Revenge Porn and Rob Kardashian

One evening around 2009 or 2010, I was piddling around on my Dell Ispiron like any other middle schooler my age. I basically had to teach myself internet safety, often fast-clicking out of phishing websites and discovering the seedier parts of the internet upon accident. A site my friends and I loved at the time was StumbleUpon, a website that redirected you to other sites based upon your interests. This was before Facebook was the center of all media sharing, so it typically sent you to collections of funny GIFs or entertaining blogs. But the deeper you clicked, the farther away you got from your original interests and I remember finding websites that even I knew were inappropriate. This particular night, I opened a website titled “FUCK YOU NATALIE”. The web design looked like a Myspace layout, with pink hearts around the title. I don’t know what I expected, but I read on to find out that a man’s girlfriend of a few years slept around on him and stole his money. This website was dedicated to exposing her for all that she had done.

At the bottom of the page, there was a collection of photos Natalie. The first was a casual photo of her in her underwear. She was smiling and totally beautiful; I didn’t really think  anything of it and kept scrolling. In the next she was wearing a sheer cami, exposing her nipples. She wasn’t smiling anymore. This photo wasn’t as innocent, and I became a little more aware of the person behind the camera. The photos that followed were increasingly more compromising. Skeeved out, I closed my laptop with a frown. I didn’t want anyone knowing what I had found. The site made me feel icky in a way I couldn’t describe. Obviously I had seen naked women before, but even in my 13-year-old brain it sat heavy on my mind for the next few days.

It wasn’t until about four years later that I first heard the term “revenge porn”. Living through a cultural technology shift, Internet rights have come to the forefront of American conversations about cyberbullying and privacy. Witnessing the infamous iCloud hack of several female celebrities, this era opened up a conversation about one’s autonomy over their nude photos. Much like one person consents to have sex with another, there are also privacy rights involved in exchanging nudes. Revenge porn is essentially a breach of this privacy by allowing others to view private photos to cause emotional distress or embarrassment.

Today, sex and technology mesh in the way food, business and social interactions can be achieved through your iPhone. Apps like Tinder and Snapchat continue to encourage technological sexual exchanges between people. Nude selfies are officially commonplace in modern dating. With this comes the increased chances of privacy breaches. Almost any teen television series or film today will feature a storyline in which a character has their unwanted photos in circulation around school. Because of this need to hyper-share media, the lines of privacy become muddled when people are even posting their own nude photos. In many situations, it becomes hard to tell if the people around you are hard to trust, resulting in a mysterious “leak”, or if your private content is used maliciously against you.

Yesterday, Rob Kardashian woke up on the wrong side of the bed in Calabasas. Before even 9 AM, he had gone on an Instagram tirade exposing his ex, Blac Chyna for cheating with multiple men, using drugs and extorting his family for money. Their relationship drama is nothing but overexposed in the media, but recently things have been rumored to come to head between the two. I would say that is for certain, after seeing Rob’s Instagram feed yesterday morning. Along with message screenshots and long captions in explanation, Rob posted a handful of Blac Chyna’s nude photos.

Rob’s online outbursts are nothing new, as they have publicly broken up a handful of times. Their main issue in the present is that Chyna has been sleeping with other men in the house he is paying for. In an effort to expose his ex even further, Rob posted three nude photos of Chyna, calling her names and calling out the people she is involved with. Many cheered him on, thankful he was seeing the light in a bad relationship. Others said he crossed a major line in sharing these photos, offering that she still is the mother of his daughter.

When you consider the principle of revenge porn, the practice is deeply misogynistic. The word “pornography” is defined by content that is stimulating sexually. Porn is used to get off to. In posting or leaking your partner’s private images, you are endorsing that others view it pornographically. Obviously this can go both ways, but the narrative is more often than not controlled by the male in a heterosexual relationship. Because she can’t be mine anymore, she’ll be everyone’s whore. Revenge porn reduces photos of your partner exchanged in confidence, and often affectionately, as nothing more than a photo.  She’s not a woman anymore, she’s bare breasts, her backside, or if you’re Rob Kardashian, she’s a skirt pulled around her waist without underwear.

I think men revert to revenge porn to harm their partners because, once more, their thought process is rooted in sexism. We subscribe to the idea that being sexual is the worst thing a woman can be– that to truly humiliate a woman, you show her naked. This issue of slut shaming has appeared in several nude photo scandals as of late, but no event recently has been as clear a manipulation of someone’s sexuality for malicious benefit as this.

Someone I follow on Twitter spoke up on the matter and said something along the lines of this:

“Rob thought he was exposing Chyna, but he really exposed himself for the clown he is.”

The photos he posted were obviously sent to him as sexual advances by Blac Chyna. The up-the-skirt photo that sent the internet ablaze was a part of a iMessage conversation that Rob posted. In the texts, Rob very explicitly asks for a photo he can masturbate to. While his language is foul throughout all posts made yesterday morning, nothing was more disheartening than his message that followed his request that read “you’ll always be beautiful to me”. He posted her other nude photos after this, criticizing her nipple size and commenting that her surgeries left her body botched. This shows that a man can hold you up as beautiful until you do him wrong, then you are nothing more than the imperfections on your body.

To me, this entire situation is one big hand to the forehead. Snoop Dogg weighed in on the situation on his social media, stating Blac Chyna was “waiting on a sucker to lick” and Rob was that sucker. He ended his short video with a word to the wise- “Don’t get licked!” We all knew that the relationship was over before it began. OF COURSE she was using Rob for the money, his sisters spent a season and a half of Keeping Up trying to convince him of this. If Chyna is in fact doing drugs and partying with her children in the house, I hope Dream ends up in the hands of a responsible caregiver. Even if every single thing Rob rattled off on his Instagram was true, the claims were made less credible by his tactics of humiliation. Rather than gaining our respect, he showed a blatant disrespect for the woman that hurt him, leaving us nothing but the impression of a miserable, bitter, impulsive fool.

Whether you support Rob’s online come-to-Jesus moment or not, the fact is this: revenge porn is illegal in California. While I fully expect this to turn into a legal matter, I read on TMZ yesterday that Chyna may have forfeited her right to sue for defamation because she “liked” the photos, which could translate to consent on her part. Crazy how a photo can communicate so much, but the responses allowed can be so limited.

If your privacy has been compromised, or you are a victim of revenge porn, legal action can be taken. Because its main motive is humiliation, posting photos and videos reduces your side of the story to nothing more than a moment in time. If I was Kris Jenner, I would be ashamed of my son. This world is full of strong women, who are indeed capable of damage. But the self-esteem in most men leads them to act in ways that will leave them on top; as women’s superior. I hate to see news items like this, because it makes me feel like male morality is going nowhere in 2017. For women effected by this kind of degradation, it’s important to view the situation objectively. What are photos to the evil actions of another? It’s important that you believe in yourself beyond what others may see. In the digital age, it may feel like the world watching, but it is possible to overcome. If you’re looking for a textbook case of how to move on from humiliation and remain confident, look no further than another person in Rob’s family.