Earlier this week, I received a text from a high school friend saying, “Have you seen this? This is seriously messed up,” with a link attached. Allowing my curiosity to take over, I of course, clicked on the link. What I found was sickening. The link brought me to a website where boys exchanged explicit photographs of high school and college-age girls.
This link brought me specifically to a thread for girls from my hometown in New Hampshire. I only had to scroll through a couple images to find a girl I knew and then another and another. I realized immediately that these women had no idea. To top it all, these pictures had disturbing captions like “She’s such a slut, there has to be more out there somewhere, Post em up boys,” and “I’ll post three more of her if someone else posts a picture of [name of girl].” All the pictures and comments were posted anonymously. These boys hide behind their screens, using anonymity to act in repugnant ways. The part about all of this is that the site isn’t just for one school, or even one state — boys across the entire country are in on this.
The website has two rules: no full names and no minors. This is a weak attempt at legal protection from the site owners. What they ignore is that many of the states have laws against the non-consensual dissemination of sexual images, often denoted as revenge porn. These laws prohibit the act of distributing photos or videos depicting individuals in sexually suggestive or explicit circumstances without consent. As of 2017, 38 states, including New Hampshire, have specific laws outlawing the distribution of revenge porn. In the state of New York, this bill has unanimously passed through the Senate and now must go through the House of Representatives.
However, even if these actions weren’t illegal, they would still be undeniably wrong. The boys clearly know this because if this was acceptable, why would they need to post anonymously? I don’t care if a girl sent the image to a bunch of different boys or if she has a reputation; spreading those pictures without her consent is a violation of her privacy. In doing so, these individuals are commodifying her body even more than society already does. A woman’s body is not a currency; it is not to be traded or bartered or negotiated. These boys, the same ones who probably claim they respect women completely and kiss their mom on the cheek at night, continue to secretly operate their sick and perverted online market, showing complete disregard for morality and basic values.
I know that bringing this to the attention of the public will inspire more terrible people to seek out the site and view the images. However, if nothing is ever said, then these boys will continue to operate under the radar, which is unacceptable. This needs to stop now.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Tyler Crews at [email protected]