An alleged sex tape of India Love was recently “released” to the public in which she was engaging sexually with another woman. The issue here is the fact that our society is heavily invested within sexual violence, so much so that we as a culture feel entitled to have access to celebrities’ sexual exploits and experiences, especially when they’re on film.
Anyone that takes a private sex tape or private sexual photos and “releases” it without consent is a sexual predator. Often, people find it necessary to do this to celebrity figures aside from the monetary exploitation (which is still operating through sexual violence + capitalism). For example, some exploit and violate celebrities under the premise that: a) being a celebrity means you signed up for an invasion of privacy and humanity, b) sex tapes are public property because “you shouldn’t have made it if you didn’t want it to be seen,” or c) sex tapes relegate you to a sexual deviancy that eliminates your humanity and presumed purity. The idea of a celebrity is a spectacle, which means they are property is violence. And this premise allows for the intersection of sexual exploitation and dehumanization of celebrities to collide.
Revenge porn is also along these lines of rape culture and a society built upon sexual violence. “Revenge porn is the sexually explicit portrayal of one or more people distributed without their consent via any medium. The sexually explicit images or video may be made by a partner of an intimate relationship with the knowledge and consent of the subject, or it may be made without his or her knowledge.” Acts such as “revenge porn” or hackers breaking into celebrities’ devices to find their most private pictures and videos are forms of sexual abuse. The reality is that we must understand how trauma, power and sexual abuse operate in order to detox our culture from the normalization of rape and sexual violence.
India Love is being dragged, abused and slut-shamed on the internet because of a video of her engaging in a consensual act with a partner. Aside from the questioning around who the other woman is, the interrogation around her sexuality, her morality and her humanity are far more prevalent to that of the dominant cultural gaze right now.
The reaffirmation that as black women and femmes, our bodies are not ours — they’re always public property. Additionally, India Love is only 19. She’s literally a teenager experiencing this level of antiblack misogynistic violence.
Interestingly, India is the same age as Kylie Jenner. Their trajectory and their public scrutiny (and protection) are vastly different. During the time when Kylie Jenner and Tyga’s relationship was at its most public, there was an overwhelming amount of backlash that Tyga received for being a pedophile and a predator. This wasn’t necessarily in defense of ending sexual abuse, but rather through the lens of protecting a white girl from a black man (which is also the basis of how the KKK was founded). But when India Love was openly dating The Game at age 18, there was only speculation around her hoe-ness and gold-digging motives. There was no outcry for her protection or for her safety.
Similarly, when a form of sexual violence and exploitation happened to Leslie Jones and Jill Scott, there was a lack of outcry about the sexual violence behind hacking into their personal devices to release nude pictures of them non-consensually. Specifically because black dark skin, tall women or a black fat women are not afforded humanity through the white gaze — especially when it comes to sexual violence.
What we can take away from this is that India Love deserves privacy and her humanity. We cannot continue to participate within a culture of sexual violence, and ultimately rape culture. We condone this violence when we watch it, or when we pass it around. We condone rape culture when we blame the act of creating private sexual videos rather than those seeking to exploit and expose our bodies, our right to private sexual desires/acts and our right to exist without being violated.
Ashleigh Shackelford is a queer, nonbinary Black fat femme writer, artist and cultural producer. Ashleigh is a contributing writer at Wear Your Voice Magazine and For Harriet. Read more at BlackFatFemme.com.