The twisted world of "ex-girlfriend porn"

The genre reveals one more way the Web makes revenge easier -- and blurs the line between fantasy and reality


Tracy Clark-Flory
March 1, 2011 2:54AM (UTC)

It used to be that spurned lovers could scrawl an ex-girlfriend's number on a bathroom stall, along with "for a good time" and a couple of choice epithets. Now they can do all that, and much worse, while reaching a vastly larger audience, thanks to the online explosion of "ex-girlfriend porn" or "revenge porn."

It is -- or at least purports to be -- exactly what it sounds like: explicit home videos or photos shared online by a wronged boyfriend or husband. The equivalent featuring men is out there, but it's rare and the vast majority is directed at gay audiences. Far more common are sites like Don't Date Him Girl, where women can warn others against their exes. Some of the ex-girlfriend porn is authentic, but there are plenty of professional sites out there trying to commercialize on the concept. So it goes in the world of online pornography, where one of the hottest commodities is "real amateurs." The result is that you can  go to a video-sharing site and watch staged "ex-girlfriend" clips right alongside the real thing -- and who's to say which is which? It's just one more way that free online porn allows viewers to become detached from the content and any sense of moral responsibility as consumers.

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The inherent violation and lack of consent found in real "revenge porn" makes it some of the more disturbing wallpaper in the world of online porn -- but even the fake stuff shines a light on the darker corners of the human sexual psyche. It's all about stirring up excitement through anger and hatred: Many videos and photo sets are accompanied by foreplay in the form of a narrative about the cheating, lying you-know-what who is being publicly humiliated for viewers' pleasure. (Few of these websites are run by grammar nerds, so sic -- also, sick -- from here on out.) Revengeporn.thumblogger.com sets up its pornographic library like so: 

It all starts out well enough...young love when the sex is great and she's the girl of your dreams. But then the dream becomes a living nightmare because that skank has been two-timing you behind your back! But revenge is porn served red hot when you upload that certain video of one nasty night that she allowed you to record..much to her regret!

Cheating is the typical scenario, although occasionally there is a case of a man who resisted marriage only to have his girlfriend leave him for a commitment-ready man, or other such tales of women running into the arms of, you know, lesser men. On exgirlfriendporn.net, a photo set of Stella is accompanied by a back story about how she "was one of those chicks who knew nothing about the Internet" until her boyfriend "Ron taught her everything he knows ... except the fact that he was one day going to be able to upload all those kinky pictures to it." That day came when "he realized she was cheating on him [and] he turned his laptop on and began uploading all this amazing ex girlfriend pics we now have. It must really suck to be Stella now."

Where there is humiliation for the cheaters, there is vengeance for the jilted lovers. The site gives one contributor a hearty pat on the back: "Robby had a hard time dealing with their separation but updating these images to the Internet was exactly what he needed to begin feeling a little better. Now he’s fully recovered and can’t be any happier with his well earned gf revenge!" Many of the sites read like support groups where spurned douchebags can find empowerment through revenge. Exgirlfriendporn.org advertises, "Ever want to get back at your ex girlfriend by posting all those pictures and videos she told you to never show anyone? Well now's your chance!" Realexgirlfriends.com, which features an image of a middle finger and a nametag that reads, "Hello, my name is Revenge," explains its founding mission like so: "As dudes, we’ve all been in a relationship with a chick where your sex life crossed paths with a digital camera or camcorder," it continues. "Well, this is where you can get the ultimate revenge." Some sites simply delight in the rewards of other men's douchebaggery. Iknowthatgirl.com boasts that its content is "all filmed on home video and leaked to us by some lowlife, soon to be ex-boyfriend or former best friend!"

Just as we've seen with upskirting, women are unlikely to ever find the material online and, even if they do, the legal tools available to them are limited. But lawsuits do happen: In 2009, a woman in Chicago sued her ex-boyfriend, Miles Marsh, for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, after he posted "intimate and personal" photos on the site exgfpics.com. That same year, Details magazine interviewed Kurtis Potec, director of operations for Xtube (one of several smutty imitations of YouTube), about the rise of "revenge porn" and he said submissions tend to come from a 23- to 28-year-old men. The site receives two to three complaints a week from exposed exes (and not just women, either -- "revenge porn is a growing genre for gay men"). Clips that are posted along with "the woman's name, phone number, and address" get "a lot of hits," writes reporter Richard Morgan. A search for "ex-girlfriend" on the site turns up more than 2,000 videos.

XTube takes down videos when complaints are launched, but as with so many teen "sexting" scandals, X-rated images rarely stay in one place. (A not-so-fun fact: A quarter of identified victims of online child porn originally shared the image themselves before it found a much larger audience.) Celebrities -- from Paris Hilton to Verne Troyer -- have learned the same lesson: Once the images or videos are online, it's often impossible to contain the spread. This is just one more way that the Web is making revenge so much easier, at the same time that it's making the result so much worse -- and often permanent.  


Tracy Clark-Flory

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