Let’s Take a Few Minutes to Think About How Society Uses Women’s Naked Bodies to Undermine Them, Shall We?
As a woman who at some point struggled with her body image, but that now thoroughly embraces her sexuality, this topic really hits home for me. You see, the latest installment of collective misogyny in social media was triggered by the news that lovely Jodie Whittaker is the next Dr. Who (woohoo!) but as a result, some sexists douchebags decided it was appropriate to release naked pictures of her into the world and to make super clear that she has been naked on camera on several occasions. Ok, it wasn’t really “naked pictures” as much as they were screenshots of movie scenes where she appears naked. But the point is the same; it seems they were maliciously published to either shame her, objectify her, and/or to try to persuade the consumer she shouldn’t play the Doctor.
As unfortunate as this is, I’m sure Jodie will be fine and haters will still have to suck it up when the Doctor regenerates into a proud vag owner. However, the question that keeps popping into my mind’s eye is “why do we continue to do this?” And I don’t even mean dropping naked pics of women into the open jaws of the Internet, but rather allowing and reproducing the underlying presumption that the moment a woman is viewed under a sexualized gaze she’s immediately devalued.
This is the exact reason why revenge porn is a thing; it’s as if the second the female body is exposed, her nakedness strips her of her “goodness” and what makes her worthy of love and compassion. Suddenly she is less smart for putting herself in a position where her body would be exposed in front of a camera, she’s less attractive as a partner because she clearly is an attention whore, or has poor judgment. The second a woman’s body is placed under the public eye is as if all other qualities disappear and she’s only a body (and a naughty body, at that.).
Is it true, though? Does a female naked body automatically make the subject of the photo less of anything? Absolutely not, why would it? Still, it seems that it gives everyone permission to decide exactly how worthy she is. Or to devalue every single other quality she possesses. Professionals have been fired from their jobs because a naked picture of them was posted somewhere on the Internet. Never mind their experience, credentials, or whatever, clearly this one thing means they’re not worthy of having a job or being spoken to in public.
It seems so silly to me that this is still a thing we do. I mean, why do we continue to try to undermine women by showing their naked bodies to the world? I have a female body and I know for a fact that there is nothing embarrassing or inherently bad about having one. Quite the opposite: my body is not just aesthetically pleasing, it’s also strong AF. So, why should I, or any other woman, be shamed?
This brings us to the other side of the coin, the place where I contradict my argument because there’s always a way of doing that; people love seeing female bodies, naked or otherwise. Therefore, a news outlet publishing naked pictures of a woman who is making headlines because of her new role means more clicks for their website. This, of course, is gross. Reason why I’m not linking their website to this article. Also, to continue with my performance as the devil’s advocate, it is arguable that these media outlets are just trying to get clicks, not thinking about the consequences, and we “reactive feminists” are just looking for a reason to go up in arms against the objectifying patriarchy, making a whole big deal out of it AND legitimizing the whole undermining thing by acknowledging it. #justsaying
More importantly is to recognize that we collectively undermine women who find themselves in this sort of position out of dated cultural norms, rather than actually caring too much about them at a personal level. I mean, think about it. Why should you care about someone’s naked pics? Whether you’re a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter. Why should you be outraged or upset? Why would you want to even be involved in breaking someone to the ground just because they showed their naked body to the world? Is it because they did something wrong? Because it’s sexual and it reminds us that sex is a thing? I’m sorry to be the barer of awkward news, but naked, and sex are things that happen every single day, whether you are participating of them or not. And without them, the world would be boring and possibly quite empty.
So, if you find yourself judging someone because they decided to pose naked for a photo-shoot, a TV show, or just for their Tinder fling, ask yourself: Why am I judging? Is it because there is a legitimate reason? (Probably not, but who knows?) Or is it because it’s what you are “supposed” to do when looking at naked pictures of people out of context?
Think about it.