Policy on naked selfies.Posted: September 7, 2014
Recently I had a conversation with a male friend about the theft of nude photos of various celebrities. He wondered how I could think it was a sex crime, given how much I’ve loved to take and share similar photos with partners over the years—that this was apparently a contradiction or a “mixed message.”
The common denominator of the two situations is so obvious, I’m surprised I have to say it: agency.
I’m not a celebrity. And even if I were to become famous, it wouldn’t be for my body.* If photos of me ever did surface, though, what would bother me more than them being out there is the violation of agency with regards to the person I sent them to. I know exactly what I’ve sent to whom, and when, so it wouldn’t be hard to figure out the source. And as far as I know, all those sources are decent human beings.
So if it was done intentionally, I’d want to know why. We’d have a talk about it. If I got the sense that his intent was to embarrass me, or to use the images as a kind of trophy, or some form of revenge or control, I would at the very least name him publicly, because I’m perfectly clear on the fact that the shame is his, not mine.
Which is not to say the images couldn’t ever be shared. One could ask. One could always ask. I might say yes and I might say no. But in either case my agency is honored, and that is the point. Apparently the violation of agency is part of what makes these stolen photos hot to those who look. Which makes me sick to my stomach. Hey, call me crazy, but it’s really sexy to me when someone wants to share a sexy picture with me; and it’s really not, when they don’t. Kind of like when it’s sexy when someone wants to have sex with me, and it’s not, when they don’t.
So don’t look at the celebrity photos. We live in a society where half the human population has to deal with constant challenges to their agency over their own bodies, and it’s ultimately a source of tremendous harm to us all, men and women alike. Be part of the solution. Be decent.
*That said, if anyone is doing some kind of Nekkid Novelists calendar, I am so in.