A woman talks to Salon about the painful reality of being targeted online by men who get off on demeaning women.
“How did you discover your images?
A lot of the emails I received had links in them. I guess I’m fairly attractive — like, I’m skinny and have long blond hair, so the first thing that happened was if someone takes a liking to a photo on the Internet they repost it somewhere else. As far as I know I’m posted on about 500 sites, including Tumblr and Reddit. I don’t really bother to try to take the photos down anymore because it would be a full-time job. It’s uncontrollable.
To me, it hasn’t mattered that much that I didn’t know who did it in the first place, what has really taken over for me was I was very surprised by the reactions I got from other people, especially from guys on the Internet. I thought that, OK, this will be humiliating and extremely uncomfortable, but for the most part it will just be a guy being like, “OK, tits, awesome” and then moving on with their life. But that’s just not what happened.
Then what did happen?
They hate you. They detest you. I’ve had these pictures sent to my boss. I’ve had them sent to my cousin, to my sister, to my mother and father, to my colleagues, to my friends, to guys on my Facebook friend list just for the sake of messing with my life. This isn’t about porn, this is about humiliation. There’s plenty naked women on the Internet who are there by their free will and would love to be looked at. I’m not one of them. That’s the appeal of this. It’s humiliation. It’s about creating a narrative about me being a normal person who is also a slut.
And they’re trying to reveal you as such to people in your life.
I think so, yeah. They think they know something about me that can potentially have ruining effects for me, and they want to utilize that power over me, actively, as a weapon. I thought it was very odd that my own body could be used as a weapon against me, that something I had done that was completely harmless, that really had no impact on the outside world — I wilfully contributed in a private sexual act — that that can be used against me. I didn’t expect that at all when it first happened, that it would seed so much hatred, especially in American men. American guys, they’re always [sending me emails] asking questions like, “Do your parents know?” “Have you been fired for this?” “What’s it like knowing you’re a slut?” They want to get in your head and understand the amount of humiliation you’ve suffered.