Darryl Morris Weekly – 26.03.21 – We Need to Talk About…

We need to talk about porn. Specifically, revenge porn. Again.

This week, a study showed that cases of revenge porn have doubled over the last twelve months, with lockdown and social restrictions playing no small part. It is a hideous crime. It is the very worst of us. And as we learn that over two thirds of those who called the Revenge Porn Helpline are female, it’s hard not to draw comparisons with the conversation we’ve been having about other violent crime.

Uploading intimate videos or pictures of somebody is not a physically violent crime. It doesn’t involve kicking a woman in the head, but it does involve kicking a woman in the soul. We have heard how crippling it can be – the anxiety, the shame, the stigma. We have heard how it can linger in your life for decades – popping up in google searches for employers, friends and family to find. It hangs over the victim like a dark cloud, potentially for the rest of their life, through no fault of their own.

Last year, we spoke to Stephanie Correo, a victim of revenge porn and now a campaigner. She explained that feeling. She told us about the agonising talk she had to have with her family, the torment of wondering if it will come up in a job interview, and the wounding day her son found the images. It was heartbreaking. It was an important conversation. It was one of those listening moments.

The experiences of the victims should – and will always – be at the heart of this story. But in the spirit of learning the lessons of the last few weeks, could we be neglecting the root of the problem?

We concluded that we’d spent too long asking the victims of violent crime to change their behaviour, and not enough time tackling the reason men – and it’s almost always men – become violent criminals. Does this story have a similar flavour? Don’t send nudes may be a sensible piece of advice – and it may not be comparable with the lousy advice of don’t go out alone – but are we doing this problem a similar disservice by not saying, more directly… don’t upload revenge porn?

Or, at least, should we give more thought to why people do? Should we try to explain what forces are in play when somebody feels compelled to press an upload button that will ruin another person’s life?

If we can safety conclude that most of the perpetrators of revenge porn are men – or boys – is it similarly tied up in the toxic aspects of masculinity that drives other forms of bad behaviour? The intoxicating experience of being in a group of guys, egging you on to do it, seeing women as a currency, clouding your thinking of the risk. I know that feeling, because I am a man. I grew up in a group of guys, never so bad in our behaviour, but still susceptible to the tribal and primal emotion that it can be so hard to untangle yourself from.

Couple that with the modern, digital, element of revenge porn. It may now be a fact of life that recording, taking and sending images is par for the course of a modern relationship. But our online lives are not our physical lives. When we’re online, their are barriers that empathy, compassion, reason and rational thinking seem unable to penetrate. We all know that feeling. We’ve all drafted an angry tweet or piled on to a Facebook comments section. There are lots of reasons that happens – anonymity, lack of immediate consequences, the detachment from real life. How many of those forces are in play when somebody presses the upload button?

This is not to excuse it – there can be no excuse – but to understand it could be to prevent it.

I suggested we speak to somebody who has uploaded revenge porn. A reformed character, maybe, who can see the error of their ways and can give us some insight into why it happens. My producer, Izzy, correctly pointed out that it could be insensitive to the victim, even if we anonymised the guest. She is right. When you platform somebody who has done wrong – even when it’s in the interest of fixing the problem – there are consequences and sensitivities that must come first.

But that isn’t to say the conversation shouldn’t be had. This weekend, we’ll speak to a phycologist and ask those questions. We’ll also hear again from Stephanie Correo, to give the perspective of the victim. Always relevant. Always present.

We need to talk about mistakes. The story of the cargo ship, Ever Given, stuck in the Suez Canal is full of humour, ridiculousness and genuine jeopardy. While they try to dig the ship out of the sand bank it is caught on, it’s holding up billions of pounds worth of goods and cargo. All thanks to good old fashioned human error.

It got me thinking about the art of making mistakes. There is solid science that tells that us making mistakes is one of the best routes to learning, fixing things and being better. It is also inevitable – as sure as life and death itself. So if we can be sure that making mistakes is going to happen – and doing it helps us grow – why do we give ourselves such a hard time?

Have we lost the art of making mistakes? Do we expect everything, and everybody, to be the finished, polished article at the first time of asking? Have we become too fearful or the consequences too great?

All questions that we’ll try and answer on Sunday morning.

We need to talk about Hartlepool. The scene is set for one of the most significant by-elections in recent times. A referendum on Sir Kier Starmer’s progress on winning back ‘Red Wall’ support, and Boris Johnson’s ability to maintain it. All against the backdrop of a pandemic. Polling today suggests it’s tight, with all to play for. This weekend, we’ll speak to a local journalist to get the low down.

And, finally, we need to talk about Deliveroo. The company is set to float on the stock exchange soon, but there is trouble. Several high profile investors have said they won’t take part, citing the ‘ticking bomb’ of workers rights. Deliveroo has long been a poster boy for the gig economy, taking heat from critics and campaigners. Now, the poster is fraying at the edges. Uber, another gig economy poster boy, was recently ordered to make their drivers staff – and the wind seems to be blowing in the same direction for Deliveroo. Could this be the beginning of the end for the gig economy? Business expert Susanna Streeter will join us to figure that one out.

See you in the morning.

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By Darryl Morris

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