Like many others, I was horrified when I heard about a porn ring where boys were uploading and exchanging photos of naked or semi naked girls. Apparently, some girls’ photos were worth several others. The boys were targeting particular schools and, in some cases, specific girls. The exchange game was as sickening as it was infuriating.
Sickening, because the boys are displaying an objectifying and abusive attitude towards girls. An attitude which will most likely continue as they get older. Infuriating because once photos are out there,
- it’s nearly impossible to get rid of them,
- It’s hard to shut down the sites that are often based overseas and
- our laws haven’t kept up with the digital world, which means in many cases we are unable to prosecute offenders.
But the saddest response I heard was from our own Police force, which might have also been some people’s first reaction. In a statement the police said: “We encourage parents to talk with their children openly about these matters and discuss the consequences of posting too much personal information… Once this information is matched with a photo of you, then the possibilities are concerning.”
Nowhere in the statement was there any word of advice to boys. In fact, the belief was that they had so far not found any evidence of child exploitation. This is even though under federal law, a nude sexually explicit image of anyone under the age of 18 is classified as child porn. There was no way the police could tell what age some of the girls (many in school uniform) were.
The second saddest response came from some of the targeted schools. The girls in those particular schools were told that they needed to wear long skirts so boys would respect them. If only respect were so easy to be earned. More importantly, they are reinforcing the stereotype that girls and women are to blame for boys or men’s disrespectful and boorish behaviour.
Actually, the behaviour is criminal. Posting photos of girls without the girls’ consent is not just defamation, but also theft. (Some of the photos were actually stolen from computers and phones).
Some arguments were that if you take photos, then you are exposing yourself to it. The same argument that says you don’t go jogging in the park at night or wear provocative clothing in certain places. Yes, sure. I agree that you should take precautions, but when that precaution means I cannot run in my local area and I can’t wear my favourite clothes in fear that someone might attack me, then that’s simply unacceptable. No one should have to hide and in this day of social media that’s the equivalent to becoming a hermit.
Also concerning was Miss Dee’s reaction when I spoke to her about it. She shrugged her shoulders implying that was the internet and what could you do about it?
Yes, you can do something about it. You can change the blasé reaction from people and we can make sure the offenders face court. We can also educate everyone on what is not just lawful but fair and right.
And we can place the blame squarely where it belongs: with the offenders.
“Should you find yourself the victim of other people’s bitterness, ignorance, smallness, or insecurities, remember this, things could be much worse. You could be one of them!” Anonymous.