Of those ages 18 to 24, about 75 percent admit to taking a selfie, says mobile phone provider HTC. If these amateur photographers are men, they might flex their muscles, hike up their shirts or even yank down their shorts by an inch or so, making all of those hours at the gym seem somewhat worthwhile.
But some men might even go a little farther. These guys might strip down to their altogether, snapping a shot of what they might consider their most valuable asset. Mobile phones make shots like this easy, and it's also easy to send this shot to someone else. What happens with that photo once it leaves a man's possession is, at this point, a matter that's up for debate. Some experts claim the photo still belongs to the guy. Others say the photo has been gifted, and it now belongs to the recipient.
This is more than a simple rhetorical exercise, as some people of my gender choose to take their revenge with the nudie selfies left behind when a relationship disintegrates. These ladies slap their photos up for public consumption, and the repercussions can be severe.
Men Are People, Too
I know it's unusual for a writer like me to focus on men in an article about revenge porn, and I'll admit, it would be easier for me to rant and rave about gender inequality, female oppression and slut shaming. In no time at all, I might even be tempted to burn my bra in solidarity, just to prove that men are jerks who behave badly when relationships go astray.
But women can also be just a little bit prickly when they feel as though they've been harmed. Consider the strangely named Sydney Leathers. For those of you who weren't watching the New York mayoral race unravel in the summer of 2013, Ms. Leathers is the recipient of many messages from Carlos Danger/Anthony Weiner. The two traded hot-and-racy comments for months, but when Weiner asked Leathers to delete the messages, she got mad.
And she had the perfect vehicle with which to express her anger: The Internet. In no time at all, she shared all of the saucy and sexy details with the world at large, and her man never came close to winning the seat he desired, once "Anthony Weiner scandal" became the three-word phrase everyone loved to utter. (He did provide an iconic photo of his middle finger as he drove away from his concession speech, but that's a topic for another day.)
Why Create a Path?
Now Anthony Weiner walked into this mess willingly, sharing photographs with someone he didn't know all that well. But in this modern and hectic world, who wouldn't want to use photos to up the ante on a relationship? After all, according to the United States Department of Labor, the average person on an average day spends:
- 7.7 hours at work
- 2 to 2.6 hours on household work, like cooking and cleaning
- 2.8 hours watching television
- 1 hour reading
This leaves very little time for relationship building, especially if the target of that relationship doesn't live in the same household. It might be all too tempting to snap a shot of junk and send it off, as this can keep a guy focused on the latest episode of Breaking Bad. It's quick and efficient, and I think anyone might do it.
That photo, however, could show up almost anywhere. In my work, I've seen naked boy parts in all sorts of places, including:
I've also seen bulging parts on the conventional revenge porn sites (which I never link to in these blog entries, as I don't like to drive traffic to these places). Many of these photos are bookended with comments that deride the model's work in the bedroom, while others discuss the emotional faults of the people in question. The intent is to deride, and unfortunately, it's effective.
California is the latest state to attempt a legal challenge to the revenge porn industry, and at the moment that I'm typing this, lawmakers are about to place the bill in front of the governor. At this point, we should be rejoicing, as it seems clear that lawmakers are taking the issue seriously, and that they're willing to do something about it. But there's much to dislike about this bill.
For starters, selfies are completely excluded. Instead, the law provides protections only if the photograph was taken by someone else and used against the will of the person in the snap. Dudes who shot their junk in the locker room would get no help here, even if their parts peep out from some of the most notorious sites in the business. According to the law, they gifted the photo and have no rights concerning its use.
In addition, laws like this tend to have unintended consequences. I share the same concerns expressed by other bloggers in that I think these laws might end up stifling commonplace actions I might enjoy. If my husband chose to send me a private tweet of his privates, could we get in trouble? What if his shirt has a few buttons left undone in a photo he posts on LinkedIn? What if I choose to share his cute photo with a friend of mine on Pintrest? All of these actions are seemingly innocent acts, but the laws could make them verboten. In essence, the photos would belong to the public and not to me, and I could get blamed for them. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that.
It's also important to remember (and I must remind myself daily, as I read through the comments section at the end of most news articles) that free speech doesn't always mean nice speech. People in the midst of a nasty breakup often have nasty things to say. Just sit across the table from a drunken girl who's been dumped, and you'll see the depths that open up in decorum and class when people feel jilted and wronged. Making the talking illegal won't make it stop. I'm not even sure it'll slow it down. But issues like this should make men pause before they consider dropping trou for a lover they just met. The photo they send no longer belongs to them. Perhaps a photo of smiling faces might be a better bet. Just remember to skip the duck lips.
And, of course, if you've already been targeted by an angry ex, we're here to help. Just hit us up at www.internetreputation.com. We have a quick online form for you to fill out, in which you'll detail all the spots in which your crotch is making an appearance online. We'll evaluate that information, pull together a quote for you and get started. It's easy.
Protect your reputation online.