Sex Crimes and Hackers

I’m going to speak to men here, about the recent photo hacks. For anyone that hasn’t heard, several famous actresses (some accounts say 100 or more) had their phone backups hacked. In a complex and scary example of how awful humanity is, the hackers found images these celebrities took of themselves naked and they, or people they sold the images to, posted these images publicly. These pictures were obviously intended to be shared with a person in a relationship with the celebrity, not with the public.

The first thing I’m going to say to the men is this: You don’t need to Google these images. I’ll just say a few words on why: sexual gratification without consent is at best creepy. These women didn’t consent.

But in the interest of confronting some of the men who justify this behavior, let me respond to some of the creepy things I’ve seen other men say online.

But they are celebrities, in the public eye.

Yes. But that doesn’t entitle you to violate their privacy and get sexual gratification from violating them. Just as it would be creepy for you to try to peek in their window while they shower, it’s creepy for you to do this. Even if they are famous.

Don’t put anything online you don’t want to be public.

Uh… Seriously?  I do my banking online. I pay taxes online. My work has my performance review online. Your kid’s address is online. Your medical records are sent to the insurance company online. We do plenty of things that should stay confidential online. Someone doesn’t give up expectation of privacy simply because they use a computer to do things not everyone wants to see.

This part of the argument is interesting because most people reacted negatively to the USA government saying, basically, “Don’t worry about us spying on you if you don’t have anything to hide.” In other words, don’t do anything you don’t want the government to know about, and you’ll be fine. Uh, no.

Well, taking pictures of yourself nude is dumb.

No, sharing your sexuality and romance with someone you care about is not “dumb.” It’s intimacy and trust. In intimacy, we share things, whether they are pictures or acts or our deep fears and dreams. Sharing is good.

Certainly trust can be violated. Of course. But someone hoping they found someone they can trust is not dumb. I hope others can be themselves with their intimate partners – it’s wonderful to share a relationship without things to hide.

And I’ll say another thing, which I hope most men in straight relationships can agree with: it’s nice when you see your partner’s body! Why is it wrong for a woman to be sexy and show you that? Which gets into the next one…

Only sluts would take pictures of themselves naked.

Perhaps your idea of sexual intimacy is in a darkened room where only missionary style sex is performed while wearing clothing covering most of your bodies and is done for the sole purpose of creating a baby.  But a lot of us find sexuality fun and exciting when done with consent, even outside of these parameters.

There is nothing wrong with a woman taking a picture of herself for her husband or boyfriend. Think about it:

  • She probably feels pretty sexy doing that. That’s cool! Too often women are ashamed of their bodies, because people (often men) give them the idea they aren’t sexy if their body doesn’t fit a certain pattern. So it’s awesome when a woman overcomes that and knows she’s sexy in someone else’s eyes!
  • She knows her husband likes looking at her. As a husband, I hope my wife always knows I like how she looks!
  • She is showing a lot of trust in the person. She’s basically saying, “I know you are a good man.” She’s expressing vulnerability and trust, that her man will understand ever. And she’s saying “not all men, not my man.” Isn’t it wonderful she’s found someone that restores her faith in men?
  • She wants to do something nice for her guy! She knows he gets pleasure seeing her. I personally think this is a wonderful gift, although the trust she expressed is even more wonderful. A real man will recognize this.
  • She wants to express her sexuality. It’s okay for a woman to want sex. Besides, I hope most guys would want their partner to want sex! That doesn’t make someone a slut.

She feels sexy, looks sexy, knows you’ll see her as sexy, knows you are a good man who is trustworthy, and is communicating that she feels hot around you. Seriously, how could a man not like that?! Who wouldn’t want their partner to feel and be like that?

So, before you criticize someone as a slut for wanting to share pictures intimately with someone special, you might want to make sure you never want to be that someone special in anyone else’s life. Because pictures or not, being trusted and loved by a woman you love and who feels sexy and hot around you is pretty nice!

There are Bad People in the world, she should know that.

Dude, do you really think that there is any adult woman who doesn’t know there are bad men in the world?

She knows that there are people who:

  • Shame her for expressing her sexuality
  • Tell her it is her fault if someone she trusts and loves turns out to be an asshole
  • Think it’s okay to get sexual gratification without consent
  • Say that if you are too well known, it’s okay for people to violate your body

And you think she doesn’t know there are bad people?

They should have used good computer security practices.

Usually this argument gets drawn into computer security. It’s not computer security. Whether these woman use a password of “password” or one of “klsjkR#isvsz0dmNDwx95fsVDSe2s3!” doesn’t matter. The problems here are not password problems. The problem here is a misogynistic one. And securing passwords doesn’t solve the misogynistic one – it just changes how people express their misogyny.

It’s also pretty poor taste to say that a sex crime victim “had it coming.” If you want to talk about password security, more power to you. But what people are upset about is not that they don’t know how to secure their computer (besides, they probably aren’t as ignorant as you think). They are upset because this is a cyber equivalent of the real-space exploitation and objectification of women. They are upset that when they want to talk about that issue, people start lecturing them about what clothes to wear, what beverage to drink, what pictures to take, and what passwords to pick – but not the actual issue that concerns them the most: that no matter where they go, online or offline, some men seem to feel women exist solely for their sexual gratification. This translates not just to feeling icky around these men, but physical safety. Yet you want to talk about passwords. If you can’t see why this is upsetting, you probably are part of the problem.

Do you want to empower people to protect themselves against assholes? Fine, do that. But don’t do it by using victims as a platform you stand on to pontificate. You don’t do it by derailing a conversation. You don’t do it by telling the people you supposedly are empowering that the conversation they want to have is the wrong conversation.

You want to empower? Try listening.

A MESSAGE FOR MEN:

Do you want really awesome, really mind-blowing sex?

Sharing trust and intimacy makes it awesome.

Way more awesome than being an internet peeping tom / sex offender. Be someone that can be trusted.

Hurray, Amazon – and the Passing Stereotype.

Amazon is about to release the rest of the episodes (later this month) of Transparent, which is an Amazon TV series that follows a fictional family through the struggles of self-involvement and selfishness. As you might guess from the title, one of the main characters is trans, and in the pilot struggles with coming out to her adult children.

Image depicting several of the characters in the movie Transparent

Normally, that description would be enough for me to say, “I have no desire to see yet another shock-value series, where trans people are used as a “shock” to build interest in the show. I’m impressed however that Amazon seems to use a different angle, one that feels at least somewhat more authentic than the shock value delivered.

Before I talk about what I like about this show, I do want to mention one thing I dislike: the transwoman is portrayed by a non-trans man. This trans-face isn’t cool and Amazon can do better. One of the biggest problems in the trans community is employment, so it’s a shame that some of the amazing talent out there among trans people wasn’t used in this series for the main role.

That said, it’s not all bad. And there’s something really good. The transwoman character would probably not end up as a model for a fashion magazine.

Let me take a step back and talk about a stereotype. This is what I might call the “drag stereotype.” In a drag performance, it’s typical for a man to dress up as a woman, wear elaborate make-up, wigs, accessories, etc. Depending on the performance, the effect may be comical, satirical (Sisters of Perpetual Indulgance, anyone?), or to “pass.”  In the stereotype, transwomen are assumed to be in this category of people trying to pass. In this context, pass means “be seen by ignorant people as a member of my gender.”

Certainly, most binary trans people do try to pass, and spend a lot of effort and time doing so, both for personal reasons (who doesn’t want to look good?) and for practical reasons (“I don’t want to get the shit kicked out of me, so if people don’t know I’m trans, I will be safer”). But there’s a problem with the drag stereotype of binary trans people: Most trans people, particularly MTF people, won’t pass perfectly. Some won’t pass at all, ever.

Yet, the trans people who appear on national TV shows, in movies, and on magazine covers typically could pass, at least most of the time. They are, by conventional standards, beautiful people. The problem is that people think the average trans person could succeed at passing, so if a trans person isn’t passing, they are crazy (“Does he know how he looks in that dress? The guy’s nuts” – note that the person is typically misgendered here) or needs a helpful tip (I’ve actually heard trans people tell me they were told to laugh more feminine or some such, something I’m sort of sensitive to since I was told as a kid that if I laughed more masculine I would be accepted as a boy and not beat up). The idea is that a trans person, with the right tips, make-up, and effort can look indistinguishable from their peers.

Sadly, reality doesn’t work that way. Even very conventionally beautiful, obviously feminine trans women, with all the right curves, hairlines, necklines, cheek lines, voices, laughs, make-up, clothing, way of walking, way of sitting, etc, will fail to pass at some point. Passing shouldn’t be a requirement to be a woman (or a man). Yet the implication is that by laughing better, you’ll be more of a woman. It’s bullshit.

It’s also damaging. Binary trans people need to be authentic to themselves. The alternative, often times, is death. We need to affirm the gender of other people, not tell them how they can play a role better.

So, back to the show, what I love is that the character, at least in the pilot, basically looks like the stereotype of “a man in a dress.”  She looks like a lot of trans people do. She is beautiful, just as all people are, but not in the way that will earn shock value when people find out she’s trans (note I’m speaking about the character – the actor is, as far as I know, a non-trans man). She’s showing she’s a woman, despite not fitting all the proper stereotypes of a woman. That’s absolutely outstanding. I hope the series doesn’t take this in a direction that she ends up looking like a fashion model at the end of the season.

We need more realistic depictions of trans people in the media, and Amazon is off to a great start here – even if it’s in a fictional series that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. We need to break the “super-trans” stereotype where the only acceptable form of trans expression is conventional beauty, and we need to recognize that being a woman (or a man) has nothing to do with someone’s ability to “pass” as a woman (or a man).