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‘Consent Is Key’: A Victim Of Revenge Porn Released Her Own Nude Photos

In the fall of 2011, Emma Holten awoke one day to find her inbox filled with “hundreds of messages and emails.” They weren’t from Nigerian princes asking for bank details: they were pictures of her, naked. Without her consent. The first was taken when she was 17, “a little awkward, slightly hunched forward: a harmless attempt at sexiness.” The other, two years later, “in my room in Uppsala, Sweden. Older, a little more confident, but not a whole lot.”

The messages were predictable, but still disgusting:

DO YOUR PARENTS KNOW THAT UR A SLUT?

DID U GET FIRED?

WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THIS?

WHO DID THIS TO YOU?

SEND ME MORE NUDES OR ILL SEND THE ONES I HAVE TO YOUR BOSS. (Via)

Holten quickly realized something:

This dynamic is a commonplace online and is a concrete manifestation of a larger discourse around the female body, the notion that it is erotic to sexualise someone who is unaware. We all know the tropes: the sexy teacher/student/nurse/waiter/bartender/doctor. All jobs, if staffed by women, can be sexualised. What is sexy is not the job, not even the woman, but the fact that while the woman is just doing her job you are secretly sexualising her.

She has become public property by simply being?

A spiteful ex-boyfriend put the pictures online, but three years later, she decided to “write a new story about my body in order to make it possible to see myself naked and still see myself as human. I decided that a sort of re-humanisation had to happen.” Holten had her photographer friend take pictures of her in the nude, and turned them into a project. Why?

The pictures are an attempt at making me a sexual subject instead of an object. I am not ashamed of my body, but it is mine. Consent is key. Just as rape and sex have nothing to do with each other, pictures shared with and without consent are completely different things.

It’s called the CONSENT Project, and needless to say, reaction has been mixed.

“A lot of people are inspired and empowered by it,” she said. “A lot of other people call the new pictures ‘me doing to myself what has already been done to me’ and ‘counterintuitive’. I say: Political activism is supposed to be counterintuitive!” (Via)

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