California Arrests the Owner of a Revenge Porn Site. Other States Should Follow Its Lead.  

What Women Really Think
Dec. 11 2013 1:00 PM

California Arrests the Owner of a Revenge Porn Site. Other States Should Follow Its Lead.  

454447451
The arrest of Kevin Bollaert is a promising development in the fight against revenge porn

Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images

California is getting serious with efforts to end the scourge known as "revenge porn," in which men who want to hurt women (usually as "revenge" for dumping them) post naked photos of the women online and then encourage their community of fellow misogynists to harass them. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law explicitly banning the practice earlier this year, but now Attorney General Kamala Harris has upped the ante by announcing the arrest of Kevin Christopher Bollaert of San Diego for running a revenge porn site where men would publish women's naked photos, names, and social media information, so as to make it easier for the site's audience to harass the victims. Bollaert is being charged with 31 counts of conspiracy, identity theft, and extortion. 

The extortion charges stem from Bollaert's alleged blackmail scheme attached to the website. After posting the naked pictures and personal information of the women, Bollaert would email them and demand that they give him money in order to take the listing down. 

Advertisement

This arrest is a promising development in the fight against revenge porn. Victims of this abusive practice frequently find it's hard to get justice, because they originally consented to have the pictures taken or even took the pictures themselves. But obviously, something has to be done to stop this. A woman's right to terminate her relationship with a man is seriously imperiled if he's allowed to "punish" her for it by shaming her in public with naked pictures and using an audience of strangers online to expand the scope of the harassment. Indeed, the best way to understand revenge porn is to understand it as a form of crowdsourced domestic violence. Instead of a lone man stalking and harassing a woman he has determined has no right to leave him, a group of men are working together to do it. 

That's why it's important that California is going after the man who runs the website instead of just the individual men who post the pictures. These communities help men with abusive obsessions amplify their reach, creating a kind of 24/7 stalking situation for the women they wish to hurt. Shutting down the sites might not shut down their behavior, but it will shut down an especially potent tool for getting to their victims. If this strategy works, it might cause other men who want to run revenge porn websites to think twice before buying that URL.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?