In defense of the nude selfie

joey devilla receives a pic from a lady

The author, enjoying a saucy selfie sent to him from a special friend.

Attention straight men: Due to some fortunate combination of your looks, likability, and luck, there may come a time when some lovely woman will write you a love note, in either paper or electronic form. If you’re especially lucky, you’ll get a lust note. And, if the stars align and you’ve made a particularly good impression on her, she’ll decide that you’re worth the risk and send you a photo of herself that’s a little more intimate than the usual. I’ve been lucky enough to receive all three kinds of gifts, and I’m grateful for each and every one.

Each of these gifts comes with a certain amount of trust. She, either rightly or wrongly, has some faith that you’ll be a grown-ass man and have the good sense to use the sort of discretion that grown-ass men use in intimate conversations. What she sent was for you and you only, and that trust applies for all time. Even if decades have passed and you’re no longer on speaking terms, what she sent to you was private, and not something to share with your friends for bragging rights or post online because you’ve got issues, had a few drinks and want to score some points in a long-unresolved fight between the two of you.


Unfortunately, not all adult men are grown-ass men, and that fact, combined with a technology that turns all of us into publishers, is why we have revenge porn. Of the respondents to McAfee’s 2013 “Love, Relationships and Technology” survey, one in ten have “threatened that they would expose risqué photos of their ex online”, and nearly 60% of those people followed through with said threat.

Even if you’re a grown-ass man who treats such gifts with gentlemanly discretion, there are are still men who think of them as trophies to be mounted for the world to see, and will go to very absurd, very disturbed lengths to get them, and then defend themselves by misusing the right to free speech.

Telling women not to send naked pictures of themselves to their lovers is not the answer. Having received my fair share of saucy photos from full-on girlfriends and the occasional amie avec benefits, let me go on the record and say that I don’t want to live in a world where there isn’t a possibility that a special someone might send you a “for your eyes only” selfie.

Such admonishments also miss the point. Perhaps you and your significant others don’t send or store naked photos on your desktop and mobile computing devices, but surely there’s stuff that you’d like kept private. Perhaps it’s love notes, or other correspondence. Maybe it’s pictures of the kids. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’ve entered your credit card number onto a web page or have done online banking.
To put it more simply, why is it Jennifer Lawrence’s fault when someone breaks into the servers that store automatic backup copies of her private photos, but not a Target customer’s fault when their automatically-made records of their credit card numbers get stolen?

Part of the problem is that a too-large contingent of guys seem to have bought into Peter Griffin’s maxim about women: “Women aren’t people. They are devices built by the lord Jesus Christ for our entertainment.” Some of them have expressed outrage about the NSA and the government invading their privacy, but don’t seem to have any issue with someone invading an actress’ privacy. After all, the former is a violation of my rights as a citizen of a free country, while the other is just me getting some harmless stroke material thanks to some chick being stupid, amirite?

your porn collection

I bring up the topic of “stroke material” because I want to point out the fact that the internet is chock full of places where you can see naked women, and not just in still photos, but full motion pictures, and even in high definition! Hard to believe, but true. Better still, they’re doing it willingly. The problem is that for some guys, the “willingly” part just isn’t fun enough.

As David Futrelle points out on his excellent blog, We Hunted the Mammoth (a site devoted to skewering misogyny and the very messed-up culture of Men’s Rights Activists in particular):

The enthusiasm with which so many male Redditors – and skeezy dudes in general – have greeted this latest leak of celebrity pics makes one wonder if it is not the celebrity of the women in question that is the draw but the lack of consent. After all, there are plenty of other celebrity nudes out there that the celebrities in question consented to have taken and published.

erin andrews

Do you remember the story about the video featuring sportscaster Erin Andrews from 2009? It wasn’t a video she made, nor was it acquired by figuring out her password or electronically breaking into a computer. A sorry-ass sleazebag by the name of Michael David Barrett stalked Ms. Andrews, booked a hotel room next to the one she was staying in (which required the cooperation of some hotel staff), and shot video of her through a series of peepholes. It was posted online, and went viral because a lot of guys thought that their need to see Ms. Andrews nude trumped her need for privacy. It’s all part of a mindset that goes “She’s pretty, she’s famous, and she owes me some skin.”

Barrett ended up doing two and a half years in prison, which oddly enough, has led online “creepshot” forums to be very protective of the privacy of people who violate women’s privacy. Here’s what the subreddit (Reddit-speak for a subsection of the site) featuring Jennifer Lawrence’s image provides as a warning to would-be snitches:



The creeps live in a paradoxical state of both wanting to be with a woman and holding them in utter contempt. They get their kicks from violating women’s privacy, and you’re only feeding their fire by looking at the photos they’re circulating and parroting their “You took those photos, it’s your own damn fault” line. Don’t do that.

Instead, live your life in such a way that someone will find you worthy of a saucy selfie. Trust me, it’s a wonderful thing to get.

3 replies on “In defense of the nude selfie”

Second time today that I’ve heard someone bring up the “do not post any personal information” rule. It’s worth a note that while I absolutely don’t condone the leaking of these photos, the rule isn’t there to protect the leakers, per se. It’s there to protect everyone, and to prevent the internet equivalent of lynch mobs. People can and will get their identities wrong, unintentionally or otherwise, and have done so on many occasions. The fallout can be devastating, and it can’t be undone.

If people have solid information or clues regarding the identities of the leakers, they need to bring those to the police where they can be fairly evaluated and put together into a case against those people. The Reddit rule is nothing more than saying “please don’t try to take justice into your own hands”, and if modern society is any indication, that seems like a good policy overall.

Leave a Reply