Recently, several friends of mine have had nude or sexy pictures of themselves which were posted online used in ways to which they did not consent. In both situations I felt a sense of defensiveness/protectiveness for my friends, and outrage that someone would do this. Leave my friends alone!!! Stop perpetuating bullshit!!
I also felt a little head desk about the whole posting naked pictures online thing – in my mind I was thinking that maybe my friends shouldn’t have posted those pictures of themselves. Or that since they had, they should expect the shitty reaction from the rest of the world. You know, the old patriarchical/rape culture mindset of ‘asking for it’. In many ways I thought to myself, the best way to assure that your nudes aren’t used against you at work, or by an ex, or whatever is to simply not produce nude photos.What the hell self, why are these thoughts ones that even pass through my mind? WHY!!!??
I totally recognize this mindset as fucked up, consider myself a feminist, and yet still will have this crap pop up in my head. I’ve gotten pretty good at calling it out internally before it even has a chance to possibly hurt people. But it pisses me off that it is so difficult to shake this crap idea. There is a ton of unlearning necessary to move beyond the patriarchical, racist, transphobic, etc. world we come from. Part of this unlearning is calling each other out in a loving way, and responding to being called out in a non-defensive loving way. This is something I am always working on, because I am always making mistakes.
When I can slow my roll, and reflect in a calmer way on these issues, I believe 100% that I want to live in a world where we can take nudes without fear of exploitation, where we will have enough respect for each other that we can build a beautiful, consensual culture. I don’t want myself and my friends to have to worry before posting nudes, wearing certain outfits, showing affection to our lovers in public, etc. Liberation won’t be fulfilled until we can do those things and more without fear.
We should be able to take nude pictures for fun, for foreplay, for friends, for lovers, for art, for identity expression, for self esteem, etc. and in no way does the existence of nude pictures make it even vaguely okay for anyone else to take them out of context and use them for objectification, exploitation, bullying, harassment, teasing, chastising, etc.
My friends Crista Anne and Val have this great birthday tradition of getting people to send pictures of them in their birthday suits to Val on his birthday. And its a beautiful reminder of how liberating and fun and amazing our bodies can be. We need more nudes in that context. Nudes of real bodies on real people. Just being how we are. I think it is a wonderful way to get beyond Hollywood, photoshop, and commercial porn constructs of bodies. Our bodies are the most natural thing, and it really ought not be a big deal to share them when we want to.
When people post nudes online, or text them to someone, those pictures come in a particular context and are for a particular purpose. All to be decided upon/chosen by the person in the pictures.
It violates consent and bodily autonomy to use people’s nude pics in ways outside of their intentions*.
The tendency to victim blame for nude pictures pops up on at the national level as well, like when celebrities have nude photos hacked and leaked online. That shit is not okay, and no one should look at those pictures when this leaks happen. Often, the victim blaming comes with a heavy dose of slut shaming about someone having taken nude pictures in the first place. Which is just incredibly out of line. Slut shaming is always out of line.
There are serious potential consequences when someone takes another person’s nude pics out of context. Slut shaming and objectifying have strong connections to potential violence, abuse, and rape culture. This can be more risky if the pictures out someone as queer, trans*, or into a particular fetish or kink. Taking into account the ways that certain groups of marginalized people face a disproportionate amount of violence is another major reason to need to avoid non consensual objectification. People of Color are often objectified in really racist ways, and Trans* people are objectified in transphobic ways. Additionally, people might lose their jobs, face domestic violence from partners, and more if their nudes are shared in ways to which they did not consent.
Basically, when you see naked pictures of people you know, or people on the celebrity level, think very critically before you share them online, show them to others, talk about them in a derogatory way etc. And by think critically- I mean don’t. Sure, they’ve put it online. But that does not mean they want people who are not their friends or contacts on different sites to have access to the photos. Get basic – put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if you had nude pictures and then people started passing them around to your coworkers, or strangers. Not good is my guess. Its simply not good manners yall.
Thanks for reading, thanks for existing, thanks for everything you to to check yourself and call out those around you, thanks for the nudes (duh), here’s one for all yall!
Happy late Birthday Val! Love you!!
Psych, no nudes, I am trying to get a job
* Side note – don’t send unsolicited nudes to people. But an unsolicited nude isn’t consent to make fun of someone publicly either. Thats a tricky one. But end of the day, we shouldn’t be doing work to make anyone feel bad about their bodies- whether they have a neck beard or whatever. If they fucked up, that’s what we call them on, not on crap that serves the capitalist, patriarchical, racist, body image machine.