September 18, 2019 | 65° F

WANG: We must have serious consequences for violations of privacy


Opinions Column: A Third Person Perspective


Recently, the United States Marine Corps has been under scrutiny over the issue of leaked nude photos within their Facebook group, Marines United. United States Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller has addressed this issue by stating that an examination would proceed in order to identify this “subculture” that allowed United States Marines to post nude photos of their peers without consent.

Neller’s addressing of this entire issue, using the word “subculture,” is unfortunately, a gross underestimation of the entire situation at hand. Is it too much for the people to ask — no, was it too much for female Marines to ask — for their males peers to have the decency to not share their nude photos?

This idea of a “subculture” that makes the exchanging of private nude photos a permissible act does not fully encompass the severity of this issue. The issue is that these Marines are supposed to uphold some semblance of integrity. This choice and this ability to exchange a nude photo of a woman and contribute to this mass and perverse exchange of leaked photos is the Marine’s complete inability to respect human beings. The irony in the complete failure to abide by a sense of integrity has unfortunately involved the culture that we face in America. This issue of cyberbullying is no longer exclusive to teenagers and broken-hearted, distraught exes who leak nude photos of their partners as revenge — the United States Marine Corps is actively contributing to this kind of behavior. This sense of human decency has disintegrated (or one could even question if it even existed in the first place) because this type of behavior is simply not being held accountable by anybody.

Unfortunately, this issue of this grotesque normalization of such behavior towards women has been an issue since 2013, in which this incredible oversight and lack of concern for female Marines has evolved into recent catastrophe since nobody was held accountable. What does this inability to take care of our women that are fighting for our country and rights say about our concern and ability to protect their rights? Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) asserted to Neller the idea that, “If we can't crack Facebook, how are we supposed to be able to confront Russian aggression and cyberhacking throughout our military?"

That’s exactly where Gillibrand reveals the entirety of the failure of this investigation. This incapability of the United States Marine Corps to follow out on the cyber harassment that compromises the safety of their own is not about the lack of technical ability to find those responsible for this degradation. In fact, some of these Marines not only exchanged nude photos with their peers, but even contributed to writing sexually aggressive comments about their female peers online. Once again, it’s never been about the difficulties regarding how to find those who should be held responsible. Rather, it’s about this undeniable challenge that every single woman in the Marine Corps has to face — the blatant and outright ignorance and incompetence of Gen. Robert Neller. Neller’s vocalization and attempt to heed this task force to look for the causation of this mess in order to protect female Marines better in the future is only a glaring example of why he’s already failed those who have been victimized. When he refers to protecting women better in the future, is this term "future” synonymous with the incidents regarding 2013 that should have already been dealt with? Why can’t he promise the protection and the serving of justice for all the women involved now, instead of attempting to prevent something that should have been dealt with when the issues arose?

This issue of leaked photos is no sensation to the internet. Women have had to adopt a guarded mindset in regards to their privacy and safety, almost as if there is a certain expectation and inevitableness in regards to the sharing of private photos. Unfortunately, many people, including the Marines, haven’t been able to prove any sort of behavior otherwise. Of course, there’s always the other side of the argument, in which women should never have such trust in their partners as to send a private photo. However, it’s that kind of faulty logic being placed onto victims that spirals into blame without addressing the real issue. The real takeaway here, in which we get to see the cyberbullying in mass effect within our own government, is that no real consequences are being placed on those intentionally violating privacy. We have officially embodied a culture that is incredibly lacking in its ability and desire to protect not just women, but any victim of a nude photo leaked, especially if it’s inconvenient to do so.

Ashley Wang is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in English and minoring in philosophy. Her column, "A Third Person Perspective," runs on alternate Thursdays.


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Ashley Wang

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