Revenge Pornography Weekly Update: Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian Revenge Porn Case

Revenge pornography legislation changes on a week-by-week basis. We will be tracking these updates, as well as notable progress made in revenge pornography cases, and sharing them weekly in this space. We'll be starting off with a few highlights from past weeks.

10 July 2017

Last week, celebrity Rob Kardashian posted a series of nude photos of his partner, Blac Chyna, on Instagram and Twitter. In these posts, he accused her of infidelity, claiming that she started sleeping with other men after the birth of their child. Instagram promptly deleted the photos, so Kardashian moved to Twitter until he was similarly banned there. In the posts, he ridiculed Chyna’s body, including accusing her of being misshapen.

Black Chyna opened up in The Daily Beast about her shock and pain in response. “I was devastated, of course. I’m like, how could somebody, like, post these pictures of me?” she said. “And I’m like ‘Wow, okay.’ This is a person that I trusted. I confided. I felt comfortable, you know, with even sending these pictures and even talking to him about certain things, you know… I just felt … betrayed.”

This feeling of betrayal of trust is common among victims of revenge porn. Indeed, Kardashian’s actions amount to an archetypal revenge porn offense. Revenge porn is, furthermore, illegal in California. If convicted under criminal law, Kardashian could be found guilty of a misdemeanor and sentenced to six months in jail. Chyna could also sue Kardashian under California’s civil revenge porn statute. California is one of the few states that provides a civil remedy to victims of revenge porn that allows them to sue perpetrators without necessarily needing to prove that a criminal offense has occurred.

As Emma Grey Ellis, however, points out in Wired, the media response to this case has been different and less sympathetic than to those involving white celebrities like Mischa Barton and Jennifer Lawrence. We should not consider the pain of women of color to be lesser than that of white women. Instead, we should effectively enforce anti-revenge porn laws to help all women maintain control over their bodies and images.