MenagerieSheer dehumanization: Fake nudes and revenge porn
Sheer dehumanization: Fake nudes and revenge porn
July 26, 2017
July 26, 2017

We swipe open our screens, tap through hundreds of apps, and mindlessly slogging through the vast amount of information available at the tips of our fingers. Thumbs up for memes, double tap for that vacation photo, angry react at the barrage of fake news invading our space.

Everyday, hundreds and thousands of photos are posted and shared online through social media. The rise of social media applications such as Instagram and Snapchat have given many access to images that show the intimate details in one’s life including some which were never meant to be shared to the public in the first place.

Due to social media and the ease in which we can share information through it, sexting—the act of sending and receiving sexual content such as nude photographs—has become more widespread. With variations of send nudes memes taking over our newsfeed, the act of asking and sending images have become imbedded in popular culture. The general consensus is that these pictures are private—not meant to be shared to others. But what happens when someone takes advantage of that trust? What happens when these intimate images are not, in fact, as private as they thought?

 

A nightmare retold

Nightmare was the reality Guennavie de Mesa (IV, BS-IBS) had to face when an intimate photograph of a girl had surfaced on the internet with her name attached to it. At first, Guennavie shrugged it off because she knew it was not her in the photograph, but as more and more people began asking her about it, she became increasingly aware of how the pictures and the rumors were spreading.

It wasn’t until April this year that Guennavie finally saw the alleged photographs of her which were stored on a public drive. By then it had become a set of intimate images compiled under a folder, but it was not just her in the drive. Alongside the folder titled with her name were several other folders of a number of girls. Each folder was labeled with the subject’s name, ID number, and corresponding university.

After nearly a year of enduring pointed glances and whispers from strangers, she found the courage to speak out about her experience online. “I don’t know where it originated but when I saw all of the photos in the folder that were labeled under my name sumabog na ako. Hindi na siya kaya itago and I really just had to speak for myself and be strong about the issue and that’s what the other people are saying to me too, that if it’s what’s going to clear my mind at the moment, just do it instead of just hiding it like before.” she says.

 

 

Objectification of Women - Kaycee Valmonte

 

 

“It wasn’t even me.”

Regardless that the photos weren’t her at all but some other victim, she had to deal with the repercussions of having her name attached to the file. “You know, at this point, it is my photo since people think that it is me.”

She shares that sometimes when she sees people staring at her in the hallways as she walks to class, she feels like “disappearing” as the thought of them seeing it runs through her mind. “It’s really hard to live with. Imagine, everyday knowing that some people may be looking at your body through the pictures.”

More than just an invasion of privacy, the act of sharing intimate content of an individual without their consent is a form of sexual violence. “This is sheer objectification of women,” Jennifer Mizzi (IV, AB-OCM) says regarding the issue. Jennifer, who faced a similar ordeal as Guennavie, recalls watching the Green Archers in a basketball game when she received a message from a stranger.

“When I opened it, my heart just dropped” Jennifer says. The text was asking if she knew about the sensitive content of her that was being shared on the internet. The man was also a victim, and wanted to seek justice too.

They both reached out to as many people in the files as they could and together they thought of what to do next. After bringing it to the Discipline Office’s attention, Jennifer shares that they’re not allowed to disclose how the case is progressing. “We really hope that we will find justice—not just for us, but for all the victims on the gdrive.”

Jennifer was particularly infuriated because some of the intimate photos being shared were of underage girls. “That’s basically child pornography that you’re looking at, that you’re gratifying yourself with, and I think that’s disgusting.”

It mortified Jennifer; she couldn’t understand how someone could find pleasure in something that was never meant for their eyes. “They’re clearly underage, and what I wanted to do help them. Bali na ako. I can shrug it off, I think I’m very strong.”

“They won’t just ogle at your photos. They will slut shame you. They will call you names. They will humiliate you, and I can see how it could hurt and make someone feel like they don’t want to show their face anymore.” She says that the men who look at these files have reduced them nearly nothing. “We’re not even human anymore.”

Jennifer explains how the entire ordeal humiliated some of the others to the point of depression. “They’ve been disrespected. They’ve been ogled at by god knows how many disgusting perverts, and that takes a toll. It destroys your self confidence, your self esteem and makes you feel as if you have no self worth.”

But the sexual objectification of anyone, regardless of gender, is extremely harmful. The belief that you are entitled to another’s body, where consent is irrelevant, and respect is a gift bestowed and not a right, eventually cultivates an environment in which sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape thrive.

Our bodies are our own

Jennifer says she feels pity for those who continue to feed into a system that fosters the dehumanizing and humiliation of women. “I feel sorry for them because it says more about who they are rather than the people on it. They have to live with that guilt.”

She adds that these women go through their days with this weighing on them. ”They’ve gone without justice, without vindication, and they have to deal with that. It’s admirable. And to them, they’re cowards – to hide behind these drives and dropboxes, at least own up to it. You’re not even human to my eyes if you share it.”

Guennavie wants the people responsible for this to think about the ramifications of their actions. “I want them to stop and just think of what if it happened to someone they love?” she insists. She wants them to respect and care for these women despite being unrelated to them, it is not only their mothers, sisters, or girlfriends who should be treated with dignity.

Jennifer wants people to know that women are more than the clothing she chooses to wear. “I want to prove that a woman should never be treated less for what she decides to wear, for what she wants to do because what defines you as a person is more than that.” she declares.

“I can go on and live my life freely with respect to myself and I know the people who know me respect me, and this does not change their views of me. This does not change who I am as a person.”

Resistance is not futile

Indeed not all men are delusional enough to believe that they are entitled to a woman’s body, that everybody deserves respect despite the clothing they choose to wear. Tommy* (III, PSM-MGT), instead of spreading the files and further propagating this culture of slutshaming women when his friend sent it to him, chose to report it.

“When someone sent this to my friend he was shocked. He told our barkada about it and all of us tried reporting it. We all kept reporting the drive to google in the hope that they’d take it down but they didn’t.” He believes that if someone like him was disgusted, other “decent men” would find it abhorrent as well. “If I can report it and find it wrong, others can make a difference as well. The men who did this should take a good look at themselves. They aren’t real men.”

He believes that a factor of sexism being rampant in our society is how the boys will be boys belief is embedded in our culture. “Boys should own up to their actions, they should be taught to treat everyone with respect and dignity,” says Tommy.

Jennifer, on the other hand, stresses two things needed in this situation: Sensitivity and compassion.

“If you obtain the link from someone then tell that person off because a person needs to want to stop this for it to really stop. But if you just let it keep going, then it’s not going to go away. We can’t stop it alone. We need people who have access to this to help bring it to a stop.”