First published on Wednesday the 18th of April, 2018, this piece comes in at number 9 in the top 30 most read Villainesse stories of 2018.
The first thing to acknowledge in any discussion of nude selfies is that there’s nothing wrong with actually taking them.
People take them for all kinds of reasons. Maybe it’s to keep a long distance relationship spicy, or to relish in the liberation of your own naked butt cheeks, or maybe you’re just bored and horny. At its most sophisticated, a nude pic can make a subversive statement against oppressive societal policing of your body. At its most basic, it can say, “hey, let’s bang.”
But with the exception of anything non-consensual – looking at you Mr WarLord1974 – there is nothing wrong about whipping your bits out for Snapchat. (Well, that’s from a moral perspective. Legally you can’t send them if you’re under 18, which is a classic example of one of those times the Government really should have asked young people about a law regulating their bodies rather than just leaving it so that a teenager sending a nude pic could be seen as a child pornographer in the eyes of the law.)
But legality aside, it’s both completely acceptable and incredibly common. According to Cosmopolitan, 9 in 10 millennial women have taken nude selfies, and 82 per cent of them planned to keep doing it. I have, and I imagine I’ll do it again at some point.
But despite the fact that lots of us send and receive them, or we wish we did, we still lose our collective shit when these photos surface.
Every time some woman has them leaked (and it’s almost always a woman) society acts as though she’s been caught satanically sacrificing bunnies.
It’s all because of the unwritten rule that you can send or take them freely… as long as it’s in private and we don’t ever have to acknowledge that we secretly like it. But if they become public, we’ll immediately decry the woman as stupid, short sighted or a just a straight up slut for spreading such smut. While googling frantically for them...
This is largely born out of that age old, ever persistent societal sexism that shames women for their sexuality. Many people still don’t like women openly owning their sexuality, let alone being as barefaced about it as to take a naked selfie. Women are still supposed to be asexual angelic goddesses. (Unless we’re in your bed where, and only there, we can be as demonically depraved as we like.) So when society is confronted with a nude photo leak, there’s always knee jerk moral outrage.
This is intensified by the fact that many people out there are nursing deep reserves of sexual jealousy. Either because they want to be sent nudes, or because they wish they had the guts to send them. And if someone else is getting it and they’re not? Well, what a whore.
All of this is topped off by the fact that we still struggle as a society to admit that we like sex. We are the 5th highest consumers of porn in the world, we legalised brothels in 2003 and we even boast Twitter-famous dominatrixes. But good heavens, no one has bought sex, gracious no, and we don’t watch that filth online.
Yet failing to admit that we are interested in sex results in a painful, subconscious we-hate-that-we-love-it attitude, which only leads to a lot of frenzied keyboard ranting and then secretive, sticky googling.
But all of this outrage is our problem, not the chick who took the photos. She’s just having a normal sex life, we are the ones with the issue here.
The worst part about it is that it is our attitudes that compound the problem of revenge pornography. The ‘revenge’ part of these situations relies on the power of these photos being seen as shameful. Now, if we all saw nudes as simply a normal part of sexual expression, it takes away the moral stigma, leaving these blackmailers with no weapons to use against these women.
It also makes it increasingly difficult to have a rational conversation on the topic when we need to. There’s a cesspit of people out there trying to blackmail women with their pictures. It make it incredibly hard to have a practical conversation about women’s safety, and tackling these scumbags, when every time the issue arises we act as though these women deserve to go to hell and have their bits fall off.
We just can’t be cool about it. We just can’t admit that there’s actually nothing wrong with taking them, many of us do it and many of us really like it. And so it’s those girls who take the photos who suffer. Which is cruelly unfair because often their only crime was to date a dickhead - and let’s face it, we’ve all done that.Support Villainesse