Revenge porn has become an epidemic in Ireland and affects mainly the student population resulting in depression and in some cases suicide, yet it is still to be decriminalised.
The exact definition of the term is clear: “Revenge porn: (n): Sharing sexually explicit photos or videos of another person online without their consent, usually with malicious intent.” Usually the attacker is an ex of the victim. However, some students did not even know this was an issue.
“I feel bad for doing it now but I didn’t know it was wrong at the time. It’s just a thing lads do.” said one male DCU student who wished to remain anonymous.
“I felt as if I was the one who was in the wrong”, said a female DCU student who had been a victim of revenge porn.
Although, it has been proven that it is not “just a thing lads do”. Women have also used revenge porn to publicise photos of male bodies sent to them. This is a double-edged sword of revenge porn as any Irish woman on Tinder will say that they are bombarded with pictures of penises to the point of harassment and consequently show them to others for revenge, and so the vicious cycle of rape culture in Ireland goes on.
Ireland has always had a rough relationship when it comes to talking about sex, to the point where we would nearly believe we were all immaculately conceived. However, rape culture is not about Ireland’s attitude towards sex, it is about Ireland’s attitude towards victims; both men and women.
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and the government have developed a new women’s strategy which addresses the emerging issue of revenge porn and body shaming. “The strategy will have to work for women across all ages, classes and situations,” said the Tánaiste.
This is progress, but again it emphasises Ireland’s core problem when it comes to dealing with rape culture, which is that it is up to the victim to have a ‘strategy’ and not the abuser to not abuse. If we were to look into the reasoning behind the sharing of illicit images, that could be something we could learn from.
If it stems from jealousy then young people should be taught about the appropriate ways to deal with such strong emotions. If it stems from anger and revenge due to mistreatment, then better coping mechanisms can be achieved. There are always methods of changing the way we think and act.
Revenge porn is product of the ongoing problem that is rape culture. Men have been victimised by it, but most targets are women. The degradation of women is institutionalised in Ireland, especially with the profound influence the catholic church has had on our thoughts and words. For example, marital rape was only criminalised in 1990.
Even though the catholic church is losing its influence, women internationally must now strive more than ever for respect and equality in the age of the smartphone camera.
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