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feminism isn’t the enemy of men, revenge porn is

After Emma Watson's rousing speech on feminism to the UN she was targeted by hoaxers pretending to have naked pictures of her. A shocking indictment on modern man? As Emma Watson said, feminism is the belief in equality, not a struggle between genders...

by Nathalie Olah
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Oct 3 2014, 2:00pm

David Shankbone

When news broke of the naked celebrity photo scandal, how many of you assumed the hacker responsible was a woman? None, I'd imagine. If pressed, most of us would have pictured the culprit as a lonely nocturnal man, holed up in his parent's house and wearing a Butthole Surfers T-shirt. And we would probably be right.

While the identity of the hacker (or hackers) is still in question, within minutes of the story breaking commentators were discussing men and their sexuality - the detrimental impact of abundant online pornography on the male psyche. Because it was obvious, we didn't need to be told: this was definitely a man, or men.

Can you blame us? The figures are stacked in favour of this assumption (a recent survey carried out by Opinium found that 76% of men polled consume online pornography, compared with only 36% of women). It was inevitable that sooner or later, this incident would start to be fed back into a narrative of men and their online porn habits. Men in general, not the individual perpetrators of the crime, and in this way the celebrity photo hacking scandal wasn't just a heinous crime committed against some of the world's most powerful and influential women, but a massive blow to men seeking to achieve equality, too.

As Emma Watson stated in her rousing speech at the UN headquarters last week, feminism is the belief in equality, not a struggle between women and men.

Hear me out, because it's important to acknowledge that women are not alone in this struggle. Patriarchy in all its sickening guises is now more widely contested than ever, and not least by men. While the only true victims of the nude photo leaks were the subjects themselves, whose private moments were stolen and shared with the world - and to a lesser extent, women, who are now left wondering what will become of their own photos, videos and messages - men, it has to be said, were also dealt a disservice insofar as it confirmed society's worst assumptions about them.

There are those who will disagree. The usual creatine-inflated bro contingent. But, if my own social media feeds are anything to go on, there were many more who chose to look the other way, or better still, come out to voice anger towards what had happened. If revenge porn is enacted by the dumped and the sore, then this was several shades sadder: a group who wreaking revenge on women for being present, beautiful and eternally out of reach. It carried with it a feeling of, "this'll teach them for taunting us on a daily basis, being tenacious and daring enough to enter the limelight…"

As Emma Watson stated in her rousing speech at the UN headquarters last week, feminism is the belief in equality - the struggle between those who believe in the shared rights of women and men and those who don't. As she was keen to stress, it is not a struggle between women and men. Which made the (albeit hoax) threat to release naked pictures of her the following day, while deplorable, almost the perfect moral fable. The very attitude she was referring to, rearing its head as if on cue. This, her speech seemed to say in hindsight, this is exactly the kind of vengeful, aggressive behaviour that men and women should be joining forces to oppose.

Because men haven't given their permission for these acts to be committed in their name and regrettably, the moralising of a female commentariat isn't going to hold sway without being reinforced by the voices of men too. For this reason the media could do with opening up the discussion to men who agree with Watson on this basis, enabling them to explain why gawping over private photos like a voyeur will just lead to a feeling of acute emptiness. Only when the movement is presented as a collective effort to reach a liberated point on the horizon - and not a system dictated by a dogmatic other existing in the broadsheet comment pages - can it reach full fruition. Because then the sad people behind revenge porn will know their audience is waning. Stop the demand and you strangle the supply.

It's a sad fact of our market-driven culture, that moralising alone won't get the results we need. We have to see a shift in attitude, driven by men who are sick of seeing their name smeared by strange acts committed by lonely, bitter anomalies. Women too, if you go home with a guy and he has a copy of The Game on his shelf, don't get with him. We need to work together. Most celebrity bloggers are a presence who should be strangled rather than given credence, often condemning the 'fappening' but only after having posted the leaked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence. Sate your need for celebrity gossip by all means, but at least opt for an outlet that demonstrates some legal and moral discretion otherwise you too become complicit.

Revenge porn is a blot on humanity and Emma Watson is an absolute pro who we should all sit up and listen to.

And if all that wasn't enough to persuade you, remember that the images of McKayla Marony may well have been taken whilst she was under the age of consent. Those of you still under the illusion this whole thing was harmless banter might want to consider that endorsing it teeters dangerously close to statutory rape and viewing child pornography.

One by-product of our increasingly virtual lives is an emotional detachment from one another. Maybe we can never get that back, but we can at least pull together to collectively agree that whatever the hell ITV aired last night about pick-up artistry starring Dapper Laughs was the worst show of all time. Oh and revenge porn is a blot on humanity and Emma Watson is an absolute pro who we should all sit up and listen to.

@NROLAH

Credits


Text Nathalie Olah
Image courtesy David Shankbone

Tagged:
revenge porn
the game
Jennifer Lawrence
international women's day
Emma Watson
Nathalie Olah
david shankbone