His ex-girlfriend doesn’t know he shared this!
Lovers of revenge porn will thrill at the sight of this video on the actual porn site YouPorn, a 2:30 ideal of the genre—somebody else’s hot ex awkwardly stripping for someone who claims he loves her. What else will she do on camera?
The video, created by Gorilla Media and reminiscent of all those faux-homemade videos that populated YouTube in nascent days, is actually part of the Danish Women’s Society’s #AskFirst campaign.
In it, our trusting stripper expresses her discomfort at being filmed. Her boyfriend reassures her—no one else is going to see this, right? She continues … then suddenly stops and begins berating the viewer.
“You know this is revenge porn, right?” she demands. “You saw the title of the video; you heard what my boyfriend just said—that no one would see this. You know what is going on here. What the fuck are you doing?”
There are thousands of small, everyday ways women are reminded of how much less we count—we have to work harder, avoid looking catty, bossy or too soft. We have to be pretty but not like we’re trying, seductive but also faithful, smart but not strivey.
We have to put others first—and if we ever, ever make the mistake of finding ourselves in a shit situation, we are responsible for asking what we did to deserve it. Even our desire is a tightly regulated product; not something we have, but something that does others a service.
Revenge porn is a culmination of many of these problems. It’s evidence of how hard it is to trust anyone, because that, too, is our fault when it goes wrong: Who’s stupid enough to strip on camera for someone they love in the internet age? It doesn’t matter that she thought it was iffy; she did it anyway, to make him happy. If that dude gets pissed, and puts the video online, what viewer would possibly take her side and not his?
“For several years the Danish Women’s Society has been aware of the existence of revenge porn. For the last year we have talked to victims and have come to understand how damaging being the victim can be,” says Signe Vahlun, vice president of the Danish Women’s Society.
“This literally destroys lives. In order to avoid this, we need to put focus on the problem. The fact that YouPorn agrees with us in this issue and wanted to partner together to launch this campaign sends a clear message that revenge porn has to be stopped.”
The woman in the video goes on to highlight the consequences. “Victims of revenge porn suffer anxiety; they go through depression,” she says. “Some have even killed themselves.”
To be fair, it’s all a little facile. Unlike other videos on YouPorn’s site, you can’t see how often this one’s been viewed, and it has only seven ratings (all of 100 percent). The vast majority of people who consume revenge porn probably already know what they’re doing and don’t much care.
It doesn’t help that porn is stigmatized in its own way, for lots of reasons. The logic is laughably simple: If you have to do it in secret, you probably already feel bad—so why stop at hard-core stuff by paid actors or willing parties? Is there a difference?
But YouPorn—which hosted 100TB of porn in 2012—is a smarter marketer than most. By taking a stance against revenge porn (which, it reminds us, is illegal), it implies that porn sites (and consumers!) bear a social responsibility: You’re not a yucky creep because you watch porn. You’re someone consuming entertainment on a site where respect and consent matter—so what you consume has costs.
Because the person you’re watching in “Ex doesn’t know I put this online!” is not somebody who’s in on the game.
“We are gratified to support the #AskFirst campaign with the Danish Women’s Society because revenge porn is not only life-threatening but completely unacceptable,” says vp Charlie Hughes of YouPorn. “We offer an inclusive experience for our users and are proud to make our stance on this issue known publicly. When we were approached with the opportunity to be part of this campaign, we knew this would be a perfect match.”
Alongside the #AskFirst campaign, YouPorn has launched a dedicated page for content removal requests, where victims can flag content for rapid removal.
But this is still the internet, and a quick search for “revenge porn” on any porn site will find proliferations of both real and fake revenge videos. It’s hard to know the difference, and a rapid removal doesn’t protect you from thousands of rapid re-uploads.
To solve that problem, what we actually need is a massive cultural shift in terms of how women are valued. If porn’s getting in on it, though, maybe we’re on our way.