Revenge porn webs sites? Oh gee… | Sidebar for Plaintiffs

“The good news, I suppose, is that the young women mentioned in the article are suing. They are not committing suicide. Their lives have been hideously messed with, as you’ll read. They’ve got a lot of guts.

But still …”

Revenge porn webs sites? Oh gee… | Sidebar for Plaintiffs.

But still what, Naomi?

Is the answer to call the victims “dumb” and their actions “short-sighted”? In the simplest of arguments, when that’s the furthest an individual’s intelligence will stretch, it may seem the only plausible answer.

Let us harken back to the days of yore, Naomi. To the days when men asked women for their phone numbers as it was their only means of communication.

Remember those days?

It seems even then with such primitive technology, there was a need for laws that put a stop to criminal behavior. Remember harassment? Good old fashioned harassment…a course of conduct…oh, wait.  You’re an attorney. You already know the details.

What’s that you say, Naomi? You’re not an attorney?

Well, then you must be a victim…oh. Not that either.

Ok, then…seems you need an education, Naomi.

Here is an excerpt of a post from the website Concurring Opinions. The author, Professor Danielle Keats Citron, is a law professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and an affiliate scholar at the Stanford Center on Internet and Society and Yale Information Society Project:

Blaming the Victim: Been There Before

posted by 

Let me build on Professor Franks’s incisive post on the blaming-the-victim response in the revenge porn context.  As Franks rightly notes, a recurring response to women’s suffering is to blame the victims.  As I discussed here, cyber harassment victims are often told that they provoked the abuse by blogging in their own names, sending pictures to boyfriends, or writing about sex.  The public said the same about domestic violence and sexual harassment.  Society minimized the culpability of the abusers and maximized the responsibility of victims to justify those practices.  Law certainly was not necessary to address them.  Then, as now, the public refused help to blameworthy women.

Before the 1970s, society tolerated abuse of so-called “recalcitrant” wives.  The public’s attitude was that the battering was justified by the wife’s provocations.  The notion was that if the woman had been a neater housekeeper, a more submissive helpmate, or a more compliant sexual partner, “her nose would not have been broken, her eye would still be uncut, [and] bruises would never have marked her thighs.”  Judges and caseworkers asked battered wives to accept responsibility for provoking violence, rather than assessing their abusers’ conduct.

– See more at: http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2013/02/blaming-the-victim-been-there-before.html#sthash.v3JBaAU9.dpuf

Get it now, Naomi?

The Long Answer is Your Story

I sat in the dark chapel, blurry-eyed and bone-weary from an emotional morning, waiting for the 12:15 concert to start. Earlier, as part of a writing exercise that asked us to explore the short and long answers to a question, where the long answer is your story, a classmate asked me, “What is it like to be a single mom? To work so hard for your family by going to school and working two jobs?” It was an honest question – one I ask myself several times a day, but I had yet to answer.  Our mentor rang her Buddhist Meditation Bell to signal the beginning of the short answer.

The concert began; the opening notes of Debussy’s Clair De Lune met me gently and took me to my children’s nursery. I played a classical lullaby CD for them during their fist couple years of life. Clair De Lune was in the middle of the CD, so I often heard the delicate notes late at night when it was my turn to drift off to sleep.

“Short answer, I don’t know how it feels. I’m on autopilot. I just tuck my head and get through my days as best I can.” I smiled weakly. The meditation bell rang gently, signaling it was time to provide the long answer.

The associations of Clair De Lune to my children as infants, to being married, to being a family are strong. Although I relish the pleasure of self-knowledge and have learned to cope with the pain of solitude, life was somewhat easier when I was playing the classical CD at night. I was young, my marriage was young, and the children were young. We had so much promise. Futures lay ahead pockmarked with possibilities. They were hopeful days.

“It sucks.” Began my long answer. I fumbled to my bag for a tissue because I was already crying. “It’s absolutely brutal.” I sobbed. “It’s not how I imagined my life would be. I never thought I’d get divorced. I never wanted to be divorced, but I also knew I was marrying the wrong person. But I still tried so hard to make it work. And I’m tired. I’m tired all the time, but I have to keep going because my children are depending on me. And people expect so much of me. And it didn’t have to be this way. My ex dumped 60 grand of debt on me – the adoption bills. He put all that on my shoulders. He walked away with no debt. I got slammed. I can’t pay my bills. I have to work two jobs even though that finds me still working at 2 a.m. when I’m so exhausted, I’m unable to form a coherent thought.”

Debussy’s familiar pauses and chords unhinged a latch, and discharged residual pain that didn’t surface during my classroom confessional. I lurched for my bag and unsteadily left the cold chapel. I felt crazed; anger and sadness and resentment made me dizzy. The memory of where I once was and the facts of where I am came together, finally, and took me down.  I felt drunk, disassociated.

The long answer came rumbling out before I could stop it. I blurted out facts I don’t talk about. Expensive cosmetics and well-tailored clothing have done a fine job of presenting me as put-together and well rested. Yoga and meditation taught me how to appear calm and centered and how to keep the gorge from rising to the back of my throat when I panic about all the tomorrows spread in front of me. It works. No one ever suspects otherwise, which was obvious as my group members sat in silent mourning, my words hanging like rainclouds. “Yay!” I exclaimed, breaking the spell of awkwardness. “This is fun! Thanks D–!”

After my outpouring, as we funneled from our classroom, my friend and classmate, Magin, said that what I did was great and that women need to be more honest about their feelings. I told her I disagree; she bristled. I explained, “When you are honest about your feelings, it isolates you. Sadness is a blockade between people.” She agreed.  She walked closer than usual to me as we left the building.

People are leaving the chapel. The concert has ended. It must be 1:00. I can’t bring myself to go to lunch with my merry band of fellow MFA misfits yet. I’m tucked away on the grass, near a large tree – I was walking to my Jeep, intent on going home, but I sat to think, and I stayed. From where I sit, I can see them walking towards the cafeteria. The tree shelters me from sight. Secretly, I want someone to see me, to come over and talk to me, to comfort me. I went somewhere I wasn’t strong enough to go this morning.  And now I’m tired. And I can’t ask for help.

A few deep yoga breaths will give me the spiritual energy that will get me through the rest of my afternoon. I’ll go to lunch, drop my bag on the floor by the table where my friends and I sit, smile weakly and say, “I’m fine!” Drama over. Let’s move on.

And I will, indeed, move on.

%d bloggers like this: