US Marines – and now, it transpires, other military personnel – have been caught sharing nude photos of their female colleagues in Facebook groups. Some of those photos were taken without the women’s consent. Some of them were taken and sent with consent, but were shared without it. Either way it doesn’t matter. If someone takes a naked photo for you, they are entrusting their most private self with you. That, or you pressured them into it and didn’t give them much choice, in which case you’re a scumbag. If you then go onto show that photo to other people without their say-so, whether it’s a flash of the image on your phone screen or uploading it to a Facebook group, you are breaching their privacy and utilising their body and their sexuality in a way they did not permit you to. In other words, you are committing sexual assault.
Today, a man commented on this news story thus:
Obviously I’m not saying it’s wrong, but can we talk about the women for a second? If you take naked photos you deserve what you get.
To which I ask – do you? Men are the ones asking women to send nudes, the ones who jack off to them and the ones who overwhelmingly benefit from receiving them in every way. If women deserve to be punished for sending them, surely men should be punished for asking for them? Others in comments sections are insisting that women should never trust someone to not share these photos, even if they’re in a relationship, indeed suggesting that women who do make the mistake of trusting someone again “deserve what you get”.
Let’s flip to another news story now. A judge in Canada has resigned after asking a woman in a rape trial why she “couldn’t keep her legs together”. Questions like this are tantamount to victim blaming, and ask women why they can’t alter everything about what they do – what were you wearing? Were you drunk? Were you walking home alone at night? What did you do to provoke him? – in order to prevent men raping them. A popular rebuttal to this is to ask men why they can’t stop raping women. A common catchphrase is “teach men not to rape”.
Today, a different man commented this on this news story:
Feminazis say “teach men not to rape” and in doing so assume all men are rapists that need to be taught not to do it, rather than it being a minority.
Can you see why I’ve brought this up?
Can you see why this man’s complaint confuses me in light of everything we’ve just heard?
You can’t have it both ways. If women need to take constant action to protect ourselves from rape – if we have to keep our short skirts in the wardrobe, if we have to make sure we’re sober, if we have to smile at men who catcall us instead of telling them to stick it – then it surely follows that this is because men can’t control themselves around us.
If we can’t ever trust a man to keep a naked photo of us private, even if we’ve made a commitment to spend our lives with that person, then surely it follows that men can’t be trusted.
Go and tell that same man that you refuse to trust any man because of what the ones you’ve known have done to you, though. I bet he gets angry. I bet he asks why you’re tarring them all with the same brush. We can’t simultaneously trust all men and believe we can never trust them. We can’t simultaneously protect ourselves from all men and live under the assumption that if we don’t do xyz then we will get raped (and have been asking for it) while also opening ourselves up to men and feeling safe and comfortable in their company.
You can’t make us live in fear for our own good and expect us to simultaneously believe we have nothing to fear. We have everything to fear precisely because you want us to live in fear. Now, who’s at fault again?