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Did you retweet the video clip of the Ms Anambra saga? What about the Slut-Shaming [email protected] Facebook? If you did, then you just took part in revenge porn, mob action and an unhealthy dose of slut-shaming. It’s that simple.

Simply put, slut-shaming is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. In Nigeria, it’s a national pass-time. We do it without a second thought. The politics of respectability always plays a safe hand, as we criticise the the supposed “wild woman” for having too many sexual partners. There is no specified number to determine how many is “too many”; we just assume. 

In our society, we very much subscribe to “the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior” (Alon Levy, Slut Shaming). It is damaging not only to the girls and women targeted, but to women in general and society as a whole. It should be noted that slut-shaming can occur even if the term “slut” itself is not used.

Yep, we use other terms. Ashawo is a regular word that comes up when engaged in a heated discussion with a man and he is losing. He vomits it out without thinking. The idea, to make you loose your dignity, embarrass you and shame you into compliance.

The double standards when it comes to alluding to adults’ body count has reached pandemic proportions. Women bear the brunt of judgement while men often go scot-free. Often times, entire careers are denigrated for this reason. For instance, many women in creative careers like acting and singing are deemed to be “loose” and assumed to have had a host of supposed lovers. Somehow, such concerns do not seem to arise when it comes to their male colleagues and, even then, sexual experience is not treated as a negative thing.

The already toxic climate of slut-shaming is exacerbated by wider access to smart phones with in built video cameras, social media lifestyle of young people and the incessant demand to document everything you do both in private and in public. This gives rise to “revenge porn”: women being shamed by having intimate videos of them leaked without their permission.

By sharing such images and revelling in another woman’s humiliation, you are part of the problem. If you have felt the need to slut-shame a woman for sexual choices you disagree with, or comment on someone being “loose” and possibly having many sexual partners when you really know nothing about their private lives, you are part of the problem.

All of these acts of control on the bodily integrity of females – whether your sister, aunty, wife or fiancee – are all forms of violence against women, and in many cases result in mob action. The very desire to define what women can or cannot wear and do gives rise to the culture that feeds revenge porn.

So where do we go from here? Do we need laws in place to protect women against revenge porn leaks? The current Cyber Crimes Act 2015 does not make any mention of using social media as a form of revenge porn neither is it inferred. There are corresponding sections that address other forms of violence in relation to Child pornography – see section 23.

However, in other places such as the UK, engaging in revenge porn is considered a criminal act with the necessary penalties for offenders. This is an entry point for organisations and individuals engaged in legislative advocacy to begin the debate on amending the Cyber Crimes Act to reflect such changes.

Will this Act serve as a deterrent? The jury is still out on this. In its current form, I’m not sure. Either way, there is a wider responsibility for all of us who use any form of social media not to share revenge porn images we get even though said images may tickle or titillate our curiosity.

Another question to ponder is where do victims go? There are few places run by the government, where victims can seek help. However, a few organisations working on wider sexual violence issues are beginning to address this. One such organisation is Project Alert Violence against women.

Well, the reality is far from encouraging. Certainly, much more needs to be done to tackle this problem – and the work falls on both the government and everyday individuals. As adults over 18, let’s discuss this. What do you all think about revenge porn and slut-shaming? Please refrain from abusive language and trolling for those who speak their truth. 

Responses

  1. Don Flowers
    You are right, the double standard truly sucks.

    Though I do not subscribe to a high body count, I find it distasteful that a woman would be assaulted and insulted because of her sexual history.

    My motto is: let he who has not sinned throw the first stone

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  2. Sassy Bahristah
    Wellllll…perhaps women should refrain from making “home-videos” if you get my drift. Cos I can’t do revenge porn if you don’t give me ammunition to do so. Nude pics, sex tapes etc, has to stop cos no matter how much you”loved” your partner at that point in time, there are no guarantees.
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  3. Olive
    The truth is, we dabbled into the internet world and have used it to perpetrate a lot of different things that we dont even understand the implications. However, it is not just our society that is guilty of this. the internet world as a whole is. Internet/social media is a new thing and still developing, hence the laws that will guide these practices are yet to be born. so before then, we have to be our own guides even at the mercy of those close to us. protect yourself before the regulations find their footings.
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