“Ladies, please cover up your ankles.”
“If you wear a short skirt, they’ll think you’re a slut.”
“What’s it going to take for women to get the message about taking and sending nude photos?”
My, we’ve come a long way, haven’t we?
Women are still being judged for what they do – or don’t – wear.
The latest round of tut-tutting began after US hackers stole nude photos and ‘revenge porn’ from hundreds of Australian women.
These images were on private Facebook pages, or in the hands of intimate partners.
Now, they’re available for download on a US website.
This is cyber sexual assault, perpetrated by vengeful ex-boyfriends who submitted the pictures, and criminals who say there’s nothing we can do to stop them.
But instead of focusing, as Independent Senator Nick Xenophon suggests, on strengthening the laws, we’re indulging in another round of victim blaming.
Channel 7’s Sunrise has replaced its initial blame-and-shame Facebook post, with finger-wagging: “A stern warning for people who share risqué photos online.”
In other words, women should modify their behaviour so men don’t exploit them.
“The 1950s called: they want their attitude back,” I mused, while boiling the kettle that morning.
Then, I overheard this exchange, in our loungeroom.
“Now, this is a very important story, Grace,” hubby told our eight-year-old daughter.
“When you’re older, you’ve got to be really careful about what you put on the internet. Look what happened to these girls.”
I almost choked on my coffee.
My husband is a feminist (although he prefers the term, ‘equalist’).
He was trying to do the right thing, protecting our daughter.
But, surely, as a young woman, she should be able to do whatever she likes with her own body, in a private setting?
Surely, the focus should be on the offenders.
And, surely, we should be sending this message to our son?
“Taj, this is a very important story. Some men take revenge on their ex-girlfriends by stealing photos. Others become hackers, to make money from women’s intimate pictures. This is never, ever acceptable.”
Or, to paraphrase the former Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”.