As many as one in three American college students may be visiting so-called “slutpages” — websites, digital groups, or email lists sharing photos of women nude or semi-nude without their consent, a study by researchers at Michigan State University has found.
Based on research conducted at an unnamed “large university” in the US, 10 percent of participants admitted to using a secret photo storing app dedicated to nude images, while 1 in 30 confessed to sharing such images or videos online without the consent of those depicted.
The data pool included 1,867 undergraduate students with an average age of 20. The data was collected as part of a larger study of college students’ sexual behaviors.
Sexual Violence Prevention Education
The authors of the report speculate that these findings could influence the way colleges and universities offer sexual violence prevention education.
“Use of these sites has significant implications for the victims featured on the pages, as previous research indicates that victims of non-consensual pornography distribution experience post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression” corresponding author Megan Maas said.
She continues by saying that because these sites are semi-private, it’s hard to regulate them. However, “as they are often linked to specific high schools or universities, campus-specific interventions could be used to deter their use,” Maas said.
Who Visits Sites, Shares Photos Most
The study found that younger, male students were more likely to engage in non-consensual photo sharing than either older or female participants.
College males who belonged to fraternities posted non-consensual nude videos or images online more than men who did not belong to fraternities, girls who belonged to sororities, and girls who did not belong to sororities.
Men who played college team sports visited and posted more often than college men who did not play team sports, women who played team sports, and women who did not play team sports.
The researchers cautioned that the study focused on this behavior at only one large university.
However, Maas cautioned that the study nevertheless indicates that slutpages seem to be a social form of image-based sexual abuse.
“The finding that male participants involved in fraternities or sports teams visited these sites and posted nude images and video online without consent more frequently than male participants outside these groups, or female participants in general, indicates that use of such sites could be motivated by a desire for some men to communicate and connect with their male peers,” she said.
“Our findings suggest that sexual violence prevention education offered by universities should include discussions of these sites in order to address problematic attitudes that objectify women and justify sexual violence.”