July 9, 2018

“My Life Isn’t Your Porn” – Thousands of Women are Protesting Spycam Pornography

In this era of #MeToo, there is a stream of pornography that exploits the ignorance of its victims: Spycam Porn. Spycams are an increasingly popular form of pornography. Perpetrators use spycams disguised as watches, lighters, or smoke detectors to film and later upload videos of women as they use the toilet, walk the streets, play at the beach or even sleep. Their victims can be anyone—even you.

This is a rising issue in South Korea. According to Korea Exposé, police estimated  that there were more than 24,000 Spycam cases between 2013 and 2017 (6,000 cases per year), but only 2.6%—around 540—were detained for their offenses. Korean women have had enough. In protest, 22,000 women gathered on June 9, in the largest women’s rally in the country’s history, to declare “My Life Isn’t Your Porn.” These women are pushing back against the increasingly popular belief that men are entitled to women’s bodies; they are advocates of discussing uncomfortable topics—breaking the boundaries of Korean dialogue and cultural norms.

One 21-year-old woman named Ha Yena, shared her experience with Korea Exposé. About a year ago, Ha was visiting the city of Seoul. After an evening of drinking and catching up with friends, she returned to her motel. Midway through the night she felt something on her legs. Opening her eyes, she saw a man whose face was illuminated by his phone. His hand was on her legs, trying to part them, as he continued to film her with the other hand. Her mind went completely blank, yet she was able to mumble, “Who are you?” Startled, the man bolted away. She tried to run after him, but after losing him she called the police. The man hadn’t touched her wallet or valuables. “He just wanted to shoot my body,” Ha said. She woke up in the middle of a Spycam porn production, and she was the leading “actress.”

The perpetrator was only one of the thousands of men from Korea and around the world who record women without their knowledge, and then distribute those images as pornographic material. One of the largest pornography websites in the world allows its members to upload these videos and has an entire genre dedicated to “Spycam Porn.”  The site has a page promoting “amateur spycam porn,” spurring its viewers to become producers of pornography and transforming the women that surround them into potential targets.

In the case of Ha Yena, the assailant was caught almost immediately due to the motel’s security footage, but this is rare. Most of the perpetrators are never brought to justice.

Additionally, even if the offender is caught, it is nearly impossible to completely erase the online videos and images from the Internet. The pornography becomes part of these women’s digital identities, branding them with an unwanted digital tattoo—not to mention the emotional trauma it leaves in its wake.

A researcher at the Korean Institute of Criminology, Chang Dahye, reported, “I’ve seen cases where women quit their jobs, consider getting plastic surgery, change their names and even commit suicide,” after finding out that they have been portrayed as sex objects online. The night of the assault, Ha Yena couldn’t help but scream out in anguish after realizing what had happened to her. The trauma these women experience from being sexually exploited is real and far reaching. Pornography is not only negatively affecting those who watch it, but the image-based sexual assault it has inspired is endangering society at-large.

The related “upskirting” fad (men surreptitiously taking photos up women’s skirts),  has been an ongoing issue in the U.S.. Last March, a bill to ban “upskirting” in Alabama was rejected. It passed the Alabama Senate, but was later rejected by the House.

Alabama women like Tatum Hollon and Michelle Lunsford are furious. Both women were targeted by the same man who used his cell phone to film under their dresses at a grocery store and a local Lowes hardware store. The women strongly advocated for the bill to be passed. After realizing that there is no law in her home state to protect her from upskirting, Hollon said, “It felt like I was violated all over again.”

It is 2018 and blatant acts of image-based sexual assault are not only prevalent, but protected here in the United States. Sexual exploitation is not just an issue for the victims and perpetrators, it is an issue for our entire society—our entire culture. It is not their problem. It is our problem. It is your problem. It affects your relationships, your rights, and your privacy, or those of the people you love.

In a harmony with #MeToo, we raise #YouToo to remind all that the issues of pornography and sexual exploitation affect everyone. Learn how YOU can take action here.

Lana Lichfield

Lana Lichfield intern

Intern

After working with hispanic communities in Virginia for a year and a half, Lana Lichfield returned to Brigham Young University double majoring in Public Health and Spanish. She is a world traveler; she has explored Asia, climbed the Eiffel Tower, visited the Middle East, and studied in Spain. Through these experiences, she has seen the beauty the world has to offer, but she also has seen the harmful effects of pornography and sex-trafficking both in lands foreign and domestic. Passionate about putting an end to sexual exploitation she now works with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation as NCOSE’s Public Health Intern.

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