Stop shaming people for taking nudes
‘Be safe’, women are told constantly. Nude photos are just one area where it’s women who are policed. By and large, organisations designed to protect and empower women and young people say that if we really must send nudes then do it safely and do it with people we trust. There are several flaws with this argument though.
Most abuse actually happens by people close to the victim. Abusive men get in positions of trust by pretending to be the nice guy, often for remarkable periods of time, and then abuse. It’s impossible to spot an abuser. In most circumstances, women won’t know that someone is going to leak their nudes before it’s already been done.
However, nudes are not something that should be spoken about through gritted teeth. Why can’t nudes be embraced? We should be able to celebrate our sexuality. Some people like the idea of having nudes of themselves which aren’t sexual so that they have a record of their body, the same way they might collect any other photo of themselves. Anyone should be free to do whatever they like with their bodies, without their actions being policed or for caution to be given.
There have been some solutions to the ever present threat of hacking but anything can be photoshopped. There have even been those who have tried to photoshop people’s heads onto naked bodies and then claim they were leaked images.
There is a culture of entitlement towards people’s bodies. It largely impacts women (particularly women of colour, as shown by the horrific treatment of Leslie Jones) but it can happen to men too. Adoring fans and the media fuel a culture of entitlement. We treat celebrities as though their lives are ours to do with as we please. That’s how Justin Bieber ended up with nude photos being leaked.
“There is a culture of entitlement towards people’s bodies”
Leaking intimate photos without consent is sexual assault. The emphasis shouldn’t be on anyone to be safe, but on other people not to violate. We don’t have the right to access nude photos, nor to share them. It is a fundamental violation of privacy that constitutes abuse. We should educate young people about not leaking photos, about treating them with respect. When they are leaked, that should in no way impact the survivor of such an act. Their actions should not be judged. Everyone has the right to take photos of themselves. It’s not irresponsible behaviour. The only behaviour that deserves criticism is stealing and releasing someone’s private photos without consent.
Put the emphasis on those who seek to abuse. Telling women to be safe with nudes is as bad and shaming as telling women not to wear short skirts. Women shouldn’t have to be careful. People shouldn’t abuse. That’s the issue.