The 2008 nonconsensual posting of a gallery of nude photos taken eight months before by the boyfriend of a third year Harvard student was terrorizing invasion of privacy that altered her reality and irrevocably changed the way she lived, thought and wrote.
In 2008 there was no definition of such acts however, cases of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities led to public nonconsensual distribution of sexually explicit photos being called revenge porn, cyber bullying, or online harassment.
The girl was in third year at Harvard when an ex-boyfriend her nude photos, she found the public response harder to understand than the publication of the photos themselves. At 20 she was not in a position protect herself or her reputation. The University administration could not stop students from passing her photos around my, etc. leaving her feeling intensely socially ostracized, isolated and suspicious of relationships.
To avoid more exposure she started living off campus, stopped blogging, and started a Tumblr page to discuss feminist/gender issues. She was stalked online which made her life difficult. She was not able to submit her final paper and did not qualify a course and had to take a year-long academic leave.
On return to University she wrote a thesis on sex education and the abstinence movement, started to speak and write about sexual health and empowerment, which made the stalker redouble his efforts to sabotage her career and relationships by posting the names and personal details of her friends, family, colleagues etc., leading to her reducing her involvement in feminism by 2012.
She moved to Berlin and worked there, returning to the US for a few months in a year. In the US she gets phone calls from publicists and producers, to write or be on TV to explain her side of the story. She says to be honest, she does not want to be on TV explaining why young men today can be driven by romantic rejection to kill, why women are afraid to use the Internet, why she no longer feels safe in America.
She is of the view that what happened to her is not an occupational hazard of feminism, but of being a woman. According to her male bodies are not weapons to be used against them unlike those of women, and shame is a word women grow up with; sex is something that can hurt women, and they need to be constantly on the defensive against attracting negative attention. Most of the time If women are criticized or attacked, they are told they acted provocatively to deserve it.
What it means is that we live in a world where this not only happens to people like us, but also that there is no dearth of people happy to gawk and cheer on the perpetrators. Since neither the law nor public opinion is on the side of the victim, women who try to fight back, become bigger targets, and blamed for not remaining silent and not learning our lesson the first time around.
This is a short narrative of one woman’s story of invasion of privacy altering her reality and changing the way she does things. While it is easy to be resentful, she found a certain peace in censoring herself, even leaving the country and reassessing her relationships. But she is glad that times are changing and people now recognize the ugliness around and the hatred that we carry inside ourselves.