Yesterday, I was happily scrolling through my Facebook feed when I happened upon a post by The Atlantic that made me audibly say “what the fuck?”
Sorry Betteridge, I believe “what the fuck” is the only reasonable response to this headline.
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Not wanting to judge or comment on an article before reading it, I took the time to skim the piece. Any hopes of redemption for this article were quickly thwarted by its author, Amanda Mull. The article is actually worse than the headline.
For plenty of people, though, the details of high-level political backbiting aren’t the headline here, or at least not the only headline. Why was someone like Bezos, who has such an enormous and singular public profile and who’s known to be canny and relentless, lured in by the base, risky pleasures of taking dick pics?
I’m impressed not only by her ability to use a thesaurus in order to make a rather simple question extremely complicated, but also her ability to immediately blame Bezos for something that should have remained a private matter.
I’m aware that this specific example pertains to a billionaire sending nudes to his paramour. If you want to talk about that aspect, that’s fine, but that’s not the point of this article (or even the original article). I’m also not asking people to have pity for Bezos because, honestly, homeboy is doing just fine as he is, especially after dunking pretty hard on the contemptible people at National Enquirer.
Because they’re people. Duh.
This blows my mind. This isn’t a matter of stupid person versus smart person. Bezos is a human being. The four main goals for any person are to eat, poop, fuck, and sleep (not necessarily in that order, and from what I’m told, sometimes you can combine 2 [or more] of these activities simultaneously, with a consenting partner). Anything else a person does is just a means to accomplishing one of those four goals.
I mean, if we’re going to blame the victim here, we might as well go all-out. I imagine Amanda’s next article about a human person who also happens to be a celebrity will be “Why do smart people enjoy sex?” or perhaps “If smart people are so smart, why do they still poop like the rest of us?”
And yet, she persisted:
Scores of celebrity nudes have been leaked by hackers, and so many regular people have tried and enjoyed sexting. For a person with even a modicum of cultural power, the risk (if it was even considered in the moment of dick-pic reverie) could seem negligible.
This is what’s called “revenge porn.”
We’re second-guessing people like Bezos here when we should be first-guessing people who are horrible enough to steal or share intimate images without consent. It’s illegal to “leak” nudes in many states. After all, there’s a reason Bezos accused the National Enquirer of extortion and blackmail – because they were doing illegal shit.
And can we stop saying someone’s nudes were “leaked”? Because they weren’t leaked, they were stolen. If you share an intimate image of someone who hasn’t provided you explicit permission to distribute the image, you are committing a crime.
In case it’s not clear: Person A and Person B are texting. The conversation takes a sexual tone and Person A and Person B exchange nude photos. Person B then turns around and shares these photos with others (and of course, those people share it, too). Not only is Person B a douchecanoe, but they should also be charged with a crime, along with anyone else who distributed it further.
In the interest of full disclosure, if I seem oddly affected by this, it’s because I’ve been a victim of it myself. I swapped intimate images – completely consensually – in the past, and that person then distributed some of the images herself. So I know exactly what it feels like to have someone do this to you.
It is sexual harassment to share intimate images of another person without their consent. Period!
I don’t know how many times this needs to be said, but apparently we need to continue saying it because people aren’t getting the message. One would think that the average person would understand this very basic concept.
The bottom line is who cares and what does it matter if smart (or stupid) people send nudes?
Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who said “what the fuck?” when they read this headline, as illustrated by the comments on their original post:
The same reason stupid people do.
Seriously? The real question should be, WHY DO PEOPLE SHARE PHOTOS OF OTHER PEOPLE WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION?
Why do unintelligent people insist that there’s something wrong with nudity? 🤔
Why are we victim blaming? Because this is an issue that largely involves women, and women are STILL expected to be responsible for men’s behavior.
The question should be “why are people sharing intimate pictures without consent?”