Do the same rules still apply?
With social media sites like snapchat, realistic video games, and virtual reality worlds, many couples and even strangers are exploring ways to express their sexuality over the internet.
Whether the individuals are sharing provocative texts, images, videos, or engaging in virtual sexual acts; there is a new set of dangers and rules that must be considered.
Online sexual acts may seem safer or more innocent, but they can cause lasting issues.
In 2013, California became the first state to pass laws that prevent revenge porn, an issue that occurs when someone posts naked or inappropriate pictures of videos of another person without their permission.
A non-profit, End Revenge Porn, has been a major driving force behind legislative changes in many states. Their founder, Holly Jacobs, was a victim of revenge porn herself, and has set out to prevent it from happening to others. After ending a relationship of three years, Jacobs’ Facebook profile picture was changed to a nude photo of her. According to Miami New Times, hundreds of explicit photos and videos of her were then posted across the internet.
When other students at her university received a video titled “Masturbation 201 by Professor Holli Thometz,” her surname, she filed an injunction against her ex-boyfriend. It was dismissed, and in another instance she was denied an investigation because she had agreed to take the pictures and videos.
Although she gave no one permission to post the images, the law still gave her no ground to bring justice to the situation. Obviously much worse than just a copyright issue, Jacobs claims revenge porn “ruined” her life, and tighter laws obviously must be put into place to prevent this emotional damage.
Emotional damage from online sexual acts is considered by many to be as serious as the damage possible from physical rape.
Not all sexual encounters on the internet are consensual. Sexual harassment is sadly common on the internet. In the U.S., subjecting children to sexual images, texts, or suggestions is illegal, but subjecting adults to these acts is not the same.
Although this clearly deserves punishment, many consider unwilling online sexual acts as “virtual rape,” and believe the repercussions should match that of physical rape.
An article on Wired elegantly said my opinion on the matter.
“But I have a hard time calling it “rape,” or believing it’s a matter for the police. No matter how disturbed you are by a brutal sexual attack online, you cannot equate it to shivering in a hospital with an assailant’s sweat or other excretions still damp on your body.
That’s not to say I dismiss the trauma a person suffers after being raped online. Virtual rape is not just a prank, one the target needs to get over or expect as part of a role-playing world.”
Online sexual attacks are completely unacceptable, but despite the realism that the internet can now provide us, the attacks cannot match the devastation of a physical rape. While laws must adapt to protect internet users, lawmakers must be careful when comparing tramatic events.
**Featured image licensed by Ranveig under CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.