Chapter 11: Defining the legal lines: E-girls and intimate images – Shaheen Shariff and Ashley DeMartini


Shariff and De Martini explore the meaning of sexualized violence in cases where sexts are distributed without consent in order to attack a girl’s reputation. They place the issues within three broader trends: the misogynist backlash against girls and women who use networked technologies to challenge online sexual violence; the gendered meanings attributed to the harms associated with the non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well as notions of responsibility and culpability; and the reactive response of legislators and educators. Their analysis reinforces Fairbairn’s claims that online sexualized violence typically implicates misogynist discourses about victim-blaming and male privilege. Empirical data from the Define the Legal Line Project illustrates how easily young people can internalize these discourses, especially given the punitive approach that policymakers and educators are using to address the issues. They argue that policymakers should instead proactively address systemic factors such as rape culture and misogyny, and use education to help young people decode the discriminatory messages around them and interact with ways that are respectful of and empathetic to others.