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Blogs Coffee House

Revenge porn’s Ukip poster girl highlights the dangers of digital media

28 April 2014

3:00 PM

28 April 2014

3:00 PM

Poor Lizzy Vaid. You’ll recognise her as the poster girl from Ukip’s recent party manifesto, who turned out to be Nigel Farage’s assistant. She’s also just found herself the victim of a vicious sting, after a malevolent ex-boyfriend sent sexually graphic photos of her to The Sun newspaper.

The photos, according to The Sun, were ‘too graphic to reproduce — or even describe’ in print or online. Ambrosia, then, for a sex-obsessed digital audience. The photos have already ended up somewhere else. You may by now recognise Vaid in the nude too.

Has anyone come to her defence? Well, yes — Breitbart, the conservative news website. Milo Yiannopoulos points out on his blog that Vaid has been abandoned by the feminists who’d normally devour this sort of story. In his piece, entitled ‘It’s not “slut shaming revenge porn” if the b*tch votes Ukip’, he criticizes the ‘deafening silence from feminist campaigners and Left-wing columnists of all stripes to this young woman’s cruel ritual humiliation, and the total lack of interest from the liberal media in this country.’ He has a point. So far, there has been relatively little written in defence of Vaid’s situation. As Yiannopoulos writes:

‘When a woman on the Right gets herself into trouble, there’s a sense that—how do I put this delicately?—the bitch had it coming. If you’re a woman, having the temerity to vote Tory—or, shock horror, the unconscionable UKIP—strikes the commentariat as so all-consumingly mystifying that you lose all moral agency and right to protection from the sisterhood.’

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This may well be true. But I imagine it won’t be long before the ‘sisterhood’ turn this thing round and start to protest on her behalf. It would certainly be a good chance for ardent feminists to point out how the movement can rise above the political spectrum. A young, pretty Ukipper in a tight spot seems too good an opportunity to miss.

But it’s the tight spot that worries me. Lizzy Vaid is clearly an ambitious girl – and a bright one too. She’s a mover and shaker. If you disagree with her politics, so be it. But she has done well, and that should be applauded. What shouldn’t be applauded is her dumb decision to allow someone to film her doing something she’d rather not have published on the internet. Was she aware of the cult of revenge porn? Maybe not. She is now. She’s become the poster girl for the dangers of it.

As Freddy Gray has pointed out, there’s a way to avoid this revenge porn: simply don’t do it. Or, if you do, do it in the knowledge that it may one day end up online. ‘If you let somebody film you in flagrante then you may be setting yourself up for a future disgrace. In the digital age, especially, you are dicing with danger,’ said Freddy.

Women have made great progress when it comes to equality. But it can all be toppled so quickly, so sadly, by a couple of steamy photos snapped on an iPhone. As Lizzy Vaid has found, porn and politics rarely mix well. In this digital age, and with battles still to be fought, women must be careful. Best turn the phone off when things get steamy.

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