Paparazzi for the Everyday Woman: Are CreepShots an Invasion of Privacy?
Alright, so creep shots… If you haven’t heard about creep shots, they’re photographs of women taken without their consent. It’s also a subcategory (or “subreddit”) on the social news site Reddit where users submit content.
Registered users submit candid photos of women they see in public spaces. There’s a detailed explanation of r/CreepShots on the site. The rules have been revised recently after Jezebel published an article depicting the “evils” of CreepShots. (Note: Reddit isn’t the only site that features these photos.) The article writes about a substitute teacher who submitted a photo of one his students with this caption: ”Hot senior girl in one of my classes.” The new rules explains that underage minors are not to be photographed.
Should we stand and applaud Reddit’s revision? Or is this a get-out-of-creepy-ville card? Albeit, they do profess their creepiness and stealth as a positive attribute, but like most concerned individuals, I have to ask, Is this something we should be offended by even if it’s not an invasion of privacy (legally).
I think feeling offended is very subjective. My inner feminist says I should be outraged. This is certainly true, for the extreme example of photographing minors in suggestive ways or with a sexually suggestive purpose. The photos are not “pornographic” in nature, yet I also had to look at the “intention” behind CreepShots.
The photos are not supposed to be sexually suggestive, although this is a contentious issue: what’s suggestive to one person is nothing to another person. But this brought me to the idea of women as commodities. This isn’t anything new. We inhabit a celebrity culture with embarrassing paparazzi photos of people in the public eye. CreepShots suggests that this is the paparazzi for the everyday woman.
Yet, no matter how much they try to package this as a “boys will be boys” issue, its creepiness nevertheless freaks me out a bit. The subreddit is not only a way for users to “admire” their unwitting female participants, but most photos focus squarely on specific body parts of women. One could say the solution would be to take a photo of the whole “subject,” but that would be besides the point.
Where does the line exist between “good fun” and “invasion of privacy”? CreepShots admits that they are “immoral, creepy, and sinister” in a tongue-and-cheek kind of way, but does this admission make it okay?
I also talked to a male about this issue, and he asked me if I would be just as upset if CreepShots featured males and honed in on their package and behinds.
I had to take a moment and think about this. Is this really the issue? Are males put on the same judgmental pedestal of beauty and sexual desire? I would have to say that they are not subjected to the same aesthetic scrutiny as women. This is not to say that men do not experience their own insecurities with appearance, but I don’t think the same level of judgment is placed on men in this aesthetic arena.
Women are taught that they can be strong and independent, but when photographs are taking of women in public places with the intention of being oogled at, mocked, or made to feel embarrassed, isn’t this sending a mixed message? Should CreepShots be condoned? Condemned? Or is this more of a case of poor taste? Also, what kind of message is this sending to young women when this type of behavior is accepted?