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SEXIST BEATDOWN: Stupid People I Don’t Like Deserve To Be Abused Because Feminism Edition

This week, the Feminist Blogosphere erupted in controversy, over some difficult questions that we may never find a way to answer. For example: If a stranger finds a way to look into your bedroom, against your wishes, and watches you fuck and/or get naked, whether because they wish to masturbate over you or simply because they dislike you and wish to exert some form of power over you (scorn, humiliation, control, etcetera), aren’t this stranger’s actions totally all your fault???? Okay. But what if your partner invited the stranger to look, again without your permission or knowledge, as a means of revenge, or of cutting you down a peg due to your career success, or of earning some cashy green dollars, or whatever? That is definitely all your fault, right??? I mean, you willingly dated a person who wound up betraying and abusing you! In either case, people have been known to pretend that they didn’t want such peeping to occur in the past. So if it happens to you, we can just assume that you are also pretending, and in fact all the people (and especially women) it’s happened to are just pretending, and that you therefore secretly wanted it no matter what you say to the contrary or whether you take any of the perpetrators to court, right? Anyway, do any of these questions even matter? Because even if you don’t turn out to secretly want it, it is still totally all your fault. Truly, these extremely difficult questions are perplexing to any feminist!

Wait. What’s that you say? These aren’t difficult question to answer at all? And that, in fact, the above paragraph is a pretty unambiguous description of sexual assault* and blaming the victim of a sexual assault? Sexual assault victims being people whom feminists typically place some great degree of emphasis on not blaming? Okay. So, I guess the really difficult question is, when this form of sexual assault occurs via the medium of tape and Internet download, why don’t people get this?

Spare us the outrage at how you feel sooooo betrayed, how you have no idea how this could have fallen into the wrong hands. At least Jesse James admitted that, deep down, he wanted to get caught. This whole pretext of “I didn’t really make and distribute my own little porno here” so you can give the public something that appears furtive and dirty and secret while still showing off how weird you look in night vision? Enough. And if you are actually dumb enough to make a sex tape and think it won’t get leaked, you are too dumb to ever have sex again.

Uhhhhh.

Look: Mary Elizabeth Williams (the author of the above quote; our bylines have appeared in the same place, but I can’t recall ever interacting) is not some evil victim-hating monster. She’s taking the standard line on sex tapes. (“The video prompted debates about whether news channels should air the footage and if Andrews, a statuesque blonde with rabid supporters, had encouraged her peeping tom by cultivating a ‘frat house’ fan base.” Encouraged him. The man of whose criminal stalking sentence she said, “Thirty months isn’t enough.” Encouraged him by being a sportscaster who was popular among male sports fans.) She’s taking the “OMG famewhores!” line, the “how could they be sooo stupid” line, the line that makes you look sophisticated and superior and above the crass and vulgar machinations of attention-getting, when the reality is you’re going to write about the sex tape because the thing about the sex tape is going to get pageviews because it’s your job to get pageviews (attention!) just like everybody else. The problem, I mean to say, is not with Mary Elizabeth Williams; the problem is with the standard line. Because that line completely ignores any issues having to do with consent. And, you know, that consent not being present. As bloggers, it might be our job to write stuff that people will pay attention to, but as feminists, it is pretty much our job not to just repeat the general cultural consensus when it comes to issues of consent. It’s our job to interrogate that consensus, to push it, to examine it closely and say things about it that we know will make people call us radical misandrist bitchwhores upon occasion. Because the standard line, we seem to have pretty much established, is often sexist, harmful, and just plain wrong. It’s our job to do better. Doing better: That’s kind of what feminism is about.

And now, after this afternoon’s sermon, Amanda Hess of The Sexist and I will attempt some better-doing!

SADY: Well, good morning! Who wants to discuss… THE EROTICIZATION OF NON-CONSENT????

AMANDA: Oh me! Me! Wait … I believe I am meant to feign disinterest in this discussion, in order to make it hotter. THE CHAT THEY DIDN’T WANT YOU TO READ.

SADY: Perhaps you should hire a lawyer to stop me from chatting with you, so that I might go ahead and continue chatting anyway!

AMANDA: For that is the consequence of having a Gmail account.

SADY: EXACTLY. And we all know that, however many verbal and/or legal refusals a woman may utter, she SECRETLY WANTS YOU to do whatever the hell you want and/or will profit from, anyway. If she didn’t WANT you to release her sex tape, why did she make a sex tape? If she didn’t WANT you to penetrate her vagina, why did she have a vagina? And so on! And so forth!

AMANDA: Right? So, the whole wink-wink “taboo” behind the “leaked”-but-not-actually-leaked sex tape doesn’t bother me so much – I know that some people get off on the idea of watching people have sex on tape who don’t normally have sex on tape. . . as long as all parties are actually just playing the “leak” card for its erotic potential. The problem is that the people who are selling, downloading, and writing about these things don’t appear interested in differentiating between “leaked” sex tapes and. . . leaked sex tapes.

SADY: Right. That’s the thing. And the assumption, among people I’ve talked to, is that these things ARE leaked purposefully. Thus making their subjects total sluts! But when one brings up the idea that maybe, JUST MAYBE, someone like Kendra Wilkinson may be repeatedly saying that she doesn’t want people to sell or view her sex tape because SHE DOESN’T WANT PEOPLE TO SELL OR VIEW HER SEX TAPE, then the reply that comes back is, all too often, “well, then she’s just stupid.” Stupid for making the sex tape, stupid for not thinking strangers would jerk off to it without her consent. Which MAKES the non-consent involved in your jerk-off time… okay? Because you think she’s not smart? How does that work? As far as I can tell, we value consent no matter who it comes from. It’s not like you have to pass the SAT in order to decide whether or not you want a certain sexual experience. You just want it or you don’t, and if you clearly don’t, it’s not okay for anyone else to proceed with that against your will.

AMANDA: Right. I am also confused as to why some people assume that people who fight the release of their sex tape in court are simply doing it for publicity purposes? Because I have been involved in a civil court proceeding like one time on a relatively minor matter and it was hugely inconvenient and horrible! And I imagine that when a video of you having sex is involved in evidence collection it is even more unpleasant!

SADY: Right. And the fact is, even when we all assume the release of the tape was fully consensual — instigated by both or all of the people in it — the idea of it not being consensual IS kind of eroticized, by the people selling it. That, I am actually NOT okay with — the way there were, according to Tracy Clark-Flory, mocking speech bubbles over Kim Kardashian’s face on the packaging of her own sex tape, reading like, “OMG!” or “PWNED” or whatever. The idea that you’re dominating this specific woman — er, excuse me, stupid fauxlebrity bitch, I believe, is the term we for some reason think is appropriate when discussing her — and doing something sexual to her against her will IS CAPITALIZED UPON. As is the idea that legal court proceedings are just cute little gestures of resistance so you won’t think she’s a slut. That, to me, is exactly what rape culture looks like.

AMANDA: It is. And it’s also this really weird phenomenon where even people who are OK with other people having consensual sex the way they want to get all confused once that sex is transferred onto videotape and commence with the slut-shaming again. Like, one of the biggest arguments I’ve heard against people who make sex tapes and then don’t want them released for strangers to jack off to them, is that they don’t understand the “consequences” of sex. REALLY? Because while I understand the practical concerns involved here, and think everyone should be educated about the risks of sexual intercourse, people who trump up “personal responsibility” while doing no fucking work to help make bad “consequences” of sex any better just essentially think people who have sex OUGHT TO BE punished for it. These are the same arguments against abortion, the same arguments against working to stop HIV, the same arguments against working to stop rape.

SADY: Right. It’s the “well, she’s stupid, so she deserves it” argument. And people can make sexual tapes or photos or whatever for a lot of reasons, aside from being stupid. They can be young, they can be drunk, they can be getting off on it, they can be trying to get their partner off better, they can have trusted their partner’s multiple protestations that he’ll never in a million years show it to anyone and in fact he’ll erase it once he gets home HE SWEARS and… whoops, your partner lied. As far as I can tell, “you trusted your partner and then he lied to you and hurt you” isn’t a “consequence” of sex. It’s a “consequence” of your partner being abusive. And we’re placing the onus of guilt on the victim.

AMANDA: Exactly. And I just want to give a shout out to Amanda Marcotte and Lena Chen here, who have written about this stuff a lot, and I really wouldn’t understand any of the dynamics at play here if not for their work.

SADY: Yeah, Lena Chen really clarified a lot of this in her own writing, as far as my reading goes. Because she’s experienced this form of assault first-hand. And the shaming that goes along with it.

AMANDA: One of the things Lena spoke to me about in an interview I did with her is that at Harvard, where she blogged about sex, she would get so much slut-shaming from other college students who were also having sex, and also probably had taken some photos during sex at some point, but who a) didn’t write about it publicly, and b) didn’t have some douchey ex leak those photos on a blog. The assumption being made by all of the people shaming people who make sex tapes is that it would never happen to them because they’re not idiots. When really, it probably won’t happen to them because they’re not targets. Lena was a target because she talked about sex; Kim Kardashian was a target because she has a name that could sell copies. If random Internet Commenter makes a sex tape, they will likely never see the “consequences” of having sex on tape, because no one is particularly interested in watching random Internet Commenter do it, and yet they glean some sort of moral superiority out of that.

SADY: Right. Another thing that crops up, in these discussions, is the idea that if the woman ALREADY has expressed some of her sexuality in public, ALL of her sexuality belongs to the public. Like, Megan Fox is shooting a nude scene in a movie — where she probably has a carefully worked-out deal about how much is going to show up on screen and how it will look, or whatever — and that’s assumed consent for some random douche to take a photo of her for the Internet. Lena Chen blogs about sex, so that’s assumed consent for people to leak and/or look at sexual photos of her. Kendra Wilkinson has made porn, so therefore anything she does on film can be distributed as porn. Whereas the reality is, if someone as comfortable with being naked on-screen as KENDRA FREAKING WILKINSON is saying “no, I don’t like this, this is hard for me, don’t sell or watch my tape,” I think that REALLY, REALLY SUPER-DUPER MEANS that she doesn’t want you to do those things.

AMANDA: Exactly. Christ. It’s that really awful anti-sex impulse rearing its head again. Like, you’re allowed to make a sex tape – as long as you stay married to the other person in the sex tape forever and ever and never betray each other until you go to Heaven. Or you can make a sex tape – as long as you keep your head down and never make a name for yourself, because people who reach some level of success deserve to be shamed for having sex.

SADY: Exactly. They’re successful, and they’re often already “impermissibly” sexual, so the whole “humiliation” — we can see your cleavage! We think you’re skanky! You belong to US now, whether you give consent or not — is really just about scaring women out of being sexual. Again.

AMANDA: And people who give the “skank” treatment to celebrity women? They’re actually talking about all women, everywhere, but they use the fame as a convenient excuse. We all hear these messages.

SADY: Exactly. No matter how comfortable you are with your own sexuality, no matter how well you think you can set your own boundaries, you don’t belong to you: You belong to the people looking at you. They decide what to do with your sexuality, not you. So don’t flirt at the bar. Don’t wear that short skirt. Don’t go to the bar. Don’t go out. And when you’re in the house, don’t make a sex tape. Because we’ll find it if we want to. I mean, so many people don’t even watch this stuff to get off: They watch it to mock. To feel superior. They watch it, pretty bluntly, to shame.

AMANDA: It’s just really sad to me that when it comes to “sex tapes,” we can’t even reach the level of common courtesy of your standard Girls Gone Wild shoot, where at least the women being videotaped expect what it’s being used for, and are generally forced to sign a contract stating as much. Like, that’s a really really low bar.

SADY: Yeah. I mean, there’s basically no responsibility at a GGW shoot. Girls are young and girls are WASTED. GGW goes over the line of consent pretty continually. BUT AT LEAST THERE IS THE ILLUSION OF CONSENT, you know what I’m saying? When we, the American public, hold ourselves to a lower standard than Joe “Alleged Rapist” Francis, things have gone pretty far in the direction of Hell.

AMANDA: Yeah I’m pretty depressed about this whole human enterprise right now. Thank Christ for Lena Chen.

SADY: Dear Lord. Woman is sharp and woman is strong. She has dignity like I will never in a million years have. Although, right now, I am also developing a real affection for Kendra W.

AMANDA: For real.

SADY: In conclusion: YAY for the survivors. Especially the ones who keep telling us that this is fucked up even though occasionally real live grown adults keep finding reasons not to listen.

AMANDA: I know. I am seriously proud of them for being brave enough to speak out about this. Even though they know people will turn around their honest commentary about how fucked-up this situation is in order to accuse them of trying to make money off not consenting. UGH. I’M LOSING IT AGAIN.

SADY: “SURELY YOU ARE NO ORDINARY SLUT! SURELY YOU ARE A MONEY-HUNGRY SLUT AS WELL!” “You only want your rapist to go to jail because you support the prison-industrial complex!”

AMANDA: URRGGGG

SADY: “Something something! No legal recourse for slatterns! Something something word barf!”

AMANDA: Someone get FEMINIST HULK on this.

SADY: FEMINIST HULK NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT HOW TO APPROXIMATE NOT-HULK TALK. FEMINIST HULK STILL PROBABLY UNDERSTAND WORD “NO.”

* Leaking a sex tape without the consent of all parties involved is, of course, not legally recognized as a form of sexual assault. I recommend we do what feminists have always done about forms of sexual assault that are not yet legally recognized as such: Totally ignore it or participate in shaming or blaming its victims. Which, of course, is why all those stupid wives who get themselves raped by their husbands still have no legal recourse.

Oh. Wait, they totally do! MY BAD.

24 Comments

  1. Crito wrote:

    “The eroticization of non-consent”–a brilliant turn of phrase borne of a horrifying psychological impulse. I, too, was grunting with anger by the end.

    What can I do to counteract this horrible trend, other than harass people guilty of it?

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  2. Gee, that’s some broad thinking there.

    Interesting you start with Erin Andrews, about whom I’ve also written: http://www.salon.com/life/broadsheet/2009/07/21/andrews)

    Do you believe that an illegal action against a woman of the privacy of her hotel room and a tape that a person currently starring in a reality show, who stands to make money off it, are the same thing? Do you think that a 13 year old who committed suicide over a nude photo that was shared is the same as Gene Simmons? Because I wrote about the latter and specifically didn’t mention the former. I can tell the difference. Can you?

    Amanda used the word “slut” thirteen times in her story. I used it zero in mine. I wrote about men and women, yet Amanda’s column was about “sluts” get victimized by their boyfriends. So who, exactly, is slut shaming here?

    Feminism means taking responsibility and having some accountability for your own sexual choices. Sorry, it does. It means getting away from both rape culture and victim mentality. And if you want to lump me talking about celeb sex tape with rape, anti-choice, and HIV, way to miss the point.

    I put myself out there as a writer and a sexually active woman every day, as I have from the beginning of my career. I continue to be incredibly disappointed at such a willful misrepresentation of my story. And frankly, to put the words “anti sex” regarding anything to do with yours truly is pretty fucking hilarious.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  3. Sorry, wrong Erin Andrews link
    http://www.salon.com/news/crime/index.html?story=/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/12/16/erin_andrews_stalker

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Sady wrote:

    @Mary: I’d really like to be able to have a dialogue here. I get that you’re mad. I get mad about being criticized too. But everyone gets criticized, usually for good reason, and I’m sorry, but that paragraph you wrote above is wrong.

    “Do you believe that an illegal action against a woman of the privacy of her hotel room and a tape that a person currently starring in a reality show, who stands to make money off it, are the same thing?”

    Yes, if the tape was leaked, in both cases, non-consensually. The person in one case may have consented to be filmed; the person in the other case clearly didn’t consent to be filmed. If neither consented to have that tape distributed to strangers, then the distribution of the tape is, in each case, a non-consensual sexual act: a form of sexual assault has taken place. They are the same, because they’re both people, and as such have the right to give or withhold consent, no matter what you think of them personally.

    “Do you think that a 13 year old who committed suicide over a nude photo that was shared is the same as Gene Simmons?”

    Yes. Because they’re both people, and have the right to give or withhold consent (although a thirteen-year-old cannot, by law, consent to sexually interact with adults), no matter what you think of them personally.

    “I can tell the difference. Can you?”

    It’s going to be really hard to have this conversation if you keep implying that the people who criticize you are stupid and dishonest for doing so. I can tell the difference between consensually filming sex and non-consensually distributing that film to strangers. Can you? Because it has to do with that word “consensual.” Your article lumped consensual and non-consensual distribution together, and explicitly blamed the victims of non-consensual sex tape distribution for their own victimization.

    “Feminism means taking responsibility and having some accountability for your own sexual choices. Sorry, it does.”

    Okay. Take responsibility for the fact that you shamed people who’ve had their sex tapes non-consensually distributed, and implied that the “responsibility” lay not with the people who purposefully leaked, stole, uploaded and downloaded that material, but the “stupid” people who filmed sex in the first place. Take some responsibility for the fact that people who distribute, download, watch, and subsequently shame people in sex tapes are the ones who create the demand for the sex tapes; take some responsibility for the fact that those people, not folks whose sexual boundaries have been crossed against their will, are the ones who are doing something wrong. It’s really easy to write a piece about how you’re so much more classy than a Real Housewife of New York. You log in, you make some easy moral judgments, you call a few names, and then you call it a day. It’s much harder to realize that the principles of feminism demand you to have the backs of women you don’t necessarily like, and to protect them from classic victim-blaming “you say no but you mean yes” rationalizations.

    “It means getting away from both rape culture and victim mentality.”

    The “victim mentality?” What, precisely, is wrong with viewing oneself as a “victim” when one’s sexual boundaries and wishes have been explicitly violated? “Rape culture” consists, in large part, of these Paglian demands that women “take responsibility” for things done to them that hurt them, without making equal demands on the people that hurt them to “take responsibility” for themselves. I really didn’t see you asking for additional taking of “responsibility” from (a) the porn industry that keeps leaking and profiting from these tapes, (b) the people who steal or intentionally leak them, or (c) the folks who watch them against the express wishes of the people being depicted. It’s always the fault of the person being depicted — she’s either fame-hungry, money-hungry, or too “dumb” for her consent to matter anyway.

    I made it clear that I don’t want to attack you as a person. That I don’t think you’re a bad person. That I think your work in this specific instance was not up to your usual standard. I respect things you’ve written in the past. You screwed up on this one. I’ve screwed up before, too. We’ve all screwed up. Every single person on the planet is imperfect. I can see why being called out stings, and I can see why the tone of Amanda’s article specifically stung you, but I really wish you could just acknowledge that you slipped up and victim-blamed, or at least CLARIFY what you meant (other than “these people are awful therefore I don’t care whether they consented, they probably did even if they say they didn’t, and should be ashamed of themselves,” which at this point seems to be what you’re saying) rather than personally writing angry stuff to every single person who calls you out, implying that they’re “misrepresenting” you, rather than simply, you know… saying that they think you’re wrong.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  5. Natalie wrote:

    How on Earth is it the fault of the people making all of these sex tapes that OTHER PEOPLE are voyeuristic enough to want to see a private, personal sex tape between two people who are, in theory, making it for their own personal enjoyment–which I think is at least a severe violation of privacy, if nothing else–and to steal it from them instead of just going on the internet and finding something similar for free or paying the same amount of money for something that, let’s face it, will be of better quality? How is it the fault of people who like having sex and like the person they’re having sex with enough to want to watch it again, or that they’re kinky, just a little bit, like everyone else?

    It’s not stupid to make a sex tape, unless it is stupid to do anything private in your own home without expecting everyone to know about it. People who are famous are still people and still have rights, even if they have their own show that is all about their personal lives like Kendra does. It is not STUPID to expect DECENCY from people you trust. I guess it’s just naive.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  6. Laura wrote:

    Sady, I love just about everything you write, but your response to Mary Elizabeth is so, so good that I want to applaud.

    And frankly, to put the words “anti sex” regarding anything to do with yours truly is pretty fucking hilarious.

    Mary Elizabeth, no writer gets an eternal free pass from being called out for something.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink
  7. Kathleen wrote:

    Oh, Sady. You are so good when you are funny and mean but — amazingly — even better when you are patient and kind. That response to MEW: wowza. I doff my hat, I bow, I am blown away.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  8. al_zorra wrote:

    You have concisedly labeled another ugly trend in our so-called culture. And it is a problem. Worse, with digital technology people can take photos of you anywhere anytime and you won’t even know. And then, too, they can move your face to any body they want, they can undress you, you can perform in any way they want, and you don’t even know. That’s gross, disgusting and horrible, and probably inevitable, even if you aren’t a fauxlibrity.

    There are some areas though when the victim is stupid, as Reille Hunter, who not only allowed herself to be photographed in a do you think I’m wearing any panties at all pose on her DAUGHHTER’S BED surrounded by HER DAUGHTER’S stuffed animals, by a professional photographer who was photographing for a layout in a national ‘gentleman’s magazine — and then cries o woes, how could they do this to me I didn’t realize and now I’m criticized and that hurts me so much.

    Love, C.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink
  9. Christen wrote:

    I really like here how you talk about the issue of victims being stupid, as if stupidity had anything to do with anything. I was thinking about Paglia’s whole leaving-your-purse-on-a-park-bench analogy recently, because a couple of months ago I had two pretty important personal items (my bike and, a week later, my wallet) taken from me. Both were (however briefly) left unsecured in pretty high-traffic locations. Which was unbelievably fucking stupid of me, there is no doubt. Yet the police still filed my theft reports for both items, and my bank accepted the fraud report for the unauthorized purchases made on my debit card, and not once did anyone say, “Actually, it’s not illegal to steal an unlocked bicycle! There’s this hidden clause that says if the victim is acting like a goddamn moron, her bicycle becomes public property! As does her wallet!” I mean, actually, my bank have totally been kind of dicks about reversing the charges on the card, but even they seem to be on board that if you jack a person’s wallet and go rambling around the city using her debit card to buy shitty liquor, you are /breaking the fucking law/.

    Why, when it comes to The Sexual Assault, does it have to be either/or? Either this woman is wise and pure and really got taken advantage of and this jackass deserves to go to freaking jail, OR this woman was stupid and maybe that person who violated her isn’t really all that much of a douche after all? Why is “this person behaved foolishly, and that person did wrong by them” such a fucking incomprehensible concept?

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  10. AnthroK8 wrote:

    MEW if you’re reading: I usually really like what you write and learn a lot from your articles.

    But I agree with Sady (whom I also love). You are still a writer whose work I appreciate. But you’re wrong. Consent is a right reserved for everyone, equally, and it is not okay to do something sexual to a person without their consent. Ever, under any circumstances.

    And that should be the end of the story.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  11. Gnatalby wrote:

    @al zorra: I’m not sure the right strategy is to find the exceptionally stupid woman you totally can blame.

    The problem is that for some consumers, the non-consent is a feature not a bug. And that’s worth fighting no matter how much you hate Rielle Hunter. (And believe me, I seriously hate her.)

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink
  12. Mongoose6 wrote:

    @Christen I love your analogy. I often don’t know what to say to the semi-victim-blaming explanations of why something bad happened to someone. Theft is a good, gender-neutral analogy.

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink
  13. Stacy wrote:

    EDITED TO CORRECT GRAMMAR: I think the phrase “Getting past the victim mentality” is a little weasel phrase that doesn’t do feminism any favors. I trace it to MRAs and other anti-feminists who pretend that feminism and its fruits (i.e., Title IX, stricter rape laws) are predicated on celebrating a victimization of women. When feminists start using it, it’s a frightening sign that an anti-woman twisting of our work and words has infiltrated even feminist thinkers. I mean, we expect it from Camille Paglia, but not from each other, right?

    Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 4:02 am | Permalink
  14. ‘… IS CAPITALIZED UPON’

    I see what you did there! :)

    Seriously, though: my usual position is ‘I haven’t the first idea what’s going on in the world of celebrity sex-tapes and I feel okay about that’, but now I’m thinking that ‘I’ve heard what’s going on in the world of celebrity sex-tapes and I’m appalled by it’ is also a good option.

    Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink
  15. vebbie harry wrote:

    “Yes. Because they’re both people, and have the right to give or withhold consent (although a thirteen-year-old cannot, by law, consent to sexually interact with adults), no matter what you think of them personally.”

    SERIOUSLY. ANYONE WHO HAS DIFFICULTY UNDERSTANDING THIS CONCEPT IS IN NO POSITION TO SPEAK TO ANYONE ELSE IN A PATRONIZING MANNER. EVER. HOLY SHIT.

    happy birthday sady btw

    Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  16. of making many books wrote:

    “Do you think that a 13 year old who committed suicide over a nude photo that was shared is the same as Gene Simmons?”

    I also fully agree with Sady’s response to this question! Except it took me reading it a couple times for my brain to not picture *Richard* Simmons. Just thought maybe someone would like to know that?

    Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink
  17. Melissa wrote:

    My view resembles the old saw, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    I do believe that anyone who makes a sex tape or poses for a naked pictures, and thinks that only the person he/she intended it for is going to see it, is being very, very stupid. I would consider such a person profoundly naive, and I would have doubt about whether he or she was mature enough to be having sex in the first place.

    However.

    I DON’T think that such stupidity deserves punishment or shaming. Profoundly naive people need and deserve the protection of the law as much as more pragmatic people do, if not more so. If I dupe somebody, no matter how easy it was to do, the blame rests solely on me and not the person I duped.

    Monday, June 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  18. Becky wrote:

    Melissa, really? If my partner told me he wouldn’t show anyone an explicit photo or video of me, I would trust him. In the same way that I trust him not to cheat on me, or not to clean out our joint account and run off, or not to do a million and one other things that would profoundly hurt me the way sharing a picture that I intended for him only would do. I am not a very, very stupid person, nor am I immature. I trust him because he’s earned it, and because long term relationships don’t function well without trust.

    Monday, June 14, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink
  19. assassin wrote:

    great piece and i agree with the substance, but to point out a super nerdy legal snag, at this point, celebrities fighting the release of a sex tape are doing so for the tabloid theater. these days, anyone distributing a sex tape without the proper documentation under federal laws (known as 2257) can go to JAIL. not just be sued and pay money, actual pound-me-in-the-ass federal prison. so kendra and the real housewives of whatever and anyone else who has a sex tape that gets released at least provided that documentation. now, the whole GGW get them drunk and make them sign shit argument is still around of course, but overall, there’s still a presumption of consent. lauren conrad reportedly blocked a sex tape from being released so it’s not like it’s impossible to stop it from leaking if the person releasing it is in violation of the law. even among would-be pornographers, it would be pretty fucking stupid to risk prosecution and release the tape anyway.

    Monday, June 14, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  20. Sarah wrote:

    These things make me angry. So much so that I cannot fully articulate what I want to say just now, other than awesome post as usual. Hooray for Tiger Beatdown.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 5:22 am | Permalink
  21. Laura wrote:

    actual pound-me-in-the-ass federal prison.

    Rape: hilarious!

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  22. Sarah TX wrote:

    these days, anyone distributing a sex tape without the proper documentation under federal laws (known as 2257) can go to JAIL. not just be sued and pay money, actual ***** federal prison. so kendra and the real housewives of whatever and anyone else who has a sex tape that gets released at least provided that documentation. now, the whole GGW get them drunk and make them sign shit argument is still around of course, but overall, there’s still a presumption of consent.

    There’s like, 12 different assumptions and contradictions in this statement. 3 off the top of my head.

    (1) That a consent form signed while incapacitated is actual proof of consent.
    (2) That seeking a civil penalty precludes any criminal penalties.
    (3) And vice versa.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
  23. Sarah TX wrote:

    Oh, I forgot

    (4) That the criminal justice system really cares if women are coerced into sexual actions. You know they have a great record with the whole concept of NOT engaging in victim blaming.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
  24. Sarah TX wrote:

    (5) The idea that fear of criminal prosecution will prevent some grunt at a news site or whatever to sell a tape, if they have access to one. Fear of jail time really is a terrible motivator for good.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

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