loading
drag

My Depop photos were stolen and shared in a soft-porn thread on Reddit

IMAGE VIA @CAT_MACKENZIE/DEPOP

WORDS BY CAT MACKENZIE

Cat’s images were being used to sell her clothing – until they weren’t.

Hi @cat_mackenzie,

We wanted to get in touch to alert you of a situation that has been escalated to Depop.

This afternoon, our team was made aware of the “r/Depop Gone Wild” forum on Reddit which included images from your Depop listings without your consent.

The safety and protection of our community is our foremost priority and we have a zero-tolerance approach for anyone who seeks to take advantage of our users.

We have conducted a full investigation into this forum and understand it is in violation of Reddit’s content policy. We have reported this forum for involuntary pornography as you clearly did not provide consent for your images to be shared outside of Depop. We have emailed Reddit’s legal team to ensure that this forum is removed immediately for these reasons.

The content of this forum, including your images, have recently been deleted because of our action but if you have any concerns about the existence of this forum, please report it via the link here.

If there are any further developments that require your attention, we will be in touch. If you need anything else from us, please let us know – we’re here to help.

Thanks,
Team Depop   

This was the email from Depop that I woke up to on a Friday morning in lockdown, completely out of the blue. The photos were mirror selfies of me wearing a sheer top and dress, not bothering to cover my nipples. The real shock came from the fact that I had posted these images sometime last year, yet this issue popped up now, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s due to the increase in male users on the Depop app.

The problem

My first feeling upon receiving this email was shame, which is incredibly messed up. The patriarchal society that we live in has made women ashamed of their own bodies. Breasts, like mine in these photos, are sexualised, despite just being a natural part of the body.

The attitudes and stigmas behind the over-sexualisation and exploitation of women’s bodies are complex and, unfortunately, deeply ingrained in our society, allowing the patriarchy to continue to thrive, while women continue to be seen as objects.

I have no issue with my nipples showing in these photos as they are literally just part of my body; I don’t see what the big deal is, but apparently, some male users on the app see this as a ‘wild’ prospect.

So wild, in fact, that they felt compelled to save the photo not just for themselves, but felt they had the right to post it into a public forum in which similar photos of many other girls were now being shared, turning it essentially into a soft Pornhub without any of these females’ consent.


Men are claiming these images as their own

Yes, I put this on the internet and therefore I can’t control where the image goes – I get that – but if you are thinking ‘Well what do you expect?’ then you need to take a moment to check yourself. This thought process is similar to the ‘She was asking for it by wearing a short skirt’ victim-blaming that is a key component of rape culture – the ‘boys will be boys’ attitude that absolves men of any wrongdoing.

And if you were thinking that, this is not an attack on you nor are you a bad person. We have been conditioned into thinking this way, but we must reflect on it and begin to unpack it. Why do we keep making excuses for a man’s behaviour before blaming the female, implying that she should have known better?

Buying Myself Back: When does a model own her own image?’, an article written by American model Emily Ratajkowski, was recently published on The Cut. In it, she accuses photographer Jonathan Leder of sexually assaulting her in 2012, and explains the ways in which her image has since been exploited by him.

Similarly to me, she talks about experiencing feelings of shame, and details the psychological trauma she suffered because she was taught that “this is just what happens in the industry”. Or should I rephrase? She was taught that this is what the patriarchy allows – women not having ownership over their own bodies.

The issue is that many men still believe they have the right to objectify a woman’s body – there is no way in the world that this forum was used to discuss the clothing I intended to sell. I can only imagine the criticism and unwanted opinions that my body and others would have been subjected to.

In no way are these images sexual, but they have now been sexualised because a woman’s body is a sexual object and that’s what we are taught from birth. We are taught that everything a woman does is for the male gaze, and because of this, we believe men have the right to judge and assess our bodies.

These men could have gotten their fix from any of the multitudes of porn sites available online. There is plenty of nudity out there for men and women to consume on these platforms, but what makes my image so desirable is that I have not given them consent, therefore they feel a need to claim my body as theirs.

So what’s the solution?

How do we combat this locker room talk mentality that is still so present in our society? In no way do I think that this is an issue for Depop to tackle – they have regulations and guidelines in place and have been so proactive on this matter, nor do I believe censoring the images is right; breasts are a natural part of the body and censoring them only fuels the sexualisation of them.

Perhaps it is the education of young men in schools that we need to look at, with their pack mentality that allows the sharing of images of women’s bodies without their consent, essentially dehumanising them. Rating someone’s body or looks out of ten and reducing that person to a number. These are the behaviours that feed into rape culture and create so many other issues affecting females today.

To me, Depop is an empowering space where you can control your own image and essentially run a small business from home, something that has financially empowered countless young people around the world. But now that some men are making these spaces unsafe, we have to ask, what can women do to protect themselves on these sites?

We shouldn’t have to change what we’re doing because some men are unable to control their behaviour, but this is what we’ve seen happen time and time again. But what’s the solution? It’s to dismantle the patriarchal system we live under, which is, admittedly, not an easy thing to do. But every small change causes a ripple effect. We must continue to expose the men perpetuating this behaviour.

We must discuss these issues, spread awareness and question our ingrained ways of thinking. Through this, lessons can be learnt and mindsets will begin to change. We need to fight back and not compromise and not be complacent, and we need difficult conversations to happen. This is how change will come.

I am just another casualty, but we are all victims of this system, men included. In the tweeted words of Emily Ratajkowski herself: “I’ve had enough”. Buy my clothes, not my body. I am a woman with breasts. I am a human being.

Lazy Loading