Yesterday the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) has launched their new “e-Quality” campaign aimed at protecting women online against sexual exploitation such as revenge porn.
I welcome this. When I started seeing it trend I was over the moon! Finally some organisation out there has started a campaign that brings to light the loopholes and injustices that are currently enacted in the revenge porn law. The branding is perfect, they have the media behind them and the countries prominent people are excited to see where it goes. However, I’m left here wondering if it will ever make the impact it hopes to achieve. Mostly I believe it wouldn’t. Here’s why:
Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker said on Monday, “Today as WE lay out our policy plans, WE call on all political parties to set aside their differences and work with us to deliver digital legislation that works, so that the Internet is safe and fair for all.”
Their campaign will be focusing on changing existing revenge porn laws to focus more on consent. Current laws focus on whether the perpetrator intended to cause distress, the WEP instead are calling for the focus to be whether the victim gave consent for the images to be shared. They also wish to introduce revenge porn into civil laws so the victims can remain anonymous. All of this is amazing.
My problem here is the rest of their campaign. It’s heavily weighted on that revenge porn, rape and sexual abuse are a women’s issue. The entire campaign is branded and advertised to only help women and those who identify as such – which ignores the victims who don’t, IE men and the trans community.
Now, those who’d appose this would say that sexual abuse/violence is a women’s issue due to the overwhelming percentages of cases where women are victims. However this is where I and organisations such as Stay Brave UK would disagree. The WEP have even made clear in their campaign that 75-90% of victims of revenge porn are women. But that means there is potentially 1 in 4 victims their campaign would ignore. At a time where 12,000 men were raped in the UK last year it’s time to admit the sometimes politically fatal taboo that rape/sexual violence is no longer solely a women’s issue. Just because A is larger than B; doesn’t mean that B doesn’t exist.
For campaigns such as e-Quality to succeed it’s vital that they are considered to be primarily gender-neutral. They need to be lead by a coalition of organisations which cover women, men and those who don’t identify as either and work towards the protection and benefit of all – and I’m sorry to say WEP are not up to the task.
This article was written by Alexander Morgan, CEO of Stay Brave UK. Alex is a survivor of abuse and exploitation and campaigns against gender stigma that prevent access to abuse services. You can hear more from Alex by following him on Twitter or reading his articles on Huffington Post.