Can we solve the school porn ring?

Can we solve the school porn ring?

I’m mad. Really really mad. The recent scandal of the porn-sharing website which encourages sourcing and sharing photos of young women - without their consent - has made me mad. Particularly more mad because educated boys in my hometown have participated. Even more mad because the teachers of their schools are not doing enough to address it. Even more mad because one school put the impetus on girls to stop this happening, implying that the blame lies with them. EFF THAT.

Can we solve the school porn ring?
 

How bad is this website situation?

It's pretty damn awful, but the way it's being dealt with by our society is simply problematic. If you’re reading this and want to know why this is a shit thing, here’s the gist:

1. The behaviour on this website is akin to stalking, borders on child pornography and promotes active disrespect of women.

2. This kind of behaviour puts women and young girls at risk.

3. Without addressing the issue properly, letting this culture continue essentially says that our society is okay with letting this happen, and it means that the perpetrators will continue thinking that it's not that bad well into their futures, extending the consequences for women.

But this article is not about me ranting about the problem. This article is about what our best chances are of fixing it.

Here’s my take. I don’t claim to be an expert, but this is pretty basic stuff that could be happening, rather than just the continued warnings about what girls should and shouldn't do, limiting the freedom of women more, and not holding the perpetrators accountable, or helping them to change their ways.

 

Step 1. Listen to what girls and women have to say.

Somehow, women's voices are still being dismissed, mansplained over, and tossed aside. Culture change can start by REALLY listening and HEARING what women have to say about this.

It's easy - in fact you can do it right now! Take a few minutes to listen to what a student from one of the schools named had to say - I've included a quote below, but you should also see the full video.

“When I go to university… and have independence… when I do get to that point, I want to know that this school has raised a society of people that treat each other with equality, with respect – no matter how they dress, no matter how they wear their hair, no matter how they wear their make up – that’s what I want”

 

Step 2. Educate early, and educate the educators

After the story broke on the news, girls at one of these schools were told that they needed 'their skirts to be below their knees by Monday'. Somehow... SOMEHOW (?!?!) a school’s leaders are still giving their students COMPLETELY BACKWARDS messages about respect, even after such awful things happen.

 

If you’re a teacher at a school that doesn’t understand this – please please please bring a conversation about respect to teachers and students at your school so that you can set an example for the future adults you’re bringing into the world. Here are some educative resources and programs I found thought a quick Google search and there are plenty more that might suit your context better.

 

Step 3. Legislate, make rules, and enforce respectful culture

Pretty basic huh? But apparently something that still isn’t happening. Take a look at these two police responded to cases from girls who had photos posted to the site without their consent. 

 

  1. Police told a young woman that it was her fault
    ‘A 16-year-old girl from Melbourne, who believed her ex-boyfriend shared a photo of her in the shower, said the police told her it was her fault’
     
  2. Police simply turned away another woman
    ‘Ms Pilati, believes the photo of her was leaked by a Sydney photographer who did a swimsuit shoot when she was 17. She believes he took shots as she was swapping outfits or changing poses and kept them without her knowledge... However, when she reported him to Wollongong police after seeing the website three years ago, she was turned away.'

 

Both were not taken seriously when reported to the police - meaning that the Australian system is unequipped to support real cultural change and respect towards women. Even worse, the response from the police has placed blame on girls and their parents, bizarrely. If you’re suggesting culture change… why not suggest culture change around how the police treat these cases, how those who are supposed to protect Australians are treating women in these situations

This is not surprising when we see at the results of a recent study on the internal culture at the Australian Police Force, which showed that 46% of women and 20% of men reported being sexually abused or harassed in some way. That's messed up.

How can we expect our police to protect us when they themselves aren't given the tools, training and environment to support respectful relationships? We can't. 

Again, I don't claim to have the answers, but it seems like the logical thing to do would be to make sure we legislate the cultural change we want to see - have real consequences for putting girls at risk in such a reckless, demeaning and inhumane way.

Why take these actions? and why now?

Sure, it's another news story travelling down your newsfeed - so what makes it significant enough to act now? Let me ask you - If not now, when? Are we going to wait around until these girls start getting raped? Or until someone does post child pornography? Until that boy 'hunting' a photo of a girls turns into someone who beats his girlfriend or children? That seems a bit f*cking ridiculous. 

What can you do? You can make a change in your circle. You can start a conversation. You can be the one who won't stand silent when someone makes a sexist comment. You can be the one who actively makes sure that women and girls are heard in your school, workplace, team, family or friendship group. To those who do - thank you. You are the legends who have a chance of making such disrespect obsolete.

 

 

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