Why Men Share Nude Photos Of Women Without Their Consent

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6 Reasons Men Choose To Post Revenge Porn
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The only way to stop it is to understand what men get from it.

Many people prefer porn made with and by their lovers. Multiple men have told me that their porn of choice is the images and videos they’ve made with their wife or girlfriend. They say things like:

  • “It’s someone I know and love. And I know she’s not faking.”
  • “I know she’s turned on because I was there, or because I know her and what she sounds like.”
  • “I love her and seeing her turned on and happy — that’s a far greater turn-on than watching a porn star I don’t know.”

Other men simply prefer amateur images as opposed to those of professional actresses or models, as it creates and supports a perception that the models are enjoying exhibiting themselves and being sexual. Sometimes this true and they are, and often professional porn actresses and models are as well. But men may enjoy the amateur pictures more because there also have the idea that a woman in one of those pictures must be a “girl next door,” and therefore someone these guys can imagine themselves actually encountering or being sexual with at some point.

But what happens when a couple breaks up and the guy tells his ex he will destroy the pictures and/or videos they shared but then doesn't follow through with it? Or when a man shares those photos and/or videos online without the woman's consent?

These behaviors fall into unethical, harmful territory, sparking public outcry and a developing category of laws surrounding “revenge porn."

Revenge porn is the term commonly applied to a range of acts in which people post naked or near-naked pictures in an effort to humiliate, shame and expose their former lovers. I personally know a number of women who've suffered tremendously from having their pictures posted without their consent. In several cases, these women approached the website operators requesting their images be taken down and experienced horrific attacks and slut-shaming in response.

Now the United States military is now facing a huge scandal after approximately 30,000 active duty and retired Marines were found to be sharing nude pictures of military females on a secret Facebook group called Marines United. Most articles surrounding the topic refer to this as a “nude photo scandal,” but let’s be clear. The great majority of these pictures were shared without the consent of the women in them.

These aren’t merely “nude photos.” They are NON-CONSENSUAL revenge porn images.

According to the Cyber Civil Rights Institute (CCRI): "The term 'revenge porn,' though frequently used, is somewhat misleading. Many perpetrators are not motivated by revenge or by any personal feelings toward the victim. A more accurate term is nonconsensual pornography (NCP), defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent."

The images usually don't start out that way, though. The great majority of these types of pictures are shared consensually, at first at least.

In today's world, when we are flirting and excited about someone new, many people share explicit pictures as part of the courtship. The overwhelming majority of people experience this as a positive part of their sexual expression and it typically correlates with greater sexual satisfaction. Unfortunately, we often send these pictures without a clear “pre-nuptial” discussion or agreement about what’s going to be done with those pictures, either now or should the relationship end.

The ethical way to handle this is to ask for permission to keep the materials even after you break up, and certainly never to share them without the other person's consent and knowledge. Yet guys continue to put these pictures up on the web.

As with most things involving sexuality, relationships, and pornography, answering the question of why men do this isn’t a simple, black and white issue where we can assume these men are acting from a place of misogynistic motivations. The reasons men post such material online are complex, filled with individual nuance and based on context. That said, we really DO need to understand and acknowledge what the reasons are so we can address the problem effectively.

Here are just six of the reasons I've heard from men who choose to post revenge porn online:

1. To show off to other men (and himself) what a stud the guy is.

He not only got this hot girl to have sex with him, but she let him film it. This is sometimes called “candaulism,” after Greek King Candaules who showed off his naked wife to an advisor Gyges, and then lost his kingdom to Gyges when the wife found out.

2. To get revenge on a woman for breaking up with him and hurting his feelings.

To avoid admitting he has feelings — and then having to deal with them — a man lashes out and tries to take her down a peg. Some men cross extreme lines by "doxxing" their victim, meaning they find and post her name and other identifying information online along with the photos.

 

 

In the case of Marines United, an article on CNN reports, "Men would make sexually charged comments about the photos, or suggest the women should be raped ... In one case, members urged the provider of photos of a woman at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to videotape an assault on her, 'for science.'"

Additionally, one female, Former Marines Cpl. Elle Audra, "Suspected her images made it to Marines United after she began getting harassing messages, including one from a man who knew when and where she'd been deployed. He asked her if she'd have sex with him."

 

Related: What It REALLY Means When Your Man Wants You To Try Anal Sex

 

3. To be one of the “cool guys” that post such porn.

There’s a lot of peer pressure in those kinds of online communities. They want to be cool, and they want to share their porn with other guys — guys who have shared their pictures with them. These men have a value of not just being a “taker” but to give back. It’s strange perhaps, to see that positive value involved here, where it causes harm.

4. Because the guy is an idiot.

Some men just don’t understand how small the world has gotten and how easy it is for such material to be identified and traced back to individual women.

 

Related: THIS Is Why Men Care SO Damn Much About Knowing When You've Had An Orgasm

 

5. Because the guy is angry at all women and wants to take them down off their pedestals.

I think this is rarer, but it certainly seems present in some of the highest-profile revenge porn cases. Within the military, it is certainly worth speculating that some of these men were motivated by anger at women’s increased role and acceptance in the military.

6. Because the guy, believe it or not, thinks the woman might actually be excited and turned on by him sharing her picture.

It sounds crazy, but many men think they would be turned on, by a large group of women looking at naked pictures of him. They often truly believe that the woman would experience this the same way, without understanding that women’s sexuality is treated quite differently by society.

I invite men who share nude or explicit pictures of their partners online without their knowledge and consent, to do some real work examining what they get out of this and why they’re doing it.

When men do this they make it harder for women to express their sexuality and share pictures in a healthy, consensual and safe way. It feeds a frightening, paranoid, sex-negative and distrustful view of the world — and of men. Men CAN be ethical and responsible and share hot, sexy pictures with their partners and flirtations, but they have to learn to keep them to themselves unless they get explicit permission to share.

Our society will continue to encounter these scandals until we start teaching and encouraging men and women to have ethical conversations with themselves, each other, and their friends about sexual integrity around nude and explicit images. Intervention strategies to understand and address these issues must be nuanced and complex.

In the video below, Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses just a few of the ways the military's role makes addressing this issue even more complicated.

 

 

Oh, and one last update.

The US military photo scandal has now expanded into gay sites, with men sharing nude pictures of other military men, also without their consent.

So, again, this behavior cannot simply be blamed on male anger towards women, but must be understood and addressed as an issue involving complex systems of sexual integrity, self-awareness, power dynamics, relationships, emotional IQ, sexual integrity, and communication as they intersect with growing technological capacity for people to engage in behaviors for which they haven’t yet developed adequate ethics.

 

This post is an adaption of an excerpt from my recent book, Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man's Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure, which encourages men to develop integrity and responsibility around their use of pornography.

David J. Ley, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on issues related to sexuality and mental health who has been published in the Los Angeles Times and Playboy and invited to appear on television with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Phil, among others. His controversial second book, "The Myth of Sex Addiction," challenged the concept of sexual addiction and explored a different model of male sexuality — triggering a firestorm of debate and allowing people to finally challenge the media hype behind this pseudo-disorder.

 

 

This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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