Military men have this distasteful habit of sharing nude photos of women who they feel have done them wrong. It’s often in a texting chain, and titled, “Make Her Famous”, with only a picture of the naked woman. The other men may not even know who the woman is, who she supposedly wronged, or how many others have already seen it; they absent-minded forward it to everyone they know in the military before even looking at the picture themselves. Another way that military men share pictures is when they’re deployed, it’s called a “Dear John” or other-named wall in which actual printed pictures are posted. Oftentimes, the higher ranking people are not aware of where it is (as it’s encouraged or acceptable), and yet it exists at every deployed area.
Now, these men have plenty of access to porn and pictures, both in and out of the workplace. “They aren’t about naked girls; there are plenty of those who are on the internet consensually. It’s about hating women, taking enjoyment in seeing them violated, and harming them… , usually with the complicity of someone they trusted. The whole point is to humiliate, but not just to humiliate; to violate.” (http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/revenge-porn-and-the-women-humiliation-industry/). These were women who trusted their partners with photos. Being intimate alone with someone requires trust, and yet sending them a picture requires even more trust for many (myself included). And the forced separation from military men, for whatever reason, lends itself to more nude photo transfers than most couples (at least in my experience).
Now in the blog, Yes Means Yes, it is argued that this is mostly true of women, “because as a society we don’t think it’s inherently degrading or humiliating for men to have sex. Despite the fact that large numbers of women watch porn, there are apparently not large numbers of women who find sexual gratification in publicly shaming and demeaning men they’ve slept with.” The blog also shed a new perspective to me in that: “We have a society with a tremendous tolerance for coercion and people can sit around thinking up all the times when it might be okay for someone to be sexualized against their will…[but] we’re better off starting from the proposition that sexualizing the unwilling is always a sexual assault before we entertain questions of intent and mistake and exception.”
And it is true, these women are not allowing the men they trusted to forward their pictures to serve as a “warning: stay away” to the other guys, most often they are not even aware that their pictures are being viewed so publicly, and in a negative and hostile way. Revenge porn and celebrity-caught-photos do the same thing-share a visual that they are not agreeing to. Anne Hathaway was quoted in two blogs recently (both blogs are mentioned in this blog) that: “I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants.”
What’s odd about the whole military men showing nude women photos is that they are (as a whole) incredibly quick to share their own cock photos with a new partner (or one that they barely even know, or heck, haven’t even met). I would think that they would be more cautious, or untrusting, of sharing. And perhaps it isn’t as shameful for the man’s picture to shown in our society, or that they trust that women won’t humiliate, because they most often don’t.
But I know of a group of women who do. Because military men are so eager to share photos of their male parts, this group of women share it with the phone number, only if the men give an unsolicited penis picture. The girls will then critique his penis and let him know what they think. The argument being, “because if the man wanted to have his penis seen so bad, then they help him.” An example I was given was:
Male: How’s your pizza? Here’s my penis! (Yep, sadly that’s all it takes for some (military) men.)
First woman: one word: manscaping
Another woman: why do men always take pictures from on the toilet? You couldn’t take it somewhere romantic like…like the garbage dump?
Perhaps these men don’t mind as much because, “men’s shame usually centers on not appearing weak while women’s shame often revolves around not being perfect,” (http://www.charlieglickman.com/2013/01/what-revenge-porn-tells-us-about-sex-and-humiliation). These pictures do not necessarily make the man feel weak, at least, not until this group of women send back comments, and possibly not even then. This line may seem blurrier as far as betraying trust, because the women didn’t ask or even want the pictures, but the sharing of them to someone other than the intended recipient is still about humiliating and violating; women are not above this.
YesMeans Yes ponders, “if the culture tells my kids that it’s hot and exciting to violate a woman’s boundaries with a camera, what lesson will they take about violating a woman’s body with a body”? Charlie Glickman suggests, “but maybe it’s time that we take a look at how many ways we create a culture in which their behavior is simply a more extreme version of some behaviors that we don’t even notice anymore”. We are certainly a culture that views private parts “private”, gets a thrill out of catching a celebrity unknowingly revealing more than intended, and constantly creating new sites for the “revenge” pictures and/or porn. I am not sure of a solution. An adult trusting pictures of themselves to a lover is very different than a person knowingly and acceptingly posting or publishing pictures of themselves; and there is no shame – regardless of what a person looks like (body image is another topic for another day) – to publicly and willingly share. But to use the images for malicious intent, or to share if it is someone other than you or not given explicit permission, is an absolute harmful violation. I know that previous partners’ pictures I’ve either destroyed, given back, or still hold privately for only my viewing pleasure. Certainly, that is part of the solution. And to not feed/buy into the sensationalism of magazines, websites, other media who thrive on the commodity of an unwilling participant, demonstrates that it’s unacceptable.
As for my military man? He deletes the pictures forwarded to him, at least not perpetuating the problem. It’s a small step, but most movements begin with a small step (take the sex blogging community sharing the recent plagiarism/copyright issue with another blogger).