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Legal Considerations

Revenge Pornography and Rape Culture in Canada’s Nonconsensual Distribution Case Law

Revenge Pornography and Rape Culture in Canada’s Nonconsensual Distribution Case LawFull Article Name: Revenge Pornography and Rape Culture in Canada’s Nonconsensual Distribution Case Law

Open Access: Yes

Abstract

Canada criminalized the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images in 2014. Lawmakers and commentators noted that this new offense would fill a legislative gap in relation to “revenge pornography,” which entails individuals (typically men) sharing intimate images of their ex-partners (typically women) online in an attempt to seek revenge or cause them harm. Feminist writers and activists categorize revenge pornography as a symptom and consequence of “rape culture,” in which sexual violence is routinely trivialized and viewed as acceptable or entertaining, and women are blamed for their sexual victimization. In this chapter, I analyze Canada’s burgeoning revenge pornography case law and find that these cases support an understanding of revenge pornography as a serious form of communal, gendered, intimate partner violence, which is extremely effective at harming victims because of broader rape culture. While Canadian judges are taking revenge pornography seriously, there is some indication from the case law that they are at risk of relying on gendered reasoning and assumptions previously observed by feminists in sexual assault jurisprudence, which may have the result of bolstering rape culture, rather than contesting it.

    Citation

    Aikenhead, M. (2021). Revenge pornography and rape culture in Canada’s nonconsensual distribution case law. In J. Bailey, A. Flynn, and N. Henry (Eds.), The Emerald International Handbook of Technology-Facilitated Violence and Abuse (pp. 533-553). https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-83982-848-520211039