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Irish "Revenge Porn" Ring Exposes the Complicity of Liberal Feminism

Advocates for the online sex industry have been normalizing a culture of abuse

Sinéad Linden

Last week, The Victims Alliance, an Irish advocacy and lobbying group headed by Linda Hayden, exposed a massive online revenge porn ring of about 500 men on the popular chat application Discord. Users were exchanging nude photos of young women and girls shared without their permission, often taken from other social media accounts or OnlyFans. The Victims Alliance claimed that over 11,000 images were uncovered in their investigation of this Discord server. The Victims Alliance also asserted that the vast majority of these images are of Irish women.

In the aftermath of the scandal, many Irish men and women took to Twitter to express their disgust and shock.

While I relate to the rage and disgust directed at perverts who share pictures of women without their consent, I can’t say I understand where the shock and disbelief are coming from. These cases aren't a rarity. So-called “revenge-porn” cases like these have been heavily reported in the media ever since the tragic suicide of Amanda Todd, the 15-year-old Canadian who was bullied and blackmailed online when a topless video of her was published to Facebook. The stories have only increased due to the surge of cases during lockdown. There have also been many academic studies on the matter, one of which found that one in three people are victims of revenge porn, or, as it’s become known, “image-based sexual abuse,” to reflect the more complicated nature of the crime. In fact, non-consensual image sharing spread through Discord, specifically has been publicized since 2018.

I can confidently say I have never met a woman who hasn't either been a victim herself or known a victim of image-based sexual abuse. The perpetrators of this form of abuse are usually men or boys, most often a former male partner. This is no surprise—guys readily admit it. When several male classmates in my college course drunkenly and nonchalantly confessed that they frequently exchange girl's nudes, they made sure to let us know that it's "just a lad thing."

I refuse to pretend that anybody, of my generation at least, is "shocked" by this.

What bothers me most is the men stepping forth to declare themselves different from all of those other mean, sexist men and having the audacity to make proclamations of disbelief and horror at the situation. It is not just the blatant dishonesty about their surprise that irks me, but also the fact that this outrage seems to be reserved only for the "revenge porn" that they themselves don't have access to.

Some twitter users and even popular public figures such as Irish author, Louise O'Neill, responded to the situation by stating that the fact these men were getting off on revenge porn instead of commercial porn was evidence that their motive was to humiliate, degrade and cause harm as opposed to just seeing naked bodies. But if revenge porn can be defined as being about humiliating, degrading and causing harm to women, then all porn qualifies as revenge porn. Themes of rape and violence are extremely common in mainstream porn as is the fetishization of minors, incest and racism. There are even popular categories dedicated to female suffering like ‘Painal’.

Is it not obvious that this is about a lot more than nakedness? Pornography is and always has been about the eroticization of female subordination.  

Countless women have spoken out about the abuse they have endured in the porn industry in order to cater to the depravity of men. There have been several cases of women and girls being abused by all of the most popular porn companies. This includes Brazzers, who facilitated the the rape of August Ames and Nikki Benz; BangBros who coerced a 15-year-old girl into featuring in a porno; and Pornhub, who partnered a trafficking organization and profited from the rape of several minors such as Rose Kalemba.

“Do we see ourselves as a separate class from these women? We are women and they are porneia?”


So why aren’t men taking to Twitter and Instagram to express their horror at Brazzers? Where are all the outraged liberal men boycotting the porn industry? Why aren't these men up in arms, condemning their favorite mainstream porn sites not only for fetishizing rape, sex trafficking, child sex abuse and revenge porn but for facilitating and profiting from footage of the real thing?

If men are so content to watch and support the worst forms of violation and debasement being done unto women in pornography, what makes us think they wouldn't harbor the same sentiment for the rest of us? Do we see ourselves as a separate class from these women? We are women and they are porneia?

By mentally separating ourselves from “those” women—the women who “want it,” we attempt to mentally protect ourselves from the fear that men see us the same way. But this distinction is false—not only because it is dehumanizing to women in the sex industry, but because men sure as hell are not making any such distinction. That’s not only made evident by the unceasing pressure they put on women and girls for nudes, but also how they routinely coerce women into unwanted pornified sex acts, often with zero consideration for her enjoyment or well being. Porn is the training ground where boys and men learn how to sexually abuse women and girls, and where women and girls learn to submit.

Women Are Being Trained by Porn to Like Degrading, Violent, Male-centered Sex
Don’t be fooled - porn sex doesn’t benefit women.

While the “surprise” from men has left me annoyed, the surprise from women, especially those who subscribe to liberal feminist ideology, has me baffled.

Third wave liberal feminist rhetoric has been instrumental in fostering the unbridled male sexual entitlement to which we are currently bearing witness. Third wave feminism is often considered the backlash to the women’s liberation movement. The second-wave, radical analysis of sexual exploitation, rape and heterosexual sexual practices has been rubbished by liberal feminists as sex-negative moralizing. Young women are dissuaded from even entertaining it lest they be branded as a prude, a kink-shamer or a “SWERF” (sex-worker exclusionary radical feminist).

In place of feminist analysis which puts women’s interest first, liberal feminists have relentlessly propagated the myth that women can be liberated and our sexuality reclaimed, through willful and active participation in patriarchal institutions like prostitution and pornography. They believe that so long as a woman consents to something it is inherently empowering and feminist.

Much of this discourse has centered around this very pretense: apparently, men objectifying and bonding through making degrading remarks about these women was only wrong because they hadn't been granted permission to do so. Consent is used by liberal feminists and men alike as a means of shutting down any attempt to unpack the context and impact of practices that reinforce male supremacy and women's reasons for participating. For example, we are told that it's fine for men to inflict violence against a woman so long as she consents and he calls it a kink. This narrative has been disastrous for women and has lead to men avoiding adequate punishment for raping and even murdering women. While radical feminists condemn this practice as a form of misogynistic violence that causes real life harm, liberal feminists opt to disregard this critique and deem it “shaming.” This non-logic is applied to the sex industry too.

“If Onlyfans is adult content creation rather than sexual exploitation, then the leaking of that content is nothing more than a simple copyright violation. ”


Several women had content leaked from their Onlyfans account and sent into the Discord server. Many people condemned the leaking as wrong and violating. I’m in agreement. I'm also dismayed at the failure to understand that any man who pays for access to a pornographic Onlyfans account has already exposed himself as a misogynist who gets off on women being sexually exploited. The people who don't understand this argue that the difference between a man who subscribes to an Onlyfans and doesn't leak the content versus a man who does, is that the former respects her consent. What nonsense.

The whole point of Onlyfans is that men don't need consent or mutual attraction to gain access to a woman's naked body. They merely need enough spare change to be able to circumvent a woman's consent, attraction and boundaries. Women have no choice as to who accesses their pictures or videos and often due to circumstance, no real choice in what they do in those pictures or videos. The power to choose lies with the men. Obviously these women did not want creepy losers who steal their pictures to subscribe to the account but as the "creator" what she wants is irrelevant. The creepy loser wanted access, he paid for it, he got it. Men subscribe to Onlyfans accounts for the exact same reason they leak pictures of their exes. It is an exercise of control, domination and humiliation.

Besides, surely likening an Onlyfans leak to so-called revenge porn is in direct opposition with the "sex work" stance. If Onlyfans is adult content creation rather than sexual exploitation, then the leaking of that content is nothing more than a simple copyright violation.

“Liberal feminism has totally condoned men's use of women as fuck objects.”


The incessant efforts to sanitize porn as something that empowers women have been futile. The fact remains that porn is a tool used by men to punish, threaten, and terrorize women. There is no liberation for women found in systems designed to bolster male superiority through the reinforcement of female inferiority.

I'm truly perplexed at how women who have aided in cultivating the exact attitudes required to participate in revenge porn, don't recognize their complicity. It's liberal feminists who have supported men's right to coerce women in prostitution into unwanted sex, to wank to footage of women enduring painful degrading sex and to flick pennies at women wearing ridiculous, uncomfortable attire and humping poles in strip clubs for their entertainment.

Liberal feminism has totally condoned men's use of women as fuck objects.

If we really care about the well-being of women and girls, then we mustn't allow this discourse to be perverted into a conversation about good men vs. bad men as opposed to the systemic cultural phenomenon of male supremacy that it really is. In order to get to the root of this issue we need to be able to ask: why are men doing this to women? What about our culture teaches men to treat women this way? Where does the entitlement come from? We need to acknowledge the inextricable link between the sex industry and rape culture and how all men are complicit. We can't allow the invaluable analysis of our second wave sisters (you know, those evil wenches responsible for the criminalization of marital rape and silly things like that?) to be smeared and disposed of. Revenge porn is not just a sleight that some mean men commit against some women purely due to their own, individual, apparently innate sexism. This is a symptom of a culture that looks upon women and girls as things that exist purely for the consumption, comfort, and entertainment of men.

To end these abuses of women, we need to upend male-female relations as they currently exist all together.

What we need is radical feminism. Not the defanged, embarrassing bastardization of feminism that colluded, perhaps unwittingly, with patriarchy in nurturing the very environment that allows this kind of misogyny to thrive.

sex positivitysex industrychild sexual abusefeminisminternetliberal feminismMale Violencemisogynypornrapesexual assaultsexual harassmentsexualitysex work

Sinéad Linden

24, Irish, radical feminist.