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Dr. Joanne Paul- MBBS (UWI), FRCPCH (UK), FRCP (Edin)


So, I am somewhere above 40 years old, a good and solid Generation X. It is a good place to be since I am the middle generation, and I could appreciate and understand both the older generation of baby boomers and the younger Generation Y and Z. In a few short years between my mother’s generation and my nephews and nieces, although some things have remained the same, a multitude of things are very different. One is definitely the advent of the sex tape.

In my mother’s time when she was in her twenties, people were excited about landlines and colour TV. A serious courting ritual was going to a local dance and really dancing and showing some moves. There was no thought about using a camera to make a sex tape. One would have had to use actual film and transfer the reel to another person or use VHS to tape. In my Generation X time there were smart phones and cameras, but the selfie culture was not yet fully formed. One would instead have memories that one would share with close friends to see their wide eyed or disappointed looks.

Sex tapes were thought to be at another level, for bored persons with lots of time and disposable incomes. In fact, the first official celebrity sex tape scandal was with Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. It seems the electrician who came to do renovations found and stole the sex tape and released it online without permission. The rules of private property with sex tapes was not as clear then and although Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee sued, they never got back any major monies and the sex tape was never retracted after it had been seen by numerous viewers. Thereafter we had Kim Kardashian and Ray J who probably leaked their own tape to get publicity. But from then the stable door was opened and the public sex tape was born.

This present-day environment though is the realm of easily leaked videos and pictures. Having a sex tape on your phone or another device, has inherent risks of being leaked. It can be when one goes to fix their phones. Of in the middle of the night mistakes can be made when the person is drunk and either they share the video as their status by mistake or they send it to the wrong person. Then there is the revenge porn where it is saved and shared after the couple have broken up just to embarrass the other person in the relationship. Or deliberate sharing to friends after a dare or to show one’s ability to the pack. Having these sex tapes available are a constant risk and threat of a leak. And when it is leaked there is no turning back. Things stay online forever once you dig deep enough. And if it is sent on your status by mistake or sent to another person by mistake it is shared before one can say, ‘aye what de jail’.

One has to first ask why persons make sex tapes knowing the risks of leakage. There are four groups in this, I think. The first are the ones who do it with consent as a couple. It is done especially when the couple are bored and want to spice things up. Generally, the theories suggest it is an extension of the selfie. It is thought that humans are primarily narcissists and self erotism is part of the motivation of making a sex tape, narcissism at its best where you could go back and watch yourself over and over again. Some say it increases the couple’s emotional and sexual connection although I am not sure about that.

The other significant group are the ones who do not know they are being filmed until the tape is leaked. I of course had to do some recon with my younger generations to find out more about this. What they explained is that the guy may lie to say he just has the camera light on to see what the girl is doing, and he may not disclose he is actually filming. Or as in other cases the camera is hidden or the phone is propped up facing the couple, with one of them unawares. A few years ago, one of my medicine classmates was arrested in UK for non-consensual taping of women during sex. The case that got him convicted was when he used glasses fitted with a secret camera to film himself having sex with a student nurse. She eventually discovered the footage of herself and other women in an apartment and went to the police. He had nearly 100 videos of himself using his spy glasses. He had a pair of digital glasses and a hidden key fob so he could have gotten multiple views. A key fob is a small handheld remote-controlled device like what you would use for your car. These hidden camera devices are easily available online. Trust is such a thin, fragile, easily broken line and this rabbit hole of secret taping is scary, murky, and shocking. There are now a multitude of types of hidden recording devices. It is our present reality. Be careful with your trust.

Part 2 next week!

Dr Joanne F Paul is a Lecturer, a Paediatric Emergency Specialist, and a member of TEL institute

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