The Sexist

Sexist Beatdown: The Chat They Didn’t Want You to Read! Edition

Role-playing time! Let's say you're having sex, with a partner, in whatever manner that you both enjoy. And let's say that toward the end of your time together, your partner asks, "Hey, would you mind if I brought several million of our closest friends in here, just to observe this?" And you're like, "Oh, please, no. I would not prefer that." And then your sex partner invites millions of people into the room anyway, instructing each of them that you would really prefer they not come in. This excites them! They are willing to pay $10 a pop to observe what you do not want them to see.

So: What does this experience say about you, as a person? Let's take a representative sample of public responses to people who once privately videotaped themselves during sex many years ago, and then later saw that videotape disseminated to millions of people without their consent:

* You don't deserve reproduce, or ever succeed at any job: "[to] all the little girls and boys out there who one day hope to be famous/have a family/have an awesome career. Don't make a sex tape."

* You're either a calculating liar, or too dumb to fuck: "Spare us the outrage at how you feel sooooo betrayed, how you have no idea how this could have fallen into the wrong hands. . . . if you are actually dumb enough to make a sex tape and think it won’t get leaked, you are too dumb to ever have sex again."

* If you express discomfort at having your sex tape disseminated without your consent, you're a whiner: "Forgive us if we don't feel too sorry for Paris, given that the sex tape helped transform her from a two-bit reality TV star and wannabe to an internationally famous tabloid darling and blonde icon."

* And on the off-chance that you are not embarrassed by the tape's release? Well, you're a whore: "Like any mentally unstable famewhore, she's speaking out about the entire debacle."

Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown and I disagree with these sentiments! Join us in this edition of Sexist Beatdown as we chat consent with girls on film, until the conversation devolves into a demonstration of OUR FEMINIST HULK RAGE:

SADY: Well, good morning! Who wants to discuss... THE EROTICIZATION OF NON-CONSENT????

AMANDA: Oh me! Me! Wait ... I believe I am meant to feign disinterest in this discussion, in order to make it hotter. THE CHAT THEY DIDN'T WANT YOU TO READ.

SADY: Perhaps you should hire a lawyer to stop me from chatting with you, so that I might go ahead and continue chatting anyway!

AMANDA: For that is the consequence of having a Gmail account.

SADY: EXACTLY. And we all know that, however many verbal and/or legal refusals a woman may utter, she SECRETLY WANTS YOU to do whatever the hell you want and/or will profit from, anyway. If she didn't WANT you to release her sex tape, why did she make a sex tape? If she didn't WANT you to penetrate her vagina, why did she have a vagina? And so on! And so forth!

AMANDA: Right? So, the whole wink-wink "taboo" behind the "leaked"-but-not-actually-leaked sex tape doesn't bother me so much – I know that some people get off on the idea of watching people have sex on tape who don't normally have sex on tape. . . as long as all parties are actually just playing the "leak" card for its erotic potential. The problem is that the people who are selling, downloading, and writing about these things don't appear interested in differentiating between "leaked" sex tapes and. . . leaked sex tapes.

SADY: Right. That's the thing. And the assumption, among people I've talked to, is that these things ARE leaked purposefully. Thus making their subjects total sluts! But when one brings up the idea that maybe, JUST MAYBE, someone like Kendra Wilkinson may be repeatedly saying that she doesn't want people to sell or view her sex tape because SHE DOESN'T WANT PEOPLE TO SELL OR VIEW HER SEX TAPE, then the reply that comes back is, all too often, "well, then she's just stupid." Stupid for making the sex tape, stupid for not thinking strangers would jerk off to it without her consent. Which MAKES the non-consent involved in your jerk-off time... okay? Because you think she's not smart? How does that work? As far as I can tell, we value consent no matter who it comes from. It's not like you have to pass the SAT in order to decide whether or not you want a certain sexual experience. You just want it or you don't, and if you clearly don't, it's not okay for anyone else to proceed with that against your will.

AMANDA: Right. I am also confused as to why some people assume that people who fight the release of their sex tape in court are simply doing it for publicity purposes? Because I have been involved in a civil court proceeding like one time on a relatively minor matter and it was hugely inconvenient and horrible! And I imagine that when a video of you having sex is involved in evidence collection it is even more unpleasant!

SADY: Right. And the fact is, even when we all assume the release of the tape was fully consensual — instigated by both or all of the people in it — the idea of it not being consensual IS kind of eroticized, by the people selling it. That, I am actually NOT okay with — the way there were, according to Tracy Clark-Flory, mocking speech bubbles over Kim Kardashian's face on the packaging of her own sex tape, reading like, "OMG!" or "PWNED" or whatever. The idea that you're dominating this specific woman — er, excuse me, stupid fauxlebrity bitch, I believe, is the term we for some reason think is appropriate when discussing her — and doing something sexual to her against her will IS CAPITALIZED UPON. As is the idea that legal court proceedings are just cute little gestures of resistance so you won't think she's a slut. That, to me, is exactly what rape culture looks like.

AMANDA: It is. And it's also this really weird phenomenon where even people who are OK with other people having consensual sex the way they want to get all confused once that sex is transferred onto videotape and commence with the slut-shaming again. Like, one of the biggest arguments I've heard against people who make sex tapes and then don't want them released for strangers to jack off to them, is that they don't understand the "consequences" of sex. REALLY? Because while I understand the practical concerns involved here, and think everyone should be educated about the risks of sexual intercourse, people who trump up "personal responsibility" while doing no fucking work to help make bad "consequences" of sex any better just essentially think people who have sex OUGHT TO BE punished for it. These are the same arguments against abortion, the same arguments against working to stop HIV, the same arguments against working to stop rape.

SADY: Right. It's the "well, she's stupid, so she deserves it" argument. And people can make sexual tapes or photos or whatever for a lot of reasons, aside from being stupid. They can be young, they can be drunk, they can be getting off on it, they can be trying to get their partner off better, they can have trusted their partner's multiple protestations that he'll never in a million years show it to anyone and in fact he'll erase it once he gets home HE SWEARS and... whoops, your partner lied. As far as I can tell, "you trusted your partner and then he lied to you and hurt you" isn't a "consequence" of sex. It's a "consequence" of your partner being abusive. And we're placing the onus of guilt on the victim.

AMANDA: Exactly. And I just want to give a shout out to Amanda Marcotte and Lena Chen here, who have written about this stuff a lot, and I really wouldn't understand any of the dynamics at play here if not for their work.

SADY: Yeah, Lena Chen really clarified a lot of this in her own writing, as far as my reading goes. Because she's experienced this form of assault first-hand. And the shaming that goes along with it.

AMANDA: One of the things Lena spoke to me about in an interview I did with her is that at Harvard, where she blogged about sex, she would get so much slut-shaming from other college students who were also having sex, and also probably had taken some photos during sex at some point, but who a) didn't write about it publicly, and b) didn't have some douchey ex leak those photos on a blog. The assumption being made by all of the people shaming people who make sex tapes is that it would never happen to them because they're not idiots. When really, it probably won't happen to them because they're not targets. Lena was a target because she talked about sex; Kim Kardashian was a target because she has a name that could sell copies. If random Internet Commenter makes a sex tape, they will likely never see the "consequences" of having sex on tape, because no one is particularly interested in watching random Internet Commenter do it, and yet they glean some sort of moral superiority out of that.

SADY: Right. Another thing that crops up, in these discussions, is the idea that if the woman ALREADY has expressed some of her sexuality in public, ALL of her sexuality belongs to the public. Like, Megan Fox is shooting a nude scene in a movie — where she probably has a carefully worked-out deal about how much is going to show up on screen and how it will look, or whatever — and that's assumed consent for some random douche to take a photo of her for the Internet. Lena Chen blogs about sex, so that's assumed consent for people to leak and/or look at sexual photos of her. Kendra Wilkinson has made porn, so therefore anything she does on film can be distributed as porn. Whereas the reality is, if someone as comfortable with being naked on-screen as KENDRA FREAKING WILKINSON is saying "no, I don't like this, this is hard for me, don't sell or watch my tape," I think that REALLY, REALLY SUPER-DUPER MEANS that she doesn't want you to do those things.

AMANDA: Exactly. Christ. It's that really awful anti-sex impulse rearing its head again. Like, you're allowed to make a sex tape – as long as you stay married to the other person in the sex tape forever and ever and never betray each other until you go to Heaven. Or you can make a sex tape – as long as you keep your head down and never make a name for yourself, because people who reach some level of success deserve to be shamed for having sex.

SADY: Exactly. They're successful, and they're often already "impermissibly" sexual, so the whole "humiliation" — we can see your cleavage! We think you're skanky! You belong to US now, whether you give consent or not — is really just about scaring women out of being sexual. Again.

AMANDA: And people who give the "skank" treatment to celebrity women? They're actually talking about all women, everywhere, but they use the fame as a convenient excuse. We all hear these messages.

SADY: Exactly. No matter how comfortable you are with your own sexuality, no matter how well you think you can set your own boundaries, you don't belong to you: You belong to the people looking at you. They decide what to do with your sexuality, not you. So don't flirt at the bar. Don't wear that short skirt. Don't go to the bar. Don't go out. And when you're in the house, don't make a sex tape. Because we'll find it if we want to. I mean, so many people don't even watch this stuff to get off: They watch it to mock. To feel superior. They watch it, pretty bluntly, to shame.

AMANDA: It's just really sad to me that when it comes to "sex tapes," we can't even reach the level of common courtesy of your standard Girls Gone Wild shoot, where at least the women being videotaped expect what it's being used for, and are generally forced to sign a contract stating as much. Like, that's a really really low bar.

SADY: Yeah. I mean, there's basically no responsibility at a GGW shoot. Girls are young and girls are WASTED. GGW goes over the line of consent pretty continually. BUT AT LEAST THERE IS THE ILLUSION OF CONSENT, you know what I'm saying? When we, the American public, hold ourselves to a lower standard than Joe "Alleged Rapist" Francis, things have gone pretty far in the direction of Hell.

AMANDA: Yeah I'm pretty depressed about this whole human enterprise right now. Thank Christ for Lena Chen.

SADY: Dear Lord. Woman is sharp and woman is strong. She has dignity like I will never in a million years have. Although, right now, I am also developing a real affection for Kendra W.

AMANDA: For real.

SADY: In conclusion: YAY for the survivors. Especially the ones who keep telling us that this is fucked up even though occasionally real live grown adults keep finding reasons not to listen.

AMANDA: I know. I am seriously proud of them for being brave enough to speak out about this. Even though they know people will turn around their honest commentary about how fucked-up this situation is in order to accuse them of trying to make money off not consenting. UGH. I'M LOSING IT AGAIN.

SADY: "SURELY YOU ARE NO ORDINARY SLUT! SURELY YOU ARE A MONEY-HUNGRY SLUT AS WELL!" "You only want your rapist to go to jail because you support the prison-industrial complex!"

AMANDA: URRGGGG

SADY: "Something something! No legal recourse for slatterns! Something something word barf!"

AMANDA: Someone get FEMINIST HULK on this.

SADY: FEMINIST HULK NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT HOW TO APPROXIMATE NOT-HULK TALK. FEMINIST HULK STILL PROBABLY UNDERSTAND WORD "NO."

Photo via ed.ward, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • EO

    "EXACTLY. And we all know that, however many verbal and/or legal refusals a woman may utter, she SECRETLY WANTS YOU to do whatever the hell you want and/or will profit from, anyway. If she didn’t WANT you to release her sex tape, why did she make a sex tape? If she didn’t WANT you to penetrate her vagina, why did she have a vagina? And so on! And so forth!"

    Wow it took 3 whole exchanges in this chat for Sady to start man hating. And only one to turn on caps lock.

  • KJ

    Wow. It only took one comment for someone to make a nonsensical accusation of man-hating.

  • http://bikegroggery.blogspot.com groggette

    holy crap... FEMINIST HULK IS AWESOME!!!

    PS, good beatdown too ;)

  • kza

    She takes a conversation about people putting up sex tapes and starts talking about guys raping chicks. How is that not hating?

  • http://garlandgrey.com Garland Grey

    @kza Both are indicative of the RIGHT men feel to own and control and abuse women's bodies - Rape culture is about Men and Women allowing Men to say, over and over again: "I OWN you. I own your safety, and your own self-concept, and your image, and your self-esteem, and finally, your body. I can do whatever I want with you." Both men and women contribute to rape culture - FACT.

    ALSO: I saw that snarky comment you made about being able to write for TBD IF ONLY YOU PUT ON THE CAPS LOCK HAR HAR HAR THIS GUY CAN'T WRITE

    But you'd need this esoteric missing philosopher's stone, I can't remember what it is called, I swear it is on the tip of my tongue - TALENT, THAT'S THE ONE.

    GARLAND GREY OUT

  • EmilyBites

    Ah, Eo and kza, united once again. How we missed their random dribblings.

    Nice beatdown, women.

  • kza

    Me snarky? WTF?! I don't know what guy you're talking about but I'm still confused about what rape has to do with sex tapes. I guess I'm dumb because I don't see how tapes of both males and females that get released have to do with males owning women.

  • Shinobi

    I need feminist hulk to keeep me from feeding the trolls. I am weak.... oh the things I could say... Instead I will say productive things.

    I think, or wonder really, if part of the reason people get so gross about famous people who have previously done fun things in their lives that eventually backfired are because non famous people have been forgoing having a good time because they are delusional about someday also being famous. (KW's tapes are not a good example of this because from what I hear she wasn't having much fun at all.) I think it is mostly because we are a nation of puritanical misogynist hypocrites, but I wonder if we are also maybe jealous puritanical misogyinist hypocrites.

  • Keith B

    Actually Garland, you can also use CAPS a whole lot if you're noodlez.

    KEITH B OUT

  • Flutterby

    Kza: "...I’m still confused about what rape has to do with sex tapes. I guess I’m dumb because I don’t see how tapes of both males and females that get released have to do with males owning women."

    In the situations mentioned, the men involved are the ones who released the tapes against the will of the women. The women are the one's who are focused on, who's names are used to title it, who get shamed for being sexual and accused of being money-crazed and disbelieved when they say they don't want people to watch and sell and download the recordings. The WOMEN are the ones who the tape is about, and it's the WOMEN who say they have a problem with it. In most situations, including the ones mentioned above, as far as the public is concerned the man is no more than a male body for the female to be sexual with.

  • Kristina

    a. Keith B, prettyyyyy sure Garland was referring to the privilege to write for TBD, not to use caps.

    b. Garland, OMG THAT WAS THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER. In caps, naturally.

    c. kza, the reason it turned from men deciding they have the right to distribute tapes without consent to men deciding they have the right to rape people without consent is... well, in what I just wrote. (See: "men deciding" and "without consent" if you're confused still.) (Also, so this doesn't turn into a chorus of "omg women rape too, man hater!", let me say that I KNOW THAT. But in most, if not all, of these celebrity sex tape situations, it's men doing it, so the comparison was made in that vein only.)

  • kza

    So when Colin Farrels sex tape is released by his ex girlfriend the focus is on her right? Give me a break.

  • DW

    I was impressed by the dialogue. I am a guy who just thinks the whole idea of "leaked sex tapes" is wrong. Yeah there may be some hot woman in them, but if she doesnt want it released why not just oblige? There is enough stuff on the internet that people want you to see.

    I also believe when something is leaked legitimately or not the woman can not win. She is either a "slut" or "stupid". Why can't she be a smart business woman or a victim? Or rather why can't the guys who release them be called out for the doucheness?

    I don't have kids yet, but we sure make it hard for them to trust anyone they meet in their life.

  • Kristina

    kza, the point is that the focus is rarely on the perpetrator, where it clearly should be, so of course the focus isn't on her. We shouldn't be vilifying the people who did not want those tapes released. We should be angry at those who did that without consent.

  • kza

    The point in the blog post was that it was all MENS FAULTS. I mean I couldn't get through the entire aticle but "And we all know that, however many verbal and/or legal refusals a woman may utter, she SECRETLY WANTS YOU to do whatever the hell you want and/or will profit from, anyway." suddenly bring up gender when in the intro that wasn't the issue.

  • Kristina

    So then why read the blog if you're going to become so incensed?

    And not for nothing, but in this particular instance, it IS men profiting off of women's misfortune. Sure, sometimes women have a hand in "leaks" (which is smart, imho), but sometimes they don't want these things released. By MEN. Which is what was discussed in this post.

  • Keith B

    Why read a retrosexual living guide if it's just going to upset you enough to make a post about it? Why call out a man for being sexist under the guise of chivalry when you could just shut up and enjoy a free meal? Why post here if you disagree with Amanda? Life could be so much more pleasant, kza!

  • kza

    Because I like this blog?

    See how you're pointing the finget at MEN? You have no way of knowing who's leaking these tapes in many cases but just go ahead and point the finger at MEN. Sure exgirlfriends leak tapes and people whose sex we don't know steal these tapes and sell them to media outlets but let's ignore that!

  • Kristina

    Well if it's stolen, then that's clearly another story. But a lot of the time it's an ex who decides that he (or she) wants to profit from it. The reason the finger is pointed at men in these cases is that the specific instances mentioned were released by exes of the women. Namely, men. As I said before, ex-girlfriends who do this to their now-famous ex-boyfriends should be held to as high a standard of culpability as men who do it.

    And the reason I ask why you read is that there are a lot of issues within a patriarchy-driven society, which this blog talks about more often than not. You don't seem to like when the finger is pointed back at your gender, so I was curious as to why you read it. It was not meant in a hostile way, just an honestly curious remark.

  • Emily H.

    Agree with DW. Usually when people "defend" the sex-tape releaser, or criticise the women in the tapes (for being dumb, or whatever), they usually make an argument that's like "why are people still making sex tapes, don't they know it's just going to get leaked, they're so dumb." When really, it would be easy to use the fact that this keeps happening over & over again to show that (a) people aren't going to stop making sex tapes; (b) we should make it much harder to release such material without people's consent. After all, it's not illegal to tape yourself having sex in your own home; there's no reason there should be some unofficial "punishment" for doing so.

  • K

    This whole "leaked"/leaked sex tape thing reminds me of an observation I made whilst (very, very far) overseas. I was reading about some US celebrity, maybe a singer?, trying to "control their image" with a lawsuit because someone had ganked their riff or whatever. And it seemed so, so *silly* to me. Because when I went to the bazaar, there were stacks and stacks (and STACKS) of little cardboard notebooks adorned with 50Cent and Britney and weird mash-ups of Kate Hudson, Coca-Cola, and a red Ferrari, all Made in China (TM). There was not a snowball's chance in hell that any of these products were "licensed" by the copyright holders or celebrities depicted. Same went for bootleg DVDs (the only kind that was available) and posters and... just everything. "Controlling your image" meant NOTHING were I was. It would be like trying to empty the ocean with an eye-dropper.

    My point is, creating media in the Internet Age means that media will be stolen, leaked, and reproduced. The sex-tape situation certainly comes closer to home than a leaked album track, but it is essentially the same thing, technologically-speaking.

    I don't think anyone who makes a sex tape should be shamed for sluttiness or silliness, but I do think anyone who creates any media at all has to recognize that the pirated version of it hit the torrents five hours before their movie opened. I agree that anyone who feels violated by this kind of thing should try to fight it, but they will lose. Streisand Effect is a bitch, but it is as inescapable as gravity. This is the world we live in, but unfortunately, most people need to be burned a few times before they figure that out. And unlike your most embarrassing kiss in high school, this shit is on the internet, and that's *forever.*

  • kza

    "You don’t seem to like when the finger is pointed back at your gender, so I was curious as to why you read it"

    I don't like it when a finger is pointed at any gender.

  • Lizrd

    "I mean, so many people don’t even watch this stuff to get off: They watch it to mock. To feel superior. They watch it, pretty bluntly, to shame."

    It's lines like this that 1. make The Sexist and Tiger Beatdown my favorite blog 2. make me want to buy Sady and Amanda several rounds.

  • MissaA

    @ kza

    Sometimes fingers have to be pointed to call people out for doing oppressive shit. This applies to everyone.

  • kza

    There is no need for finger pointing here. That's why it's bullshit.

  • DB

    i need to take a shit.

  • Dyl

    The fact is, we'll never change human nature. That being, to make a profit in some form or fashion. It is that greedy bastard trait in our nature that has made the human being the most successful species on the planet. Images of sex are a major source of profit and always have been. There is evidence of pornography dating back to ancient Rome and further. That being said, it is simply smarter to stay away from making sex tapes. This is common knowledge. Not saying it's right, or that this shouldn't change, but it is true. If you really feel a compulsion to make a sex tape for a sexually gratifying purpose, keep it. Don't let the party with less to lose "promise" to destroy it. Do it yourself. So, yes, unless these women did in fact have a hand in leaking their own sex tapes to make a bigger name for themselves, which is smart because it works, they are kinda dumb to not take the necessary precautions.

  • kza

    I don't agree that they are dumb but I think that they aren't leaked to humiliate anyone they're leaked to make money by the person leaking it, be it the star, the ex, or someone who came into possession of it.

  • squirrely girl

    @kza

    i've read and reread your comment, "I don’t like it when a finger is pointed at any gender" a couple of times now. it genuinely resonates and i'm a bit torn with how i feel about it. i, too, dislike when any gender is singled out for unfair negative treatment, blame, or shame... particularly if it's just a "gender difference."

    but in situations like leaked sex tapes i DO feel there are social elements of sex and gender at work here. quite simply, more tapes where the subject of interest is a woman are released than the other way around (keep in mind i'm counting ex-gf sites in addition to the famous tape releases) additionally, women are judged more harshly for these videos than their male counterparts. what's more is that in general, more men buy/watch these videos than women.

    so what do we do when one gender/sex is seemingly violating the rights/privacy of another gender/sex at a much higher rate than the converse?

  • squirrely girl

    btw - doing something for profit doesn't make it any more or less reprehensible and it doesn't mitigate the outcome, whether that was the intended outcome or not - that whole road to hell being paved with "good" intentions thing.

    a person killed for money is still dead. a building burned for profit that results in a person being injured is still two crimes. a video released for profit that humiliates somebody and violates their privacy is still just as wrong as if they did it "for fun."

  • Kit-Kat

    Is there any way to caution people about risky behavior without being called out for blaming them for someone else's bad acts? Because if I had a teenager, I would be telling them to be very careful with sexual images or recordings of themselves. Once you allow someone else to possess that kind of material, you have lost control over what happens to it. Even if you have legal recourse, it might not kick in until significant damage to your peace of mind/privacy/reputation has been done. You should be able to trust your boyfriend not to share it with his friends or the entire middle school or the internet or some tabloid, but your trust could be misplaced, or someone might steal it. How do we say, proceed with caution here, without saying, it's your fault if your ex turns out to be a douche? How can we say, if you are going to make a sex tape, here are some precautions you might want to think about taking, or here's why you should maybe rethink your decision? Can we just not say that?

    Let me use a non-sexual example. When I cross the street, I look both ways, even if I have a walk signal. Yes, if I have the walk signal, I should be able to cross the street without getting hit by cross traffic, and if I get hit by a car running a red light, it is not my fault. It is the driver's fault, and they should be held accountable. If someone didn't look both ways at a signaled crosswalk, and got hit, I wouldn't say it was their fault, or they deserved it, or they had it coming. But you know what? I'd rather not get hit by a car in the first place, so I look both ways, just in case there is an inattentive or aggressive or homicidal driver. Looking both ways does not guarantee my safety, of course, and I could still be hit by a car, but it seems a reasonable precaution to take.

    I agree that some of the commentary called out in the chat is pretty egregious in blaming the victim, so I'm not defending it. I'm just wondering what a productive discussion of this topic would look like. What advice, if any, would you give to someone who asked you whether or not they should agree to make a sex tape?

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