Hillary Clinton Talking About Revenge Porn Is So Important For The Battle Against Online Harassment

It’s impossible for women in power to speak to every issue affecting women, and frankly it’s an unreasonable expectation routinely placed on token leaders. On the other hand, the mere density of women’s issues that remain unaddressed are troubling, which makes it extra notable that Hillary Clinton addressed revenge porn in an op-ed she wrote for Refinery 29 published Monday morning. Despite its innocuous sounding name, revenge porn isn’t a porn with a revenge-based plot, but rather the vile act of posting nudes or sex tapes of ex-lovers without their consent, with the purpose of humiliating them, degrading their autonomy, and potentially ruining their career.

In her op-ed Clinton detailed meeting with Chrissy Chambers, the YouTuber who, after becoming the victim of both assault and revenge porn at the hands of her ex-fiancé, petitioned Congress to strengthen laws and start legally recognizing revenge porn.

Clinton shared the impact Chambers story had on her, writing: “I met a young woman named Chrissy Chambers, who went through an awful ordeal. Her ex-boyfriend secretly taped himself sexually assaulting her.” She continued, “After they broke up, he posted the video online without her permission or knowledge on more than 30 pornography sites. She said that the experience made her feel like she’d been ‘stripped of her dignity.’ No one should have to endure something like that.”

As of this year, 34 states have revenge porn laws — that’s definitely progress. Sadly though, many of them only criminalize revenge porn as a misdemeanor, which can often be paid off with a small fine. But still, this slow roll of progress is crucial to recognizing online abuse as real, and having the Democratic Party’s first female nominee shining a light on this issue is beyond important.

The whole of Clinton’s essay focuses on bringing the stories of struggling women to light, letting them know they are seen and someone’s listening. She continued to express her respect towards Chambers’ for taking action for other victims after being humiliated and abused online. Clinton wrote:

“Chrissy turned her personal humiliation into a powerful call to action. She organized nearly 200,000 people to petition Congress to strengthen laws against ‘revenge porn.’ And now, the Congresswoman she petitioned, Rep. Jackie Speier, has introduced a bill seeking to criminalize revenge porn and protect the privacy of women like Chrissy.

Listening to Chrissy speak, I was bowled over by her bravery. After having the most private aspects of her life dragged across cyberspace, you could easily imagine her wanting to move on and forget the whole ordeal. Instead, in hopes of helping other women, she chose to tell her story.”

While revenge porn poses a threat to people of all genders and orientations, as of yet, it has placed the biggest threat on women who have been exploited by their scorned male ex-lovers. This of course connects to larger issues of online abuse that disproportionately plague women, including rape, online stalking, death threats, and doxing. Online abuse is a growing and pervasive gendered issue that continually gets swept under the rug, so having our potential president recognize its prevalence is huge.