So, if you’re any part of wrestling communities online, it was pretty hard to avoid something this weekend, and that was the discussion surrounding leaked photographs and videos of Paige. To give you warning, this will discuss who else is apparently part of these images, so it would be best to avoid reading if you don’t want to know and haven’t already found out thanks to the wonders of the internet and their inability to keep quiet about things. As it is, I won’t tag their names into this. Keep in mind, all of my information on this comes from hearsay and rumour. I have not viewed any of the images in question, and nor will I.
If you’re anything like me, your social media erupted with people immediately saying that if those pictures or videos were seen circulating, they’d be blocking whoever sent them, or had them in their tweets. And then there were the other people, who were making jokes about them, or gleefully talking about how this was the golden age for wanking to pictures of celebrities.
Firstly – revenge porn is illegal in 34 states of America, and in the UK. And revenge porn is defined as sharing sexual images or videos of a person without their consent. It seems pretty obvious that this would be illegal, but until a few years ago, it wasn’t. There was no word for this. Since then, celebrity hacking scandals and deaths due to suicide of people whose images have gone public have meant that we’ve had to put a law in place to stop this disgusting practice.
Paige tweeted that the images were real, and had been shared without her consent. Her mother, Saraya Knight, also tweeted that her daughter’s privacy had been invaded, and they were supporting her. The men in the video, current WWE employee Xavier Woods and former WWE employee Brad Maddox, have not made statements about their involvement, unless we count Xavier saying ‘delete your Twitter’ at the SXSW Gaming Awards over the weekend – as Brad Maddox did, in fact, do.
And this is how it goes. Men get to make jokes about these sorts of things, but women rarely do. Messages sent to Paige – and I only glimpsed, rather than following that rabbit hole all the way down – included calling her a slut, saying she should be fired, and telling her she should be ashamed. All the while these same people were tweeting about how many times they’d masturbated to the images in question. If we look at Tom Phillips’ recent situation, with sexual messages, and later nude images, being shared, or Seth Rollins, who also had nude images shared, there’s a juxtaposition that’s very uncomfortable. Men, who make up a majority audience for WWE (although probably at a lower percentage than they think), believe that women deserve to be punished for being sexual, while men deserve to be praised for it.
I thought hard about writing this, because, as the title says, it’s not a story. This isn’t about wrestling, it’s got nothing to do with that, but wrestling sites are sharing this information, and talking about the images, and creating a buzz around it, because it involves someone who wrestles. I didn’t want to be a part of that, but there have been rumours, from some who claim to be the hackers, via anonymous comments, that these were just the first WWE images to be leaked. Already, there have been rumours of Summer Rae having pictures leaked, although these appear to be faked, from what I’ve heard.
But the message I want to give with this piece is: don’t look for these images. Don’t search for them, don’t look at them, don’t take an interest in them. Feel sympathy for those involved, maybe send a message of support, but don’t joke about it, don’t talk about it like it’s amusing, and don’t view the images. Whatever else might come out of this, whoever else these hackers claim to leak pictures of, don’t go looking. The people who do this are not only trying to shame those involved, but also believe that most people are like them, and will find these images titillating, despite being seen without consent. Don’t give them the satisfaction. And for fuck’s sake, complain if we get jokes about it tonight on Raw.
It’s not a story. It’s not a hilarious anecdote. It’s a crime, a horrible invasion of privacy, and not something you should want to be part of.