Susanna Gibson’s losing bid for the Virginia House of Delegates has largely retreated from headlines, as newly elected legislators are sworn in at statehouses around the country. What most people will likely remember about her candidacy, if they remember it at all, is that Gibson was involved in a “sex tape” scandal. The reality is that Gibson was a victim of what is colloquially (and inaccurately) referred to as “revenge porn”—a term that is negatively influencing how this destructive criminal behavior against women is perceived and punished by society.
The term “revenge porn” gives the mistaken impression that the crime should be defined based on whether the perpetrator intended harm. No matter what a perpetrator’s reason for distributing the images, the person depicted is profoundly harmed by their release.