OPINION: Slut-shaming, revenge porn are never okay

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Illustration by Iris LoCoco

Blac Chyna, originally named Angela White, was in recent headlines after Rob Kardashian, her ex-fiancé and father of her child, posted nude photos of Chyna July 5.

This created an all-out social media war across multiple platforms between the two that ended in the filing of a restraining order, Kardashian having his Instagram account suspended and Chyna alleging physical abuse.

While the reality stars have a long and jaded past with one another, there are a few central issues the mainstream and even topic-specific media have missed as their lives have unfolded before the general public over the past week.

The first component the mainstream media outlets overlook is that Kardashian posted nude photos of Chyna to social media without her consent. In California, this is considered “revenge porn,” which is the posting of sexually explicit portrayals of a person without their consent on any platform. Revenge porn is usually posted by a former sexual partner, typically for the purpose of causing emotional distress or shame. This directly ties into how our society has a very serious problem with consent, especially consent related to sexuality.

Our society teaches young people that consent is optional and does not need to be respected. The lack of punishments, including facing trial or even time in jail or prison, continues to demonstrate how consent is perceived to be optional and has no real legal ramifications for failing to respect it.

Some have argued that Chyna consented to the photos in the first place by sending them to Kardashian, so Kardashian had the right to post them online. The correct answer to that is: No, he did not. If Chyna consented to sending them, then that is all she consented to. She has publicly stated she did not consent to having Kardashian post those photos of her online.

Others have argued that if one scrolls through Chyna’s social media or Google image searches Chyna, one will see Chyna posing while scantily clothed, leaving little to the imagination.

The difference between Chyna posting these photos of herself online and Kardashian posting photos of her from while they were together is that it is Chyna’s body. She consented to posting those photos of herself on her own social media. Chyna is liberated by her own sexuality and has the right to portray herself in that way. It is her body, her choice. Not Kardashian’s.

Even if Kardashian no longer respects Chyna as a human being, he must respect the California law that perceives this as revenge porn.

The second point of this entire ordeal that the mainstream media has overlooked is Chyna’s alleged accusation of abuse while the two were together. Because it is an argument involving a Kardashian, the media has taken the side of the alleged perpetrator rather than the victim. Rather than further investigating whether or not these accusations are true, the media has completely overlooked it and even alleged Chyna is lying.

The third manner in which the media has spun this social media whirlwind is by blaming Chyna for these naked photos being posted online and shaming her for openly expressing her sexuality.

This is where slut-shaming comes into play.

For those unaware, slut-shaming is the act of trying to evoke shame in someone for their perceived sexual conduct, especially women who have had multiple sexual partners or who openly express their sexuality or violate “traditional” expectations of sexuality, such as remaining sexually abstinent until marriage.

Since Chyna’s rise to fame was through stripping at King of Diamonds, one of the largest and most successful strip clubs in Miami, the media implies she is nothing more than a whore or a gold digger, denying her autonomy and the success she has built on her own. The media not only disrespects Chyna as a successful business woman, despite the fact that she owns multiple clothing stores and a makeup line, but also denies the autonomy and agency Chyna has over her body by saying she is less than human for openly expressing her sexuality.

Any woman who works in any avenue of the sex industry should be just as protected under the law as any other woman. Yet time and time again, the media tries to paint a picture of women in the sex industry as deviants, and that the law does not apply to them. But the law does apply, and Kardashian should be held accountable for his actions.

There are multiple lessons to be learned from this incident in popular culture. Revenge porn is against the law in many states across the United States, including California. Slut-shaming and degrading human beings, especially women, is never OK. Accusations of abuse should be taken seriously, even if they are alleged against a quote-unquote powerful family.

The law has a long way to go to protect victims of these incidents, but the media has an even longer way to go. Maybe some time in the future the media will actually report on a story in a way that does not reduce the women involved to liars, deviants or less than human.

Jakki Forester is a graduate student in communication studies. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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