Americans in the US, and the fact that film and television is largely Americanised in the West through Hollywood. However very often, the diversity discussion overlooks the vast majority of other racial and ethnic minorities including Asians, Indians, Latino and indigenous minorities, to name a few.
Back in 2016 the Oscars were boycotted due to the underrepresentation and lack of diversity of people of colour. Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith were among the many who took part in the boycott. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite reverberated across social media taking aim at the heavily white and male composition of the Academy and it’s all white nominations for the major award categories for two years running.
This year, the Oscars have definitely made an improvement for diversity, with a record of six black acting nominations, which is amazing news, but how much did diversity really improve for all racial and ethnic minorities? Keep in mind that this year was the first time an Indian was nominated for acting in 13 years.
The thing is, it is really important that when we talk about diversity we remember it extends beyond black or white.
Emphasis on the ‘really important’. Here’s why:
Not only is film and television mass-consumed, its influence is also extremely powerful; but the power of the entertainment industry goes well beyond the celebrity-crazed culture of Hollywood. Film and television has the power to tell stories, smash stereotypes, dismantle norms and reverse gender roles. It has the power to alter traditional standards of beauty. It can inspire tolerance, acceptance, understanding, appreciation and compassion by allowing us to see the world from different perspectives. We can journey in someone else’s shoes. We can laugh, cry and feel for characters who are different from us. It even has power to change the way we view ourselves
More importantly, film and television transcends the screen and can change the perceptions, attitudes and treatment of people and groups in society. It can change culture. So, more diversity in film and television is important for creating a more understanding, compassionate, tolerant and accepting society for everyone. We ALL seek to gain with more diversity.
Seeing people who look like you, and seeing your culture and community represented makes such a difference in so many ways:
On a personal level (and said in all humility), there have been many times throughout my adult life where I have been asked what my heritage is, and when I would respond with Australian of Indian descent, people are often surprised because they think I don’t look Indian, they think Indians aren’t usually ‘attractive’, or they would say you’re hot with the caveat ‘for an Indian’.
This sort of response is not uncommon for many people like me. The thing is – I believe I look Indian, to Indians I definitely look Indian, and in my opinion Indian women are really some of the most beautiful women in the world, but that’s not how Indians are portrayed in the West.
A Hollywood with diversity would dismantle the Eurocentric standards of beauty present in the West, and would mean that all young people can see someone who looks like them being celebrated and be able to feel like they too can feel beautiful for who they are and what they look like. Diversity has the power to change how individuals view themselves and how they are perceived by others.
Now, you may be thinking – why is there a lack of diversity? Is it because there is not enough Indian/minority actors and actresses?
Aziz Ansari, an Indian-American actor and star of ‘Master of None’ penned an essay for the New York Times on the Hollywood diversity problem. He admitted that yes, it can be difficult to find Indian actors, but he explained that when roles are available, they’re handed to other ethnicities. This whitewashing of Hollywood is a controversial issue and it happens all the time.
Whoopi Goldberg, actress and talk show host on The View pointed out that the lack of diversity in Hollywood stems from the fact that there have not been a lot of movies made with diversity because people don’t believe the public want to see movies with black people in them. She says that until people start making movies, where you see more diversity in them, nothing will change.
Sunny Hostin, another co-host on The View pointed out that ‘WE’ the public, have the purchasing power to spend money watching movies with diversity, to make a statement that there is a market for more diverse movies and to ensure that Hollywood continues to make movies with more diversity. Hostin also points out that there is power in a boycott in the fight for diversity.All in all, diversity has a long way to go, but it has come a long way. And not just for Indians.
Something that really touched me was an interview with Gina Rodriguez and the cast of Jane the Virgin (which I highly recommend) – a brilliant, heart-felt, comedy, television show that celebrates strong Latina women.
In the interview, a fan of the show explained that one of the reasons she loved the show was because nobody had captured her culture before or had done it justice, and that growing up she had no role models on television that looked like her or had her skin colour, until Jane the Virgin came along. Gina Rodriguez was brought to tears by these remarks.
Essentially, we need diversity because when we have it, it really makes a difference for everyone. And when we don’t have it, we as consumers have the power through our purchases or even a boycott to push for more diversity. But we mustn’t forget that diversity isn’t just about black or white it’s also about everyone in between.
It seems like every other day we are hearing stories in the news of young girls taking their lives because their nude photos were plastered online without consent. We hear about celebrity nude photo hacks. We hear about government ministers in the Northern Territory embroiled in revenge porn scandals. More recently, the target has hit closer to home, with school students from over 70 Australian schools caught in a pornography ring, featuring thousands of non-consensual sexually explicit images of young girls.
The news is dominated by instances of ‘revenge porn,’ that is, the distribution of sexually explicit or intimate images of another person without consent, usually by ex-lovers. But we rarely hear about ‘parasite porn’ which is when ordinary images are taken from a person’s social media site and posted on threads in a pornographic site, usually alongside offensive and objectifying comments. In other words, you might not have taken a single sexually explicit photo of yourself- but you’re still not immune from being the target of sexual cybercrime.
We also rarely hear about ‘morphed porn’ where ordinary images are manipulated and superimposed on naked bodies and posted on porn sites. The bottom line is that in today’s age of technology, while revenge porn may be on the rise, it is not the only issue compromising our personal privacy.
There has been some talk that law-makers should re-name and categorise revenge porn, parasite porn and morphed porn into what is known as image-based sexual assault. I’d argue that the categorisation of ‘image-based sexual assault’ is preferable as it would encompass a broader range of sexual cybercrimes.
It is very important to know, that while young women are the primary targets of such invasions of privacy, anyone can fall victim to sexual cybercrime – yes, even males. I know of one case, where a guy had dressed up as an animal for a costume party, later to find it on one of those furry fetish porn sites.
So what laws, if any, are in place to protect our personal privacy in this digital age?
Well, the law has not caught up with advancements in technology and unfortunately Australia is yet to criminalise revenge porn. There are only two state jurisdictions, South Australia and Victoria that have implemented revenge porn legislation. For example, in Victoria it is an offence, punishable by up to two years imprisonment, to maliciously distribute, or threaten to distribute, intimate images without consent. However, these criminal provisions have been criticised for being too ‘weak’ a punishment for perpetrators and too ‘broad’ in scope to capture the harm caused by revenge porn.
Since the majority of Australian states have not criminalised revenge porn, victims have to predominantly rely on civil actions to seek redress for invasions of personal privacy, possibly copyright or defamation proceedings. However, contrary to popular opinion, a general tort protecting personal privacy does not exist in Australia. As such, courts have tried to fit cases involving circumstances of ‘revenge porn’ into existing causes of action. As a result, what we have ended up with is a quasi-privacy tort, namely an equitable action for breach of confidence that was set out in the notable personal privacy case of Giller v Procopets.
The recent case of Wilson v Ferguson applied the principles set out in Giller v Procopets and relied on an action for breach of confidence in circumstances of ‘revenge porn.’ In this case, Ferguson and Wilson were involved in sexual relations and shared sexually explicit photos and videos of each other during their relationship. When the relationship ended Ferguson posted the intimate photos of Wilson to Facebook for public viewing without consent. Wilson was left severely emotionally distressed.
But is this quasi-privacy tort effective in dealing with the rise of revenge porn?
Such harms warrant the criminalisation of revenge porn and the imprisonment of perpetrators. Criminalising revenge porn would serve to provide stronger punishments to perpetrators and would deter future incidence of sexual cybercrimes.
Additionally, this quasi-privacy protection in Australia fails to provide adequate justice for victims. It is somewhat paradoxical that civil actions intended to protect our personal privacy, doesn’t necessarily achieve this outcome- because an action for breach of confidence means that victims may not remain anonymous, unlike the protection that criminal prosecution affords. In fact, victims may be reluctant to seek civil redress because it is extremely timely, costly and emotionally taxing for already vulnerable victims and may increase publicity of the photos.
But even if Australia’s laws were to change – there are inherent problems for lawmakers in addressing these issues due to the nature of the digital landscape:
There are difficulties in enforcement and punishing perpetrators, especially where sites are run outside of Australia.
Once an image is online it can be very hard to remove because images can be shared instantaneously all over the internet and before the law can step in much of the damage is already felt by the victim.
There are difficulties in detecting intimate photos as quite often victims are not aware that their intimate photos have been posted online and by the time the victims become aware that their intimate photos have been posted, the images have gone viral making its removal near impossible.
In America, the situation is quite different. Already around 34 states have revenge porn legislation. Most revenge porn legislation in America is based on the New Jersey or the Californian models, both differ significantly. For example, in New Jersey, it is a crime, punishable by up to 5 years’ imprisonment, to disclose any photograph, film, videotape… of another person whose intimate parts are exposed or who is engaged in a sexual act without consent. Unlike New Jersey, California’s revenge porn law requires there be an intent to cause serious emotional distress and that the depicted person suffers serious emotional distress.
For Australia, all hope is not lost. In late 2015, Tim Watts MP introduced a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Representatives that would criminalise revenge porn, although it wasn’t passed into law. In March 2016, the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice released a report on serious invasions of privacy and on September 5 2016, NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton announced that the NSW Government will seek to criminalise revenge porn.
However, deciding to criminalise revenge porn is just one step in dealing with this issue. For NSW and the rest of Australia, questions arise as to what this new law would prescribe: Would the penalties be stronger than two years’ imprisonment as set out Victoria and South Australia or closer to 5 years like the American models? How will it try to reconcile the inherent problems of enforcement and the removal and detection of photos? Will this new law also capture instances of ‘parasite porn’ or ‘morphed porn?
So, how do you find out if you’re the victim of sexual cybercrime? A simple Google Image Reverse Search is a start to see if any of your photos are anywhere on the internet. If, however, you find that there are images of yourself on pornographic sites without your consent- Google now allows you to request the removal of photos or videos on Google search results. We’ve waited a long time for revenge porn legislation but at least now the future is looking promising for Australia.
Written by Noelle Martin. A version of this article has previously been published in The Brief- The Macquarie University Law Society Publication.
The use of the word or meme ‘triggered’ has become popular on social media. It is typically used as an insult or as a joke to refer to feminists who take offense at harmful things being said or done in society.
It has to stop.
Why? Let me break this down for you.
Being triggered is a real symptom of PTSD
An actual symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder is that an individual can experience triggers from something they see on the news or internet for example, that can set off negative emotional responses including anger, anxiety, flashbacks, pain, fear, sadness and panic. Being triggered can cause physical responses such as loss of appetite, shaking, fatigue, racing heart beat and so much more.
Being triggered is NOT a laughing matter. It is not a joke. It’s not funny.
It is a real fucking symptom of PTSD. Have some sensitivity.
Stop using triggered as an insult or a joke because not only is it insensitive and rude. It dismisses, trivialises, undermines and ignores the severity of what it means to experience mental illness and trauma.
2. It is fucking dismissive and rude
We often see people using ‘triggered’ as an insult to show that feminists overreact or are easily provoked by issues that affect us.
It’s not a joke that we are affected by the gender wage gap. It’s not a joke that we are angered by sexual assault. It’s not a joke that we are offended by sexist rhetoric. We are affected and angered by such things. Stop dismissing our feelings as just being ‘triggered’. Stop undermining our anger as just being ‘triggered.’ Stop trivialising our opinions as just being ‘triggered’. It’s rude.
My disgust and anger to racist, sexist and homophobic remarks have personally been dismissed as just being ‘triggered.’ I was in a political group on Facebook as part of my university and there were some racist, homophobic, sexist things being said in it. Horrendous things like ‘anyone who doesn’t identify as male or female are just pretending so they can be different.’ One group member’s response to Islamophobia was ‘if Muslims weren’t here in the first place they wouldn’t have to deal with such confronting and offensive imagery !!!!’
Of course I was pissed, disgusted, offended and angered by such horrendous remarks. I spoke out about the things being said to a woman’s group, but the initial response from the political group was that I was just triggered and that nobody should ‘provoke her please.’
Absolutely I was provoked by such racist, homophobic, sexist remarks – but don’t dismiss my outrage as just being ‘triggered’.
3. It perpetuates the culture of victim blaming
When people dismiss the reactions, feelings and opinions of feminists or anyone for that matter, as just being ‘triggered’, they are effectively perpetuating the culture of victim blaming. They are placing the blame on women for feeling the way they do, they are placing the blame on women for being angered by things that are outright offensive. They are shaming women who stand up to harmful sexist, racist, bigoted rhetoric and actions.
With all this ‘triggered’ rhetoric and victim blaming, I’m genuinely concerned that society has lots its grips with basic concepts of right and wrong. With justice and injustice.
We see victim blaming all the time. It’s the kind of attitude that attacks and criticises the conduct of the victim, instead of the perpetrators of a crime. It’s the sentiment that somehow the victim is at fault for the wrongdoings committed against them, or worse that the victim deserves the harm.
We see it in cases of rape, revenge porn, image-based sexual assault. If she wasn’t wearing such revealing clothes she wouldn’t have been raped. If she didn’t send nude photos, he wouldn’t have uploaded them online. If she didn’t post risqué photos to social media, they wouldn’t be photo shopped into porn. If she was being abused at home she should’ve just left him.
Have we all gone fucking mad?
When Kim Kardashian West was robbed of millions of dollars worth of jewellery at gunpoint, and reportedly tied-up and gagged by a couple of masked men in a Paris hotel. The public reaction was extremely telling of where we are at with our views toward women and how much we are blaming the victim instead of the perpetrators. It’s ridiculous that the public outcry was to blame her for the robbery because of her celebrity status, or what she wears or because she shouldn’t have been flaunting her wealth – instead of condemning the perpetrators.
This insensitive, dismissive and disgusting ‘triggered’ craze needs to STOP. Seriously.
Lefties are often criticised for being regressive. I’m going to address the most common criticisms against us so-called ‘regressive lefties’: (1) that lefties are ‘against’ freedom of speech in that they tolerate views that conform with progressive thought but shun, ban and label those to voice non-conformist thought; (2) that lefties silence opposition; (3)that lefties are actually the racists and bigots of society, in that they preach inclusivity but give special treatment to certain groups in society such as women and ethnic minorities, thereby discriminating on the basis of race or gender rather than an individual’s merit, character and quality of ideas, and lastly that; (4) meritocracy is better than affirmative action.
So let’s break this down:
One of the most significant criticisms of contemporary left-winged discourse is that we’re ‘against’ freedom of speech, in that we permit discourse that conforms with progressive thought, but any dissenting opinion is shunned. Lefties are also criticised for being regressive because we arbitrarily label those who don’t agree with us as misogynists, racists, bigots, xenophobes and the list goes on.
This idea that lefties are ‘against’ free speech is just simply untrue. We are well aware of the importance of free speech, we know that free speech is essential for the realisation of truth which comes from the free flow and exchange of ideas; we know that free speech is essential for democracy and for self-determination. However, free speech is, and has never been an absolute principle. It is widely accepted and recognised that curbing free speech is necessary in certain circumstances, particularly in order to protect people from harm that can result from certain forms of speech. Australian society already has laws that curb free speech such as our anti-vilification, defamation, privacy, broadcasting and censorship laws et al.
The thing is, while free speech is important to society it can be just as harmful, especially when the harms are felt by certain groups and minorities in society who have been systematically and institutionally oppressed throughout history and in society today, particularly vulnerable groups such as the LGBTI community, women, ethnic minorities and so on. Harmful speech directed at minorities can further isolate, alienate and disenfranchise those who are already on the margins of society.
So, while it may be perceived by some that lefties are ‘against’ free speech, what is really happening is that to the extent that forms of free speech have the very real potential to harm individuals, we err on the side of restricting that speech to mitigate such harms, in order to create a more inclusive society for all.
Let’s break this down further:
2. Silencing Dissenting Opinions
Firstly, this criticism assumes that any dissenting opinion, or anyone who voices non-conformist views are not racist, misogynistic, bigoted or xenophobic. Very often those who are publicly condemned for their ‘dissenting opinions’ are in fact sprouting hate speech under law, or sprouting extremely hateful speech under the court of public opinion. This criticism also assumes that any dissenting opinion or anyone who voices non-conformist opinions should not be banned from voicing that opinion, yet we as a society are already prepared to ban certain forms of speech under our laws that serve to harm individuals and groups in society.
However, is there a culture of ‘silencing’ by lefties? It is not uncommon to hear of the banning of certain speakers from talking at universities by special interest groups who disagree with the views held by such speakers.We saw this last year when Univeristy of Manchester’s Student Union banned Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at a debate. Even more recently it was announced that Villanova University cancelled an event that Yiannopoulos was supposed to be speaking at, due to left-wing oppostition.
Also, it is not uncommon for comments and statuses on social media to be arbitrarily labelled as racist or bigoted for being unpopular opinions – to some extent we do see this happening with the views of the Pauline Hanson’s, Katie Hopkin’s and Donald Trump’s of the world (Again, doesn’t change the fact that they could be). Similarly, it is not uncommon to hear of people losing their jobs for tweeting and posting Facebook statuses that offend some people.
Having said that, it is not entirely true that lefties are just ‘silencing’ opposition, very often dissenting opinions are not silenced but just met with protest. And rightfully so. We saw this when students from Brunel University collectively and quite literally stood up and turned their backs on Katie Hopkins when she began speaking at a debate. The students didn’t stop Hopkins from speaking, but demonstrated that they didn’t like what she had to say.
If in fact this culture of silencing exists, it is a very worrisome trend that could have serious implications for free speech and could prevent meaningful debate in society.
3. ‘Regressive lefties’ are the bigots/racists
Another criticism of lefties is that we preach inclusiveness and tolerance but only apply this to women and ethnic minorities in society. Lefties are also accused of being racist and bigoted because of schemes such as affirmative action that give preferential treatment to women or members of minority groups rather than on an individual’s merit, quality of ideas or content of character.
Firstly, this criticism ignores the empirical realities that the systematic oppression of women and ethnic minorities makes it extremely difficult for vulnerable groups to even break into social structures, completely ignoring the need of such affirmative action policies to break down such difficulties. This criticism also assumes that all groups in society are on a level playing field and anyone can just enter into our social structures – jobs, politics, access to education, healthcare, welfare, you name it. But this is not the case, our social structures are still dominated by those with privilege. Let’s not forget who are really the ones that have been isolated and excluded from society throughout the ages.
Australian society throughout history and in contemporary times is undeniably based on a social structure that has and is dominated by the powerful voice of those with privilege, specifically white, straight, cis males, who haven’t had to fight for basic civil liberties like other minorities. Privileged peoples are the beneficiaries of a social structure that favours them, whether they want to deny their privilege or not.
It is said, that ‘privilege implies exclusion from privilege,’ and we see this in the systematic oppression of vulnerable and minority groups- We see the systematic oppression of women and minority groups in their lack of representation in parliament and in the workplace. We see the systematic oppression of women, in our child support and social welfare schemes that largely fail to acknowledge the unpaid work of mothers in child rearing, making it very difficult for women who are the primary carers of children in our society to enter or return to the workplace, thereby perpetuating the gender pay gap.
4. But meritocracies would be ‘fairer’ for all
Meritocracies can only do so much in providing opportunities for all in a society where there is a dominant group and where minorities have been and still are systematically oppressed. We can’t talk about being a meritocratic society if certain groups can’t even enter into social structures. Affirmative action is necessary to break down the barriers and for women and vulnerable groups to become included in society’s social structures. How can we have an inclusive society if our discourse is dominated by those with privilege and if the voices of the most vulnerable groups in society are not adequately represented in our law making bodies or other social structures? How can we have an inclusive society if it is difficult for women with children to re-enter the workforce? And so on.
Up until the time that groups in society are on a level playing field where no group is systematically oppressed or as close to not being systematically oppressed, then can the notions of meritocracy come into play.
Lefties are not being racist or bigoted for ensuring a more inclusive society for all, and if a position is reserved for a member of a vulnerable group over one that would usually go to a white, straight, cis male – then for equality moving forward, this would be necessary. Necessary up until society becomes a more inclusive society and certain minorities are no longer systematically oppressed.
For those who still think affirmative action is racist and bigoted- check your privilege.
Featured Image: Zac Quitzau Facebook: Zac’s Doodles
Written by Noelle Martin. This article or a version of this article may appear in Macquarie Street Magazine.
The greatest wars in history are seldom told for they exist in the minds of every living soul that has ever wandered the Earth
Cursed with the human fate branded from the womb, we are born to fight the great fights. like soldiers, we battle to survive
against immortal demons, thoughts heavier than cannonballs feelings sharper than any sword. The haunting of memories and poison with the power to contaminate our mind, drowning our conscience. The enemies within
But our greatest weaknesses are our weaponry still our beating hearts and the strongest of all the all-powerful will.
We fight in deafening silence with wounds unseen screams unheard and sorrow untold.
But when hope dwindles somewhere in the deepest depths of within starts the Great Revolution a rebellion begins, a thirst for victory
with a call for help, we turn to our allies to lift us from the scorching fires, to breathe momentary relief from the currents Until the next war begins
We face the crusades, that tests our very core. That shatters our beliefs Amongst the carnage and bloodshed tempted by Lucifer’s apple of surrender
Not all survive the evils of the mind. Trapped in a straightjacket of insanity. Some lose control. Like lost souls they live to die. The price of peace.
We face the cold war, brewing. Pain and anger, and a hostile fear. But to kill the enemy is to kill yourself So we must suppress with every ounce of our will Or accept our fate
If we’re lucky, we can escape an assault of nuclear proportions, but not all are lucky Something switches, and they fall One by one by one.
Some say that the greatest conflict is with the heart an unstoppable force with desires that can’t be controlled or tamed, and immeasurable pain if not obeyed.
But for every battle lost we gain in resolve, In strength for the next attack. For every battle won we change in ways more powerful than evil –
a little something called empathy. From the ruins of pain, comes happiness and an understanding that we must be allies for inner battles are pain enough.
The greatest wars in history are seldom told But what we do see and hear- is the magic that turns a curse into a gift and a love that conquers all else.
Featured Image: Zac Quitzau Facebook: Zac’s Doodles
Society says that once a woman becomes a wife, has kids or reaches a certain age then they are no longer allowed to express their sexuality. Women who breach this outdated social norm are slut-shamed, condemned, criticised and judged for the way they dress, act and speak.
They say ‘Is that dress really appropriate for a mom to wear? What kind of example are you setting for your daughter?’ They say ‘you’re 60, you should cover up.’ They say ‘how does he [the husband] allow his wife to dress like that let alone go out in public.’ They say ‘you’re a bad role model for young women.’ They say ‘you have no self-respect.’
Well, the star who needs no introduction. The one and only Madonna recently posted a number of semi-nude photos onto her Instagram under the caption “Still Acting my Age!!!” accompanied by some choice words:
“How do i know I’m still acting my Age? Because its MY age and its MY life and all of you Women Hating Bigots need to sit down and try to understand why you feel the need to limit me with your fear of what you aren’t familiar with. You know what happens to Bigots? NOTHING! Nothing happens to people who. Think in a limited way. Facts… ” wrote Madonna.
Yaassss girl Yasssss!
Thank you for living your life how you want and not how society says you must. Thank you for fighting against this sexist expiry date that dictates when a woman can or cannot express their sexuality. Thank you for fighting to dismantle the sexist social expectations placed upon women.
But at a time where women need the support of other women to fight the patriarchy and these sexist social expectations- unfortunately, in many cases it’s other girls who are doing the hating. Let’s be real. Girl on girl hate exists. And it sucks.
Girl on girl hate, however unfortunate, is unsurprising. We live in a culture where girls are constantly pinned against each other as rivals. It’s always a ‘Who Wore it Better’ between two women, instead of a ‘They Both Slayed.’ As prominent novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pointed out in her personal essay We Should All Be Feminists and in Beyoncé’s song ‘Flawless’:
“We raise girls to see each other as competitors —
not for jobs or for accomplishments,
which I think can be a good thing,
but for the attention of men.
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
in the way that boys are.”
So, it really is unsurprising that girl on girl hate exists. Seriously though, why does society, men and other women, think it’s okay to police what women do with their bodies? The same doesn’t happen for men, so why women?
What is it about a woman embracing herself that is so disgraceful and so difficult for society to understand? Isn’t there enough self-hate already? So many people are struggling with learning to love themselves, with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. Yet when a woman shows an ounce of body positivity, confidence and actually embraces herself, society is so ready to bring her down and keep her down.
Another woman who has spoken out about society trying to dictate her sexuality is Kim Kardashian West. Just one scroll through the comments on one of Kim’s photos and you can see the hate for yourself. And you’ve got to hand it to her, despite all the hate, she’s still fighting the good fight for female empowerment and women’s sexual liberation. Earlier this year, on International Women’s Day, Kim posted an essay and hit us all with some truth bombs. She wrote:
“I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”
How are these women bad role models? They teach young girls: that there is no shame in expressing themselves. That there is no shame in their sexuality. That they shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies. That there is no shame in loving themselves and being confident. That they should live their lives on their terms rather than trying not to offend the delicate sensibilities of some people. That they shouldn’t be afraid of being judged by not conforming to sexist expectations of how a woman should dress, act and speak. To me, that’s the message, the fight and the resolve of a powerful role model.
If we believe in personal autonomy, then there shouldn’t be ANY limit on expressing one’s sexuality. Regardless of whether you’re a wife, mother or an older woman, ALL women should be allowed to decide on their own terms what they want to do with their bodies, free from judgement. If that means wearing a ‘burqini’ on the beach, wearing a sheer outfit or being completely covered, turtle-neck and all- Then more power to you.
So how do we change these sexist social expectations on women? Well for a start we need a lot less girl on girl hate and a lot more #GirlLove. Lilly Singh, the popular YouTuber, also known as IISuperwomanII, launched a campaign earlier this year to give the world more of what it needs #GirlLove, a campaign that is ‘Dedicated to ending and reversing the culture of girl-on-girl hatred.’ Check out her video on YouTube titled ‘Goodbye Hate, Hello #GirlLove!’
But for now, keep fighting the good fight against ‘Women Hating Bigots’ and fighting for more #GirlLove.
This is a cautionary tale of my experiences as a victim of sexual cybercrime. I’m filled with fear, hesitancy and an overwhelming sense of vulnerability at the prospect of writing this piece. I’ve written a little about my experiences before but never as candid as what is to follow. This time around, I’m fighting to reclaim my name and image, a name and image that has been stolen from me and has depicted me as something I’m not.
So here goes…
It all started a couple of years ago when I discovered through a simple Google Image Reverse search that dozens of photos from my social media were plastered all over pornographic sites: xhamster.com, sex.com, cumonprintedpics.com, motherless.com, titsintops.com you name it.
But let me make one thing clear, none of my photos are or were sexually explicit, they were just ordinary images of myself, that like everyone else my age, and everyone else in today’s internet culture, would post on social media.
It’s my understanding after years of dealing with this issue that the picture to the right is the one that started it all, or caught the attention of some pervert out there.
Somehow the perverts responsible had also managed to find out all of my details, which were also posted on these porn sites. My name, where I lived, what I studied- Some people on the thread were even trying to find out the name of my childhood best friend, so they could hack into my Facebook.
What’s more, is that on these pornographic sites were extremely explicit and highly offensive comments about myself that are to this day branded in my mind: ‘Cover her face, and I’d fuck her body,’ and ‘the amount of cum that has been spilt over her could fill a swimming pool.’ I was also called a ‘whale.’
The discovery was traumatising. I was frightened that a perpetrator would try and contact me in person. It was brutal. I immediately went to the police station, but this was before all this exposure to ‘revenge porn’ was dominating discussion in society. The police had told me that essentially there was nothing they could do, as there was nothing illegal going on, because once you upload a photo to Facebook anyone can take it and do anything they want with it, and that I had to contact the websites myself to take them down and just ensure that my social media settings were set to private.
I know now that what was happening to me is called ‘parasite porn’- the term used when ordinary images are taken from a person’s social media site and posted on threads in pornographic sites, usually alongside highly offensive, explicit and objectifying comments.
I also know that there are so many more young women who are victims of ‘parasite porn’ but haven’t a clue and all the while being preyed on by perverted men. The screenshot below is taken from just one website:
For these perverted men, they might argue that what they’re doing may be questionable but technically they aren’t breaking any laws or rules. Unfortunately, they would be right. Under Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, ‘When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you.’
Perpetrators of ‘parasite porn’ might not be breaking any rules or laws right now. But it’s not far-fetched to imagine that at some point in the future, society does witness the rise in the incidence of ‘parasite porn,’ and we ask ourselves: how are we allowing this? Is it really okay for others to do anything they want with an image they find online even if it means objectifying, sexualising and preying on the victim? Is this the risk young women have to take to have an online presence? How will we deal with this issue?
So while ‘parasite porn’ might not break any rules or laws, what it does do-is open up the floodgates to an even crazier world. The world of ‘morphed porn’- where ordinary images are manipulated and superimposed on naked bodies or edited to create a more sexualised effect, and posted on porn sites.
This is where my story takes a turn for the worst…
I soon learnt that my face was being photoshopped onto naked women and I was being depicted as an adult actress. Some solo, some with other porn stars and in one image I’m being ejaculated on by two men. Today, Photoshop is so advanced that it’s really not that difficult to morph an image and make it look real- and some of mine do, which has been the cause of so many sleepless nights worrying about my future employability.
The newest morphed image is me photoshopped me onto the cover of porn film, ‘Buttman’s Big Tit Adventure Starring Noelle Martin and 38G monsters’ it says.
From the initial discovery and throughout this process, I contacted all the relevant government agencies and even the Australian Federal Police. I explained my story numerous times but I was always transferred or directed to the next agency or simply not responded to.
So I just had to take matters into my own hands. I frantically went about getting the websites removed with varying degrees of success. Luckily most sites obliged my request for deletion. Until one particular site, the site containing the ‘morphed images.’ I had sternly requested this site be deleted, but the Webmaster refused to do so unless I sent him intimate images of me. When I of course refused and demanded the page be removed, he threatened to send the photos to my university and my father. I knew better than to give into blackmail, so I held strong, but the site wasn’t deleted until much later.
Yet again, I know there are so many girls who literally don’t know about this- it’s a terrifying prospect. The screenshot to the right is from just one site.
Now, some of you may be thinking that I should’ve just had my photo settings on private, or that I shouldn’t upload ‘risqué’ photos, or that I should just quit social media forever.
I thought the same for a long time, I was filled with shame, embarrassment and disappointment. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I shouldn’t be ashamed at all. I haven’t done anything wrong. Like many others, I’m just another victim of sexual cybercrime.
In fact, now I would say that firstly, no matter how careful you are with your privacy settings on social media. There are always ways around it. These perverts can and do look through photos in the club taken by the club photographer, events pages and even your friends’ accounts
Secondly, blaming the victim is the easy option, especially in this culture of victim-blaming. Where victims of ‘revenge porn’ are asked why they sent nude photos in the first place, instead of why the boys posted them online. We should be asking why these perverted men aren’t being held to account for their actions and for the harm they have not only caused me, but all the other victims subjected to sexual cybercrime.
Lastly, while it may be common knowledge that the internet is a dangerous place and we should all be careful about what we put on the internet, NOBODY expects that when they upload a photo onto Instagram or Facebook, that they’ll end up being depicted as adult actress, with their name and image smeared and misrepresented in a sexually explicit and highly offensive way.
Today, the media is dominated by news of ‘revenge porn.’ We know about the harms of revenge porn to victims that they are more vulnerable to suicide, depression, emotional distress, humiliation and the list goes on.What we don’t hear are the issues of ‘parasite porn’ and ‘morphed porn,’ maybe because most of the victims don’t know they’re victims, which is terrifying enough. But an even more terrifying prospect is that you don’t need to have taken or sent a sexually explicit photo to be at risk.
If you discover that you’re also a victim of ‘parasite porn’ or ‘morphed porn,’ there’s hope still. Now, Google allows you to request the removal of certain photos and videos posted without consent from Google Search Results.
Befitting it seems, how relevant the words of Brené Brown are, the world’s most renowned researcher in shame and vulnerability:
When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.
So here I am, reclaiming my name.
Featured Image: Zac Quitzau Facebook: Zac’s Doodles
She doesn’t fuck around, she’s a good girl. Ever heard that before? How about ‘look at what she’s wearing, has she no self-respect.’ What about something like, ‘I want a lady in the street, but a freak in the bed.’ Ever heard, ‘she’s elegant and classy, she’s the girl you bring home to your mum,’ or ‘leave a little to the imagination,’ or ‘if you show your legs you can’t show your cleavage, it’s one or the other.’ What about something like, ‘she fucks everyone, she must have some deep-rooted issues.’
What about, ‘she’s a filthy slut’?
All of the above are everyday examples that wreak of ‘slut shaming.’ Slut shaming refers to certain attitudes that criticise, judge and demonise females for violating traditional gender norms about women’s sexuality. It’s the deep rooted sentiment that a woman’s worth is somehow dependent on her ‘flower’ or her sexuality.
Here’s everything that’s wrong with slut shaming:
1- We’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t
When a woman engages in casual sex, she’s a slut. Even if a woman just dates men, it’s assumed she’s sleeping with them, and she’s a slut. Taylor Swift, is infamously known and heavily criticised for dating many men, and she has described herself as a ‘national lightning rod for slut-shaming.’
When a woman says things of a sexual nature she’s a slut- Olivia Melville made headlines when a man posted to Facebook a screenshot of her Tinder profile which contained the rapper, Drake’s lyric, “The type of girl that will suck you dry and then eat some lunch with you,” accompanied with his caption ‘Stay classy ladies.’ Since, the incident Melville has been subject to sexual harassment.
Even when a woman says things that could be inferred as sexual, she’s a slut. When a woman dresses provocatively she’s a slut. Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian West to name a few, are demonised for how they choose to dress, to the point that their success and accomplishments are undermined and disregarded.
Essentially anytime a woman expresses her sexuality, she’s a slut. And yes, this is a sexist issue because there is no male equivalent. Women are sluts and men are glorified for the same actions. Slut shaming is a form of sexism and is a sexual injustice.
What’s more, is that for females who don’t necessarily violate traditional gender norms, then their femininity is called into question, they are seen as undesirable and prudish with no sexual desires. So, there’s really no way out for women. We are damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
2- Mixed expectations
The greatest irony of slut shaming is that our culture actively encourages the sexualisation of females. We live in a hypersexualised world where sex sells, yet when a woman embraces her sexuality for herself she’s a slut. So it’s okay for society to dictate how a woman should look, act, dress and behave, but it’s not okay for a woman to dictate how she lives her life. So, really, slut shaming is another way of policing how a woman should live their lives and undermines a woman’s right to personal autonomy.
3- A supposed ‘correlation’ between sex and worth
Slut shaming incorrectly assumes that the way women dress or act is reflective of their self-worth and self-respect. The thing is- women have sexual desires too! Just because a woman sleeps around doesn’t mean they have no self-respect or self-worth, they might just like sex- it’s really as simple as that.
4- It’s us against the world
Slut shaming can occur at the hands of society, men and yes- women too. Yes- many women, and this is arguably the worst kind of slut-shaming. Women who slut shame other women reinforce this girl on girl hate, when we should be empowering other women, I mean, women already have to face it from the rest of society, we need more female solidarity. People who have slut shamed others have lost their jobs. A Sydney man Michael Nolan, would call women sluts on Facebook, until feminist writer, Clementine Ford brought it to the public’s attention and he was subsequently fired from his job. But is the court of public opinion in bringing perpetrators of slut shaming to justice enough? Should there be slut-shaming specific laws in Australia? What would such laws look like? Food for thought.
5- The harm is significant
To be labelled a ‘slut’ diminishes a woman’s worth, respectability, reputation, and reduces her to ‘damaged goods.’
Sadly, it is not uncommon for victims of slut shaming to take their lives because of the harm, humiliation, ridicule and harassment that comes with slut shaming. Advances in technology also make incidents of slut shaming more prevalent and easier to carry out. Revenge porn is a serious example of slut shaming, and involves the spread of sexually explicit material of usually women, typically by ex-lovers, to humiliate and degrade a girl. Victims of revenge porn can experience sexual harassment, depression, humiliation and their employability can be compromised.
6- Perpetuates broader social injustices
Slut shaming has serious social implications as it actually fuels rape culture and victim blaming. The term ‘rape culture’ brings to light how females are blamed for acts of sexual violence committed against them, because of how they dressed or how they behaved. Controversial statements from police officers and politicians have tried to justify incidents of rape by victim blaming a female’s provocative clothing or sexual promiscuity. Which makes the awareness of slut shaming even more important, because it affects a wide range of sexual injustices.
But, things are changing:
Now, luckily there is an emerging movement to reclaim the word ‘slut,’ to rid it from negative connotations and to use it as a tool of women’s sexual empowerment. Rapper Brooke Candy in a lyric says ‘that it’s time to take the word back slut is now a compliment.’ Amber Rose, a famous player in bringing awareness to slut shaming and reducing the shame around female sexuality created the ‘Amber Rose Slut Walk.’ Furthermore, sex positivity is being encouraged by ‘The Unslut Project’ where people can openly talk about their sexual experiences, free from judgement to work against sexual bullying and slut shaming.
So, if you’re someone who believes that women should have personal autonomy and should be in control of how they live their lives, sexually promiscuous or not, without fear of condemnation and judgment, then slut shaming should be on your radar. Slut shaming affects all women.
For too long women have been told: to be afraid and ashamed of their sexuality; that the sexual woman is the unworthy bad woman. For too long, women have been told how to dress, speak and act. The silhouette of slut shaming is broad, dangerous and not a pretty sight, it is so important to be prepared to speak up if you see, hear or feel it, however trivial the circumstances.
Featured Image: Zac Quitzau. Facebook: Zac’s Doodles