Remember the days when a woman was blamed for her own sexual assault? Her short dress, alcohol consumption, or even her sexual history could be used to justify her own rape.
Well, not much has changed. Sexual assault on college campuses is still a major issue with victim blaming rearing its ugly head. Unfortunately, with the rise of technology and social media, there’s a new era of sexual violation.
Non-consensual pornography is the act of posting or sending nude pictures or sexual acts without explicit consent from the subject of the photo. We’ve all heard of the celebrity leaked photo sex crime that happened a couple of months ago. Someone hacked into celebrities’ icloud accounts and released their private photos on the internet. Victims included Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Gabrielle Union, and Kim Kardashian to name a few.
This type of intrusive mass sharing of personal property has reached new heights at UCLA. A Snapchat account named “UCLAyak,” which has since changed its username, posts various activities around campus submitted by students. It initially sounds like a fun way for UCLA students to stay connected, but the uncensored nature of the app allows for illegal and inappropriate activities to be shared with thousands of people.
However, this isn’t my only issue with the account. It’s become a platform for people, mainly men, to post nude images and sexual acts of or with their female partners without the latters’ explicit consents. It perpetuates the idea that our bodies are objects to be used as accessories in a heterosexual male world. The men who post to UCLAyak might think it’s harmless fun but it translates to a desire to prove hypermasculinity by showing the world they can get “laid.” Our bodies become public domain to be shared, snapped, tweeted, and commented on. We get no say in the matter; no control over our bodies or sex lives.The main issue is entitlement. Men who post nude images of women through UCLAyak have a sense of entitlement over these women’s bodies.
Consent is a key factor. When Jennifer Lawrence does a photo shoot, she is allowing us to view it. We are seeing what she chooses to let us see, not what we are taking away from her. She is in control. Likewise, if two consenting partners enjoy broadcasting their lives as such, that’s their choice. However, that’s rarely the case with UCLAyak. Most often, the women shown in the videos are not even aware they’re being filmed. It’s the idea of entitlement, that men have power over our bodies to do as they please, which includes sharing it with hundreds of strangers.
When discussing Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and now UCLAyak, the blame almost always falls on the victim. Society tells us it’s wrong to be sexual beings, but treats us as such. Don’t wear that dress, don’t leave your drink unattended, don’t be promiscuous, don’t take private pictures, watch out for people snapping pictures of you or recording you in intimate and private situations. While we’re at it, don’t have sex at all. Stay indoors; apparently the concept of treating women as actual humans beings and not objects of a male-twisted reality is too difficult for people to understand.