The Dilemma of Páll Óskar and Digital Sexual Violence

OPINION By Jono Duffy Ok, so if you haven’t heard the news because you aren’t completely fluent in Icelandic, or have been too busy watching volcano porn I can break it down for you.

Openly gay Icelandic superstar, Páll Óskar, sent consensual images of himself to a guy on Grindr. The guy he sent the pictures to then began distributing them. To own the situation, in possibly the most ‘boss’ move you could potentially make, Palli decided to just release the images himself online.

Now that you’re up to date on it all, I have some things to say about it.

I know Páll Óskar. Not only have I collaborated with him and directed music videos for him, but he is also a friend and one of the first gay friends I made when I moved to Iceland.

His response to this situation is entirely on-brand with the man that I know and that we all love. Palli is kind; Palli is considerate. Palli is friendly to everyone even when he doesn’t need to be because that’s who he is. Palli is also not ashamed of himself or sex.

When I first saw the pictures he released on Facebook, I actually said out loud, “Damn Girl! Good for you!” Mostly because I don’t have a stomach as flat as that in my mid-30s, and Palli is in his 50s (he famously doesn’t drink, so perhaps that’s something I might try from now on).

All jokes aside, it’s a power move to own the situation like he did, but it makes me sad because, in reality, he shouldn’t have had to. Páll Óskar shared private images of himself with another man online consensually but did not give permission for those images to be shared with other people.

“Páll Óskar isn’t ashamed of himself or his sex life and completely owned the situation here but make no mistakes, Páll Óskar is the victim of a crime.”

In case you aren’t aware, the distribution of personal images without the consent of the person or people in the images is now illegal in Iceland. It’s part of a law introduced to the Icelandic parliament in February of this year to combat Digital Sexual Violence.

If you are unfamiliar with this term, Digital Sexual Violence is sometimes referred to as ‘non-consensual pornography.’ probably the most common example of this is revenge porn.

If you are reading this and thinking, ‘well, maybe people should think twice before they send images to each other online,’ you sound like the kind of person who would ask a rape victim what they were wearing. I’m honestly surprised you read this far down, but hop off on your way, and I’ll get back to the article.

This law was put in place to respond to a cultural shift we have experienced in the last few years. Sending nudes happens. It can be a fun and exciting thing when you are flirting with someone online, and provided it’s consensual, it’s a normal part of dating for many people, especially gay men. This law notes the situation and says, “Yeah, we get it, people are gonna send nudes to each other, but we’re not gonna blame and shame the sender if the person who consensually received these nudes decides to distribute them.”

So let’s take a moment to unpack that for a second.

Páll Óskar isn’t ashamed of himself or his sex life and completely owned the situation here but make no mistakes, Páll Óskar is the victim of a crime.

Now let’s move on to the point I would like to make about the whole situation. How would Palli have found out about the images being sent around? He would have been alerted by someone who saw them.

“If you are reading this and thinking, ‘well, maybe people should think twice before they send images to each other online,’ you sound like the kind of person who would ask a rape victim what they were wearing.”

We know this country is small and so is the gay male community. So we all know that there’s a bunch of people who saw, asked to see or were shown those images and didn’t tell Palli or let the person sharing them know that this was wrong.

It’s also very likely that someone is reading this opinion piece right now who fits into that category. If that is the case, I would like you to know that you are part of the problem.

When you see something like this happen and do nothing to stop it, or at least let the person in the images know that this is happening, you’re making a statement.

You’re stating that people should be ashamed of themselves, their bodies and the fact that they are sexual beings. Don’t be that person; everyone should hate that person; that person is a dick.

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