I was sent a picture of my vagina today. While I was getting my hair done. This was just one of a slew of nude pictures of myself that I have been sent.
From my ex boyfriend.
I could have gotten the same result with a hand mirror and a good angle, however, my ex boyfriend has felt impelled to send me unsolicited nude photos of myself. We broke up about two years ago now, and since, I have moved on to my dream relationship with my dream man. Yet, the picture’s of myself keep rolling in. Annoyingly.
This was a man that I trusted, and I pictured in my future. This was a man that I thought respected me, and my body. And yes, rest assured, this was a man that I had REQUESTED delete the photos of me post-breakup.
After finally having enough of this, I sat down with my father (yes, my dad) to discuss the situation that was occurring. What was the motive behind this behaviour? Best case scenario, it’s a power move. Worst case, it’s a non-verbal threat. Did we have a case to bring to court? Could this be considered sexual harassment? Is this grounds for a restraining order? Hmm…unlikely.
Unfortunately, this has only been one incidence I’ve had since being single that blur the lines of sexual misconduct. I’ll save you the gory details of my sex life, but let’s talk more broadly. The hockey player that receives a “nudie” from the girl in his math class, and just tilts his phone to the right so three other players can see her exposed. The new boyfriend that convinces his girlfriend to have sex with him for the first time, despite her claims of not being ready. The working husband who demands sex from his stay at home wife because he “works hard to put food on the table”. The one night stand who took a woman home who consented to sex WITH a condom, but he thrusted into her because he “didn’t hear her”. The aching man who texts his uninterested ex girlfriend daily, without threat, but continues despite her insistence on him stopping. And you guessed it folks, the ex boyfriend who sent the girl nude photos of herself just to remind her that he had the power.
I’m talking the cases that would be weak in a court of law, but happen on a daily basis. The cases that we have little to no fight against. The cases that do not have sanctions in the Criminal Code, and can, somehow, be justified in the minds of a perpetrator just enough to help him sleep at night.
So who do I think is to blame for this epidemic? What is the cause of it?
I live in Canada, where our Criminal Justice System is both strong and fair. In my country, we have little tolerance for rape, and throw the book at serious offences. The justice system has done a good job navigating sexual abuse claims (for the most part), and our society talks openly about the importance and definition of consent. Except what about the grey areas?
Despite our best efforts, we are still a male-dominated society, where power is highly sought after. With technology, harassment has become easier than ever. Not to mention, with social media constantly feeding into our egos, it has become increasingly difficult to accept rejection. With one Instagram post, you can feel enough validation to last you a whole week – when people have 10,000 followers gawking over you, is it becoming easier to believe that you are entitled to the things that you want?
I’m not saying that everybody falls victim to this, because I know they don’t. For instance, I have found myself the most handsome (sort of biased), yet humble man that does nothing but treat me with upmost respect. I say no, it’s a no…and he hears it with nothing other than gentlemanly class. Nor am I saying that this is only a male-centred issue, that’s just where majority (or all) of my expertise lies.
In response to my ex boyfriend’s well-executed, power-dominated “harassment”, I reclaimed the power. Instead of harbouring and suppressing this, I spoke to my dad, boyfriend, best friend, and hair dresser about this. I created an emergency plan to be initiated in the event that these photos are leaked (which luckily, is a criminal offence with no grey area).
Yet here I am still questioning, why the need for power and ego have the ability to override kindness, human decency and respect? How do we, as a whole, reverse this way of prioritizing?