Music by VICE

Festival Free Love Is Being Turned into Non-Consensual Porn by Reddit Masturbators

Yes, there is a sub-Reddit called "Festival Sluts."

by Noisey Staff and sam wolfson
Oct 9 2014, 3:09pm

If the past few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that porn has become weaponized and will be forever. Entire sub-forums of popular online message board Reddit took up the crusade of keeping celebrity nudes on the internet so they could be shared. 4Chan are using porn, whether real or imaginary, to attack and threaten women for crimes as heinous as asking not to be treated as sex objects. When Emma Watson gave a speech to the UN inviting men to join the feminist cause, they threatened a leak of nude photos in retaliation. When Jennifer Lawrence said that those who looked at the original leak of nude photos of her should be ashamed, 4Chan “retaliated” by uploading the pictures to her Wikipedia page. This, of course, is nothing new. A generation of young people are growing up to believe that when a woman dumps you, it’s OK to send naked photos of them to everyone you know. It should be noted that there's also a long history of Reddit users sharing invasive photos in general—and just being creeps.

So, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised there’s a sub-Reddit called Festival Sluts, in which photos (some of which have clearly been taken without consent) are uploaded for the pleasure of the internet. The board, which began in 2012, now has 30,000 subscribers.

On this sub-Reddit, there are posts like “Perfect Titties - Download 2014” which shows a GIF of someone (who could easily be under the age of 18) taking her shirt off while on someone’s shoulders. In another photo, “Rolling and Horny at Electric Daisy Carnival,” a woman on someone’s shoulders who's flashing a breast is shot secretly and unflatteringly from underneath. There’s photos of women naked mud wrestling at Secret Garden party and a topless woman at the front row of a Major Lazer show. There are, it goes without saying, no photographs of men.

In some of these pictures the women look like they’re proudly displaying their bodies. Others are sneaky, non-consensual shots taken from a distance. It shouldn’t matter; you can bet that however the pictures came about, none of these women wanted their photo on a message board called “Festival Sluts” to be pored over by horny, anonymous internet users.

There are all the obvious issues here—for one, this peculiarly modern belief that there is an inalienable right to share images of women’s bodies. But there’s also something specific. Festivals, however corporate they’ve become, still tend to at least try to emulate some ideal of free love and escapism that was born out of the original rock festival movement, whether that means embracing the Burning Man ideals of self-reliance and decommodification or just rolling out of your mind in a mudbath at Lollapalooza. Implicit is the idea that you should be able to have a three-day hedonist escape, which may well include striding round in your underwear, without any foul repercussions. Just because you’re all right with strangers in that moment seeing your body in a desexualized context doesn’t mean you want it to live on the internet forever. These posters, lurking from behind their computer screens, are ruining that.

You will not be surprised to learn that the people dedicated to posting pictures of women also aren’t their biggest fans. Each picture has a run of comments which serve only to further humiliate the women in the photos. One picture of a woman wearing blue heart nipple tassels is titled simply: “Holy Jesus those are a nice set... but her face…” On a picture of a topless woman at Burning Man festival—surely the embodiment of a technology-free space where you can be relaxed about your body—someone has commented: “Would so stick my dick in her sandy vag.” On another, where a woman is just trying to take a shower at a festival and clearly cannot see that she is being photographed, someone has commented, “So what are we looking at ? Amateur porn stars turned Jugglets? or Juggelets turned amateur porn stars? Or just attention whores with daddy issues?”

I understand there is a line to be tread here. A few years ago I posted a photo of a woman appearing to give a blowjob at T In The Park before later deleting it. In the moment, I was only thinking about what seemed like a funny picture, forgetting that it actually happened in the real world and had real world significance. There are times when all of us forget that just because something is on the internet doesn’t mean it should be. That said, when a nude or partially nude photo taken without the express, consensual understanding that it is for publication on the internet is spread on the internet under a derogatory heading calling the subject a "slut," there's not much ambiguity. That's wrong.

Pornography has been weaponized, and there’s no going back from that, but this is a frontier we can fight on. Music festivals should be a place where people can comfortably act how they want, not be under the constant threat of any exposure ending up on the internet. Organizers and festivalgoers have campaigned against campsite fires, non-biodegradable tent pegs, and drug taking. It’s time they rubbed out these pervs too.

For obvious reasons we haven’t linked to the Festival Sluts sub-reddit.