Hillary Clinton did a townhall yesterday with online content creators, during which she was asked a question about creating federal law to address revenge porn. The question, asked by Chrissy Chambers, a young woman who herself was a victim of revenge porn, was great, and so was Clinton's answer.
Chambers: Hi, my name is Chrissy Chambers, and I run a YouTube channel with my beautiful girlfriend Bria Kam, and in 2015 I came out as one of the first public figures who was a victim of revenge porn, and, ever since, have been trying to pursue justice for myself, as well as other victims. Currently, I'm pursuing the first civil lawsuit in the United Kingdom against revenge porn.I love this so much.
But, unfortunately, we do not yet have a revenge porn law here in the United States. Thirty-four states have laws, but there's no federal law criminalizing revenge porn. And I would like to know, when you're President, what you will do to ensure that there is a federal law passed so that justice can be pursued—and gotten for victims like myself, where the videos and the links still are online to this day, but because there's no law, there's nothing that I can do—and perpetrators can be held accountable for sexual assault and digital privacy invasion, and end this horrible crime that ruins so many people's lives, and almost ruined mine.
Clinton: First, let me say thank you. You are really brave. And standing up, speaking out, and taking action against the kind of [long pause; disgusted look] behavior that you have experienced is so important, and I really thank you for that. And I will do everything I can as President to try to figure out how we can give victims like you the tools you need—and the rest of society should support—to be able to protect yourself, and, by doing so, protect others.
I will really look to all of you [gestures to the audience] because the bullying online, revenge porn, the kind of cyberstalking that is all too common ruins lives. It leads people to lose their confidence, their belief in themselves; to go into depression; and, in some cases, kill themselves.
The internet, and what you all do as creators, is such a gift. It had provided— I know from the little bit of information I have in the briefing, some of you have kept people alive—because you have been able to communicate with a person who was bullied; or a young person who was struggling with their sexuality and feeling all alone; and you were able to give that person a sense of survival and a feeling they weren't by themselves.
So I know that many of you have used your channels, your outreach, in really positive ways—as role models, as intervenors in some instances, to help. So you have to help me figure out: How do we keep the best of everything you're doing and everything that the internet means— And, yeah, is there going to be bad stuff and nasty stuff and rotten things that are said? I am Exhibit A. I am an expert in this. So yes, I know that. But when it crosses a line, when it becomes so threatening, so dangerous, we have to stop it.
So I will do whatever I can to try to help you and help others who have spoken out—because you're strong enough not to let yourself remain a victim. A lot of people aren't, and so we've got to help you help them. And I will certainly do everything I can to bring that about.
I love it because I know that when Clinton says she's going to do everything she can to make this happen, she means it.
I love it because she doesn't say that she has all the answers, but says that she's going to be listening to the people who are in it every day to come up with a meaningful solution.
I love it because she takes the question as seriously as it needs to be taken.
I love it because she is willing to connect her own personal experience to the experiences of people who are harmed by abusers on the internet, which is just a whole other level of validating our experiences.
And I love it because, as you know, I absolutely loathe unilateral dismissals of the internet as terrible, and it means so much to me that she recognizes there are people using the internet to forge connections and build community and help each other in such profound ways.
[Because I know some of you will be curious about her phrasing when she says, "You're strong enough not to let yourself remain a victim. A lot of people aren't, and so we've got to help you help them," let me just note that it is a little awkwardly phrased, but I feel confident—as someone who has researched and listened to Clinton so much that my speech previews now look like I can read her mind, lol—that what she means is essentially what I said here, which is that some of us are fortunate enough to have the right support at the right time to become someone who has the fortitude to stand up publicly against abuse, and that she wants to help empower us to then be the support for other people who aren't so lucky. And I am definitely on board with that!]