Amidst reports that UCD are investigating an alleged ‘revenge porn’ Facebook page with over 200 male members, our Sex and Relationships Editor, Claire O'Brien, argues that the perception that consent and boundaries do not apply online needs to be tackled.
Our sex lives have changed dramatically as technology has revolutionised the way we communicate. There are newer and more interesting ways of displaying attraction and affection at the click of a button.
Unfortunately, our code of ethics has not caught up with our tech-orientated lifestyles. The perception is that consent and boundaries do not apply online, which is not the case.
When someone trusts you with explicit content, it is your responsibility to respect that. Below are the basics of respecting someone’s boundaries when exchanging nudes.
Ensure both of you are comfortable with the situation
You should never surprise someone with photos of your genitalia that they didn’t consent to see, equally you should never force someone into sending you nudes. As is with all sexual acts, consent and enthusiasm are of paramount importance.
Don’t screenshot without permission
Snapchat appears to be the preferred means of sending nudes and for a good reason too. The concept surrounding Snapchat involves looking at a photo for no longer than 10 seconds. This means you only have consent to look at the photo for 10 seconds.
Unless someone has given you expressed permission to save their content, don’t do it.
Ensure no one is looking over your shoulder
The person is sending you nudes, not your best pal. If you know there’s someone sending you private images, ensure it’s not possible for anyone else to see your phone. If this occurs by accident, you should block the screen from the other person.
Delete them when you break up
Exchanging sexual photos should be a fun experience and neither partner should fear that their photos would be used against them when the happiness runs out.
You are not entitled to have sex with someone 24/7 just because you slept with them once. Similarly, you are not entitled pleasure yourself to someone’s content just because it was okay once.
Never ever send them to third parties or share them online
I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this one. In fact, I feel like I shouldn’t have to say most of the points on the list. Would you take someone to a public place and strip them against their will? No. So why is it okay to put their naked photos online?
The way we discuss the non-consensual sharing of sexually explicit content is seriously flawed. Instead of blaming the people who shared the pictures or the websites profiting from the images, we blame the people who took them in the first place.
Revenge porn is a vile form of misogyny and perpetuation of rape culture as 90% of the victims are female.
To combat this, we need to enforce satisfactory ideas of consent from an early age. We need to stop excusing unacceptable behaviour.
We need to stop acting as if celebrity nudes are the long waited prize after a night of hacking. We have the right to be naked, take photos and have sex.
We also have the right to decide who we do it with as where and when it is done.
This is not an idealist feminist fantasy. This is basic human dignity.