23 September 2013

Blaming the Victims

A comment on Vox’s blog (it’s a good idea to read the whole post for context):

Good Lord. It's been common wisdom for an age that you never send nude photos of yourself to anyone, because they're guaranteed to appear on the Internet. Is this woman -- this putatively adult woman -- deaf, dumb, blind, cognitively disabled, or all of the above?

This sort of thing—blaming the victim—generally troubles me.  While I agree that women should definitely exercise more prudence in regards to sending nude pictures of themselves, I just don’t understand why the vengeful ex-boyfriend is let completely off the hook.  Unless I missed a key Sunday School class, I’m 100% sure it’s undeniably wrong to post nude pictures of your ex-(wife, -girlfriend, -etc.) online for the sake of vengeance.  Just straight-up wrong.  Hence, I’m confused as to why the girl gets blamed for doing something stupid, possibly wrong, while the guy basically gets let off the hook.  I mean, the real asshole in this scenario is the guy seeking vengeance.  And while the girl is probably no saint (and probably an attention whore), there’s just no denying that the guy was morally and ethically wrong to post a picture of his ex online, particularly without her consent.

As added note, Vox isn’t quite right when he says, “it would be absolutely insane to try to make a law against this sort of thing.”  Vox is correct that it would be insane to pass legislation that defines rape as the unwanted posting of nude pictures of oneself by a third party.  However, it is entirely feasible to let judges make new case law that basically states that people who send nude pictures to a romantic partner have a generally reasonable expectation of privacy, such that it is wrong to share the media received without first getting permission to do so.  After a while this would become a longstanding legal precedent, and would essentially function as strongly binding case law.  Incidentally, this is basically how common law works.  This seems like a reasonable solution to me, as it gives victims a chance for justice but doesn’t put innocent parties at much risk for a legal shakedown later.