THE RHODES SCHOLAR – 04.07.2017: A Closer Look at the Paige Situation

By Tony Cline. Staff Writer

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Recently, Saraya-Jade Bevis, better known to the WWE Universe as Paige, had private video footage and pictures of her stolen and published on the internet without her permission. The footage showed Ms. Bevis in a variety of sexual situations. I’m certain that most of you have already seen these pictures and videos, and many of you probably have them stored away for your masturbatory fantasies. I could tell you that it’s wrong of us to participate in such invasions of privacy, for that is certainly true, but it would also be a waste of my breath and a failure to recognize the simple truth of human nature that if nude pictures are made available, people are going to look. What concerns me more than this, what concerns me even more than the fact that someone invaded this young woman’s privacy and embarrassed her in front of the entire world, possibly even ruining her career, for no good reason is the fact that I have seen people make the following statement: “It’s her fault. Sex tapes can’t be stolen if you don’t make them.”

The problems with such a statement are profound, and it is important that we understand what those problems are and why they are important. First, it is hard to imagine that very many people under the age of forty have not filmed or photographed themselves at some point in sexual situations. Does that give everyone the right to see what you have recorded? Of course not. By stealing and disseminating these pictures and videos, some creep has invaded Ms. Bevis’s personal privacy in a way that no one deserves or should ever have to deal with. If your teenage daughter took inappropriate photographs and sent them to her boyfriend (and if you have a teenage daughter, they probably do this), does that make it okay for him or someone else to post those pictures somewhere for the entire world to see? No, of course it doesn’t, and it is no more okay for someone to post these pictures and videos of Ms. Bevis simply because she is a celebrity.

The second, and much more insidious, problem with the statement referenced above is that it blames the victim for the crime that was perpetrated against her. This is something we often see in society: “If he hadn’t been in that neighborhood, he wouldn’t have been shot;” “If she had just kept her mouth shut, her husband wouldn’t have hit her;” “If she didn’t dress like such a slut, maybe she wouldn’t have been raped.” That anyone has such thoughts is ludicrous. That they feel okay expressing them in public is disheartening. A person doing something that may or may not have been of questionable judgment does not give anyone the right to victimize them, and blaming them for the crimes that they have endured only emboldens those who would victimize others.

When someone commits a crime and sees others blaming the victim, it makes that person feel justified in their actions, and it makes it likely they will victimize someone else. Rape on college campuses has become an absolute epidemic. Ever wonder why? It’s because there are plenty of people willing to blame the victim, to claim that she flirted too much or wore her skirts too short or her shirts too tight. When a man rapes a woman and then hears such things, he begins to justify his actions in his own mind. He starts to think that she did deserve it, that he did nothing wrong. Even worse, other men who may have not been willing to cross such a line sees that it is acceptable to treat a woman like garbage if she acts or dresses a certain way. Those who blame the victim dehumanize them, and by doing so they open all of us up to more abuse, more victimization.

What happened to Ms. Bevis is a shame. It is terrible that she was exposed to the whole world in such a manner. The perpetrator will hopefully be captured and punished, and Ms. Bevis’s career will hopefully survive this awful situation. It is important to remember that she is not to blame, she is the victim. Whether you agree with her moral choices or not, her privacy deserves to be protected as much as anyone else’s, including yours. Blaming the victim increases the chances that some other person, perhaps even someone you love, will be the victim of a similar crime. If we learn nothing else from this incident, let’s learn that we are all human, we all make choices someone else might disagree with, and yet we all have the right to have our privacy protected regardless of what choices we may have made. Don’t blame the victim, blame the perpetrator, and let’s stop this cycle of victimization.

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