Revenge Pornography: Non-Consensual, Online, Contested

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:25
Oral Presentation
Jeff HEARN, Management and Organization, Hanken School of Economics, Finland, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom, Örebro University, Sweden, Lund University, Sweden
Matthew HALL, Ulster University, United Kingdom
Facilitated by developments in technologies, non-consensual posting of sexually explicit visuals and texts of someone else for revenge, entertainment or political motives – so-called revenge pornography – has become a global phenomenon. Revenge porn is an urgent problem posted online very largely by men (c.90%), deploying discourses of masculinities, and directed against current partners, (ex-)friends of both victims and perpetrators, and people known to the victim. People seeking revenge may also set out to deter others from being sexually interested in their current or ex-partner. Sexually suggestive or explicit images and videos need not be of someone known to the poster; strangers and internet hackers may sometimes target celebrity victims. Revenge pornography appears in variety of online and offline locations and formats, including specific revenge porn sites, pornographic websites that allow the uploading of amateur images and videos, along with mainstream platforms, such as Facebook and Tumblr. The impact on victims is profound regarding physical and psychological health and well-being with reports of some taking their own life. This paper draws partly on discursive analysis of more than 12,000 texts accompanying explicit images posted on the largest revenge porn specific website, ‘MyEx.com’ (Revenge Pornography, Routledge, 2018). We show the complex ways in which perpetrators invoke, and deploy, gender- and sexuality-based discourses to blame and hurt the victim. We go on to present multi-dimensional sociological analysis of the phenomenon, considering alternative theoretical framings, e.g. gendered violence/abuse; cyberbullying; pornographization of media; digital dehumanization and normalization of online hate speech; homosocial exchange; imagined audiences; men’s access to “more information” about and sexual evaluation of women; micro-techno-masculinities. These approaches inform what might be done to curb revenge porn, including legislative/policy frameworks, technological responses, awareness-raising, victim/survivor support, perpetrator re-education, and social movement, especially feminist, activism that contest the phenomenon and aim to make it unthinkable.