Call it what it is: Victim Blaming
Sexting is the exchange of sexualized images, videos or messages using a computer or any mobile device. Sexting is a crime when it involves a person under the age of 18 and it is also a crime to share without permission the sexting content of a person above the age of 18.
18-year-old Adam Allen got into a disagreement with his ex-girlfriend. This then led him to angrily share private intimate photos that she had shared with him to her family, friends and teachers. Charges were filed and he plead guilty to circulating child pornography which led to him being registered as a sex offender. His ex-girlfriend did not receive any legal implications for sharing explicit images, instead the media blamed her for sending the images in the first place. While showering Allen with compassion and affirming that he made a silly mistake that should not have led to him being registered as a sex offender.
I believe in this particular situation we can draw from the Markkula Center framework for ethical decision making, virtue approach to provide further analysis. This framework presents a person in the light that they would want to be rather than who they actually are. Since Allen had pleaded guilty to the charges the justice system could not do anything to change the consequences. Thus, the public media took it upon themselves to rewrite Allen’s character by passing the blame to the victim and minimizing his actions to just an impulsive, immature decision.
I am in complete agreement with the court’s decision on this matter. He knew exactly what he was doing. He knew it would hurt and cause emotional damage for the victim and he did it anyway. His intent was to harm. His pity excuse of “I was angry and immature” does not foot the bill. The only thing that I would do differently is to allow lesser restrictions for those who commit minor sexual offences. However, just because this would be minor on the grand scale of things does not mean consequences should not be applied.
From a public media standpoint, they handled this situation very poorly. Yes, Allen is young but that does not make him an innocent victim. He is the perpetrator, no matter what. We will continue to have serious problems if we allow the court of public opinion to be the judge and jury. The O. J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson was a glaring example of that. In a society where women and children are subjected to all kinds of sexual crimes and violence in which many stories have never left the lips of victims, we unconsciously tell them that it’s better to keep quiet. Someone will always find a way to blame the victim, maybe it was the outfit, the underwear, the smile, or her consenting and then changing her mind that made him do it; it's her/their fault. Victim blaming is everywhere it is in our media and our courtrooms. In 2018 an Iceland teenage girl’s underwear was used as evidence in a rape trial. Alluding that the underwear indicated consent. I find this quite revolting. This points to another reason why I believe that the media gravely mishandled this situation. Any attempts to silence victims whether intentionally or not should not be allowed. Furthermore, people who can’t control their actions when angry are at risk to cause serious harm to others in the future.
My solution to this is would be that Allen should be held responsible for his choices regardless of what the media advocates for and placed on a offender's list. He is not being held responsible for receiving the images, he is however being held responsible for negligently sharing those images without permission and with the intent to cause harm. The sexting was consensual between both parties and no one else. Allen should also be enrolled in anger management therapy. His ex-girlfriend should receive support and therapy and not judgment. She is the only victim here and should hold no blame or victimization from the public.
Hasinoff, A. A. (2017). Sexting and privacy violations: A case study of sympathy and blame. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 11(2), 202–217. Retrieved from https://www.cybercrimejournal.com/Hasinoffvol11issue2IJCC2017.pdf (Links to an external site.). DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.1037391
Outrage in Ireland after teenage girl’s underwear used as evidence in rape trial | CBC News. (2018, November 14). Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ireland-rape-underwear-1.4905643