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Creepy photography
September 23, 2012 3:50 AM   Subscribe

Creepshots and revenge porn: how paparazzi culture affects women (The Guardian, UK)
"What unites creepshots [on Reddit], the Middleton photographs, the revenge porn websites," says Franks, "is that they all feature the same fetishisation of non-consensual sexual activity with women who either you don't have any access to, or have been denied future access to. And it's really this product of rage and entitlement"

Members of the r/CreepShots community responded to the Guardian article:
I don't have time for a full response right now, but in short, the courts have ruled that photography is covered by the US Constitution (specifically the first amendment - freedom of expression) therefore moral judgements are not enforceable. Secondly, anything viewable in public is exactly that - public. The two combined mean its fully protected as speech, as long as there is an actual audience. (not my opinion - stated explicitly by the courts). The only exception so far is upskirt photos which are outlawed in a handful of states. That hasn't been tested in federal court yet. (link)
Indeed, in the Guardian article's comments section there are calls of hypocrisy: what about Tube Crush (discussed previously on MeFi) and Macho i Kollektivtrafiken; why the double standards between men and women?

Was Susan Sontag right in saying that "the camera is a kind of passport that annihilates moral boundaries and social inhibitions, freeing the photographer from any responsibility toward the people photographed"? Or is quoting Susan Sontag giving to much credit to what amounts to hastily snatched phone snaps? Legally speaking, at least in the UK, the law is clear:
If you are standing on public property you are legally allowed to photograph anyone or anything you like, even if your subject is on private property or is a private building.
posted by asymptotic (501 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
To be clear:

1) I think those complaining of double standards are just going through the whole "wah but what about men?" routine, when instead it's obvious there's this surreal community of men collection non-consensual photos of women,

2) This whole post may just be a dupe of of the Tubecrush post, linked above, but I wanted to post the Guardian article, despite it not linking to Tubecrush.

3) CreepShots is really disgusting and I'm confused why it garners any sense of community.
posted by asymptotic at 3:53 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ew turning misogyny into a free speech issue. Lovely. Additionally: "..the courts have ruled that photography is covered by the US Constitution... therefore moral judgements are not enforceable." is such a weird non-sequitor, especially regarding photos taken in other countries with, like, different laws.

FWIW, I agree with both Sontag and Frank. It's fucking gross, and just because something is legal, does not make it right. Also, I'd love to see the arm chair lawyers over on Reddit dealing with sexual harrassment, assault charges, etc that could oh-so-easily result from their "creep shots".

Note: I did not go to creep shots on Reddit to form this opinion. I see enough creepy misogyny in real life without inviting it in.
posted by smoke at 4:05 AM on September 23, 2012 [22 favorites]


Wow, I looked at creepshots...it mainly features zoomed in images of women's asses from behind. It is not misnamed.
posted by jaduncan at 4:14 AM on September 23, 2012


Ah, and I suppose I should have linked to the revenge porn website mentioned in the Guardian article - Is Anyone Up? (NSFW, tumblr) - but really there's no redeeming value in visiting the site.
posted by asymptotic at 4:16 AM on September 23, 2012


What if a person objects to being photographed in public? Does that also infringe on a person's right to photograph anything s/he damn pleases?
posted by iamkimiam at 4:21 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, as a person who gets angry if anyone takes a photo of me without asking, in any circumstances whatsoever I'd ... probably best stay out of this.
posted by Decani at 4:29 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Eh, if they really thought it was/is OK they'd take pictures from the front.

If they wanted to just look at beautiful women there's more than a lifetime's worth of models on the internet in any flavour and combination one can imagine (due to rule 34) in far higher image quality.

This makes this about the violation, and makes the Guardian look correct.

Depressingly explicit about this: the OP from "Just for the lovely ladies at SRS. This girl is on the internet just because of you. Creeped at a TJs"
Fine, send the federales after me. I don't know if you are aware of the state of law enforcement in the US, but I don't think you'll be able to find a law enforcement entity that will subpoena Imgur or Reddit and then my ISP for my information for taking pictures of fully clothed women from horizontal angles. Furthermore, you'd have to identify the woman in question and she'd have to press charges.
As someone who has had significant crimes against him go unprosecuted, I laugh at your wharrrgarbly threat.
And that's all under the assumption that it's illegal. Let me give you a tip: if it is, it's more likely on commercial grounds... reddit is making money in part from these images without the subject's permission. If you do go after me with that, take down TMZ with me and I'll do my time with a smile.
I photographed this girl because she's hot. Normally I don't post things like this to the internet because the gain is negligible. What value is it to me if others see it? In this case, there is a value: pissing off SRS.
Pissing off SRS makes me happy. This post has inspired me. Off I go to snap some more and I'll make sure you know it's for you.
This would be where I get a bit depressed/fighty about the degree of entitled assholes that the internet can consist of.
posted by jaduncan at 4:38 AM on September 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


I find it telling that the Guardian is calling out these bastards for engaging in immoral activity, and the "community" response is that because the activity is legal, "moral judgments are not enforceable."

You don't have to parse it too closely to get the actual meaning: "You can't stop me, so fuck you."

Classy.
posted by valkyryn at 4:41 AM on September 23, 2012 [42 favorites]


Lucy Mangan also writes in yesterday's Guardian about the Middleton pictures - What makes us think we're entitled to our pound of Kate Middleton's flesh?

I was surprised that there wasn't more kick back against the poster on Ask recently who wanted to sell pictures of women she'd taken without their consent (Can I sell my photos of people?), apart from the comment by windykites - though I guess some comments may have been deleted.
posted by paduasoy at 4:45 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


This makes this about the violation, and makes the Guardian look correct.

Of course it is. But how would y'all change the law so it was a better fit with your morality?

(An aside: I know a guy who turned up on tube crush. Bit icky, really.)
posted by Leon at 4:49 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


"SRS is a mean spirited circlejerk that stays behind a tampon curtain and bitches about sexism and racism on Reddit. That would be fine, except other redditors keep pointing it out: "oh, you pissed off SRS" with a link.
So, you go there and, even with a serious question like: what was wrong with what I posted?, you get benned with a dildo.
Well, fuck them. Usually I keep my creep shots for myself. Usually there's nothing to gain by sharing. But now, there is, I can piss off a pack of cunts.
As a matter of fact, I am going to make a special effort to do more of this sort of stuff. There's an android spy app that snaps off pics stealthily and the camera on the new phones is pretty nice with enough light."

Gah. I'm going to stop reading now.
posted by jaduncan at 4:49 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there something like Rule 34 for Reddit? If you can imagine a morally/socially/ethically transgressive act, there's probably already a subReddit devoted to it?

Maybe there's nothing illegal about it. Clinging to legality to support vile behavior is no better than a kid pointing at another kid and saying "I'm not touching you." technically, sure, you're not breaking the law, but you're still an asshole.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:00 AM on September 23, 2012 [22 favorites]


Yeah, this was the first time I've ever ventured across to Reddit.

I know that there are people who post here who claim it isn't as bad as everyone says it is, but on the basis of half an hour browsing the place, I can only say this to those people -- WTF?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:00 AM on September 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was amused by a comment that Bill Maher made this Friday that seems relevant. He said that the rioters in the Middle East think the provocative idiotic video that slurred Mohammed was approved by the government of the US, because in their countries, everything in the media is controlled by the government. So pictures of Kate Middleton's breasts are proof that government does not control our media or our lives.

I think I'd rather live in a society that puts up with creepshots than one that puts a virtual burqa over women.

My town has an anachronism: a village idiot. He goes around downtown with a disposable camera and takes creep shots of women. He carries around a tattered paper grocery bag of printed photos of his creep shots, and shows them to everyone. Despite my local university being a center of radical feminist studies, our village idiot is a beloved figure, and women who discover they've been surreptitiously photographed will kiss the guy and pose for him. Go figure.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:03 AM on September 23, 2012 [17 favorites]


I know that there are people who post here who claim it isn't as bad as everyone says it is, but on the basis of half an hour browsing the place, I can only say this to those people -- WTF?

You're basing your judgement of an entire massive website based on the worst parts of it.
posted by empath at 5:09 AM on September 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


The thing with Reddit is that it isn't a place, it's a whole collection of places, some absolutely unpleasant, others quite decent. The way to use Reddit in my experience is to:
  • Get a login and heavily customize what you see on the front page. No /pics, /funny, /atheism, etc. For example, I subscribe to 0x10c, announcements, BetaArmy, blog, DepthHub, EarthPorn, IndieGaming, ludology, macgaming, MachineLearning, originalhub, programming, science, selenium, tentporn, zurich. (Those *porn ones being "pretty pictures of landscapes", I hasten to add.)
  • If you're reading a long thread (for example an AMA), never read more than halfway down the comments, and don't read more than two deep in each sub-thread of comments. That way, you miss most of the trolls and truly unpleasant people.
posted by Zarkonnen at 5:14 AM on September 23, 2012 [41 favorites]


You're basing your judgement of an entire massive website based on the worst parts of it.

Yes, I agree with this. It's probably better thought of as a modern analogue of NNTP newsgroups, and it differs hugely from group to group.
posted by jaduncan at 5:15 AM on September 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


You're basing your judgement of an entire massive website based on the worst parts of it.

I'm comfortable with that. Why wouldn't I be?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:23 AM on September 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Because you could use the same logic for any community-building framework. Hell, you could use the same logic for the internet.
posted by Ritchie at 5:25 AM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm comfortable with that. Why wouldn't I be?

Dude, you're using the Internet. You're using it right now.
posted by mhoye at 5:26 AM on September 23, 2012 [29 favorites]


I'm comfortable with that. Why wouldn't I be?

Because this is like dismissing the internet based on the fact that you don't like Reddit, disliking the phone network because you don't like some people on it, or, again, dismissing the soc.culture.African newsgroup as part of NNTP on the basis of posts within chat.sexistassholes.creepshots.
posted by jaduncan at 5:27 AM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Agreed. Reddit is a kind of slightly smaller-scale mirror of the whole Internet. That is not to say that I don't wish they'd put their foot down more and shut down the truly nasty subreddits like CreepShots. (Though that will always be a game of whack-a-mole.)
posted by Zarkonnen at 5:28 AM on September 23, 2012


Reddit != the internet. Reddit is owned and operated by a cohesive organization who could decide to operate differently than they do.

Also, this SMBC seems relevant.
posted by muddgirl at 5:29 AM on September 23, 2012 [34 favorites]


"It's only 5 percent of birdshit and you go unfit for human consumption?"
posted by GenericUser at 5:36 AM on September 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


The internet is regulated by organizations who could also do things differently, like in China. I'm glad they don't. Anyway, this seems like a derail and I regret participating in it.
posted by Ritchie at 5:37 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Maybe we can avoid veering straight off into the Pro-/Con-Reddit rut? This is ground we've dragged ourselves over so very many times before, and isn't really necessary to repeat it all yet once again in order to discuss this post.]
posted by taz at 5:37 AM on September 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


I don't get why the men who do this come off like they're all so afraid of women. Taking "forbidden" photos of their bodies and sharing them on the Internet just reeks of little boy-ism. How do people get stuck in that awkward, "huffing to Dad's porn up in the treehouse" stage for the rest of their lives?

Or, more importantly, how is it that you can discover camera apps, create webpages and share information on how to do it (all the while screaming about "pissing off a pack of cunts") without thinking at all about what you're actually doing?

It's as if an architect built an entire mansion just so it has a locked door that no one ever attempts to open.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:40 AM on September 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


I disagree that the fotos of Kate Middleton have anything to do with sexual activity. I rather think it's about subjecting the rich and powerful (or at least people we think of as such) to degradation. We can't lower them in real life, by taking away their wealth and status, but we can morally lower them to base creatures. Put it this way, we would as much like to see naked fotos of the Queen as we would a young female royal, as then we can point, we can laugh, we can bring them down to our level. We want to feel we have something over these people, some kind of control, and the sexual element is by the by.
posted by Jehan at 5:40 AM on September 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Dude, you're using the Internet. You're using it right now.

I hate this attitude. Would you say to someone who is upset by the level of sexism in their community, "dude, your in the world. You're in it right now"?

Just because there are shit things in some subset of reality, does that really mean we can't have a problem with that? Perhaps even express an opinion, or even want to do something about it?
posted by iotic at 5:45 AM on September 23, 2012 [30 favorites]


Or, more importantly, how is it that you can discover camera apps, create webpages and share information on how to do it (all the while screaming about "pissing off a pack of cunts") without thinking at all about what you're actually doing?

Thinking about your own behavior is hard work, and carries the possibility that you may discover you are wrong wrong wrong, which is about the worst thing ever. The result is that many people will simply avoid such thinking without realizing they even have the option.
posted by Ritchie at 5:46 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the analysis of revenge porn and cheepshots being largely motivated by a sad reaction to perceived male powerlessness is spot on.

But I disagree that this is also the logic behind the celebrity cha-cha shots. The majority of people who read tabloids are women. There, I think it often has more to do with body-image issues. I read a desire on the part of readers to get a close as possible to supposedly "perfect" stars, to either see in detail what perfection looks like or to indulge in the schadenfreude that comes from seeing that sometimes (usually actually) celebrities have physical features just like the rest of us. Since much of our fashion, beauty and glamour industries are based on covering these things up, the tabloids go to the other extreme and try to reveal as much as possible and it gets out of control.

If In-Touch decides to rebrand itself, my suggestion for a new name is "Fat 'n Skinny".
posted by mr.ersatz at 5:48 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or, more importantly, how is it that you can discover camera apps, create webpages and share information on how to do it (all the while screaming about "pissing off a pack of cunts") without thinking at all about what you're actually doing?

For all the "world wide" of the "world wide web", it is also a highly insular place. The anonymity that is available can be isolating. You can lose yourself in ones own navel if you want. You can do what you want...indulge your darkest corner...from the privacy of your lonely bedroom, and no one in the entire world knows who you are, or much cares.

Plus, you can find others just like yourself, and you can all live in a dark corner together.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:52 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree with mr.ersatz. There are two separate phenomena at work. The commercial motivation behind taking pictures of Kate Middleton exists as a result of the popularity of tabloids, largely driven by women; creep photos are more likely to be taken by males who feel (however accurately) shut out of the "sexual mainstream." This seems to be a growing group, and unfortunately I think this is probably one of the less objectionable potential outcomes.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:53 AM on September 23, 2012


Metafilter : a highly insular place. The anonymity that is available can be isolating. You can lose yourself in ones own navel if you want. You can do what you want...indulge your darkest corner...from the privacy of your lonely bedroom, and no one in the entire world knows who you are, or much cares.
posted by fullerine at 5:56 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


asymptotic : CreepShots is really disgusting and I'm confused why it garners any sense of community.

When it comes to "revenge porn", I agree with you 100%. But creepshots?

As far as I can tell, it amount to nothing more than "took a picture of a crowd waiting for a bus, check out this girl over to the left". I'd have to call it no more offensive (and arguably, much less so) than "Women of Walmart", and I don't see too many people raging against that machine.

That said... Some of the comments, yeah, not so cool. But the pics themselves? Meh. I don't even get the point, much less the outrage.
posted by pla at 6:14 AM on September 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think those complaining of double standards are just going through the whole "wah but what about men?" routine....

I don't. This case IS a double-standard.

I'd like to see BOTH the "look at this hot person on the subway" sites go away.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:16 AM on September 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure there is a lot more in it (the Kate Middleton pics) than a case of "that's a fit young woman. I'd like to see her tits."
An anonymous porn model is not a substitute, and I don't think many viewers of the pics are doing it to degrade or humiliate. Female breasts are appealing to hetero men.
To tie this up with the creepshot perverts is a bit of a stretch, though I suppose the paparazzi must fall closer to the creep end of the scale than the thoughtless 'hey, famous titties' end.
posted by bystander at 6:38 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I'd rather live in a society that puts up with creepshots than one that puts a virtual burqa over women.

To me that sounds like "I'd rather live in a society where women aren't allowed to be in public without sexual harassment than live in a society where women aren't allowed to show themselves in public at all."

Either way, the society is hostile to women and seems a raw deal for us.
posted by Danila at 6:39 AM on September 23, 2012 [110 favorites]


Jesus Christ, it's like every week I find out about some new nauseating internet phenomenon. I was, until now, blissfully unaware of "creepshots."

I suppose that the guys taking these pics are exceptionally pathetic, and being aware of yourself as a giant pile of fail can send you into a moral and psychological death spiral. Not to make excuses...

The icing on the cake is the dipshit effort to defend immoral actions on legal grounds. But this is a very, very widespread tendency here in the U.S.. A huge proportion of my (college) students speak as if they basically do not believe in moral obligations. Begin talking about morality, and they will either "ask" (scare quotes because it isn't a genuine question) "who's to say?" or they'll assert that "it's all relative," or they'll start talking about the law. (One possibility is that the religious right has ruined 'moral' and its cognates, and now people wrongly associate the terms with puritanical religious casuistry.)

This crap (rather obviously) makes me think of Plato's thought-experiment concerning the Ring of Gyges, which makes its wearer invisible. The RoG is a vehicle for focusing the question: "apart from social sanctions/retaliation, why be moral?" Sadly, the answer of a lot of people--including, apparently, a whole lot of pathetic and socially inept teenage males is "no reason at all."

Of course, another possibility is that they simply do not recognize the harm associated with violations of privacy. Perhaps one way to drive the point home to them would be a concerted, widespread effort to reveal the porn-site preferences of the purveyors of creepshots...

Just be thankful there is no technology that would allow these guys to get away with rape from the privacy of their computer desks.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:40 AM on September 23, 2012 [36 favorites]


I don't think I'm on-board with lumping creepshots and paparazzi shots in with revenge porn. I think those are three different phenomena. Two are photos of people in public spaces, while most of the revenge porn I've seen is photos of someone in a house or hotel room and definitely with expectations of privacy. I'm really surprised that more of those sites haven't been shut down by big lawsuits.

The creepshots and the paparazzi stuff, however, definitely overlap in my mind, and have everything to do with how long-standing legal and social rules about low expectations of privacy in public are intersecting with digital cameras and the internet. Both are easily monetized (directly for paparazzi shots, and indirectly via ads for the voyeur stuff) and seem to have a big demand. I don't have any easy answers, and as far as I understand it there hasn't been a serious court challenge to the street voyeur stuff in the US recently.

I'm pretty sure I've spotted guys taking surreptitious photos of my partner before, but always in such ambiguous and deniable ways that I couldn't see any value in starting a confrontation, and as noted it's pretty much legal anyway, so whatever. And just yesterday we were walking along together and a guy was staring so hard at her breasts that I thought of suggesting he just use his camera and save some effort. I guess my point is that sites like creepshots are an consequence of having all these guys who stare that hard; make staring less interesting or less acceptable and maybe taking the photos will be less exciting?
posted by Forktine at 6:42 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, personally I find surveillance cameras plus face recognition software way more creepy than a few dudes with cameras -- it's far more ubiquitous, and guaranteed to be used for things that are directly harmful.
posted by Forktine at 6:46 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Creepshots reminds me of a comment Colin Wilson made about the pseudonymous author of the Victorian pornophiliac book My Secret Life: The author was obsessed with the idea that every woman had a secret, and it was his calling to see that secret for himself. Lacking camera and internet technology he did the next best thing and kept a diary.

And this sort of behavior is driven by the fact that, for many of us, he was right; we regard certain body parts as secrets reserved for private interaction, and so there is power to be had in seizing those images without permission.

I don't think it would be accurate to say that Creepshots exists directly because of people who get pissed off at it, but I do think Creepshots exists because of the exact same social pressures which motivate the people who get pissed off at it. It's the same factor that caused the room to dissolve in giggles when Ann Biden said to the microphone "I have seen Joe up close..."

The Creepshots inspire me neither to desire nor rage; they strike me mostly as pathetic since there are more direct and interesting ways to enjoy sexual power, and no shortage of people interested in such play. But both the rage and the desire spring from the same insistence that certain things are dirty, private, and secret, and that there is some kind of great power in doing a reveal.

As for the paparazzi, they are also feeding off the secret bits of the rich and famous, but also as others have mentioned the leveling out of the separation between the ordinary and the famous; it's not just that rich people have breasts, it's that they're like us in so many other intimate ways that spoil the cultivated image of public perfection.
posted by localroger at 6:50 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Why are we just putting the blame on the Paparazzi?
They will click what you show them.
posted by molisk at 6:58 AM on September 23, 2012


Yeah, those women probably shouldn't have been dressed like that and got what they deserved, right?

ugh.
posted by elizardbits at 7:15 AM on September 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Yeah, those women probably shouldn't have been dressed like that and got what they deserved, right?

Hang on. What did they get? Assuming you mean the creep shot ones, they got a pic taken and posted online (and most of the 30seconds I spent looking had faces cropped out).
What did they get?
I think it is ugly and the quotes up thread show some pretty nasty turns of phrase, but the limit of harm seems to be a pic of them as they dressed to go out, which seems pretty low on the harm scale.
posted by bystander at 7:27 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I hate this attitude. Would you say to someone who is upset by the level of sexism in their community, "dude, your in the world. You're in it right now"?

There's a marked difference between "There's sexism in some parts of my community, so I'm going to avoid hanging out in those areas" and "There's sexism in some parts of my community so I'm going to move to the Moon."
posted by mhoye at 7:27 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the second time I've heard of Creepshots, the first was earlier this week: "Is a Pervy High School Teacher Posting ‘Sexy’ Underage Students’ Photos on Reddit?"
posted by the_artificer at 7:30 AM on September 23, 2012


What did they get?

Followed around by creepy men with hostile attitudes. For the students who were photographed by their own teachers and the shots posted on Reddit, they were exploited and wasted a semester or a year in a class taught by someone who showed disdain for them. And it really sucks when you have to account for that if you just want to go to a public place. Keep in mind that the one photo you see isn't the only time any particular woman has had to put up with being sexually harassed.

I'm pushing back against the notion that this is normal and to be expected as part of a woman's experience in life. I think the creepers should be ostracized and I think private corporately-owned social networks like Reddit can certainly ban that kind of mistreatment if they so choose. This definitely has an impact on the female members of these sites. For example, one creeper took creepshots of all the women who attended a Reddit meetup and posted them on the site. What a chilling effect that sort of thing must have on women participating as active members. There's also the frequent doxxing of female members for angering the herd, or the supposedly benign trolling for GoneWild pics to put on irrelevant posts.

I know from reading SRS that a lot of people reach a point where they can't take it anymore. I closed my Reddit membership after the rapist support thread. These are good people the site is losing all to keep making money off of creepers and bullies. And it is about making money in the end. Jailbait was the most popular subreddit when it was taken down.
posted by Danila at 7:41 AM on September 23, 2012 [88 favorites]


I think it is ugly and the quotes up thread show some pretty nasty turns of phrase, but the limit of harm seems to be a pic of them as they dressed to go out, which seems pretty low on the harm scale.

Having a society with masses of sexually starved, generally physically and mentally unhealthy young men becoming vindictive misogynists doesn't seem like a small harm. There is definitely a very troubling undercurrent of nonconsensual sex in the male porn world (a lot of which is likely consensual activity just being marketed as nonconsensual). The direct harm to individuals may be low, but the broader damage done to everyone's ability to trust and care about each other is immense

being aware of yourself as a giant pile of fail can send you into a moral and psychological death spiral.

Pretty much. Figure out some way to integrate these people into a healthy community and make positive romantic connections with real humans in the real world, and I'd bet the desire to creepshot women drops to about zero.
posted by crayz at 7:48 AM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


What did they get

whatever some worthless piece of shit on the internet thought they deserved while still being able to hide his pathetic ass behind the fig leaf of legality.

it's the white noise of misogyny. apparently we *would* have to go to the moon to escape it. and i get irritated every time i'm reminded it's there.
posted by twist my arm at 7:54 AM on September 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Why are we just putting the blame on the Paparazzi?
They will click what you show them.


Can you truly say that Kate Middleton was "showing" the paparazzi something if she was hiding away on a private estate and they had to use a long lens and hide behind a tree so she wouldn't see them?

That's like me saying that you were "showing" me your genitals if I snuck into your bathroom and waited behind the shower curtain for you to come in and take a pee.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:56 AM on September 23, 2012 [38 favorites]


Figure out some way to integrate these people into a healthy community and make positive romantic connections with real humans in the real world, and I'd bet the desire to creepshot women drops to about zero.

I will take that bet. Rapists aren't just creepy people hiding in bushes and misogynists aren't just unhappy losers.

Some destitute people steal for survival. If you wanted to bet that rich people wouldn't steal because they don't need to - I'd take that bet too.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:56 AM on September 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


The direct harm to individuals may be low Storm?
For example, one creeper took creepshots of all the women who attended a Reddit meetup and posted them on the site. Teacup?
I'm actually really sympathetic to the idea that people have personal privacy and this sort of stuff is clearly repulsive, but isn't it a case of some outliers who have come to prominence because they can lurk together on the Internet? Who is saying this is normal?
There are a bunch of genuine photographers that will be collateral damage in trying to oppose this handful of freaks. I'm not either, and I can understand how individuals will feel icked out, but what are you suggesting?
posted by bystander at 7:59 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a marked difference between "There's sexism in some parts of my community, so I'm going to avoid hanging out in those areas" and "There's sexism in some parts of my community so I'm going to move to the Moon."

Choosing not to visit one Internet site is like emigrating to the moon, huh? I hadn't noticed before, but there are some nice craters round here.

Defending all of one site's content as being purely indicative of the Internet at large is to totally negate any social responsibility the owners of that site should have.
posted by iotic at 8:03 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


it's the white noise of misogyny.
Is this the slippery slope?
I'm not sure I see anybody agreeing with the creepers, or even the paparazzi, particularly.
And there are even examples of the reverse with the tubecrush link. These people are creepy, but they apparently aren't breaking the law, don't seem to actually be causing much harm for all their creepiness, and laws to oppose them would be harmful to lots of other law abiding people.
A pretty common comment in this thread is about ignorance they existed.
I'm trying to be really conscious of sexism, and clearly these idiots aren't being respectful or thoughtful, but I don't see any implication that they are in any way main stream?
Can't we just hate them from afar?
posted by bystander at 8:08 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd rather live in a society that puts up with creepshots than one that puts a virtual burka over women

I actually came in to say that this shit is making me seriously, genuinely consider taking on a burka. I am not of the islamic faith, but I can't think of any other way to protect myself from these people. This doesn't just anger me. it frightens me. I don't like that whenever I go to a hotel room, new apartment, changeroom, or public washoom, I should check for hidden cameras. I don't like that I know how to check for hidden cameras. I don't like that, in the past when I had been intimate, I was unable to be comfortable until laptops were closed and phones were covered. I don't like that, whenever I ignored this discomfort, or got drunk enough not to care, I would spend weeks- weeks!- afraid, worried that I was now plastered all over the interne, that there were strangers laughing at something very private about me, objectifying me.
I do not like that these fears are legitimate. I do not like that a therapist does not think I am paranoid due to these fears.

Yes, I have anxiety. I'm being treated for that. But the treatment isn't to help me stop being afraid of something imaginary. The treatment is to help me cope with the fact that (in this case), the thing I am afraid of is quite possibly real and there is nothing I can do about it. And that fucking sickens me, because checking changerooms for hidden cameras or two-way mirrors should NOT be reasonable behaviour.
posted by windykites at 8:18 AM on September 23, 2012 [66 favorites]


I'm trying to be really conscious of sexism, and clearly these idiots aren't being respectful or thoughtful, but I don't see any implication that they are in any way main stream?

The problem is, though, that they are. That's the entire point of this FPP. Creepshots, paparazzi, and revenge porn are all facets of the same sexist dynamic. Maybe this particular subred isn't very popular, but the attitude which it reflects is all too mainstream. The more manifestations of this attitude that arise, the more it affirms in the eyes of others that this attitude is not only harmless but great fun for all.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:18 AM on September 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Begin talking about morality, and they will either "ask" (scare quotes because it isn't a genuine question) "who's to say?" or they'll assert that "it's all relative," or they'll start talking about the law. (One possibility is that the religious right has ruined 'moral' and its cognates, and now people wrongly associate the terms with puritanical religious casuistry.)

I don't know, speaking as a recent grad and thus part of the demographic bubble to which you are fretting over...

Not only should you look at how people choose to live their lives, but you shouldn't necessarily dismiss acceptance of moral relativism, as it's been a cornerstone -of- the sort of moral upbringing we get, some of which is an attempt to think is ways that allow you to cope with non-essential moral diversity and self compromise for survival and sanity. This is not because we're lazy, it's because we're loving and live in diverse environments OR it is a symptom of the base powerlessness of the individual.

For example I believe that sexism is generally wrong, and I generally think that one sided gender prohibitions/rules are a bad thing but yet, I also believe in freedom of expression and toning down cultural imperialism, as a lot of effort went into teaching me the horrors of things like residential schools. So, for example I might have a hijab wearing acquaintance. I disagree with covering, indeed morally I don't think women should be required to cover more than men in my own cultural bubble, and I consider the potential harm perpetuating hijab wearing onto this person's children. And yet I also need to accept them as just another Canadian with a self expression perspective equal to my own, and the common courtesy of treating everyone nicely and respectfully. Thus we follow the mutual expectation that I won't use her hijab as a leaping off point to preach my views on gender and she won't use my fly away haystack of hair as a leaping off point to tell me that I look ridiculous, being not so much overtly and aggressively sexual, as ill groomed. So if you ask me my moral stance I either am reduced to saying "eh, its relative" or "umm... I guess whatever the law says?" because my moral stance is that the little crap is a silly sticking place and trying to be civil and nice are valuable. We learn to supress that 'Nonono!' voice that bites you when you are confronted with something out of your sphere of reference the way past generations controlled their other physical appetites because letting little stuff slide is favoured to feed into things like Ant-Bigotry or Personal Freedom (caps intentional!). My upbringing viewed racism or cultural-ism the way past cultures viewed sexual licentiousness, and then you expect me to take a firm stance? Over a decade was spent teaching me to control the appetite to restrain others beyond the laws of my country.

Then again it's not that we just associate strong morality with puritanical fussiness, it's also symptomatic of both realism and powerlessness. The other way morality is generally discussed is the supposedly logical stuff like Trolley Problems, which basically boil down to making life or death decisions. And yet, to be frank, most of the big crap is the privy of a very few high up civil service/medical admins and politicians; my wealth and safety net stop me from having to make personal choices about say, which of my kids deserves to eat, and most of my other decision making is so trivial and spread out that things that probably put me in the morally 'naughty' category- which includes wasting time on metafilter right now!- are pleasantly fuzzed out by other choices like if to buy free range eggs, or if to sleep in for ten more minutes. And the evil I can conceivably do is connected to things I have to accept about myself. Even excepting misuse of scarce resources and one thread of moral choice that implies I should apologize for being insanely wealthy given that it basically allows me advantages my ancestors really didn't think plausible, my post here expresses pure self indulgence that will be paid for by third worlders when they go through the highly poisonous process of recycling my laptop. But because the flesh is weak, I concede to it; past a certain point all the stoicism in the world won't hold up for everybody, so we embrace relativity because of mercy, for myself and for others, forgiveness that confronted with actual evil, having never done it I'm not so far from humility to admit within me is probably a selfish monster. But it's a selfish monster who is defanged, as i may go through my entire life where rudeness and moderate bullying are the best intentional evil I can get going.

TL:DR Us fuzzy moral'ed college brats embrace relativity and the rule of law in the name of equality, honesty, mercy and civility. And anyway our lives are lived in comfortable grey areas where we are insulated from both the extreme ability to help or do harm.
posted by Phalene at 8:27 AM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


If you are standing on public property you are legally allowed to photograph anyone or anything you like, even if your subject is on private property or is a private building.
what if they're cops, is that creepy
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:27 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd rather live in a society that puts up with creepshots than one that puts a virtual burka over women [...] (charlie don't surf)

Also, personally I find surveillance cameras plus face recognition software way more creepy than a few dudes with cameras [...] (Forktine)

Or you know. We could make an effort to cut down on both of those things in each scenario. Because trying to make the world good rather than just marginally less shitty is actually a thing.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:31 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Clinging to legality to support vile behavior is no better than a kid pointing at another kid and saying "I'm not touching you." technically, sure, you're not breaking the law, but you're still an asshole.
It's just the other side of the same coin as "There oughtta be a law!" For some reason I've seen many people, of every political variety, make arguments implicitly assuming that there shouldn't be any level of social punishment weaker than "A judge can throw you in jail and/or take your stuff" yet stronger than "Nobody can think negative thoughts, say bad things, or alter their behavior towards you in response to that action."
posted by roystgnr at 8:37 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone excited for the x-ray cell phone cameras to come out? That'll be a good discussion.
posted by rebent at 8:38 AM on September 23, 2012


And that fucking sickens me, because checking changerooms for hidden cameras or two-way mirrors should NOT be reasonable behaviour.

Windykites, as someone who doesn't regularly check for such things, I'm curious how often you've found cameras.
posted by ryanrs at 8:38 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd rather live in a society where casual sexism and an intimidatory atmosphere for women is routinely shrugged away, than be repeatedly beaten senseless with a knotted rope. So, there's that.
posted by iotic at 8:40 AM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


i meant "what if the people being photographed are cops", to clarify
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:45 AM on September 23, 2012


I've never found a two way mirror, and truthfully, I rarely check. I just know that I should. However, I have found cameras in the ladies' room and in changerooms on a handful of occasions. (They weren't like, secret spy cameras in the vents; they could be seen with the naked eye; they were just small and inconspicuously placed, with no notice on the premises).

I'll be clear; I don't always check or even often check. But I don't never find something to be concerned about, and part of my anxiety is around the fact that I don't check as often as I should.
posted by windykites at 8:46 AM on September 23, 2012


Does the Guardian publish paparazzi shots? They aren't credible. Also they are wrong conflating voyeurism and spying. They are two mostly separate things. I know several people who have done a ton of recreational spying and never got an erection from it one time. If you aren't getting off doing it, it's not voyeurism.

The mean and standard deviation age of the creepy redditors is probably seventeen plus minus two. Boys being boys ain't a justification and the company displays poor citizenship hosting it but the pastime is deeply embedded. Yesterday at the supermarket one of the glossies had a cover shot of Tom Cruise's kid who looks to be barely past passing the mirror test for self-consciousness. That poor girl may never know what it's like to wander around a city street unhounded by paparazzi. At least the creepy redditors aren't making money off it as the Guardian and reddit.com are.
posted by bukvich at 8:48 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I sympathize with windykite's worries, I generally suggest worrying about actual harm rather than potential harm. So I will tell you a story about actual harm, just to show I'm not just pontificating.

Many years ago, in the pre-internet era, my girlfriend and I made a fully consensual x rated video tape. We enjoyed it in our home, without any thought it would be seen by anyone besides us. Then my house was broken into, and my video camera was stolen with that tape in it. We were sick with anxiety, thinking someone would see the tape. But we got over it, after convincing ourselves that the tape would just disappear. Maybe the thief would see it, but it would end up in the trash.

But it didn't. About 15 years later, I discovered some screen caps of the video were posted on the internet. I discovered them (ahem) at random. I looked at a set of pics and thought, wow that looks a lot like my ex girlfriend. Hey it IS my exgirlfriend, and that is ME. After my initial reaction of horror, I kind of changed my mind. Back then I was young and thin and way more attractive, I sure would like to get ahold of that tape. I wouldn't even mind so much if it was being sold on some creepy amateur porn DVD, if I could just get a copy for myself.

So I have had to come to accept that I am plastered all over the internet, having sex with my exgirlfriend. It hasn't done me any harm, aside from some moments of panic that I had to get over. I suppose I'd worry a lot more about it if I was running for President or something. I even asked my attorney about it once, he said, "well it's just a tape of a normal heterosexual sex act, you're not fucking a dog or something? Nobody will be interested in it." LOL.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:52 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


How does your ex feel about it, though?
posted by Tarumba at 8:55 AM on September 23, 2012 [37 favorites]


Does the Guardian publish paparazzi shots? They aren't credible.

Known for it, known for it. It's virtually a requirement of the Scott Trust, the non-profit trust that owns them and was set up precisely to allow a degree of freedom from editorial influence from the commercial considerations of the rest of the market.

I assume that you can add your own sarcasm tags.
posted by jaduncan at 9:04 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah. I don't want to downplay your experience, but just because this didn't hurt you doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't be seriously traumatised by it. In fact, the "what's the real harm" argument is used to dismiss this as a real concern, (usually a woman's concern), and to make that behaviour permissible. And it shouldn't be. (Not sayin you're doing that, just saying it happens).
posted by windykites at 9:07 AM on September 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Bukvich and charlie don't surf, the commonality with voyeurism and spying is that the person being spied on and eroticized is very unlikely to want the attention. It's not an issue of money because, as was stated above, it may be legal to take pictures of unsuspecting men and women and proceed to vicarious or sexual fantasy from there but it doesn't make you any less of a repugnant human being. And to expect everyone to come to terms with voyeurism is selfish. You had to deal with this problem once and it's unlikely you're ever going to face another break in and violation of privacy. That's a far cry from phone pics in a public space.
posted by dubusadus at 9:09 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know that there are people who post here who claim it isn't as bad as everyone says it is, but on the basis of half an hour browsing the place, I can only say this to those people -- WTF?

You can't just browse general reddit. You have to pick specific subreddits. r/minecraft and r/mathematics are pretty good examples. The worst you get on r/minecraft is people posting uninteresting pictures of terrain generation glitches.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:11 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


What did they get?

Violated.

It's not just the photos it's the activity itself. I'm just going to add my two cents. An ex of mine was a professional photographer who, it turned out, secretly shot quite a bit of porn on the side. I realize as I read this that he was the sort of person being discussed here. Twice he–without my consent or any warning (to be clear, I made it plain to him multiple times that I was not interested in posing for him nude or otherwise) took photos of me while I was undressed. Both times I was very angry and beside myself. I still ten years later feel incredibly violated. His stance at the time was that I, of all people, 'owed' this to him. That he was entitled to take such a photo of me, his girlfriend, with or without my consent and was incredulous that I had any objection.

This was over ten years ago. I never got those photos back (or the negatives, it was film) but realized even then that it wouldn't matter if I did. What bothers today is not so much the photos themselves, but whatever sick thrill it must give him to have that hanging over my head. It was his entitled 'your my gf so you of all people should pose for me' attitude–or that I had somehow driven him to steal such an image from me by denying him–that made (makes) me so sick with anxiety regarding this topic. There is no doubt in my mind that even with all the access he had (has?) to willing models in making his own, homemade porn, that it was actually the taking what is 'rightfully his', degrading, non-consent, 'putting me in my place' aspect of those photos that made them (and whatever other covert photos he has taken of women) worthwhile to him and others who pursue this.
posted by marimeko at 9:14 AM on September 23, 2012 [32 favorites]


Well, as a person who gets angry if anyone takes a photo of me without asking, in any circumstances whatsoever I'd ... probably best stay out of this.

Indeed.
posted by kengraham at 9:15 AM on September 23, 2012


uninteresting pictures of terrain generation glitches

mmm so hot, speak for yourself.

jk i have to guess what that even is. when the ground looks funny?
posted by twist my arm at 9:15 AM on September 23, 2012


From the Guardian piece:

Emma Watson has said that on her 18th birthday she realised that "overnight I'd become fair game ... One photographer lay down on the floor to get a shot up my skirt. The night it was legal for them to do it, they did it. I woke up the next day and felt completely violated."

Gosh, this is just wrong. So wrong. I'm absolutely aghast.
posted by the cydonian at 9:16 AM on September 23, 2012 [34 favorites]


I haven't spoken to her for decades. I don't think she could possibly know. It's not like anyone could recognize us from the video. If I ever run into her again (very unlikely) I would tell her, and accept responsibility for everything. It was my camera, my house should have had better security. The only mitigating factor was that this was way before it was practical to download video on the internet, so it is unlikely that more than the 4 blurry screen caps exist, and they surely disappeared long ago. Knowing her, I suspect that her reaction would be the same as mine, she would be dying to see herself 30 years younger. But I have no way to tell.

On preview:

Not sayin you're doing that

Yes you were. My privacy was violated just as much as my gf. But we felt far more violated from having our house invaded than from the video. The immediate harm was the theft of our property (which was an expensive loss for both of us). The angst of being exposed to public humiliation by our own video was a more abstract, potential harm.

So here's what I'm saying you're doing that:

Time after time, I have responded to feminist arguments with comments that were intended to express commonality between the genders, that the harm they receive also happens to men, it is a universal experience, not a gender-specific one. And time after time, it is dismissed as justification for harm to women. Please try to see these remarks as a description of the universality of experience that cannot be divided by gender.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:18 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


How does your ex feel about it, though?

On reconsideration, and after reading marimeko's remarks, I suddenly realized..

When we broke up, my ex swiped the other tape. I suppose should feel violated.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:23 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


what? you're a guy. how can you know your experience is universal?
posted by twist my arm at 9:23 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I see the M.O. of the Creepshots guy all the time, namely "pretend the criticism was arguing a cuddly little straw man that I can easily refute and then refute that."

Kira Cochrane's article isn't advocating that stronger laws against public rights and expression should be enacted. Her article essentially states "This is a shitty thing to do, it harms people, it harms the larger community, and people who do this should feel ashamed of themselves."

Enough people start repeating this, then attitudes start to change. When attitudes start to change, groups like r/Creepshots lose power.

I wonder how many women being Creepshotted are actually fully aware that they're being photographed but either lack the inclination to call them on it or have been socially trained to assume they are powerless anyways in this situation.

What if we lived in a world where the mainstream sentiment was that this sort of thing was socially unacceptable and that people were routinely given the confidence to call people out on it when it happened? What if the aforementioned woman in TJ's turned around and looked squarely at the photographer and said "Are you taking pictures of me, you little shit?"
posted by whittaker at 9:23 AM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


but you shouldn't necessarily dismiss acceptance of moral relativism
Anyone who doesn't dismiss the simple moral relativism you paint or the kind that's used to justify this sort of creeping doesn't really understand it. I don't mean this in a true Scotsman way, but in the sense that the naive position is essentially contradictory and incoherent once specified. That's why it's usually used as a Philosophy 101 example: examine it properly and it crumbles.

To take your examples of your dissonance over the hijab, that's not moral relativism, that's you struggling to integrate contrasting moral impulses. But that struggle is essentially what the moral journey is, and abandoning it in the name of "relativism" isn't resolving it, it's just abdicating responsibility to the moral equivalent of a shrug.
posted by fightorflight at 9:23 AM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


you're more than free to feel not violated. i think the issue is you shouldn't tell others how to feel under the same circumstances...
posted by twist my arm at 9:24 AM on September 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


what? you're a guy. how can you know your experience is universal?


See? What did I just say?

The thread is about women feeling their personal security was invaded by intimate pictures posted on the internet. I posted about me, a man, having my personal security invaded by stolen x rated pictures posted on the internet.

A comment was made by a woman who felt violated when against her wishes, her exboyfriend kept intimate photos when they broke up. I noted that my ex-girlfriend kept intimate photos of me, against my wishes.

So if you're going to argue that I don't understand, due to male privilege, then you're going to have to explain to me how female privilege entitles women to the exclusive right of outrage for this violation.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:31 AM on September 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Danila-----I think private corporately-owned social networks like Reddit can certainly ban that kind of mistreatment if they so choose--

I think that a campaign trying to force the Reddit overlords to take down the creep subreddit and perhaps also adding some salient rules might be the best possible outcome here. If such a campaign was successful, who knows, it might have some flow-on effects in terms of behavioural expectations of other sites and web users. This shit is really fucked up though.
posted by peacay at 9:32 AM on September 23, 2012


So if you're going to argue that I don't understand, due to male privilege, then you're going to have to explain to me how female privilege entitles women to the exclusive right of outrage for this violation.

I think the rule is that the people with the privilege don't know it and can't do anything about it.
posted by gjc at 9:35 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


What if we lived in a world where the mainstream sentiment was that this sort of thing was socially unacceptable and that people were routinely given the confidence to call people out on it when it happened? What if the aforementioned woman in TJ's turned around and looked squarely at the photographer and said "Are you taking pictures of me, you little shit?"

The photos at reddit are not all taken in public places, by any means. Just browsing through the shots (I'd never seen this before, btw) there showed pics taken in college libraries, a Subway restaurant, in buildings, etc. Those shots are not protected under any state law that I know of. I would agree that the guys taking the shots even in public places, however, should be shamed. Condé Nast, Reddit's owner, shares much of the blame.

On the other hand, what if the person trying to take a photo of you on the street was Bill Cunningham?
posted by raysmj at 9:40 AM on September 23, 2012


i'd love to see a sub-reddit of pictures of people taking pictures for creepshots
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:44 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


[Please stop the male privilege derail or take it to MetaTalk.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:45 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


If it makes you feel better (it won't) gay guys are just as guilty about doing this.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:45 AM on September 23, 2012


As an amateur photographer, I resent that this sort of voyeur/paparazzi attitude is one of several repercussions that I have to shoulder by dint of having a camera around my neck.

Last year, on a trip to London, my girlfriend and I went to Camden market with serious-looking SLRs slung around our necks. While standing at a high vantage point, I took a couple wide angle shots of the footbridge a few minutes later I was approached by a woman who wanted to know if I was taking pictures of her. I was surprised--I hadn't seen her before that moment--and replied "well, no, although I've been taking wide angle photos--so you may have shown up as a tiny, indistinct person down there, I wasn't taking any photos of you specifically."

However, this wasn't a sufficiently satisfactory answer and she demanded that I show her the photos I had taken on my camera to prove that I wasn't lying.

I was in an uncomfortable situation as a visitor to an unfamiliar country with a stranger demanding to look through my unvetted work, so I refused as politely as I could. She argued this, said I had an 'untrustworthy face', but eventually walked away. As my up-until-then-silent girlfriend turned to me and said "what the fuck was that?"

I tell this story not as some anecdotal counter example to this essay but because I agree with this essay. I still sometimes wonder if I couldn't have just sucked it up and showed her the last few dozen photos on the back of my camera.

Thanks to the sort of people on r/Creepshots, it's not exactly an irrational fear for women to wonder what I'm doing with my camera in public.
posted by whittaker at 9:46 AM on September 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Charlie, you're welcome to not feel violated, but it's disingenuous to say that someone else's sense of violation and outrage is a tempest in a teapot. You didn't feel traumatized by it: super. No one is telling you that you have to. Lots of women here did feel traumatized by similar experiences, and it's on those grounds that they're protesting the creepshots.

Some of your comments here feel like you're saying women are overreacting to this phenomenon because you don't think the phenomenon is all that harmful. "What's the harm? It happened to me and I was okay with it." We're saying that the phenomenon is actually quite harmful to our sense of well being, especially when taken in context of the wider misogynist culture, so please don't use your (valid) experiences to dismiss our (also valid) concerns. Is that fair?
posted by Phire at 9:53 AM on September 23, 2012 [32 favorites]


whittaker I take one helluva lot fewer photos on city streets than I was doing before everybody had a camera on their phone and antisocial photographing became the plague it has become. In the '90's I could take pictures of children playing and nobody gave a shit and there is no friggin way I would do that today.
posted by bukvich at 9:54 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


i'd love to see a sub-reddit of pictures of people taking pictures for creepshots

That would never happen. Reddit is very opposed to "creep shaming" because somehow this is the worst thing ever. I wish I were making this up.

Say what you will about judging a major site, but social norms exist. And on reddit, I think you'll find that CreepShots is free speech but Creep Shaming is worse than sexual assault.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:55 AM on September 23, 2012 [23 favorites]


On the other hand, what if the person trying to take a photo of you on the street was Bill Cunningham?
I'll see your Bill Cunningham and raise you a Bruce Gilden (whose work I like). In both cases, is what they do legal? Sure. Annoying? Quite likely. Should people who take exception have the right and the confidence to approach these photographers and give them shit about it? Yup.*

That's why these sorts of problems are really only solvable in the sphere of cultural and social norms. It's very hard to write specific legislation that would be able to make a fair and specific discernment between the r/Creepshot's photos and Bruce Gilden's.

*Non-violent shit, of course.
posted by whittaker at 9:55 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


bukvich, I see the same thing. A friend and I once went to a local ice sculpture festival to take photos. There were a ton of children around because they had built ice mazes and ice slides. You would not believe the dirty looks we received.
posted by whittaker at 9:58 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes this is bad but you can't stop them.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 10:09 AM on September 23, 2012


Reddit is very opposed to "creep shaming" because somehow this is the worst thing ever.

omigod i am going to punch a mountain in the neck
posted by shakespeherian at 10:13 AM on September 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


A couple of thoughts.

First: the article highlights the fact -- and this should be a no brainer -- that when we are talking about the sexual politics of the image, we are talking about a gendered dynamic. Those who claim that the hijacking, decontextualization and distribution of images for pleasure and profit is sexually neutral are either safeguarding their personal privilege or ignoring the images of the female body--its publication, problematization and policing--which make up the wallpaper of public life, literally everywhere. The male body simply can't be conceived in the same way because it is not subject to the same politics which continually objectify, shame, morselize and dehumanize it on a daily basis, in magazines, at church, in schools, in politics and in the home.

Second: I feel like the appeals to privacy are actually of a piece with the appeals to free speech; and both are misguided. Both have their roots in liberalism and the disarticulation of the individual from society. The problem of having one's picture taken while in public, or having one's intimate photos leaked to an unintended audience is not a breach in privacy per se, although it may be helpful to voice it in those terms, but that the subject of the photo has been coerced against her will for the erotic pleasure of others. It's violent, and its akin to sexual assault. It's easy to see how classism is tied into concepts like private and public realms: homeless people don't have much choice in whether or not they are in "public," and likewise are frequently refused entry into spaces which are public for others like café rest rooms and shopping malls.

Third: photography is not a neutral venture. You don't have to agree totally with Sontag to see that there is a power dynamic at play every time you take or look at a photo. Even in something as seemingly innocuous as a wide-angle shot of Camden market (for one, you should see that the simple fact of owning an SLR camera is not a privilege everyone can enjoy). When we are talking about sex and erotic bodies, the single most mediated, analyzed and talked about thing in all of Western society (and as Foucault would put it, what we even consider our path to knowledge)--stakes are heightened. So tread with respect, transparency, reciprocation and care.
posted by Catchfire at 10:17 AM on September 23, 2012 [36 favorites]


Should people who take exception have the right and the confidence to approach these photographers and give them shit about it? Yup.

Cunningham does mention the occasional angry person in the doc whose site I linked to, laughs it off. Outside of a "fuck off" or a brief mention, though, going up and yelling at a photographer at length about it would be out line and not legal besides (harassment, disturbing the peace, etc., whatever state law or local ordinance applies). There's no *right* to yell at someone, at length, for doing that in public. It's worth noting, however, that you can tell in the movie that he's never trying to be sneaky. He's just out there, on the streets, clearly taking photos.

I think the same would apply to a *couple* using big DSLRs, as was talked about above. You never know with people, I suppose. Could be clever paparazzi, who knows? (In the case mentioned, it sounded like a non-celebrity got upset, so that doesn't apply here.) But who's going to be more likely to be taking creepshots? A couple with big DSLRs, or a dude with a cameraphone, taking shots on the sly? From the reddit subgroup, it's obvious that the latter is vastly, almost always, more likely to be the culprit.
posted by raysmj at 10:23 AM on September 23, 2012


raysmj On the other hand, what if the person trying to take a photo of you on the street was Bill Cunningham?

The only time I have ever obviously had my photo taken in public by a stranger, was when I was volunteering at a library event. A guy was aiming a DSLR in my direction and shooting for about a minute before I realized he was actually shooting me and not something nearby.

He then walked over and as he handed me his business card said, "Hi, I am a professional photographer and would like to use the photos I just took of you, is that ok?" While he was saying this he was offering me the view of the LCD screen on his camera. My impression was if I said "No" he was prepared to delete them in front of me.

I would expect Bill Cunningham or any ethical photographer (professional or hobbyist) to do the same thing.
posted by mlis at 10:24 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


He uses film.
posted by raysmj at 10:25 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reddit is very opposed to "creep shaming" because somehow this is the worst thing ever.

Because it's full of creeps. The same reason they'll rigorously defend pedophiles and rapists while tearing down people who dare to speak out about it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:27 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


So if someone suggests that reddit is evil, because it contains some content amidst all it's other content that a user can choose to "zoom in on" and find objectionable (and perhaps rightly so, even if it is legal content) then what about flickr?

Is flickr evil?

Is Google Image Search evil?

I'm curious how far down the rabbithole folks with a bent against reddit want to go.

Personally, I find all kinds of content gross that the nations it's posted from consider legal. I wouldn't take issue with the services allowing it to be posted, though, unless those services were somehow promoting that content. You can't expect a company to stop other users from doing something, that's legal, just because you think it's gross. Kind of falls under that whole "neo-nazis have free speech rights too" thing. I don't go around seeking out and reading white supremacist literature, just like I don't subscribe to this gross subreddit (which I only learned of today). But unlike some other subreddits of similar questionability...this one doesn't seem to be breaking laws and therefore it's "our" problem as users, not reddit's problem as a service provider, IMHO.
posted by trackofalljades at 10:28 AM on September 23, 2012


I don't have time for a full response right now, but in short, the courts have ruled that photography is covered by the US Constitution (specifically the first amendment - freedom of expression) therefore moral judgements are not enforceable.

Not only should you look at how people choose to live their lives, but you shouldn't necessarily dismiss acceptance of moral relativism, as it's been a cornerstone -of- the sort of moral upbringing we get, some of which is an attempt to think is ways that allow you to cope with non-essential moral diversity and self compromise for survival and sanity. This is not because we're lazy, it's because we're loving and live in diverse environments OR it is a symptom of the base powerlessness of the individual.


I am personally a moral relativist, but I still feel this behavior can and should be stopped. You see, the important thing about moral relativism is that it is a two-way street - just as they can say "Who are you to judge me for doing something you object to?" you can claim with equal validity "Who are you to judge me for hurting you because you annoyed me?"

Truly embracing moral relatism means understanding that conflict is a natural part of life, and that if you aggressively go out of your way to anger people you will eventually get hurt. That's why sensible moral relativists try not to be douches. Just because other people's values are often illogical and nonsensical doesn't mean you can completely ignore them.

Yes this is bad but you can't stop them.

In theory, yes - not so in practice. All you need is the resources and dedication to make people's lives unpleasant enough to induce a behavioral change. Look at Scientology, for instance. In theory, this pseudo-religious order can't do anything to stifle the unflattering media portrayal of their customs. In practice, they've been remarkably effective at it.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:28 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems like it shouldn't be that hard to instill in children that being a creep and treating people like objects isn't okay, and if you do, you need help.

Mamas and Daddies, Don't Let Your Kids Grow Up to Be Creepy, Self-Centered Assholes
posted by discopolo at 10:30 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd rather live in a society that puts up with creepshots than one that puts a virtual burka over women

See - to me these are not mutally exlusive things - but rather the same thing. It's about negation of the individual. And that's wrong.

The underlying predation of creepshots in general is what I find awful. It's about capturing someone unaware, to take ownership of them (even for a fleeting moment) and to have power over this "real" and vulnerable moment. You read about how there were people in the past who were convinced that photo's captured a piece of your soul - well you got to wonder what the photographers where trying to capture with these shots.

And as gay guy - I find things like tube crush just as troubling.
posted by helmutdog at 10:31 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Y'know what occurs to me - here in the United States, and in many other countries, in our copyright law we do not have freedom of panorama. Which means that intellectual property such as a sculpture, even if it is being displayed in public, cannot be photographed without the copyright holder gaining the legal ability to prohibit the reproduction and distribution of the image. But things like these creepshots are unrestricted fair game, even when taken in a private setting. Priorities...
posted by XMLicious at 10:32 AM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


The subreddit is gross, and appears to be filled with people who don't understand the difference between legality and morality. I wish I hadn't learned that it existed.

I'd rather live in a society that puts up with creepshots than one that puts a virtual burka over women

False dichotomy is false. So false.
posted by grudgebgon at 10:34 AM on September 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


He then walked over and as he handed me his business card said, "Hi, I am a professional photographer and would like to use the photos I just took of you, is that ok?" While he was saying this he was offering me the view of the LCD screen on his camera. My impression was if I said "No" he was prepared to delete them in front of me.

I would expect Bill Cunningham or any ethical photographer (professional or hobbyist) to do the same thing.

This is a good CYA move by a professional. Once things are used commercially, waivers are a necessity.

What makes it especially CYA is that by volunteering at a public library event, it's very clearly a newsworthy thing happening in public. A photog from a local newspaper could snap a photo of you and not have to get your permission. You would almost certainly lose that lawsuit. (The photographer would probably come up to you anyway to get a name, if you are the focal point, but they don't always get the chance to do that.)

Reporters or bloggers covering a public event like that don't carry a stack of waivers to accommodate this attitude because they don't need to.

As an amateur photographer, I resent that this sort of voyeur/paparazzi attitude is one of several repercussions that I have to shoulder by dint of having a camera around my neck.


I do quite a bit of photography with an SLR in hand. I also resent this attitude.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 10:34 AM on September 23, 2012


just as they can say "Who are you to judge me for doing something you object to?" you can claim with equal validity "Who are you to judge me for hurting you because you annoyed me?"

Yes, moral relativism does lead to the inability to criticise violence done to you by those with "different" moral codes. Odd to see that raised in favour of it, mind.
posted by fightorflight at 10:36 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can't expect a company to stop other users from doing something, that's legal, just because you think it's gross.

Throwing your hands up and going "Well, it's legal, we can't do anything here!" when you own the service in question is ridiculous. How is Metafilter not overrun with quasi-legal pictures of underage girls? How are the Something Awful forums, notorious home of some of the internet's most famous trolls, largely free of the racism, sexism, and jailbait that pervades Reddit? Moderation enforced by the site owners.

Neonazis may have a right to free speech, but they don't have any right to a free platform. Nobody is stopping the creepers from starting TechnicallyLegalCreepshots.com, but if a profit-taking company like Conde Nast is hosting them, I think it's perfectly reasonable to apply public pressure to get it removed, the same reason I think it's perfectly okay to apply public pressure to Chik-Fil-A to stop being anti-gay.

Free speech doesn't mean free of all consequences.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:39 AM on September 23, 2012 [29 favorites]


I have been photographed by a minor UK celebrity who proceeded to upload the photo to Twitter with a cute little caption. Thing was, he never asked my permission to take the photo - let alone upload it to Twitter - and when I realised what had happened, I contacted him to request he deleted the photo. The celebrity was very apologetic (and the photo was not skeezy) but what struck me was the invasion of my privacy .. by someone who had himself been on the receiving end of paparazzi photos and had talked about media invasion of his privacy.

That still hurts my brain a little bit. And then I wonder if I am just a dinosaur who expects a modicum of privacy.

If the celebrity had taken a decidedly skeezy photo of me, though .. I would have kicked back a lot harder. My word, this entire thread makes me feel sick to the stomach.
posted by kariebookish at 10:39 AM on September 23, 2012


The underlying predation of creepshots in general is what I find awful. It's about capturing someone unaware, to take ownership of them (even for a fleeting moment) and to have power over this "real" and vulnerable

The major gross factor about a woman having her picture posted is the barrage of sexual talk the places that they're put up host. All the guys that start posting about whether or not viewing the picture gave them an erection, what they'd like to do sexually to that woman--it's disgusting and the woman doesn't deserve that.

I don't know if TubeCrush invites the same level of bawdy talk. But it's still an objectification and I'm disappointed in other women who choose to write rude, bawdy comments about these unsuspecting people.
posted by discopolo at 10:39 AM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I perused some of the r/creepshots photos. (Boy, really does live up to the name.)

What I noticed was that the vast majority of shots didn't show any faces or other identifying information.

Are you more afraid of street photographers or photojournalists who get women's entire faces and bodies, making them identifiable?

If an AP photographer took a photo of the same scene as some of these r/creepshots photos zoomed out so you saw the entire person, would you be more or less outraged? The AP photo would be far more identifiable, if you were worried about privacy.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 10:52 AM on September 23, 2012


In theory, yes - not so in practice. All you need is the resources and dedication to make people's lives unpleasant enough to induce a behavioral change. Look at Scientology, for instance.

A vicious cult known for intimidation and at least a few deaths? This is who you would emulate? Anyway, if you make people's lives unpleasant enough eventually you're going to get push-back, and it may be far more extreme than you were expecting. So you have to ask yourself: "Is this the hill I want to die on?"
posted by MikeMc at 10:53 AM on September 23, 2012


Look at Scientology, for instance. In theory, this pseudo-religious order can't do anything to stifle the unflattering media portrayal of their customs. In practice, they've been remarkably effective at it.

You're saying that's a good thing?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:55 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Should people who take exception have the right and the confidence to approach these photographers and give them shit about it? Yup.

Funny thing, paparazzi apparently don't enjoy being on the receiving end.
posted by ambrosia at 11:04 AM on September 23, 2012


There is a huge bias against Reddit here, but it's worth noting that there are many differences between Reddit and MetaFilter. MeFi is basically a subreddit owned by its moderator. Conde Nast is like any other corporation with no interest in the tenor of the communities that are proliferating under its platform, the character of which are largely defined by the moderators of those communities. No small part of the pressure to get rid of r/jailbait came from within Reddit itself. I'm far less of a Redditor than many MeFites, but the extremely broad brush wielded (quite self-righteously) by some, is absurd. There are people who stay on the Green exclusively because they prefer the moderation policies there and don't like the shitstorms that occasionally erupt on the Blue or the acrimony that comes and goes on the Grey. Would you blame them for said shitstorms or acrimony? Something they have no say in? MeFi's ownership is close enough to the community to have some interest in policing its content to a greater extent than the law requires; not so Conde Nast, except in cases of extreme bad press. This is not the fault of every Reddit user. Reddit is not MeFi, either in the way it is run or the general cohesion of its userbase. Stop judging it as though it is. For people who know what Reddit is and how it works, this judgement just makes you look ignorant. When this is pointed out to you and you persist, it just makes you look willfully ignorant.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:04 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, moral relativism does lead to the inability to criticise violence done to you by those with "different" moral codes. Odd to see that raised in favour of it, mind.

A vicious cult known for intimidation and at least a few deaths? This is who you would emulate? Anyway, if you make people's lives unpleasant enough eventually you're going to get push-back, and it may be far more extreme than you were expecting. So you have to ask yourself: "Is this the hill I want to die on?"

You're saying that's a good thing?


Perhaps I'm not communicating myself adequately, since it seems like all of you misunderstand what I am saying. Moral relativism is not a "choice," anymore than atheism is a "choice." An atheist doesn't wake up one day and say "Hey, I don't like the idea of a just and fair universe where we are watched over by a loving parental figure. I'd rather believe in a scary unknown." They simply make observations about the world and realize that whether they like it or not, this is the way the world works. Similarly, nobody wakes up one day and consciously says "Hey, I want to be a moral relativist. I would really like to live in a cold and uncaring world where people do whatever they want and justify it with arbitrary ethical systems, so that they can feel good about themselves!" It's just that once you observe the world from a detached scientific mindset, it's a rational conclusion to draw. And once you've seen the truth, it's impossible to close your eyes to it.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:13 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Conde Nast is like any other corporation with no interest in the tenor of the communities that are proliferating under its platform....

To the extent that this is so, fine; they're Mitt Romney. Yay, them.

For people who know what Reddit is and how it works, this judgement just makes you look ignorant. When this is pointed out to you and you persist, it just makes you look willfully ignorant.

To the extent that this is so (and people have noted that pressure from within the Reddit community has caused the elimination of at least one subreddit), is your goal to come across as arrogant and condescending?
posted by ambient2 at 11:14 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


For people who know what Reddit is and how it works, this judgement just makes you look ignorant.

I know how Reddit works and I don't buy this. I posted above about site-wide community norms and I stand by it. Reddit is not an empty vessel that exists in a vacuum and is beyond approach. There are social norms that exist there, like they do everywhere. When people point out problems that emerge from these norms, the standard defense (which you just offered) is mis-direction about other subreddits.

Nobody is saying that all Reddit users are equally responsable for all Reddit content. You're arguing against a strawman. People are arguing that there exist social norms at Reddit that are problematic.

When people at Reddit bring up problems, they often are accused of "censoring" or "creep shaming" or being part of a weird SRS conspiracy. Look at the thread linked in this post (as well as the ones on other subreddits linked from that post). The fact that this doesn't happen in all subreddits doesn't mitigate against the fact that there are dominant trends that influence the site in noticeable ways.

To me, this is why I feel that Reddit will never be an adult site, or specifically, a site run for adults. Adult sites can have difficult conversations about culture and acceptable behavior. MeFi has done it quite a bit, especially on gender issues. They're rarely fun conversations, they can come at a cost, but generally it's a sign of health that the community cares about its norms. It's why I come back (so long as people will have me) and why I care to contribute here.

When Reddit is forced to confront problematic norms, it's pretty common for people to scream about censorship, accuse people of working for some shadowy SRS cabal, and generally devolve into an Eternal September rage fest. There are adults there and there are parts that are better than others. Of course there are. But increasingly it feels like the few adult subreddits are the exception that paper over the norm.

The origins of these social norms rise from a combination of site structure (with upvoting etc), moderation standards, early user demographics, and identity politics. Reddit could change. I just haven't seen it yet.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:20 AM on September 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


I can't believe I missed a side-bar on the subreddit page for CreepShots that describes the rules and "what a creepshot is":
  • All posts must be Original Content (OC) and of the creeper variety.
  • Cross[x] posts are acceptable as long as they are OC.
  • Any post containing serialization of a person whom is clearly a minor will be removed. Repeat offenders will be banned.
  • NO UPSKIRT SHOTS Head over to /r/upskirt if you want to post those.
  • No photos taken on/in/around school settings or of "school girls" unless you can confirm that they are not minors. Posts that can not be confirmed will be removed.
  • People posting with the sole intent of advertizing their website and/or subreddit will be beaten with their choice of either a rubber dong, a sock filled with rotten oranges, or a copy of the L.A. county phone book. Repeat offenders will suffer a worse fate....BANNING.
What constitutes a "Creepshot".

Creepshots are CANDID. If a person is posing for and/or aware that a picture is being taken, then it ceases to be candid and thus is no longer a creepshot. A creepshot captures the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera. That is the essence of the creepshot, that is what makes a true creepshot worth the effort and that is why this subreddit exists.


Several things fascinate me about this diatribe:
  • There's an upskirt subreddit! And it's more popular than the CreepShots subreddit! Rule 34 aside there's a can't-stop-staring-at-a-car-crash level of fascination with communities that not only are unable to comprehend the different between legality and morality but take the trouble to be ontologically correct in their efforts.
  • A creepshot captures the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera. This hurts my brain slightly trying to parse it. Does a beautiful woman suddenly become less "natural" and "raw" when she discovers you're trying to secretly take fap-shots of her? Does the image of someone's "natural" and "raw" indignation and sheer rage when they discover you secretly photographing them really detract from their "sexiness" or are you secretly taking pleasure in the power imbalance rather than the object of photography?
I've enjoyed reading the discussion to date in this thread, thanks everyone. In fact I would like to point out how thoroughly different the level of discourse is between MetaFilter and /r/CreepShots and /r/upskirt. I agree with Michael Sandel in On Justice: as much as many would like to deny it the values which we, as a society, want to uphold and cherish must form a part of how we define justice, and hence the law in enforcing it. Values matter. Reddit and MetaFilter clearly have different sets of values.
posted by asymptotic at 11:29 AM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's just that once you observe the world from a detached scientific mindset, it's a rational conclusion to draw.

No, it isn't. Morality is not solely in the purview of religion; nor is it dependent on some anti-scientific religious belief. Morality is a branch of philosophy, and (a)theism is completely orthogonal to it.

In short, people do choose to be relativists. Nothing compels it. Othe moralities are available.
posted by fightorflight at 11:30 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


A creepshot captures the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera.

This is fucking disgusting in so many ways. First, because the part that turns them on is the deliberate violation of someone's privacy. Second, "vain attempts at putting on a show"? Why not just come out and say that they think that women who agree to be photographed are worthless whores?

I am pretty okay with humanity being decimated by an invading force of alien creatures I guess.
posted by elizardbits at 11:32 AM on September 23, 2012 [32 favorites]


How are the Something Awful forums, notorious home of some of the internet's most famous trolls, largely free of the racism, sexism, and jailbait that pervades Reddit?

Because they aren't and that might be one of the wrongest things I've ever seen posted here.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 11:35 AM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


To me, this is why I feel that Reddit will never be an adult site, or specifically, a site run for adults. Adult sites can have difficult conversations about culture and acceptable behavior. MeFi has done it quite a bit, especially on gender issues. They're rarely fun conversations, they can come at a cost, but generally it's a sign of health that the community cares about its norms. It's why I come back (so long as people will have me) and why I care to contribute here.

Metafilter has a huge advantage here. You have to pay to join, which filters out a lot of trolls and sockpuppetry. We have centralized moderation by progressive people. A fraction of the users. Eight subsites, whereas Reddit has thousands and you can create one on a whim.

weird SRS conspiracy

SRS IS a subreddit! There are hundreds of feminist and progressive subreddits. There are tons of assholes on Reddit, but don't pretend it's some kind of coherant community. It's a bit of an anarchy and it's what you make of it. I have fun there and I learn things there. I have made friends through Reddit. I subscribe to subreddits that interest me and don't subscribe to ones that are full of assholes.
posted by melissam at 11:36 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


oh hello Reddit, is that you enabling rapeculture again, gg.
posted by xcasex at 11:38 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


A creepshot captures the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera.

My favorite thing about this is how it manages to insult the subjects it's built to collect. Gross. But I don't think we were arguing that this wasn't gross, of course.

MeFi is basically a subreddit owned by its moderator.

MetaFilter and Reddit are both totally different sorts of websites that employ a loosely blog-based style to allow members to communicate on topics of interest to them. The idea of looking at MetaFilter through a subreddit lens is odd. They're different things. A subreddit is, ultimately, owned by Conde Naste. MetaFilter is, ultimately, still owned by mathowie.

I'm not saying it's okay to blame all of Reddit users for this. Of course it isn't. I am disagreeing that this is a thing that, were Reddit Inc. to decide was against their values, they could stop. This is like YouTube being all "We can't stop copyrights violations" or "We can't stop sketchy kiddie pornish videos." They can if they prioritize it by assigning resources to deal with the problem. They can rationalize their non-priorizitation of it the same way the mods here have a list of "Eh that stuff is not that great to do here but it's not going to get you banned" but it's still a choice, at some level, that someone or some group of is making unless you want to argue that this is all happening by accident and people don't even know that these things happen.
posted by jessamyn at 11:38 AM on September 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


The idea of looking at MetaFilter through a subreddit lens is odd.

But not, apparently, the reverse.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:44 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


> So I have had to come to accept that I am plastered all over the internet, having sex with my exgirlfriend

I appreciate hearing personal stories like this -- it's why I spend more time on the comments here than on the original articles often. But it's important to keep in mind that there's a great difference between being a man with 15-year almost unidentifiable photos of you out there, and being a woman with photos taken in your neighborhood last week posted along with your personal information.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


allen.spaulding: "And on reddit, I think you'll find that CreepShots is free speech but Creep Shaming is worse than sexual assault."

Related: If you object to racism, sexism, etc., you are thin-skinned, can't take a joke and "must be fun at parties." However, if SRS makes jokes at the expense of racist/sexist people they are cruel harpies and the worst people on earth.

It's hilarious how the internet tough guy shit just evaporates when they're the butt of the joke.
posted by brundlefly at 11:48 AM on September 23, 2012 [21 favorites]


A creepshot captures the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera.

This is fucking disgusting in so many ways. First, because the part that turns them on is the deliberate violation of someone's privacy. Second, "vain attempts at putting on a show"? Why not just come out and say that they think that women who agree to be photographed are worthless whores?


This is even more uncharitable than they deserve. There is a difference between posed shots and unposed/candid shots in all genres of photography. Especially when the subject is not a professional model. They, in their immature and misogynist way, are trying to explain that difference. I'm not sure how vanity = whore, but that's why that characterization is uncharitable.

(You could also make a case that any attempt to pose for a camera is a form of vanity, but they pretty obviously weren't trying to make that case, so I won't either.)

Taking pictures of people in public is not a violation of privacy. It simply isn't. Publishing them might be. But that's a stretch. Regardless, the idea that someone is immune from being looked at, remembered or photographed while in public is a fantasy.
posted by gjc at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


In short, people do choose to be relativists. Nothing compels it. Other moralities are available.

Moral relativism is a worldview, just as atheism is. Reasonable people don't change their worldviews simply because they prefer a comforting fantasy. Imagine if you were to tell an atheist "Look, your lack of belief makes you unhappy, so why don't you instead... simply choose to believe? It's awesome, and when you die, you get lots of sex and candy!" He might want to believe it, but he just couldn't, because that sounds ridiculously silly.

Similarly, when you say "My belief in ethical choice Y is universally better than his belief in ethical choice X!" it sounds equally silly to a moral relativist. It's not that we don't want to believe in some higher moral system, it's just that we need hard evidence that said system is universally better, and ultimately all these moral philosophies - when examined closely enough - are based on highly subjective and context-sensitive values like "hurting people is wrong!" or "the thing people should value most is X!" (where X is something like truth, compassion, love, freedom, or whatever one's pet preference is). Do you get it? It's not that we don't want to believe in universal values, it's just that most people who claims they know what those values are sound silly and immature from a broader perspective. Values differ based on the context. There are times when freedom is the highest goal, and there are times when compassion offers a better outcome. Sometimes there are instances when hurting people is wrong, and other times, it's necessary to do so in order to build a better world. I'm sure you can think of plenty of examples of all the things I've mentioned, so I won't insult your intelligence by going into detail on each point.

Speaking of which, I think we're going off-topic a bit. My overall point was that those Reddit users who defend the existence of the Creeper forum based on "moral relativism" are actually not true moral relativists, because they neglect a very important part of the philosophy - namely, consequences. A sensible moral relativist understands that the world is a thin tissue of laws overlaying complete anarchy, and in light of that tries not to rock the boat too much, whereas creepers who take disturbing photographs of people against their will are the very definition of "boat-rockers."
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


It strikes me as not substantially harder to get a law on the books making photo-without-permission-of-subject a legal breach of privacy carrying some consequences. Much as the rule of, say, "email is private" (which in practice is legally enforceable, despite the technical non-enforceability). AIUI, the laws already on the books in Norway, say (first place I recall seeing such laws) do make this kind of thing illegal, yet the society does not fall to pieces.

It's so far from a freedom-of-speech issue it's kinda disgusting anyone would try to dress it up that way. It's a privacy issue.
posted by ead at 12:02 PM on September 23, 2012


Fists O'Fury: "Of course, another possibility is that they simply do not recognize the harm associated with violations of privacy."

Another possibility is that they simply recognize the contradiction inherent in the concept of having (visual) privacy while situating oneself in the public view.
posted by wierdo at 12:04 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It strikes me as not substantially harder to get a law on the books making photo-without-permission-of-subject a legal breach of privacy carrying some consequences.

I'm not sure about Canada, maybe you are correct. In the USA, though, such laws would likely be struck down as unconstitutional.
posted by Justinian at 12:06 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It strikes me as not substantially harder to get a law on the books making photo-without-permission-of-subject a legal breach of privacy carrying some consequences.

This has to be a little more complex than this, because otherwise what do you do when your image includes a picture of a crowd? The UK deals with this by giving image rights to the primary subject of the photo, but not a background part.
posted by jaduncan at 12:18 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree that the US would probably come down that way. At least they did (just -- 5 to 4) the last time this made it to the supremes. But I'd caution against assuming the rest of the world believes that balance is correct (or indeed, almost-half the justices on that court).

America does have both a complex system of privacy laws and personality rights, and these laws are often in conflict with free-speech provisions, and most people tasked with evaluating them (in contrast to the free-speech absolutism of internet forums' imagination) consider it a matter of tradeoffs between naturally-opposed, but perfectly reasonable, rights of individuals.
posted by ead at 12:18 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The root of the issue is sexual reproduction. Once we stop looking at other people simply as objects to be mated with this will stop. A blanket anti-sex stance may be controversial at first but in the end it is the only thing that will stop this. Until sex is a thing of the past there will always be people who break every law, violate every taboo in their quest for titillation.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:26 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


It strikes me as not substantially harder to get a law on the books making photo-without-permission-of-subject a legal breach of privacy carrying some consequences.

Even setting aside the Constitutionality problem, the big difficulty is how you would craft such a law so it would still allow, say, a picture of Mitt Romney spitting on a homeless person. A standard dodge is "substantial news or informational value", but that's pretty vague.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:27 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Once we stop looking at other people simply as objects to be mated with this will stop.

Perhaps we can form an organization to promote this idea, a League of some sort that is Anti Sex.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:29 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey charlie,
I didn't say what I said because I am a feminist, or because you are a guy, or any of whatever crap you're trying to put in my mouth. I didn't even know for sure you were a guy. I said it because you are a different person than me, and you are also not everybody, and so your experience, your reaction, while valid, is not and cannot possibly be universal. Regardless of your gender.

Also, please don't tell me what I meant by my own statement. I don't appreciate having a meaning attributed to my words that I specifically stated was not intended, simply so you can argue an unrelated tangent. I was talking about a broader concern than the horse you're personally intent on beating.
posted by windykites at 12:30 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moral relativism is a meta-ethical stance. It asserts that morality is arbitrary and mutable, and you need to take the local ethical systems into account when assessing the morality of an action. Nothing in moral relativism prohibits the moral relativist from adopting some ethical system of their own and trying to spread it to others. They may have more trouble with that than usual, since their own actions in promoting their ideals are subject to other people's ideals. But I'm pretty sure that arguing in favor of one's own ideals is not fraught with contradiction in the same way that legislating for them is. You might not want to do it in a social situation, but then, rhetoric usually works better after you've gained sympathy.
posted by LogicalDash at 12:41 PM on September 23, 2012


Perhaps we can form an organization to promote this idea, a League of some sort that is Anti Sex.

And one for the kiddies, a "Junior Anti-Sex League" if you will.
posted by MikeMc at 12:43 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks for your comment, Catchfire, which seemed to me to clarify some important things in here. I have one small quibble:

The problem of having one's picture taken while in public, or having one's intimate photos leaked to an unintended audience is not a breach in privacy per se, although it may be helpful to voice it in those terms, but that the subject of the photo has been coerced against her will for the erotic pleasure of others. It's violent, and its akin to sexual assault.

I agree with this completely, but (at least as I conceive it), the "right to privacy" refers precisely to the right not to have the information one emanates (by being alive) used to exercise coercive power over one. It seems that the word "privacy" is overloaded, but I think, especially in the context of discussions about privacy as violated by information technology, this is the sense in which it is used. The motivation to, e.g. mask up at a protest, or disguise one's IP address when browsing the internet, or check the changing room for cameras* is to avoid falling prey to various types of fucked-up power dynamic in which someone takes advantage of information (broadly construed) about the victim. It's distinct from the "privacy" that one might see mentioned in, I don't know, a real estate ad about gated communities or something. The specific violations of the former type of privacy we're discussing here are particularly egregious, because, as you say, they constitute a form of violence that's tantamount to sexual assault, but the violation of this type of privacy is in and of itself problematic, even in other contexts.

Everyone emanates information that can be used to victimize them in one way or another by someone motivated to do so**. Not having one's information emissions available to those who would victimize one is, I think, what's meant by "privacy" here and in similar contexts, and it seems like a useful concept. Privacy, in this sense, doesn't seem to have its roots in the "disarticulation of the individual from society" anymore than does the idea that individuals have a right not to be victims of physical violence, which is, after all, the act of using the fact that everyone has physical needs and must maintain a certain level of bodily integrity to survive as a way to victimize someone.

There is, certainly, a separate notion of privacy that seems to have a lot to do with the disarticulation of the individual from society, but I don't think that's what folks are referring to when they use the word "privacy" in the present discussion.

*I'm glad those anecdotes were posted, even though they were kind of hair-raising and anger-making. It's good to be informed of the shit that other people have to deal with that I do not have to deal with.

**Richelieu: "Give me six lines written by the most honest of men and I'll give you the rope by which to hang him."
posted by kengraham at 12:43 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm astonished at the blatant honesty of the subreddit's name. That reddit the internet the world is full of sexist, privilege denying, objectifying, wholly self-interested patriarchal neckbearded fucks is nothing surprising, but that they are now banding together and actually using "creep" as a way to identify themselves is, somehow, kind of shocking to me.
posted by ndfine at 12:49 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


As for reddit, there are millions of members. It is an order of magnitude larger than metafilter or SA. It is larger than many small cities. I'm not going to say it is impossible for the handful of people that run it to police the subreddits, they probably could by playing whack-a-mole any time a new subreddit pops up. Approving subreddits won't really help, nothing is stopping me from stating /r/kittens and filling it full of creepshots. They would need a dedicated staff, but that still wouldn't stop people from finding a place to post creepshots.

Cities are full of rapists and murderers. Sure some people rail against them but they simply must exist. Humans are social creatures and they will congregate no matter what. If reddit was shut down tomorrow people would go to 4chan or digg and keep doing whatever they were doing. This isn't anything in particular about reddit, it is simply that some people are jerks.

Most of metafilter will be in favor of surreptitious photos in a wide wide array of cases. Cops already try to stop you from photographing them, what if it really was illegal. I'm not throwing out what ifs just to be a dick, do you think the utility of surreptitious photos in the cases of photographing police outways the hard done to the relatively few people posted to creepshots? There are a million other cases where it would be a bad thing if surreptitious photos were illegal.

None of this excuses those jerks that do this. Just cuz we cant stop them doesnt make it ok.I wasn't 100% joking saying sex is the root cause se we need to get rid of sex. Many people find titillation in many things. No matter what you tell them they will keep doing it. People will violate any taboo or law. This is part of the human condition.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


" that they are now banding together and actually using "creep" as a way to identify themselves is, somehow, kind of shocking to me."

They're feeling empowered and taking "creep" back perhaps? Or it just makes it easier to find each other. Take your pick.
posted by MikeMc at 12:54 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's so strange because in general, open minded norms do tend to include understanding and support and encouragement for people who enjoy fantasies of violating others consent and for whom sexual activities themselves are seen as an act of harm committed to the reciever. I think for men who want to harm women with sexual violation that is overwhelming, overpowering, hurtful, painful, humiliating, degrading etc...it would be hard to understand why a woman would agree to be harmed. Either she is an idiot to subject herself to men's harmful sexual urges (the confused easy slut), she is an evil manipulator looking to get a man's money or other privaledges (the bitch money grubbing slut), or she was sexually abused and conditioned to tolerate being treated badly by men (damaged goods slut)....or she just likes being treated badly.. (masochistic slut)

Basically a woman wanting men's sexual attention-- to a man whose arousal is designed around predatory wantings to use her and actively seek to be harmful to her-- doesn't make a lot of sense.

In general I wish these men would admit they are raging doms and get themselves educated about how to use their urges responsably. Unfortunately, I'm not sure the BDSM community knows how to deal with the huge population of real doms/predators in American culture, who really aren't interested in fantasy but are fantasizing about really doing and getting as close to that line (or crossing it) as possible. And whose whole ideology about sexuality is based in mysogeny, domination and sadism toward women. In a very real, and not fantasy, sense.
posted by xarnop at 12:55 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The root of the issue is sexual reproduction. Once we stop looking at other people simply as objects to be mated with this will stop. A blanket anti-sex stance may be controversial at first but in the end it is the only thing that will stop this. Until sex is a thing of the past there will always be people who break every law, violate every taboo in their quest for titillation.

Presumably you're being somewhat facetious, but there is a certain population of dudes that is large enough that the world would be significantly improved if they figured out that the package their junk came in did not also contain documents recording a divine edict giving said junk's motives precedence over everyone else's concerns.
posted by kengraham at 12:57 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


And one for the kiddies, a "Junior Anti-Sex League" if you will

We are going to need a way to identify like minded anti-sexers. Maybe members should all wear a red sash?
posted by Ad hominem at 12:59 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah I agree that calling people concerned about being violated "anti-sex" really gets in the way of honestly discussing the ethics of letting EVERYONE do ANYTHING they want sexually...no matter who else they use in the process.

Sexual freedom is great when it involves consent. It is not anti-sex to believe it's concerning that whole subcultures of men prefer to use women's bodies for sexual gratification without consent.
posted by xarnop at 1:04 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Maybe members should all wear a red sash?

Yes, a bold scarlet that would really be set-off by a grey jumpsuit.
posted by MikeMc at 1:05 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Presumably you're being somewhat facetious, but there is a certain population of dudes that is large enough that the world would be significantly improved if they figured out that the package their junk came in did not also contain documents recording a divine edict giving said junk's motives precedence over everyone else's concerns.

I agree with you. We need to start enforcing the laws already on the books that were put in place to curb men's rampant sexuality. For example, it is illegal in New York to have a visible erection in public. Why aren't we enforcing that?

Sexual freedom is great when it involves consent. It is not anti-sex to believe it's concerning that whole subcultures of men prefer to use women's bodies for sexual gratification without consent.

I never said just because some guys have the urge to take photos of unsuspecting women it is ok. But you cannot deny that it is because of a base sexual urge and if we stopped viewing women as sexual objects this stuff would stop.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:06 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying it's okay to blame all of Reddit users for this. Of course it isn't. I am disagreeing that this is a thing that, were Reddit Inc. to decide was against their values, they could stop.

Yes, but they are at a remove from their userbase in a way that MeFi's site ownership is not. I think some people here are judging Reddit's entire userbase by the actions of a subset. It's not a strawman; some folks see this stuff and write off the whole website and everyone on it. That's the ignorant part. People who do that just do not seem to get that there is no "site wide culture" there like there is here or at Free Republic or something. Enforcement of whatever is at the corporate level that is wholly divorced from the opinions and actions at the userbase at large. Yes, I do think that the userbase of the parts I see (mostly whatever hits the front page) is younger and dumber than MeFi on the whole, but I understand that this is not necessarily characteristic of the site as a whole, because it's so huge I actually have no idea what if any character it might have as a whole, and I never will. Is this subreddit awful? Yes. Should Conde Nast remove it? Probably. Is its existence in any way indicative of the character of Reddit (that is, of the people who use Reddit)? No, it is not.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:12 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


These are the contexts in which I'm grateful for having been born homely, and thus having escaped a shitload of sexual harassment and attention.
posted by The Sprout Queen at 1:15 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


AIUI, the laws already on the books in Norway, say (first place I recall seeing such laws) do make this kind of thing illegal, yet the society does not fall to pieces.

It's so far from a freedom-of-speech issue it's kinda disgusting anyone would try to dress it up that way. It's a privacy issue.


Reading the linked document it seems that if you are photographed in public in a situation that is deemed to be of "current or general interest" or the photos are shown only among a small group of people you may not have any rights. Which of course opens the door to challenge the terms "small group" and "current or general interest".
posted by MikeMc at 1:16 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem-- it sounds like you're trying to mock a position you disagree with. It would help me understand your point if you simply stated your point rather than trying to make anyone's concerns about sexual violation look like part of a conspiracy against sex.

If your vision of sexual empowerment really includes giving men the freedom to violate women against their consent, then yes I would take anti-sex culture over sexual violation and rape empowerment culture any day.

However, suggesting that these are the only two options seems a bit dishonest to me.
posted by xarnop at 1:18 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sexual freedom is great when it involves consent. It is not anti-sex to believe it's concerning that whole subcultures of men prefer to use women's bodies for sexual gratification without consent.

Images of women's bodies. If they were grabbing these women off the street, or even rubbing up against them, there are already applicable laws.

Now, maybe they're they're looking at these pix and imagining the mom in yoga pants tied to a tree or something, I don't know. If you seriously want to police what goes into sexual fantasies, you've got your work cut out for you. They don't even need pictures to do that.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:22 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Moral relativism is a meta-ethical stance. It asserts that morality is arbitrary and mutable, and you need to take the local ethical systems into account when assessing the morality of an action. Nothing in moral relativism prohibits the moral relativist from adopting some ethical system of their own and trying to spread it to others. They may have more trouble with that than usual, since their own actions in promoting their ideals are subject to other people's ideals. But I'm pretty sure that arguing in favor of one's own ideals is not fraught with contradiction in the same way that legislating for them is. You might not want to do it in a social situation, but then, rhetoric usually works better after you've gained sympathy.

Oh yes, absolutely! I don't think what you're saying contradicts me at all. Based on moral relativism the Reddit creepers are certainly entitled to argue their position and convince others that they're correct. It's just that their position is logically untenable because (based on what I read) it's not based on a well-considered ethical system; rather it's simply based on the irrational idea that just because something "is not illegal" that makes it morally okay. I'll go out on a limb and suggest that creepy pervs spouting poorly-conceived philosophies tend not to garner much public sympathy. As somebody whose philosophies differ widely from the norm, I've found that people tend to be remarkably supportive when I can articulate the reasons for my beliefs in a rational and sympathetic manner. What they're doing is the opposite of that. Somebody needs to tell them that "creepy and stupid is no way to go through life."
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:26 PM on September 23, 2012


When guys at my work took a picture of my ass and I was told about it later, I would suggest that this was more than "fantasy". One of them did wind up facing sexual assault charges for sexually assaulting a coworker of mine later.

Iwould suggest taking pictures of people, posting them on internet and making conversation about that person in a sexual way is more than fantasy. It requires a lot of effort and cultivation of a shared culture of violating women that I think makes women feel unsafe for good reasons.
posted by xarnop at 1:30 PM on September 23, 2012 [21 favorites]


If your vision of sexual empowerment really includes giving men the freedom to violate women against their consent, then yes I would take anti-sex culture over sexual violation and rape empowerment culture any day.

That isn't what I'm saying at all. Like I said, I'm not 100% joking. I'm not for the violation of anyone. Im saying passing laws won't stop anything. We have had laws against rape, sodomy, erections in public, since the beginning of human culture. Making it illegal to take pictures of strangers not only won't stop people with uncontrollable urges to take pictures of strangers, it will unnecessarily limit otherwise legitimate reasons to take picture of strangers.

I also saying it isn't a problem with reddit. Reddit is large enough that it simply reflects society. Reddit didn't cause this and it can't end it. It is our attitudes towards women that are the problem and shutting down /r/creepshots is fighting a losing battle.

I think it is a pretty shitty thing to do to take a picture of a stranger of any sex and plaster it all over the Internet. If anything I am just being a bit more pessimistic than normal, and think that people will never change.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:31 PM on September 23, 2012


I used to think that that creeps and other sociopaths made up maybe 10% of overall society. As I've aged, I've come to believe that the number is much higher. The thing is that you can't change someone from being a creep or sociopath but you absolutely can shut down their outlets for expression.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 1:32 PM on September 23, 2012


The possibly interesting point underlying the Anti-Sex League riff and associated bonding about having read 1984 is that it seems perfectly possible to be pro-sex and still find creepshots unsexy - just as people who are into creepshots may find other forms of sexual pictography or activity unsexy.

Take a look at the wording above:
If a person is posing for and/or aware that a picture is being taken, then it ceases to be candid and thus is no longer a creepshot. A creepshot captures the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera.
That's been interpreted as talking about vanity meaning conceit or self-love. And that meaning is certainly readable into the text, but I think the primary meaning in use is vanity in the sense of futility, rather than conceit about one's appearance.

So, it's not that women who know they are being photographed are being vain, it's that their attempts to be sexy are vain - that is, in vain. A woman who knows she is being photographed cannot be as sexy as a woman who is being photographed without her knowledge.

"Natural, raw sexiness", then, is what a creepshot fetishist imagines is the external quality which is making the picture more sexually exciting, whereas in fact the greater excitement they are feeling is an internal process - it's their internal response to seeing or thinking about something that ties into their particular fetish.

This looks like an example of a known coping mechanism when confronted with the anxiety that one's sexuality may be dysfunctional non-normal: to believe that if other people were less repressed and truly understood sexuality, they would also be able to admit that the fetish object (in this case, taking pictures of women without their knowledge or consent) was objectively more sexy that quote-unquote normal sex.

It's not a hugely useful coping mechanism, of course, if your particular fetish involves creepy or alienating behavior, and you decide you still want to indulge it. We all have our comforting illusions, but this does not feel like a very helpful one if you want to e.g. have a fulfilling sexual relationship with another person.

In a funny sort of way, it is itself anti-sex, if by "sex" we mean the act of sex, which is what the Junior Anti-Sex League is about. The whole point about their celibacy, and IngSoc's attempts to stamp out sexual or romantic feeling, was that they wanted that emotion directed towards a fetish object - Big Brother.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:34 PM on September 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


"We have had laws against rape, sodomy, erections in public, since the beginning of human culture."

One of these things is not like the other.
posted by stagewhisper at 1:37 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree with you. We need to start enforcing the laws already on the books that were put in place to curb men's rampant sexuality. For example, it is illegal in New York to have a visible erection in public. Why aren't we enforcing that?

Because it's a terrible law. As Catchfire explained upthread, some folks, through circumstances often beyond their control, have to conduct their entire lives in public. This is only one of several reasons why it's unfair to legislate about involuntary physiological responses. (Unless part of the definition of "visible" is "unclothed", in which case an argument can be made for the law.)

Of course, your response has no bearing on my comment, which was just a statement that nobody exists for anyone else's titillation, that a lot of dudes act in ways that indicate that they are mistaken about this point, and that those dudes should not act in that way.

It's shitty that dudes sometimes respond really negatively to having this pointed out, and equally shitty is the resulting social pressure to tolerate the idea that the conscious expression* of one's sex drive, without regard for anyone else, is somehow an entitlement.

*With words and deeds, etc., I hasten to add, lest there be more derails about priapistic straw-men getting hauled off to jail for their involuntary grassy tumescence.
posted by kengraham at 1:40 PM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also-
like a lot of people have already been trying to explain, you can find this disgusting and wrong and still not want to make photographing people in a public space illegal. You know what else I find disgusting? The tiresome, *obnoxious* false equivalency of women's bodies=sex and therefore anti-objectification=anti sex.
posted by stagewhisper at 1:40 PM on September 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


It's my understanding that taking photos of people without their permission is illegal in South Korea, though it's not really enforced. As a result of this law though, all cellphones intended for the South Korean market must make some sort of noise when a photo is taken with the device, alerting the subject. I thought that was a fairly elegant approach to solving the problem, and one I wish were implemented in North America.
posted by peppermind at 1:47 PM on September 23, 2012


I thought that was a fairly elegant approach to solving the problem, and one I wish were implemented in North America.

I thought all phones did that by default (for that very reason).
posted by MikeMc at 1:55 PM on September 23, 2012


I already said several times I think it is wrong. I just want to point out that telling people something is wrong doesn't stop people from doing something when that thing is wrapped in a deep rooted psychological need, such as the need for sex. People were told masturbation was wrong, people were told pre-marital sex was wrong, people were told blojobs were wrong. You will point out that those are consensual. But, the urges that drove people to violate those taboos drive them to break any taboos.

Of course, your response has no bearing on my comment, which was just a statement that nobody exists for anyone else's titillation, that a lot of dudes act in ways that indicate that they are mistaken about this point, and that those dudes should not act in that way

With all do respect,it did. That law was put in place because people believed the sexual urges of one guy do not take precedence over society's desire not to be subjected to them. Society at large told men

package their junk came in did not also contain documents recording a divine edict giving said junk's motives precedence over everyone else's concerns.

Maybe it was a shitty law, but society said "we do not want to be subjected to seeing your erections". As I asked, why did we stop enforcing it? Why can't men run inside, or wear elaborate erection covering clothing? Something made society change it's mind.

If you guys want me to sign some sort of statement, or disavow /r/creepshots publicly I will do so. But I reserve the right to say that /r/creepshots simply reflects a problem that is larger than reddit.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:03 PM on September 23, 2012


In North America, it's very easy to turn off the sound but in Korea it's much more complicated.
posted by peppermind at 2:03 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


there is no "site wide culture" there like there is here or at Free Republic or something

This is just ridiculous. The culture may be different but to say there is no culture is just to ignore reality. I see a culture. So does Reddit itself. The site itself promulgates "reddiquette" - but I'm talking about more than that. What's ok to post (doubles, OC, etc) what's ok to upvote, what moderator behaviors are seen as ok, these are all part of background culture. As are memes, in-jokes, etc. The idea that there are no social norms because there is some anarchic elements to the community, that's nonsense. And subreddit drama isn't totally anarchic nor are they so separate that you can't talk about a coherency to the entire corporate body.

Here's a weird social norm. It's ok to have fun in your subreddit and feel like you have no shared responsibility over /r/beatingwomen or /r/picturesofdeadkids. That's not a given. That's a value.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:05 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you get it? It's not that we don't want to believe in universal values, it's just that most people who claims they know what those values are sound silly and immature from a broader perspective.

Do you get it? It's not that we don't want to believe in one all-encompassing moral philosophy, it's just that most people who claims they have one sound silly and immature from a broader perspective.

You are speaking as if alchemy were the only science, and all science could be judged according to alchemy's lights.

But, to come back to my first point, I don't think you really get what moral relativism is. If you did, you'd know that this:
It's just that their position is logically untenable because (based on what I read) it's not based on a well-considered ethical system
isn't it. You're judging a moral system based on your own criteria (logical tenability, consideration of ethics). Moral relativity doesn't give you that ability.
posted by fightorflight at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought all phones did that by default

The defaults can be overridden. There are good reasons for this; if you were using your phone to take pictures of police abuse, you probably would not want the sound alerting them.

The underlying reality here is that at a certain point, which is probably very close, you will not be able to go outside with an expectation that you aren't going to be photographed, whether by the government, the business you are patronizing, or random strangers.

There are already fairly mature laws which aren't likely to change significantly regarding how those pictures can be used. You have more protection if you're a private individual than if you're a celebrity, but your protection depends on your being identifiable. If the image can't be reliably identified as *YOU* then there is no tort, even if it really happens to be of you. The creepshot guys may be creeps, but they do know where the legal line is and they're well on the protected side of it. That line is very unlikely to move in any significant way because there are powerful business interests that would be seriously affected if it did.j

As for whether "legal" means "right," laws reflect the aggregate values of society. Things can be wrong but tolerated because legal sanctions would make other tolerated things impossible. It is already a serious legal danger to take bathtime pics of your own kids -- is that really what we wanted from kiddie porn laws? But there we are. The onerous side effects of anything that would seriously impact Creepshots would likely be much, much worse.
posted by localroger at 2:09 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do quite a bit of photography with an SLR in hand. I also resent this attitude.

The more ubiquitous and virtually indetectable cameras become, the more carrying actual photographic equipment seems to the very symbol of deviance. When questioned by the police about my darkroom equipment, it was obvious they saw this as a sign of sinister behaviour done out of the eyes of the establishment. When asked why they were at my apartment their response was, "We had a report of someone suspicious with a camera in the area." And since I had been questioned about taking photographs earlier that year (in public, in the middle of the day, in a tourist town!) naturally my name came up.

Outside of a "fuck off" or a brief mention, though, going up and yelling at a photographer at length about it would be out line and not legal besides (harassment, disturbing the peace, etc., whatever state law or local ordinance applies). There's no *right* to yell at someone, at length, for doing that in public.

Maybe I'm biased from years of shooting in public, but I just can't imagine a cop siding with the photographer, at least not without physical violence. I recommend anyone who truly objects to being photographed in public to, regardless of local laws, report the photographer to a nearby cop and see what happens. Even though I felt morally (and legally) in the right to photograph in public, the civil and social reality of it led me to abandon street work. I feel, for better or worse, the golden age of street photography in the tradition of Frank, Klein, Winogrand et al has come to an end. Most of the street photography I like these days is on the edge of that style -- more abstract and measured and less reliant on the, for lack of a better word, macho tactics of the old greats.

It's easy to see how classism is tied into concepts like private and public realms: homeless people don't have much choice in whether or not they are in "public," and likewise are frequently refused entry into spaces which are public for others like café rest rooms and shopping malls.

It's odd how proponets of the most macho of street photography view the homeless as somehow beneath them as subjects, but apply little of that same self-reflection to all their other subjects. When trying to put together a post about that self-proclaimed male chauvinist and emblem of the male gaze, Garry Winogrand, it was difficult to dig up any substantial criticism that focused on the problematic nature of his work.

But, even as a lifelong lover of surreptious photography, and a non-believer in privacy-in-public-spaces, I've come to feel the right of people to not feel violated by cameras in public is worth there not being another Winogrand, or Friedlander, or Gilden. How that looks legally is beyond me, but personally it just means my not taking pictures of strangers anymore. Anyways, Friedlander's best work is unpeopled.
posted by Lorin at 2:14 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The culture may be different but to say there is no culture is just to ignore reality. I see a culture. So does Reddit itself.

Reddit seems to see itself as a kind of mini-internet, with a heavy lean toward libertarian freedom of expression. Just as FreeRepublic and DailyKos exist on the same internet, Creepshots and SRS coexist on Reddit.

You can argue that this is a lazy, value-free philosophy, but you can also make a very strong argument -- as I'm sure the Reddit uberleaders would -- that this hand-off policy is what has made the internet itself such a widely used powerful force in peoples' lives. I am sure they only removed /r/jailbait because of the legal danger from kiddie porn laws (which are so stupidly draconian that even an empty accusation is extremely dangerous). I can't see them taking any action against /r/creepshots which wouldn't open them to a hurricane of offended-sensibility requests concerning other subreddits which they absolutely do not want to deal with.

You don't like the culture of Reddit? I'm sure their answer would be to create your own subreddit and moderate it however you feel is appropriate, in confidence that they have your back whether they agree with you or not.
posted by localroger at 2:18 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


What is SRS? I've been Googling, but I'm guessing in this context "SRS" isn't about the Susquehanna River or scoliosis.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:20 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recommend anyone who truly objects to being photographed in public to, regardless of local laws, report the photographer to a nearby cop and see what happens.

I think it would depend on the circumstances, frankly, wouldn't happen in all by any means. Also depends on the location or city. In any case, I would hope that anyone who gets arrested will sue your pants off, should that result in an illegal detention. I mean that sincerely, for you'd be an enemy of free expression in my eyes.
posted by raysmj at 2:21 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The more ubiquitous and virtually indetectable cameras become, the more carrying actual photographic equipment seems to the very symbol of deviance.

There is no reason for a camera to be recognizable as other than an otherwise innocent object. We've gotten used to the ideas that phones have cameras in them but I'm surprised that especially protest movements like Occupy haven't glommed onto the possibility of using hats, pendants, handbags, and other knickknacks to conceal cameras.

The one exception -- one close to me, since I do wildlife photography -- is long telephoto lenses. Those remain conspicuous even with small modern sensors. But it's usually obvious what you're aiming one of those at, and if it's a bird feeder you'll probably get a pass from the nervous Nellies.
posted by localroger at 2:23 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is SRS? I've been Googling, but I'm guessing in this context "SRS" isn't about the Susquehanna River or scoliosis.

Shit Reddit Says
posted by ndfine at 2:24 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


SRS = shit reddit says
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:24 PM on September 23, 2012


You don't like the culture of Reddit?

This came up because people denied such a thing exists, to defend Reddit from criticism. You're making a different argument. You can criticize the culture of Reddit and the best way to do it is X. That's fine. At least you think it's possible to be critical of Reddit (unlike some others in this thread).

My own stance is that Reddit has a lot of growing-up to do before I feel comfortable there. I can't predict the future but I suspect that it will require people to admit there are social norms and be comfortable discussing them.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:25 PM on September 23, 2012


If you guys want me to sign some sort of statement, or disavow /r/creepshots publicly I will do so. But I reserve the right to say that /r/creepshots simply reflects a problem that is larger than reddit.

Well, the focus on reddit is either a drill-down or a derail, depending on your perspective, but I don't see anyone saying that every single instance of this behavior is contained within r/creepshots. In the FPP top link, there is mention of other "creep sites", revenge porn sites in the vein of isanyoneup and paparazzi culture as it pertains to women.

"This is all and entirely Reddit" is not, I think, an assertion that has been expressed here (although ways in which Reddit's culture or lack thereof might provide a safe environment for creepshooters have been discussed).
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:30 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean that sincerely, for you'd be an enemy of free expression in my eyes.

In Canada, we call it "free" expression.
posted by Lorin at 2:33 PM on September 23, 2012


Yes, but they are at a remove from their userbase in a way that MeFi's site ownership is not.

That is, again, a choice. That may have been a canny business decision or it may have been an unintended consequence from other decisions, but you don't just get to a point where you no longer know what is going on in parts of your community by accident. This is something that many sites have to deal with as they contemplate the issues of growth vs stagnation and as they think about where their revenue streams are coming form. It is absolutely possible for a site with millions of people to hire (or enlist as volunteers) enough people to moderate however many forums you have in accordance with your values if you decide such a thing should be done. It's just expensive and frequently not worth it and that is the business decision. See also: making a totally safe car, making clothes that last, etc. The fact that when you make these sorts of decide-not-to-decide non-decisions, various market and social forces take over, is also something that is totally predictable.

Again, I get what you are saying. And again I am not saying "So therefore everyone who liked Reddit is complicit in these things." At the same time, it's a frequently discussed metatopic here, whether the crappy behavior of a subset of a group is or is not the responsibility of the other people in that group and different people make their decisions at different points along the line. Christians and Catholics do this a lot, folks have had to make those decisions about the Boy Scouts and about Chik-Fil-A and some people make those calculations about Reddit. Everyone's got to find their place with this.
posted by jessamyn at 2:35 PM on September 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


My own stance is that Reddit has a lot of growing-up to do before I feel comfortable there.

Well this is kind of like saying "the internet has a lot of growing up to do before I feel comfortable there." The main difference between Reddit and the internet as a whole is that there is a short list of subrules about how moderation works and conversations are handled, a list which is extremely value neutral, and Reddit gets to monetize its success by serving you ads.

I think the comparison of Metafilter to a subreddit is spot-on. It would be very easy to host a community much like Metafilter on a subreddit; the main difference is that Reddit has its own rules for how posts are up- and down-voted and such which are different from how Metafilter handles such things, but I could easily imagine the same mix of people having similar conversations over there. The main reason you'd do it, if you were Matt, is that you don't have to set up the servers and configure them and figure out the logistics and deal with DOS attacks. You just host your forum.

I really don't see any criticism of Reddit that can be made without applying the same criticism to the entire internet. Yes, it would be possible for Reddit to exercise closer control over the content of its subreddits, but there are many arguments for why that would be a bad idea, both from Reddit's point of view and in general terms.
posted by localroger at 2:37 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, the focus on reddit is either a drill-down or a derail, depending on your perspective

Yep, that was my point exactly. We tend to get bogged down into how terrible a place reddit is. It may be a terrible place but it is only as terrible as the society it represents.

THere is a reddit culture. It reflects the values of American culture. America values freedom of speech over most other things.America values freedom of expression.America says creepshots is legal, but creepy. America says jailbait is well, jailbait. It is entirely fair to criticise reddit, any criticism lodged against reddit is a complaint that can be lodged against American culture and vice/versa. Reddit reflects all the jackasses you would find in your hometown.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:38 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is just ridiculous. The culture may be different but to say there is no culture is just to ignore reality. I see a culture. So does Reddit itself. The site itself promulgates "reddiquette" - but I'm talking about more than that. What's ok to post (doubles, OC, etc) what's ok to upvote, what moderator behaviors are seen as ok, these are all part of background culture. As are memes, in-jokes, etc. The idea that there are no social norms because there is some anarchic elements to the community, that's nonsense. And subreddit drama isn't totally anarchic nor are they so separate that you can't talk about a coherency to the entire corporate body.

Just because you say it's ridiculous or nonsense doesn't make it so. All of the things you mention differ widely from subreddit to subreddit.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:40 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


THere is a reddit culture. It reflects the values of American culture

No. It reflects the values of 12-16 year old pubescent male culture which is hardly the same thing as American culture.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 2:41 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really don't see any criticism of Reddit that can be made without applying the same criticism to the entire internet

This is just odd. The Internet is a series of protocols. Reddit is a for-profit company with policies and procedures.

Reddit may have made decisions that replicate decentralized control - but it remains a very different thing than the Internet. It's a hell of a business move to act in a way that makes it seem like you can't be criticized. I'd love to learn how to do this.

IsAnyoneUp (mentioned in the original link) tried the same defense. "Hey look, you don't like us, well, it's just the Internet. The fact that we publish nudes without permission and then link to that person's social media presence? That's not us that's the Internet."

They just didn't have as good PR as reddit.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:43 PM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe it was a shitty law, but society said "we do not want to be subjected to seeing your erections". As I asked, why did we stop enforcing it? Why can't men run inside, or wear elaborate erection covering clothing? Something made society change it's mind.

This sounds like an attempt to talk about something that looks to the casual observer like the subject at hand, but is not in fact that subject at hand. I apologize if that's not your intention to divert the discussion, but a dude's running-induced public jiggle is very obviously not what I meant when I mentioned dudes imposing their sexuality on other people.

If a clothed dude has an erection in public (that he didn't cause himself), and someone is offended by the erection itself, then that person is in the wrong: why are they looking at his junk, anyway? If, on the other hand, a dude is staring at someone's secondary sex characteristics, or surreptitiously photographing same, or directing unwanted sexual attention or "friendliness" at a woman (or anyone else), or talking in a demeaning way about a mutual acquaintance with another dude, etc., then he is imposing his sexuality on others in a non-okay fashion. Since this thread is about a particularly egregious version of the latter type of behaviour, I'm not sure why the former is relevant. I do see why an apologist for the latter type of behaviour might want to make it look as though people who objected to that sort of behaviour were really talking about the former, so as to make those people look like they were being unreasonable or puritanical or whatever.

I have nothing to say one way or another about Reddit, having looked over there only a couple of times. It seems like some Redditors, like some members of most other communities, are dudes who have a hard time engaging with half of humanity except on terms dictated by their endocrine systems or personal insecurities, or whatever, and I think that's pretty fucking lame.
posted by kengraham at 2:44 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


No. It reflects the values of 12-16 year old pubescent male culture which is hardly the same thing as American culture

Are you trying to tell me only 12-16 year olds believe in freedom of speech. And that stuff can be creepy and still legal?

Has anyone here even been on reddit. The same shit that protects creepshots protects /r/srs and /r/lgbt and /r/trans and /r/atheism.

No matter what people think about those subreddits, and believe me there is a conversation going on right now on some other site about how /r/athiesm should be shut down, reddit, and American culture at large protects them all.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:47 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I talked to enough women who have had dudes with erections display them with legs spread, sitting immediately across from them, to suspect that not all of these erections are accidental and their notice-ability is manufactured. That it is part and parcel of a culture where some men feel entitled to display their sexuality.

Creepshots is effectively replicating it at a later time, online.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:49 PM on September 23, 2012


I really don't see any criticism of Reddit that can be made without applying the same criticism to the entire internet

This is just odd. The Internet is a series of protocols. Reddit is a for-profit company with policies and procedures.


The lack of central control over content on the internet was not accidental; it was a deliberate design decision by its creators. It's not a decision that is universally liked, and powerful forces would like to undo that -- see China. But the guys who built the internet could have said "we totally need to bake in a way for the authorities to remove objectionable content." They totally decided not to do that.

Reddit could exercise more control over the content of subreddits if they wanted to. They don't want to. They see that, as the creators of the internet did, as a bad design choice. The solution to bad speech isn't banning speech but more good speech and all that jazz. You can make a strong argument, particularly considering the size of their empire, that it's much better for them to stay at a remove; if they start micro-managing content, they are going to need a hell of a lot of managers. AOL tried to do that and look where they are today.
posted by localroger at 2:50 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


So was it bad that the jailbait subreddit was closed, or what?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:52 PM on September 23, 2012


So was it bad that the jailbait subreddit was closed, or what?

Sometimes good things happen for bad reasons. That /r/jailbait is gone is certainly a good thing, but the reasons it was possible to remove it are pernicious and have other much less lofty implications.
posted by localroger at 2:55 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got an anonymous email while I was asleep. Here it is:
"I am contacting you on behalf of some people who are afraid to risk their e-rep by posting.

Attribute it however you wish, but please, help them say this. The thread is http://www.metafilter.com/120184/Creepy-photography

Here is the message that we've agreed on:

to be sure, I think they should repeal that law; making it harder to sousveil is collateral damage for creating a less creepy world. I don't get these people who talk about how my agenda seems to hew closely to that of Power. I'm a liberal, after all!

I don't know how often you check your email, but I hope you're willing to do this."
posted by bystander at 2:56 PM on September 23, 2012


He says, as he has no erep to protect ;-)
posted by bystander at 2:57 PM on September 23, 2012


If a clothed dude has an erection in public (that he didn't cause himself), and someone is offended by the erection itself, then that person is in the wrong: why are they looking at his junk, anyway

We are getting towards a derail on this I think but sure, you are right nobody was forced to look. But at one point people thought it was enough of an imposition in other people to pass a law about it. A law we later realized was untenable and had uninteded consequences. The same would be, I think, the problem with laws against surreptitious photographs. The benefits of being able to film the Rodney king beating, or taking pictures as a gruns dives off with your car,and not go to jail probably outweighs the discomfort felt by people who are surreptitiously photographed at Walmart, even though taking pictures of people at Walmart is terrible and bad and wrong.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:57 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think these creepshots are kind of hilarious. I mean, really? This is what does it for you? It reminds me of Victorians getting hot and bothered over ankles.

I guess I kind of don't think this is a big deals. These guys are almost certainly harmless. More importantly it should be clear that this isn't really about women. This is not about flesh and blood. These guys are obsessed with something else, something that we don't quite have a name for but it has to do with technology's ability to mimic human beings. These guys wouldn't know what to do with a real woman if one popped onto their lap but they seem to get along quite well with blurry photographs. So be it. Let them have their photographs and their furtive glances so long as no real harm is done.

It requires a lot of effort and cultivation of a shared culture of violating women that I think makes women feel unsafe for good reasons.

If this is how you feel now wait a little while longer when the "creeps" are able to take your photo and your voice and build a photo-realistic simulation of you. Again, I think there is a kind of boundary error happening here. You are confusing you with photographs of you. It's a common error but they are not the same thing. But this is indeed the question at hand: where does one human being end and another begin?

society said "we do not want to be subjected to seeing your erections". As I asked, why did we stop enforcing it? Why can't men run inside, or wear elaborate erection covering clothing? Something made society change it's mind.

See above.
posted by nixerman at 2:58 PM on September 23, 2012


Why can't men run inside, or wear elaborate erection covering clothing?

Such a good idea. I'm thinking of something all-white, with a codpiece concealing (and protecting) the potentially erect junk. We could hang in groups and sprinkle Russian euphemisms into our language. Stanley Kubrick might make a movie about us.
posted by localroger at 3:02 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am starting to get the idea that on Metafilter, Reddit is the American South of the Internet. Bad things happen there and if you're there, whether you had anything to do with the bad things or not, they can never be forgiven and you're somehow tainted by association.
posted by localroger at 3:06 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think several people in this thread have stated explicitly that their criticism(s) of Reddit are not criticisms of any and all Redditors.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:08 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


localroger and others, you realize you're getting super defensive over the actions of a corporation (in this case, the owners/operators of reddit)? Why do you identify so strongly with a for-profit enterprise?Trying to shut down all criticism of it as evil anti-freedom anti-sex or whatever as though it were some kind of freedom-fighting ACLU analogue is not sensible.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:09 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the whole "WHAT I CAN'T TAKE PICTURES OF ANYONE??" thing is disingenuous. There's a difference between a covert up-skirt shot of someone (!) and unauthorized but perhaps not sneaky standard street photography. I was struck by the difference between the "creepshots" and the "Tube Crush" link someone posted. Ok-- obviously in the latter, taking secret pictures of people to lust over is totally still creepy, but the gaze is so different! It's just regular photos of men the photographers find attractive, not leering disembodied boobshots.

The woman who runs Underground New York Public Library doesn't ask her subjects their permission, but she does engage with them if they engage her. There's a middle ground-- somewhere, I promise-- between "taking a secret photo of every woman's hoo-ha" and "nobody can take a picture anywhere ever".
posted by threeants at 3:09 PM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I talked to enough women who have had dudes with erections display them with legs spread, sitting immediately across from them, to suspect that not all of these erections are accidental and their notice-ability is manufactured. That it is part and parcel of a culture where some men feel entitled to display their sexuality.

Sure, this falls into the unacceptable behaviour category. The Running Boner cited by Ad Hominem, though, barely falls into the "behaviour" category, at all, and the fact that Ad Hominem cited an involuntary public erection, rather than a public erection intentionally displayed for intimidating or demeaning purposes, made me think that Ad Hominem was trying to make it look as though people who object to unacceptable behaviour are actually objecting to innocuous behaviour. In light of Ad Hominem's more recent comment about unintended consequences of laws, I suspect I'm wrong about Ad Hominem's motives, and apologize to Ad Hominem if this is the case.

A law we later realized was untenable and had uninteded consequences. The same would be, I think, the problem with laws against surreptitious photographs.

I completely agree with this. I don't think surreptitious picture-taking should be illegal. I also think that, under most circumstances and given most subjects, it's not an okay thing to do, and that the subject is right to complain/take actions to make sure the picture is not propagated on the internet, etc.

Legal solutions to the problem of what is and is not okay behaviour are often really bad, because, whether through the inherent difficulty of the problem or the low average competence of the people elected to pass the laws, laws are often dangerously imprecise and vague. For my own part, I don't usually make arguments on MeFi of the form "there oughtta be a law", and my expressing what I think is and is not okay behaviour has little relation to what I think should and shouldn't be legal behaviour.
posted by kengraham at 3:13 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm disturbed by people who think you should do anything that's legal. I'm somewhat rigid on civil liberties and I'm pretty sure I believe that any of those "creepshots" taken in public are, and should remain, legal. But that doesn't mean you have to do it, it doesn't mean you should do it, and it doesn't mean you're not a huge asshole.
posted by threeants at 3:15 PM on September 23, 2012 [17 favorites]


Was I the only one who didn't look at Tube Crush pictures, initially, out of fear that they were grisly pictures of what's euphemistically called "passenger action"?
posted by kengraham at 3:16 PM on September 23, 2012


Every day I see our society inching towards (our very own MeFite) Charles Stross's dystopia.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:20 PM on September 23, 2012


I want to respond to the explicit and implicit concept some people are sharing that this is not a big deal and that "no real harm is done".

Please go back and read the article. Look at the people- mostly women, often very young women or even school aged children- actively suffering because this behaviour is accepted and "acceptable". Look at what this is actually doing to people, to individuals, to our culture. Try to consider the long-term ramifications of school-aged boys growing up believing that they have the right to force girls to do something humiliating, private, unwanted and often sexual, and that the girls have no right to refuse or complain, partially because it's "harmeless, no big deal". Seriously think about it. Seriously read about it. Then come back and tell me that this is ok, that it is no big deal.

I also wonder: if you're a girl, is this kind of media about you more or less likely to harm you in a practical way than if you're a boy? Say, a video of you having sex affecting your ability to keep your job.


And: stalkers. I'm sure there was a time when surreptitiously taking pictures of strange women (or men) was something only a stalker, a terrifying and dangerous person would do. As stalking becomes more socially acceptable, how are vulnerable people supposed to keep themselves safe from physical harm?
posted by windykites at 3:25 PM on September 23, 2012 [25 favorites]


Put it this way, we would as much like to see naked fotos of the Queen as we would a young female royal, as then we can point, we can laugh, we can bring them down to our level. We want to feel we have something over these people, some kind of control, and the sexual element is by the by.

The major part of the issue, which seems to be overlooked an awful lot, is that the simple fact that a woman's body exists and can be photographed with a telephoto lens is enough to "bring her down to our level". While the difference between celebrities and non-celebrities who are woman is of amount, I'm not sure it's different in kind - the idea is to remove the right of the woman to have control over how her body is used by others. The vile sexual talk (there was a 15 year old who photographed herself with a Hitchen's book and published it who was then subjected to incredibly insulting sexual talk and rape threats) may be fun for the people engaging in it, but it is also a way to keep women from being visible in public at all, to discourage women from being vocal.

The aspect of victim blaming - victim blaming for women trusting anyone, anytime, ever, even for thinking that their computer won't be hacked - really disturbs me, personally. Women are losing their jobs over this. Women are being continually harassed over this. And harassed to do this - the combination of teenage girls being pressured to give men pictures of their breasts, and then punished when they do, seems as if it is designed to make all women never trust any man ever, because if you do and something bad happens it's your fault.

But if you distrust a man, you're a feminazi and a bigot because certainly they aren't one of the ones being talked about above, and you should just know that and trust them.

I hate this fucking catch-22 that keeps showing up.

I want to trust men, but it's my fault if I trust a man and he betrays that even if I had no idea he would betray me and/or I don't even know he took pictures of me.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:25 PM on September 23, 2012 [36 favorites]


In light of Ad Hominem's more recent comment about unintended consequences of laws, I suspect I'm wrong about Ad Hominem's motives, and apologize to Ad Hominem if this is the case.

Thanks, I wasn't trying to compare one thing to another, saying that taking pictures of strangers was somehow innocent or impossible to avoid.

I was using the law against public erections as a bad law put in place due to society's attitude, right or wrong, about sex. Our attitudes about sex sometimes cloud our judgements. The law was untenable, and eventually society changed its mind and decided not to ticket unlawful erections. I am not saying society will, or should, change its mind about surreptitious photos being wrong in some cases. I just think passing a law is a bad idea.

I think maybe we should have givens at the top of every discussion. I don't think I've seen any arguments here that guys taking creeper pics are somehow in the right. We all agree on the main points and just disagree on how wrong it is, and what should be done.My own personal opinion is that people who are the subject of creeper pics should sue for damages, they aren't public figures or newsworthy , so freedom of the press does not apply.

I'm going to head back over to reddit, there are probably tons of new cat pictures I haven't seen yet.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:30 PM on September 23, 2012


Oh I apso have a thought about why some surreptitious photos are more ok than others, and maybe I'm just a little bit of a late bloomer and everyone else already knows this: it's about civility, which is inherently about power equalization.

Theoretically, in a society that is just and civilized, those with more power have more restrictions- fewer rights. So, its ok to take pictures of police secretly because they are in a position of power above your own. It makes them more accountable- it balances the power differential. It's probably ok to take a general shot of a crowd because the situation is power neutral. It's less ok to take illicit photos of an individual because now you're directing your power- slightly!- against one person. It's even less ok to use those pictures without their consent because you're taking power away from someone who may already have less than you. Taking private pictures without consent is the least ok because now you're putting someone with less power than you in a position where you could blackmail them- use their lack of power against them. Stealing from the poor is the least acceptable theft (in theory), whether they're poor in power or in money.
posted by windykites at 3:43 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


As a peace offering from reddit here are more photos of grumpycat
posted by Ad hominem at 3:50 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


RE: Dismissing reddit because of the worst parts --

The management of Reddit have had those worst parts repeatedly called to their attention, and they explicitly and specifically refuse to do a damn thing about it because FREE SPEECH is important enough to keep subreddits called "/r/beatingwomen" (which is exactly what it sounds like) around.

Also those subreddits generate ad revenue just as well as the rest of the site.

Once /r/jailbait was one of the most popular subreddits around and many (most?) redditors *still* resent the fact that it was very reluctantly shut down (partly because of a campaign to publicize it by the /r/shitredditsays community).

The owners of Reddit sold a *lot* of ad impressions on those unbelieveably sketchy communities.
posted by edheil at 3:55 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


There aren't many sites where I want to nuke the site from orbit on the grounds it's the only way to be sure - and Reddit certainly is on the borderline. Reddit was in favour of kiddy porn until the Goons stepped in. And the And this months after CNN had. (To catch a Redditor. And no, I'm not a goon.)

The first time they came for
/r/jailbait.

The second time they came for
/r/teen_girls
/r/TeenGirls
/r/pro_teen_models
/r/preteen_girls
/r/TeenGirls
/r/JailbaitArchives
/r/JailbaitVideos
/r/TrueJailbait
/r/niggerjailbait
/r/ChestyBait
/r/bustybait
/r/cutegirls
/r/asianjailbait
/r/JustTeens
/r/JailbaitJunkies
/r/jailbait_nospam
/r/jailbaitgw
/r/nudistbeach
/r/Purenudism
/r/teens
/r/Thenewjailbait
/r/trapbait
/r/malejailbait
/r/malejailbaitarchives
/r/lolicon
/r/assbait

The highest voted subreddit for 2008 was ... /r/jailbait (/r/suicidewatch won because even reddit has some sort of standards).

People happy to say they are reditors are people happy to say they are members of a site that until earlier this year held a kiddy porn hub. And I have a lot of respect for the people on /SRS/ who are trying to change this. Who are trying to change the idea that /r/beatingwomen should be treated with anything but contempt. As for the comparison made above by someone about being a member of Redit being like a member of the American South, no. No it isn't. Defending free speech with respect to Reddit, a site that used free speech to throw around sexualised images of underage children, isn't akin to being a member of the American South. If you are there then you made the decision to be there and are supporting what happens there unless you are actively trying to change it. It's akin to waving round the Battle Flag of the Confederacy.

So forgive me for being incredibly unimpressed by Reddit. I know objectionable sites like Stormfront exist and are always going to exist. There will be contemptable material out there. But there's a difference between knowing Stormfront is out there and inviting them into a broader community the way Reddit does for /r/beatingwomen or /r/creepshots. I can't think of circles I say "I'm an internet user" which puts me on the same basis as Stormfront users. But every time you say you are a redditor you are tacitly condoning the other redditors you share the site with. This is implicitely saying that being a redditor on /r/creepshoots or /r/beatingwomen is fine - especially as the hard line approach to free speech is what separates reddit from other sections of the internet.

(As for /r/Atheism, I'm not impressed there either.)
posted by Francis at 3:59 PM on September 23, 2012 [17 favorites]


Do remember how much sexist and racist shit has been here on metafilter that has been deleted or simply forgotten and forgiven? Do you remember when FPPS commented on how much the poster wanted to fuck the subject of the post. Do you remember when the first 20 comments in any thread was "I'd hit it". Matt made money off that too.

It is easy to take whacks at reddit, it is newer and bigger and hasn't whittled down its user base the way metafilter has.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:15 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Quick question: how many of you have taped over the webcam? How many of you are excruciatingly aware that men have, do and will, use that webcam to tape you (doing whatever) then upload it and/or blackmail you with it? It isn't nearly as rare as one would hope. And should video of you, masturbating in front of your laptop, captured on shitty webcam, get released into the wild, how many of you would lose your job? Partner? Families?

The drive behind creepshots, where the unexpectedness is connected with the sexiness, is at the root of that sort of exploitation as well. And the more we harp on to children that ONCE IT'S ONLINE IT'S THERE FOREVER AND YOU ARE DOOMED the more we make that the consequence. The more we will have girls and women (and men and boys) suicide or drop out of life because some dimwitted fools got their rocks off by violating privacy.

Yeah, I might be out in public and pinging someone's radar as attractive. Taking a photo of me is creepy if that's why you're doing it because it obviously isn't enough to simply look (memorise) - you have to take a specific action. One that may or may not reinforce to me that I am not actually equal. That no matter what I am doing, some segment of the population is masturbating to me as an object and that I have no recourse because apparently his need to have photographic proof of masturbatory fodder posted online trumps my need to be a fully respected member of my community.

Because their 'right' to photograph the unaware and nonconsenting is somehow freedom? And my relegation, once more, to the incessantly and constantly sexualised is just due course?

(I'm going to an art gallery with my daughter today - how comfortable in public do you think I will be?)
posted by geek anachronism at 4:24 PM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


This is implicitely saying that being a redditor on /r/creepshoots or /r/beatingwomen is fine

Most redditors have no idea they exist. There are over 67,000 subreddits on the site and it's trivial to create new ones. That's a virtue for small communities, although it makes any kind of policing rather difficult. If you look at your list, a lot of those popped up after they tanked r/jaibait.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:27 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do remember how much sexist and racist shit has been here on metafilter that has been deleted or simply forgotten and forgiven? Do you remember when FPPS commented on how much the poster wanted to fuck the subject of the post. Do you remember when the first 20 comments in any thread was "I'd hit it". Matt made money off that too.

It is easy to take whacks at reddit, it is newer and bigger and hasn't whittled down its user base the way metafilter has.


[Citation Needed]

If it happened at all, I'm going to need links to prove it - and I'm going to say that the community has changed long before I became a member over four years ago (and was lurking for a few years before that). And if it hadn't, I wouldn't be. Communities can and do change - and one thing that makes them change is pressure and knowing that people find it contemptable.
posted by Francis at 4:27 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Most redditors have no idea they exist.

Indeed. And IMO most of those redditors would be horrified by the knowledge they are sharing the sites with scum. Which is why I'd go into detail about what else there was on Reddit. Pretending thoss sites don't exist isn't going to help. What might help is educating the Reddit userbase about where they are sharing a venu with. But no one on Metafilter should be in that group. Everyone commenting in this thread at least knows about /r/creepshots and probably /r/jailbait

If you look at your list, a lot of those popped up after they tanked r/jaibait.

Yup. Even being on CNN wasn't enough to convince Reddit that having child porn was a bad thing. They just dealt with the symptom.
posted by Francis at 4:33 PM on September 23, 2012


(Could we perhaps at least try to pretend this thread is not "Reddit - rite or rong?"? It kind of feels like women being harassed in public is getting relegated to a minor side-element in the seemingly far more pressing discussion of whose Internet community is best...)

So, tangent, regarding the much-cited New York public priapism law - is this actually the case? AFAIK, the description of a covered but discernible erection as a type of nudity is from NY Penal Code 245.10, which is defining terms for 245.11, which is about public displays (in the sense of billboards, shop windows and so on).

The relevant section for indecent exposure is 245.01 - "exposure of a person" - and that doesn't mention discernable turgidity, but offers instead "unclothed or exposed".

So, IANANYL, but has anyone actually been ticketed for packing a covered but visible derringer, without aggravating circumstances? It seems to make sense for this to be not actionable when dealing with a person (because involuntary) but to be actionable on a billboard or poster (because specifically selected and illustrated).

Of course, if you _do_ anything with the aforementioned in public, that becomes a different issue - specifically, it comes under 245.00 - "public lewdness".

Which ties back in, because there's a kind of sense in some of the discussion here - and certainly elsewhere - that creepshooting is a victimless activity - especially if the creepshot features no identifying characteristics, such as the subject's face.

However, this assumes that creepshooters are all photographic ninjas, who will be able to take their shot unseen. Whereas it's probably fair to speculate that many will not be very ept, and certainly not as ept as they believe, and therefore the subject will be aware that somebody near them is doing something invasive and sketchy. It's basically a form of sexual harassment, and one of which its subjects are, I imagine, aware far more often than the perpetrators believe.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:37 PM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Quick question: how many of you have taped over the webcam?

I"m a man, and I've taped over my webcam.
posted by localroger at 4:41 PM on September 23, 2012


Could we perhaps at least try to pretend this thread is not "Reddit - rite or rong?"? It kind of feels like women being harassed in public is getting relegated to a minor side-element in the seemingly far more pressing discussion of whose Internet community is best...

No. No we can't IMO. Women getting harrassed in public is a problem. And one way to start to deal with that is to make such harrassment utterly socially unacceptable. Reddit is a community that nurtures and tacitly condones subcommunities in which harrassing women in public is not only acceptable but actively condoned. And this needs to be changed. Which means Reddit needs to be either changed or made unacceptable.

(And on a tangent I'm a man - and don't have a webcam).
posted by Francis at 4:55 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it happened at all, I'm going to need links to prove it - and I'm going to say that the community has changed long before I became a member over four years ago (and was lurking for a few years before that). And if it hadn't, I wouldn't be. Communities can and do change - and one thing that makes them change is pressure and knowing that people find it contemptable.

Maybe you weren't paying attention, the same way most of the millions of reddit users aren't on /r/beatingwomen. "I'd hit it" was so common here it became an injoke. You don't remember all the metas about the rampant sexism on metafilter? All the boyzone fights? the "cunt" thread?

I agree that communities can and do change, the way metafilter did. There were good and bad people on metafilter, just as there are on reddit, surely you are not tarring a subreddit like /r/lgbt with /r/beatingwomen. Many of the millions of people using reddit aren't even aware those subreddits exist, the same way you didn't know about "I'd hit it".

I am all for reddit changing. There is a lot I hate about reddit. I hope it does survive to change but I am not willing to tar the entire population of reddit with the deeds a few do.

We can dig up metas all day where people quit in a huff, or were driven out by sexism. That isn't really the point. Nobody on the Internet has clean hands.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:59 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Quick question: how many of you have taped over the webcam?

I doubt anyone's interested in sexy videos of me, but this is a good precaution for anyone when not actually using the webcam. If anyone sees a dude using a laptop with a sticker of a giant moth where the webcam ought to be, please come say hello. Just don't take pictures without asking.
posted by kengraham at 5:00 PM on September 23, 2012


(I'm going to an art gallery with my daughter today - how comfortable in public do you think I will be?)

It's a classic case of technology being just ahead of social mores which are just ahead of the law. I find this idea that you are terrified of being photographed a bit charming. But if you're that concerned you should inquire about the government's voyerustic activities. They are doing much, much worse. But then, that's not what this is actually about. People don't get upset over the real power imbalances around them.

There is an interest in seeing not just any breasts, but all breasts, a sense that female bodies are public property, fair game – to be claimed, admired and mocked.

Yes, this is about property. And dishonest people will always trot out all sorts of high-sounding moral laws and principles to protect their property. One group of people declare that something (their image, in this case) belongs to them and appeals to "decency" to defend their property rights. The "violators" point to other abstract principles. But property is just a useful lie and so you can imagine how this is going to end up.

What's interesting about these technological assaults on property and privilege is that the rear guard, those who want to somehow hold off the tide, always paint this picture of the single victim who has been deprived of some natural, even fundamental right. There is not an appeal to reason but rather the appeal goes out to some nebulous "natural" law.

Whereas it's probably fair to speculate that many will not be very ept, and certainly not as ept as they believe, and therefore the subject will be aware that somebody near them is doing something invasive and sketchy.

How is this a valid assumption? Most of these subjects look completely oblivious. And what if the subjects really didn't have any idea what was going on? Would that make it all peachy?
posted by nixerman at 5:04 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


localroger and others, you realize you're getting super defensive over the actions of a corporation

Well, not really; I don't think I'm super-defensive about it and it doesn't matter whether it's a corporation (ATTN MITT THEY'RE NOT PEOPLE) or a person. It's a philosophical approach which does have some merit, as the success of the unregulated internet might suggest. There are things about it which I don't like much myself, but that's the world in which we live. There are assholes out there. If you seek to de-assholize them by law, can that law de-[whatever] you that you might find worthwhile?

I don't like living in a world where you can't take bathtime pics of your kids without the risk of jail time. (It's fortunate that I didn't want and don't have kids, I suppose.) I am very sure I would like even less living in the world where some substantive law targeted /r/creepshots. And I'm pretty sure the Reddit people feel the same way for the same reasons.
posted by localroger at 5:10 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm jumping into this thread a little late here, but back in photojournalism class we were actually given little tips and tricks for taking photos surreptitiously. The best way is to hold your camera at belt level and snap away. It's an amoral world out there.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:22 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like living in a world where you can't take bathtime pics of your kids without the risk of jail time. (It's fortunate that I didn't want and don't have kids, I suppose.) I am very sure I would like even less living in the world where some substantive law targeted /r/creepshots. And I'm pretty sure the Reddit people feel the same way for the same reasons.

I'm not sure whether this is the fallacy of the excluded middle or trying to defend link two almost unrelated issues. I'm not in favour of banning taking bathtime pictures of your kids. I am in favour not rewarding sharing photos of minors online without their consent without a damn good reason. (Hint: So ephebophiles or paedophiles can get their rocks off isn't a good reason - direct evidence of police brutality might be a good one). And being praised by their fellow creeps for posting to /r/creepshoots is a reward.

There's a world of difference between snooping into family life and someone plastering someone else all over the internet without their consent. Your answer to family bathtime is to actively encourage people to take unwanted photos of my little sisters and plaster them across the internet? (Disclaimer: I'm not aware that they've turned up on creepshotos). And yes, by your posts I believe you are encouraging the creeps.
posted by Francis at 5:25 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find this idea that you are terrified of being photographed a bit charming.

Bless your heart.
posted by Pudhoho at 5:26 PM on September 23, 2012 [22 favorites]


It's a classic case of technology being just ahead of social mores which are just ahead of the law. I find this idea that you are terrified of being photographed a bit charming. But if you're that concerned you should inquire about the government's voyerustic activities. They are doing much, much worse. But then, that's not what this is actually about. People don't get upset over the real power imbalances around them. - nixerman

A: Not terrified. Uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because there are some men out there for whom sexual gratification comes at the price of my comfort; not as a side effect, but as an actual cause for their greater enjoyment. This is what discomfits me, and that my daughter will grow up with it, and that playing with her puts me in a number of physical positions that make me more vulnerable to this sort of nonsense.

B: How is this NOT an imbalance? How is it that those with a camera, the desire to make me part of their sex life sans consent (meaningfully so, not just 'in the spankbank that goes' but 'I am aroused by taking her photo covertly then publicising it online without gaining any consent'), along with the overtly gendered nature of it not part of the wider gender imbalance?

Yeah, I'm going to the art gallery and the library that my government is systematically defunding and deriding. I am going to support the temps and the lowerpaid people who make it all possible and who are being made redundant. I am well aware of the power imbalances around me, and that includes the one where as a woman and child on their own I am at risk of sexualised violence in a way that men are not. That includes this kind of thing where someone, usually a dude, must make their sexual gratification of utmost importance and damn the consequences to the women involved.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:27 PM on September 23, 2012 [18 favorites]


surely you are not tarring a subreddit like /r/lgbt with /r/beatingwomen

In point of fact /r/lgbt is a trollish subreddit one of whose moderators, RobotAnna, also mods /r/KillWhitey . RobotAnna was appointed by a /r/lgbt mod who was equally vile. That subreddit exists only to subtly and sometimes not so subtly troll innocent and unknowing LGBT redditers and to amuse its moderators. So yes, they are pretty much the same thing.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 5:29 PM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


But then, that's not what this is actually about. People don't get upset over the real power imbalances around them.

No, just no. This *is* what it's actually about. Just because you don't experience the power imbalances that women face doesn't mean they aren't real. I'm super lucky and through personal experience also know All About The Government's Voyeuristic Activities, too. You don't have to choose just one form of intrusion if you're female!
posted by stagewhisper at 5:29 PM on September 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


One group of people declare that something (their image, in this case) belongs to them and appeals to "decency" to defend their property rights.

That's not the argument that's generally being made in here. It's not really a question of depriving someone of their "property" (their image in this case). It's a question of an illegitimate power imbalance being created.

There's an additional power dynamic that arises from possessing certain types of information about another individual: that information can be used to the very real detriment of its subject, as illustrated by that Guardian article. Perhaps the fact that someone's life can be made difficult (in concrete, job-loss type ways) by having certain pictures of them publicized on the internet reflects oppressive or anachronistic social mores. However, in an environment where those negative consequences are possible (whether or not someone should be fired over compromising material on the internet), it's abusive to publicize those pictures. The possibility that those pictures, once obtained, could be publicized means that to obtain the pictures in the first place is abusive, because it creates an illegitimate positive power differential (e.g. the potential for blackmail) between the possessor of the pictures and the subject.

The desire to have such pictures reflects not a snowflakey personal idiosyncrasy but rather a fairly pathetic willingness to use -- guess what -- oppressive, misogynistic, anachronistic social norms to avoid having to deal with human beings on an equal and honest basis. Since the benefit of creepshots, extremely charitably construed, consists entirely of a few dudes getting to continue to be lazy in pursuit of sexual fulfillment (or feeling some sense of personal agency, or whatever other shit), and the cost consists of the establishment of power relationships that perpetuate a whole lot of bad shit, I'd say, without recourse to the idea that one owns one's own likeness, that the creepshots thing is a pretty uncontroversially unacceptable practice.
posted by kengraham at 5:29 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


re charlie don't surf's village idiot:

>He carries around a tattered paper grocery bag of printed photos of his creep shots, and shows them to everyone.

He's not publishing them on the net for legions of creeps to rate and leer at. He's an actual person known locally and apparently accepted on that basis. Very interesting, but doesn't open up the can of worms that putting it on the net does.
posted by Listener at 5:30 PM on September 23, 2012


I'm not sure whether this is the fallacy of the excluded middle or trying to defend link two almost unrelated issues.

Honestly, reading through, I'm seeing a lot of this. I don't know why it is that objecting to objectionable behavior and those that provide arenas for them is somehow equivalent to being anti-sex, thin-skinned and hysterical, or entertaining totalitarian leanings. I think everyone here is smart enough to understand these are dishonest accusations to make, and there's a world of different ways to deal with socially vile behavior.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:31 PM on September 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


so here is a question

a man looks at me, then later he goes home and jerks off while he remembers it

what am i to do about this thing
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:36 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


What to do? Get the fuck off metafilter and go straight to your nearest casino because dude, *you are psychic*!
posted by stagewhisper at 5:38 PM on September 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


a man looks at me, then later he goes home and jerks off while he remembers it

This is exactly like /r/CreepShots, yes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:42 PM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


what am i to do about this thing

This is a difficult thread and if you are not trolling, we'd appreciate it if you'd make sure you weren't saying the things a troll would say. This is under your control.

If you think this is unfair, you may go to MetaTalk and ask the community what they think about this request of ours. Otherwise please try to have a conversation with the other people here also trying to have a conversation. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn at 5:45 PM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm not sure whether this is the fallacy of the excluded middle or trying to defend link two almost unrelated issues. I'm not in favour of banning taking bathtime pictures of your kids. I am in favour not rewarding sharing photos of minors online without their consent without a damn good reason.

Well you have totally failed the getting it thing. We already live in a world where parents have been hauled into court because a photo processor reported their kid bathtime pics for child porn. That's the world in which we live. It's already here. We don't get a choice about that, it's already beendone. Sealed. If you don't like it good luck getting it overturned because you make yourself a pariah simply by expressing objection.

As for creepshots, those aren't supposed to be pics of minors; the creepshots TOS specifically says that if the background suggests a school type environment, it's guilty until proven innocent. Of course if the shot crops out all ID you can never really know, but "minor" isn't really the point of a creepshot.

And if we edit "of minors" out of your objection, it still doesn't work. The law on this is very mature. If you're not recognizable in the picture, it does not violate your privacy, pretty much full stop.
posted by localroger at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]



In point of fact /r/lgbt is a trollish subreddit one of whose moderators, RobotAnna, also mods /r/KillWhitey . RobotAnna was appointed by a /r/lgbt mod who was equally vile. That subreddit exists only to subtly and sometimes not so subtly troll innocent and unknowing LGBT redditers and to amuse its moderators. So yes, they are pretty much the same thing.


one of the mods is also ICumWheniKillMen, of SRS fame.

/r/KillWhitey is satire. Just like /r/shitredditsays they are making a valid point and/or trolling about the vile racism on reddit. Look at how loudly people object when the same things that have been said about people of color for hundreds of years are suddenly turned around and pointed at white people

I thought we loved /r/shitredditsays, why no love for /r/killwhitey?

Are you really saying SRS is the same as /r/beatingwomen?

Is there something we don't know going on here?

This is all reddit circle jerk nonsense. Are there any legit lgbt subreddits you could point us to?
posted by Ad hominem at 5:57 PM on September 23, 2012


Pudhoho, I'm hearing that as a Southern Manners "bless your heart". yes?

Nixerman, um, what I want to say to you has already said by the posters above me. But seriously, why would you assume that it's impossible to be aware of both kinds of violations? We're only talking about one because that's what this thread is about, you know? I'm sure plenty of the posters on this thread chime in on government surveillance threads too.


Re: bathtime pictures: honestly, those have always struck me as slightly creepy and made me uncomfortable. I'm not sure why, and I wouldn't tell people not to take pictures of their little ones having a riot splashing in the tub- and I fully understand why people take the pictures- but it still bugs me a little. Like if my mom shows a naked baby tub picture of me- I mean, it's still me, naked in the tub. It's my body, you know? I don't want people I barely know looking at it.
posted by windykites at 6:01 PM on September 23, 2012


According to SA (we love them right). RobotAnna is part of SRS, And also the mod on LGBT. So is robotanna only trolling on LGBT or trolling on SRS too.

I can't believe I got sucked into a fucking SA/SRS troll yet again.

I bet /r/creepshots is the same people.

I got better stuff to do.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:04 PM on September 23, 2012


The law on this is very mature. If you're not recognizable in the picture, it does not violate your privacy, pretty much full stop.

I think where a lot of people have been coming from regarding this isn't so much the legality as a) it is decidedly disgusting behavior and b) there is a website giving tacit approval for such folks to encourage said behavior in each other, and attempt to normalize it. As folks have been saying, a thing that is legal does not necessarily have to be done, and can in fact be a socially objectionable thing to do.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:05 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ad hominem : I'm not going to divert the thread into the pro/con Reddit issue that you are focusing on. The point that you and other "but what about the menz" advocates continually refuse to acknowledge is that this behavior is hostile to women, is in fact a semi-subtle form of violence against women and that it occurs by men to woman far, far more often than the reverse.

Additionally, anyone who does not believe that a significant number of creepshot type people are not currently taking upskirt photos as well (or will graduate to such things shortly) is, in my opinion, being either incredibly out of touch or intellectually dishonest.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 6:06 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is this NOT an imbalance? How is it that those with a camera, the desire to make me part of their sex life sans consent (meaningfully so, not just 'in the spankbank that goes' but 'I am aroused by taking her photo covertly then publicising it online without gaining any consent')

I think the disconnect here lies in this very strange idea that somebody jerking off to a blurry picture of your backside is actually involving your in their sex life sans consent. There is a kind of magic going on here where you think those pictures of you mean anything at all.

The possibility that those pictures, once obtained, could be publicized means that to obtain the pictures in the first place is abusive, because it creates an illegitimate positive power differential (e.g. the potential for blackmail) between the possessor of the pictures and the subject.

There's no doubt that there will be winners and losers in this little turf war. The opposing forces are clearly identified here. (Though I suspect the focus on women is ultimately misleading. The people who really have to worry about their image being appropriated are those who have no image at all. Because one will be created for them. These people have long been invisible but this won't last. We will see them, soon enough, in the worst possible light.)

What we are trying to determine now is the collateral damage.

The implicit assumption of the article is that such images have value. It's okay when the subjects are compensated (of course!) but when the image is taken "without consent" a kind of theft, maybe even a kind of violence has taken place. Sure. But this is not a case of the strong exploiting the weak. There is no slavery here, no bending of one human being to the will of another. We have two groups here who are each asserting radically new and strange rights and we ought to be very suspicious of both.

It's my body, you know? I don't want people I barely know looking at it.

It's good to know you feel so confident in what is permissible with your image. There are plenty of other people who have equally strong feelings about where and why your image can be shown.
posted by nixerman at 6:07 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well you have totally failed the getting it thing. We already live in a world where parents have been hauled into court because a photo processor reported their kid bathtime pics for child porn. That's the world in which we live. It's already here. We don't get a choice about that, it's already beendone. Sealed. If you don't like it good luck getting it overturned because you make yourself a pariah simply by expressing objection.

No. You have totally failed to provide any scrap of meaning or relevance from your argument. I agree that people being hauled off for taking pictures of their own children playing in the bath is wrong. But your answer to this is to somehow support further injustice by encouraging mysogenist creeps to take photographs of women and spread them around the internet without their consent.

How does this follow? You do know that two wrongs don't make a right? Especially when the wrongs are almost entirely unrelated? It just creates more victims.
posted by Francis at 6:08 PM on September 23, 2012


How is this a valid assumption? Most of these subjects look completely oblivious. And what if the subjects really didn't have any idea what was going on? Would that make it all peachy?

At the risk of stating the obvious, women who notice that somebody appears to be trying to photograph their breasts in public - or just that a man is behaving in a sketchy fashion while looking at them - are not likely to provide the perfect photo opp.

So, the set of pictures posted to the Internet is not therefore a complete data set, and even within that data set your opinion of how oblivious the subjects might look is probably not wholly accurate.

Regarding peachiness - I would say not, because a) indulging in a behavior for purely personal gratification which risks a negative impact on its subject is still not a good idea even if the subject is not made to feel harassed on a particular given occasion and b) there is still the second stage of sharing the image to consider. On the other hand, I'm not sure what exactly you're asking. As far as I understand your position, you do not believe that this is a non-peachy behavior regardless, right? And that women who do not want to be creepshot are confused, dishonest, privileged, charmingly outdated in their concerns, and missing the real issues of government surveillance. So, I'm not sure why you are asking that.
I guess I kind of don't think this is a big deals. These guys are almost certainly harmless. More importantly it should be clear that this isn't really about women. This is not about flesh and blood. These guys are obsessed with something else, something that we don't quite have a name for but it has to do with technology's ability to mimic human beings. These guys wouldn't know what to do with a real woman if one popped onto their lap but they seem to get along quite well with blurry photographs. So be it. Let them have their photographs and their furtive glances so long as no real harm is done.
I'm assuming, again, that you are a man, and probably unlikely to be be subject to the behavior you are waving on as harmless there - you lack skin in the game, as they say - and thus also might not be best placed to determine what is or is not "real harm". That might be something parties with more experience of different forms of harassment in public places than you or I might be better equipped to speak to. For example, geek anachronism has identified a harm (her enjoyment of public space is lessened). Is this a real harm?

The chance of her being subject to an attempted creepshooting is above zero, so that is a real statistical possibility. And the chance that she will not be "oblivious" to that taking place, and thus be immediately affected by it, is again above zero, if an attempt is made. And the chance of a creepshot being published is again above zero, if taken. And the chances of her being recognized from that creepshot, if published, is again above zero. And the chance of that having some form of social or personal consequence is again above zero - and so on.

Speaking of which...

Localroger: And if we edit "of minors" out of your objection, it still doesn't work. The law on this is very mature. If you're not recognizable in the picture, it does not violate your privacy, pretty much full stop.

I just popped over to r/creepshoots to test a theory, and a number of the pictures in r/creepshoots feature the face of the subject.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:12 PM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


mysogenist

It's spelled misogynist.

a thing that is legal does not necessarily have to be done, and can in fact be a socially objectionable thing to do.

Fine! I agree. I'm sure the creepshotters even agree. The fact that they call their product creepshots suggests that they know where they stand. They're fine with that. You aren't going to prevail on them with your moral argument because they're already LOL at you.

So the question becomes, what can or should be done about them? And the legal answer is nothing, and I think the practical answer if we want to live in a land that can be called free is nothing for the same reason as the legal answer. They're creepy idiots to be sure but any law that would seriously impact them is likely to have much more serious secondary impacts. That was the point of me bringing up innocent bathtime pics; it's not that those have anything to do with /r/creepshots, it's that the measures put in place to deal with kiddie porn created this weird class of unexpected victims. The Founding Fathers recognized that regulating speech was a dangerous thing and US privacy laws reflect that attitude for the most part to this day. The absolutist kiddie porn laws are an abomination that our system never should have permitted and anything that would actually be effective against the creepshot guys would be far worse.
posted by localroger at 6:18 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just popped over to r/creepshoots to test a theory, and a number of the pictures in r/creepshoots feature the face of the subject.

Well those would definitely be actionable, and I wouldn't be upset at all if somebody sued somebody over them. But what I suspect would actually happen is a promptly observed takedown notice.
posted by localroger at 6:21 PM on September 23, 2012


I'm assuming, again, that you are a man, and probably unlikely to be be subject to the behavior you are waving on as harmless there - you lack skin in the game, as they say - and thus also might not be best placed to determine what is or is not "real harm".

I think I have plenty of skin in the game. Are we not calling for restricting the rights of others to take such photographs? Isn't this all about -- and isn't the article certainly laying the groundwork with its alarmist tales of maidens in distress -- censorship? Are we not asking who owns what and who will enjoy which privileges?
posted by nixerman at 6:21 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


So the question becomes, what can or should be done about them?

Shut down the sub, for starters.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:22 PM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Nix, from the tone of your arguments, I doubt if you're willing to listen to what I have to say, since you've made it clear that you want this to be about property rights and image rights and not about harassment or infliction of harm on living humans, regardless of anyone's real experiences or explainations. But I'm going to try one last time to be very clear.

There is...no bending of one human being to the will of another

This is exactly what is happening, and it is happening without the victim's knowledge or consent.
posted by windykites at 6:22 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shut down the sub, for starters.

On what basis, which basis could not be extended to shutting down things you are in favor of by someone of suitably twisted intentions?
posted by localroger at 6:24 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


On what basis, which basis could not be extended to shutting down things you are in favor of by someone of suitably twisted intentions?

Is it slippery slope time with a dash of false equivalency? Without the legality argument to cling to, it becomes "yeah well then anyone can shut down anything you like for any reason"? Really?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:26 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


>>There is...no bending of one human being to the will of another

>This is exactly what is happening, and it is happening without the victim's knowledge or consent.


Wait. What?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:26 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


On what basis,

Maybe to avoid being known as the place where the creepy people hang out?
posted by the_artificer at 6:27 PM on September 23, 2012


localroger:The absolutist kiddie porn laws are an abomination that our system never should have permitted

Perhaps if there were fewer apologists arguing about about what men 200 years ago would have thought about such things and instead advocating for the rights of the victims, more subtle remedies could have been enacted.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 6:27 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nevermind, Windy. I misread the first quote.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:27 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it slippery slope time

No, an honest question. Because you're talking about rules and laws. What rule or law do your propose which could shut down the creepshotters and how sure are you that it won't blow back say on people taking innocent pics of their kids in the bath, or equivalent?
posted by localroger at 6:28 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps if there were fewer apologists arguing about about what men 200 years ago would have thought about such things and instead advocating for the rights of the victims, more subtle remedies could have been enacted.

Laws are blunt instruments. There is no such thing as a subtle law. This was a thing our Founders knew firsthand. When the people crafting laws start using phrases like "zero tolerance," sane people run for their lives.
posted by localroger at 6:29 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's spelled misogynist.

Spelling flames against a dyslexic are low.

Fine! I agree. I'm sure the creepshotters even agree. The fact that they call their product creepshots suggests that they know where they stand. They're fine with that. You aren't going to prevail on them with your moral argument because they're already LOL at you.

I know. That's why I'm not arguing with the creepshotters themselves. I'm arguing with people who are happy to welcome and enable creeps in their little corner of the internet. People like you who are providing covering fire for the creeps and therefore actively helping them.

So the question becomes, what can or should be done about them?

Not sharing a space with them. The creeps can have their own servers and corner of the internet or you can have your own servers. The third choice is that you enable the creeps. You, localroger, are personally encouraging the creeps and making them welcome. Rather than saying that creep behaviour is not acceptable round here.

Stop laying the welcome mat out for them. Instead make them find a dank and dark corner of the internet that will end up as highly regarded as stormfront.org.
posted by Francis at 6:30 PM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Shut down the sub, for starters.

That is basically impossible, by design. The reddit admins can delete a subreddit and someone can instantly create a similarly named subreddit. subreddits can be made private, god knows what goes on in those areas. I talk to the admins on a fairly regular basis and essentially the only reason a subreddit will get shut down is if it is a threat to the continued existence of reddit as a company, like criminal liability for /r/jailbait, or if the subreddit is used to sabotage or attack reddit hardware and software systems.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:33 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


i am not in any way trolling.

it is a thing that i do not know what to do about. people that i know and trust have almost certainly done this with me as subject matter, and for the most part, i do not have any idea about it.

what if someone looks at me and draws a picture of me, and that picture is then uploaded to a website where people will talk about how they want to fuck me? what are the moral dimensions of that? what if he cannot draw, what if he is a savant who can draw photo-realistically? what happens when an ordinary photo of me is altered to be used for this?

i stated it bluntly because to me this seems like the heart of the problem. i have a sneaking suspicion that the heart of the human condition is fundamentally anarchic and skeevy and gross and horrifying, and i truly do not know what is to be done about this.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:33 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a weird, idiotic pseudo-conversation. I'm pretty sad that we've stuck with some sophomoric understanding of moral relativism, special pleading for Reddit and a lot of apologia as legalism. Oh, and the weird perception that laws against rape and murder haven't helped because they haven't stopped rape and murder — a weird argument if I've ever seen one.

I shoot in public, and it's a thorny thing, how to get consent, which people to ask for consent. It feels fraught every time I want to get a shot of Latino dudes doing manual labor — the candid shots are important, but without establishing a relationship and waiting past the awkward point, it's a bit exploitative to take the shots.

And I'll also say that I like photos of naked ladies, and would like a society where women feel more OK with being naked and even having naked pictures taken of them, but that means diminishing the risk that they experience. And while I think that the discussion about actual versus perceived harm is worth having, I don't think that the terms we've had it on are likely to be productive.
posted by klangklangston at 6:34 PM on September 23, 2012


What rule or law do your propose which could shut down the creepshotters and how sure are you that it won't blow back say on people taking innocent pics of their kids in the bath, or equivalent?

I think that as a site policy, the moderators can and do have the discretion to shut down the sub. They do not have to tolerate it, and yet they do. The tacit approval legitimizes this behavior. It's that simple. This is why I do not understand why this needs to tailspin into slippery slopes about some nebulous forces shutting down your behavior in your own world. Shutting down a forum enabling this behavior can be prevented from a server end.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:34 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not sharing a space with them.

A fair enough solution.

You, localroger, are personally encouraging the creeps

If I was a more serious person I would call this libel. Recognizing that a thing might need to be tolerated in order for society to remain civil does not mean one condones the thing.
posted by localroger at 6:35 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ad hominem: "According to SA (we love them right). RobotAnna is part of SRS, And also the mod on LGBT. So is robotanna only trolling on LGBT or trolling on SRS too."

Quick context (v quick because I have stuff to do as well!):

Reddit is an extremely hostile environment for general LGBT conversation. You have a collision of college-age and (increasingly) younger kids, of whom a vast number basically treat the internet and everyone on it like a lulz factory. You've got lots of young LGBT people just coming into adulthood and forming communities on the internet, and you've got a surprising amount of distrust for trans people in some of that community. Then you've got meta subreddits like /r/subredditdrama that search Reddit for anything that looks even vaguely like a fight, link their thousands of subscribers to it and blow it massively out of proportion: downvotes fly, the original point is lost in a bewildering flurry of nitpicking and hyperbole, and non-LGBT people pile into the conversation supporting, usually, the side of the argument the SRD post was framed to show as the least ridiculous. Add to this a purge that the LGBT subreddit attempted, in a ham-fisted manner, when certain of its members were being transphobic. The mods of /r/LGBT gained a reputation for being "power mad" and "anti free speech", both of which are cardinal sins to the predominantly young American male population of Reddit, who view free speech with a religious fervour the Pope is probably jealous of.

So the original mods of /r/LGBT, neither of whom I have much time for, then appointed a series of mods, poorly- and well-chosen, to try and cope with the huge drama influx that comes of every disagreement, minor and major, within that subreddit. They have to do this with appalling mod tools, while being stalked by SRD and a few other meta subs who are watching like hawks for mistakes, and in an environment where anyone who is banned can just make a new account in ten seconds.

That's /r/LGBT. It's far from perfect, but the "power mad" and "trolling" mods are trying to keep a lid on a small box that contains some people trying to have sensible conversations that's constantly being pried open by raging arseholes. It's worth noting that, for all its flaws, it's one of the more successful subreddits of its kind; /r/feminism, for example, is modded by men's rights activists.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:36 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


"can be initiated" rather
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:37 PM on September 23, 2012


the only reason a subreddit will get shut down is if it is a threat to the continued existence of reddit as a company, like criminal liability for /r/jailbait, or if the subreddit is used to sabotage or attack reddit hardware and software systems.

This strikes me as reasonable. They haven't shut down SRS for pretty much the same reason they haven't shut down creepshots, even though the former causes plenty of grief for its users, and the latter nobody heard of until today.

But the calls for a more authoritarian form of administration alarm me.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:38 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our "Founders" (i.e. Founding Fathers) knew nothing of the Internet, digital photography or, more importantly, the depersonalizing and uncivilizing effects that living in a city of 8 million people (as opposed to everyone knowing who you are and what you were about) would have on individuals with latent unsociable behaviors.

The whole "creepshots" phenomenon is reminds me of a little boy being told not to poke his sister who then begins to stab at her to within a few inches all the while declaring "I'm not touching you....I'm not touching you". The behavior is the same - immature and uncivilized individuals testing the limits of hostility and violence. And because such individuals exist, and because society - and in this case women - need to be protected from such vermin - action should most certainly be taken.

Unless the phenomenon becomes more widespread I think the appropriate action at first is to shine light upon the behavior (which is being done) and then a campaign to remove such places from the public eye. It was only after people got Anderson Cooper to do a piece on underage photos on Reddit that Conde Nast was forced to take action. A similar thing could be done today (and probably will). So we are far from the point at which laws have to be made and such discussion about the Constitution only serve to divert attention away from the actual issue - at his point.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 6:42 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Founders were not such atavistic lunkheads as you might think. They were living in the aftermath of another information revolution; the printing press made pamphleteering possible in a way that had never been done before, and which spread their message in ways the monarchy simply didn't understand.

France was also a major ally to our Founders, and at the time of our Revolution there was this fellow Donatien Alphonse Francoise de Sade running around in France, doing the pamphlet thing in ways the French found quite alarming. Considering the US Founder luminaries who overed in France during the war, I find it inconceivable that they did not know of de Sade -- and yet they wrote our Constitution the way they did.
posted by localroger at 6:49 PM on September 23, 2012


But the calls for a more authoritarian form of administration alarm me.

And it probably alarms the admins. Making judgments of the type of posts allowed on your systems will eliminate any protection under Safe Harbor provisions. Actively intervene and moderate as admins, and your administrators are legally responsible for all abuses. Never intervene, and your users own their problems.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:51 PM on September 23, 2012


They also believed that both women and Blacks were chattel and that neither should be allowed to vote ... so there's that.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no slavery here, no bending of one human being to the will of another. We have two groups here who are each asserting radically new and strange rights and we ought to be very suspicious of both.

Which is it, dude? Are folks invoking anachronistic constructs like "decency", or asserting "radically new and strange rights", when they object to the surreptitious photography of certain parts of their body?

Imagine the following scenario:

1. Your employer will take some livelihood-threatening action against you in the event of the "appearance of impropriety" on your part. (This is the case for many people; me, for example.)

2. You are aware of this, and therefore generally avoid the appearance of impropriety.

3. I surreptitiously take a photograph of you that catches you red-periscoped while you photograph the interior of an unsuspecting woman's skirt.

4. I contact you, threatening to upload these photos to BasementDwellingVoyeursExposed.com unless you pick up a package of catnip from a prearranged dead drop and smuggle it into the local animal shelter so that I can sneak over with my camera and collect lolcat fodder.

5. You don't want to violate the prohibition of catnip-trafficking, but you can't afford to have those pictures made public, given the risk that your employer will find out that you engage in voyeuristic activities.

In what sense, in this scenario, am I not exercising coercive power over you? Whether you acquiesce is, technically, your choice, but the same is true of a slave deciding whether to work. Either decision is, however, being made under duress.

Now, the person being photographed by bizarro-you in this scenario is under similar duress, to some extent, even if they don't know that the photograph has been taken, as long they are generally aware that some people are victims of that sort of thing (there's evidence in one of the UK's newspapers of record, if not in their own experience). In other words, the r/creepshots people are contributing to a situation in which half of the human race has to think about certain risks, and act accordingly, all the time. (Witness the anecdotes about looking for cameras in changing rooms.)

That type of scenario described above isn't even the most pernicious power-imbalance created by things like creepshots, but it is perhaps the easiest for folks like me and, I'm guessing from the last syllable of your handle, you, to understand.

All that aside, what of the charge that dudes who are into that sort of thing are just sort of sad, and wouldn't be into that sort of thing (and might instead develop more genuinely gratifying -- for them! -- modes of experiencing their sexuality) if it weren't widely condoned?
posted by kengraham at 6:53 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


They also believed that both women and Blacks were chattel and that neither should be allowed to vote ... so there's that.

So in this Stinger, which part is the Creme de Menthe and which part is the vodka?
posted by localroger at 6:55 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Making judgments of the type of posts allowed on your systems will eliminate any protection under Safe Harbor provisions.

Well, it doesn't help my point, but actually no. They can moderate without losing their Section 230 safe harbor.

The problem becomes the sheer logistics of doing that in a system that has sub-blogs like Metafilter has FPPs, and can generate even more sub-blogs like we generate derails. It's not even Whack a Mole, it's Whack a Hydra.

Still, there's plenty of great reasons for such a site to exist, and we have to take the bad and the ugly with the good.

You just don't have to subscribe to it all.

(Except /r/WTF, which you have to unsubscribe from. WTF is up there?)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:58 PM on September 23, 2012


I feel... uncomfortable with the outbreak of race/slavery metaphors. Can we maybe take a breath?

I think I have plenty of skin in the game. Are we not calling for restricting the rights of others to take such photographs?

As with "peachy", that's an odd phrasing. You clearly aren't, and I assume you already knew that... Do you mean "are we as an Internet message board calling for etc?" Message boards are not legislative entities or lobbying agencies, so I'm not sure what that would mean...

But the short version is "no". A number of people are identifying behaviors around taking such photographs as harassing. A number of people are identifying behaviors around uploading those photographs as harassing. The overwhelming majority of people are identifying the act of taking the pictures as douchy and unpleasant, regardless of their thoughts about what the correct response to that douchiness and unpleasantness should be. Some are calling for specific private entities not to host or link to these pictures.

But calling for restricting the rights of others to take the photographs? Except insofar as the act of taking the photograph can be read as harassment, which isn't really about taking the photograph, I'd say no. If that's your skin in the game - that you fear the right to take pictures of women in public spaces is under threat, and this would affect you on a personal level - I think you can probably breathe fairly easily. Of course, the thread is available for your perusal.

Reddit, on the other hand, may be on a stickier wicket, but that's about private enterprise and business decisions.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:03 PM on September 23, 2012


jessamyn: This is a difficult thread and if you are not trolling, we'd appreciate it if you'd make sure you weren't saying the things a troll would say. This is under your control.

If you think this is unfair, you may go to MetaTalk and ask the community what they think about this request of ours. Otherwise please try to have a conversation with the other people here also trying to have a conversation. Thank you
That's unfair, jessamyn, and it's what's so frustrating about the tone and moderation of Metafilter.

Some people use hyperbole, hypotheticals, and "devil's advocate" situations as a way of clarifying and discussing an issue. This tactic goes back to at least Socrates, after all! I think, in a case where the topic is "r/creepshots and the surreptitious photographing of women in public" it's perfectly valid to raise that as a point: if someone doesn't take a picture but adds you to their mental spank bank- is that as violating? What if they have a photographic memory, and draw a fantastically detailed picture of you when they get home? What if they then post the drawing? (I see that TOCATY came back with those further points).

You may not agree with TOCATY, you might even have reason to suggest the argument is poorly formed, or flawed for _____ reason. But I don't think s/he was posting in bad faith; the hypothetical offered is on topic, and represents another way of looking at the discussed issue. How is that a troll, or deserving of chastisement from a mod?
nixerman: I think the disconnect here lies in this very strange idea that somebody jerking off to a blurry picture of your backside is actually involving your in their sex life sans consent. There is a kind of magic going on here where you think those pictures of you mean anything at all.
This.

Look, you can change the world or you can change yourself. It's probably going to be more effective in the long run to learn how to not be bothered by shit that doesn't actually impact you when you think about it, than to constantly live in a state of fear/paranoia/distress. Asking other people to change will be less effective than changing yourself. Recognizing the difference between something you think is weird, or creepy, and something that actually harms you or others directly (not in a strained, indirect, "broken windows" way, but directly) means you can attain some peace, and in a way you can actually control. If you go out in public and are losing sleep over someone taking pictures of you... it's actually on you to get over that discomfort. You can't Nerf the world to your exact specifications, and when you go out in public there will be people looking at you and perhaps even taking your picture.

r/creepshots is, well- creepy. I like pretty ladies as much as any guy, but with the incredible ease of finding willing softcore and hardcore models of any gender and fetish on the internet, I don't personally see the appeal of a single blurry cellphone picture of some woman's butt. And the captions with the pictures do look like some troubling shit: some of language sounds like the warning signs of a future (current?) predator. But that said... it's still just pictures, and certainly the non-identifiable ones are basically harmless.

By comparison, the IsAnyoneUp site appears to be nightmare fuel; it's encouraging people to basically identify specific individuals, often with nude pictures presumably obtained in the context of privacy. Sites like that, or the awful, misogynistic thedirty.com, are horrendous, and I think can and should be legally actionable when they cross the line into libel, personal identification, etc. Those sites are raising issues of privacy and identity in our changing world.

I've long railed against the 4chan /b world, because I think those psychos are dangerous; I can't find it right now but there was a thread a couple of years ago about one of their campaigns to basically destroy some woman's life because she had the audacity to get money from submissive guys- they hacked her employer's website (a school), they staked out her house and took pictures, they suggested organizing a rape (they didn't do it, but that's not exactly funny 'as a joke' either), they did pranks from the pizza order and worse, etc. I was saddened at how so many people wanted to laugh it off with "Fresh Prince" jokes, etc.

That kind of stuff, the public outing, the personal attacks, Anonymous at its worst? Those are the things that make me wish there was no privacy, ever, for anyone. But the r/creepshots in particular appears to be just pictures, without the calls to action (rape, stalking, et al) or public identification (didn't spend much time there, so I may be wrong).

And I think it's important to remember that distinction between things you might not like- or even feel are 'uncomfortable'- and things that should be illegal.
posted by hincandenza at 7:03 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are we not asking who owns what and who will enjoy which privileges?

I for one, am not asking this, since I'm not advocating any law or Reddit banhammer or any other authoritarian solution, or counting officially-granted-privilege beans. I am asking folks not to engage in or condone pathetic assholery.
posted by kengraham at 7:04 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


ChurchHatesTucker: (Except /r/WTF, which you have to unsubscribe from. WTF is up there?)
Exactly... and What's the guy's name on second base.
posted by hincandenza at 7:07 PM on September 23, 2012


has anyone in the thread read "feeling good" by burns and agree with the outlook of the book?

i've read the book. he talks about how you shouldn't care what other people think about you because it doesn't really affect you. feeling negative because of what you think someone else thinks is a cognitive distortion, a behavior that is a flaw in the way you think, not what anyone else is doing.

the one caveat i see to keep that from being a straw man argument is that it would make sense to care about what people around you and who have some power over your life think, so worrying about how you appear to them can't be written off.

if you accept all of that, then it seems to follow that you wouldn't have much of a problem with /r/creepshots, and you would suggest that the women being photographed "get over it." because, if the only harm to them is that they feel a certain way because of what other people think of them then it's not a problem with the outside world, but a problem with a way they think. maybe you could make an argument that someone taking pictures of someone else has some power over their life, maybe they could be a threat at that moment, but that's a big stretch. many of the people in the pictures are in public and there is little threat of being raped.

i say "wouldn't have much" because only the pictures where the person is not identifiable would count as acceptable because it might be possible for it to shape the thoughts of the people who have power over one's life if the person in the picture could be identifiable. so, in contrast to what some people have said, it would be a positive that the people in the pictures are "disembodied" because they can't be identified. in contrast to a site like tubecrush where the person in many of the pictures could be clearly identifiable.

so, my question to the people who subscribe to the ideas of "feeling good" and also object to /r/creepshots because of how it makes people feel, how to do you square those two ideas?
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:07 PM on September 23, 2012


[hincandenza, we are not kidding about the "take it to metatalk" thing. Do not fuck around with us on this. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:13 PM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


windykites: "This is exactly what is happening, and it is happening without the victim's knowledge or consent."

I think this is something on which reasonable people can differ. To some, a photograph of them is not actually them. To others, it is.

That employers discriminate against people who have pictures circulating on the Internet through no fault of their own seems like something that should be addressed by employment law to me.

I don't in any way condone this kind of crap; I find it somewhat offensive. At the same time, I don't see what can really be done about it in a broader sense. Even if it is somehow eliminated from Reddit, there are plenty of places on the Internet that sort of thing could be posted. Lamenting that it can't be stopped without compromising what some see as core values is not in any way condoning the behavior, it's recognizing reality for what it is. Social pressure is obviously meaningless to them, as they gave the group a blatantly antisocial name in the first place.
posted by wierdo at 7:27 PM on September 23, 2012


the one caveat i see to keep that from being a straw man argument is that it would make sense to care about what people around you and who have some power over your life think, so worrying about how you appear to them can't be written off.

Yes, and I think this is where the original article was pre-derailed.

Cutting out the paparazzi, which have their own long established criticisms, we have the 'creepers' and the 'revenge porn' which are clearly very different things.

The creepers are taking pictures of people in public places. Leave aside the upskirts for the moment (which are banned from /r/creepers) it is inherently just photos of people in public places. The objection seems to stem from the fact that someone took enough notice to photograph them. And then to masturbate to them, because why else would someone appreciate them?

Revenge porn is way more complex. They were taken with consent, sometimes by the subject, with the intention to titillate.

The first seems, frankly, silly to me. I understand that people think otherwise, but your future employer is unlikely to think ill of you for wearing really hot yoga pants downtown.

The second is more concerning. There's actual consent, but there's a sort of unwritten contract that the consent needs to keep being consulted for future uses. But the laws that protect photogs undermine that idea. (Unless they're taken by the subject? As is often the case?) This is the thing that can really haunt you, but you may not have any rights to enforce without a predrawn contract.

Anyway, can we stop conflating creepers with revenge porn with wifebeaters with childpoolporn with...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:28 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


so, my question to the people who subscribe to the ideas of "feeling good" and also object to /r/creepshots because of how it makes people feel, how to do you square those two ideas?

I'm not sure I subscribe to the ideas in that book, and I have a bunch of problems with it, but I read it because someone I care about was asked to read it by a psychologist, and I read it for staying-on-the-same-page-as-someone-I-care-about reasons, and found it to contain some mildly useful ideas. It's probably very useful for people who are depressed due to persistently negative, irrational, patterns of thinking, but it's probably dangerous for folks who are depressed in response to real depressing shit. There are, after all, much higher goals that "feeling good" all the time.

I have no trouble squaring what I see to be the beneficial features of that book with disgust with r/creepshots, but the some of the problems I had with it were related to its insistence on conceiving of one's locus of control as something that ends pretty much completely at one's own body's like topological boundary. As a person who routinely fights battles I'm not going to win in the interest of living in an (unlikely to fully materialize) improved world, and thinks that frustration and discontent and depression are healthy if they are completely traceable to defeat in such battles, I found the book kind of disempowering.

If I were actually making a serious effort to combat misogyny right now, instead of dicking around on MetaFilter, it would not be a useful book. My individual actions are not going to amount to much, and may even be misguided, sometimes, but saying "fuck it, I'm just going to let the dude I'm drinking beer with make demeaning sexual comments about a female colleague not present because I'm the only one bothered by it" is not, finally, going to help me on my quest to "feel good".
posted by kengraham at 7:29 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do remember how much sexist and racist shit has been here on metafilter that has been deleted or simply forgotten and forgiven? Do you remember when FPPS commented on how much the poster wanted to fuck the subject of the post. Do you remember when the first 20 comments in any thread was "I'd hit it". Matt made money off that too.

I actually wandered around recently looking at some old threads from long long ago, and yeah, that sort of thing was certainly noticeable, even cringeworthy to me, especially given how the community has evolved.

But the point is that is has evolved, and I think consciously so. It may be felt by some that the more-or-less-zero-tolerance for over sex- and other -isms these days on MeFi is overly restrictive, but I don't think it can be argued that there hasn't been a conscious effort, whether it came from Matt or from the people he's brought on board to moderate, to change and to guide the community further towards one that finds that sort of thing unacceptable. With no small amount of success.

There is no on/off switch -- it's always a matter of identifying the good, and then working towards it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:36 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Last month Gawker got a related subreddit taken down, only for it to spring back up under another name.
posted by homunculus at 7:39 PM on September 23, 2012


Look, you can change the world or you can change yourself. It's probably going to be more effective in the long run to learn how to not be bothered by shit that doesn't actually impact you when you think about it, than to constantly live in a state of fear/paranoia/distress. Asking other people to change will be less effective than changing yourself. Recognizing the difference between something you think is weird, or creepy, and something that actually harms you or others directly (not in a strained, indirect, "broken windows" way, but directly) means you can attain some peace, and in a way you can actually control. If you go out in public and are losing sleep over someone taking pictures of you... it's actually on you to get over that discomfort.

♪♪ the hills are aliiiiive / with the sound of privilege ♪♪
posted by threeants at 7:41 PM on September 23, 2012 [17 favorites]


There is no on/off switch -- it's always a matter of identifying the good, and then working towards it.

This, I think, is at the root of it. Yes, spurious behavior will happen on the internet. Shutting a sub down will not prevent someone from starting the same one under a different name, in the short term. But a community, especially from the moderation end, can make a conscious effort to build a better community. Stonewalling criticism with legal defenses is a bit beside the point.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:42 PM on September 23, 2012


The creepers are taking pictures of people in public places.

It's a bit more than that isn't it?. They are taking pictures of women, sexualizing them and objectifying them without their consent. Then they are posting them in a public space and adding comments, most of them vile, to the photographs. The photographs, the lack of consent and the comments all contribute to a subculture that says , "Here we can do this to you and act this way because we are more powerful". And other people with similar small minds look at that subculture, join it and propagate the behavior because it is accepted.

So it is far more than "taking pictures of people in public places" which is the entire point.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 7:54 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Last month Gawker got a related subreddit taken down, only for it to spring back up under another name.

Yes. As has been pointed out above, this is how reddit works. There are tens of thousands of subreddits, and low barriers to starting new ones. This is why Section 230 exists.

If you want to eliminate that, and require all websites and ISPs to police everything for wrongdoing, congratulations! You just figured out how the Great Firewall of China works.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:24 PM on September 23, 2012


Yes b/c wanting a corporate entity to police a website that it owns and not allow some of the hideous subreddits have been pointed out in this thread is exactly like deep packet inspection by an ISP. Bravo.
posted by mlis at 8:34 PM on September 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


♪♪ the hills are aliiiiive / with the sound of privilege ♪♪
How is this different to when my parents used to call me over-tired? Any comment I made was irrelevant because I was over-tired. Sure, I was tired, but dismissing my opinions didn't convert me to their point of view.
If you would encourage people to understand their privilege, perhaps do it a little less patronisingly?
posted by bystander at 8:38 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The root of the issue is sexual reproduction. Once we stop looking at other people simply as objects to be mated with this will stop. A blanket anti-sex stance may be controversial at first but in the end it is the only thing that will stop this. Until sex is a thing of the past there will always be people who break every law, violate every taboo in their quest for titillation.

What if I told you there was a place in the world where you could walk around topless and no one cared? Hundreds and hundreds of Austrian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian men and women have seen my breasts in saunas. They are just breasts and roughly the same as any other breasts you can find by googling breasts. I sat next to men, talked to men, swam with men...totally naked. And no one had to run away from me because of a raging erection.

No one took my picture or anyone's picture either, because the human body is a boring normal thing that everyone has that you see so many of in these saunas that it's not a hot commodity. Which is good because I had to move back to a country so damn anxious about the subject of the human body that if a picture of my boring normal breasts were on the internet, it would ruin my reputation. There are many jobs I could never ever in a million years get, like teaching. Which is scary, because you can photoshop my head onto a nude body and it would look pretty convincing to many people, since there is nothing special or unique about naked bodies.

Laws wanted to find out more about the experiences of those whose images ended up on the site, so began an informal study. She called 40 people – a few men, but mainly women, reflecting the site's make-up – and says that 40% had had accounts hacked, while others were victims of vengeful exes. She spoke to three teachers, one of whom had lost her job due to the site, and another whose job hung in the balance. One woman was terrified the photos would be used against her in a custody battle. Another had seen her business ruined – even though the nude images the site ran alongside her social media profiles weren't actually of her.

That's what gives "revenge porn" its power, the fact that it ruins women in our country. In France, it seems like former first lady Carla Bruni has some nude pictures that are rather easy to find, and she wasn't subject to slut-shaming, ostracism, or job loss that I know of. It's a crime for some of this stuff to be on the internet, but it should be illegal to fire someone/deny custody/justify rape or harassment because a nude picture of them is on the internet.
posted by melissam at 8:43 PM on September 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Do remember how much sexist and racist shit has been here on metafilter that has been deleted or simply forgotten and forgiven? Do you remember when FPPS commented on how much the poster wanted to fuck the subject of the post. Do you remember when the first 20 comments in any thread was "I'd hit it". Matt made money off that too.

I actually wandered around recently looking at some old threads from long long ago, and yeah, that sort of thing was certainly noticeable, even cringeworthy to me, especially given how the community has evolved.


I remember encountering a thread discussing Tina Fey when I was first clicking through interesting topics, and a number of Mefites were discussing how they'd "hit that."

I think there was also a thread a year ago where cortex had to remind Mefites that they had to stop talking about whether the woman that was the subject of the FPP gave them a boner or not.

So there are still instances of sexual immaturity and entitlement in even people who consider themselves intelligent and reasonable.
posted by discopolo at 8:53 PM on September 23, 2012


Anyone know if the law in Australia is similar? At Australian beaches, if anyone is seen taking surreptitious photos of topless sunbathers, the police are called, the camera is confiscated, all the photos are deleted, and the photographer is required to leave the beach, or be arrested for public disorder etc.

You see it quite often on ads for the reality TV shows that follow law & order/health & safety professionals around - Bondi Rescue, the Force etc...
posted by Sedition at 8:59 PM on September 23, 2012


♪♪ the hills are aliiiiive / with the sound of privilege ♪♪

Maybe, but since someone asked a question, evidently in good faith, about how to interpret the present discussion from a particular point of view, and wasn't really exhibiting privilege in a way that hurts anyone (unlike numerous other commenters here), I wonder why you chose to deploy this particular piece of snark in response to cupcake1337's comment and not in places where it would have been more justified. It would be really shitty to see a useful concept transformed into a buzzword with which to attack folk with genuine questions in order to secure the approval of MeFites whom you find to be more clued-up than the original questioner.
posted by kengraham at 9:05 PM on September 23, 2012



♪♪ the hills are aliiiiive / with the sound of privilege ♪♪

I wonder why you chose to deploy this particular piece of snark in response to cupcake1337's comment and not in places where it would have been more justified.

threeants was responding to hincandenza, not cupcake1337. True, the comment was snarky but hincandenza's comment was along the lines of a lot of things he says in threads like these so it makes sense that some people might not consider his participation genuine.
posted by sweetkid at 9:22 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry. I got confused and conflated the hincandenza quote with an imaginary caricature version of what "Feeling Good" (the book brought up by cupcake1337) might say on the subject. Going to bed now.
posted by kengraham at 9:27 PM on September 23, 2012


I think the disconnect here lies in this very strange idea that somebody jerking off to a blurry picture of your backside is actually involving your in their sex life sans consent.

I'll be double-dipped, Nixerman, once again, you've wiped the cobwebs from my eyes. That gal up-thread who wrote that being cataloged purely as a sexual object diminishes her agency and makes her feel less safe had me totally confuddled. I was plumb stumped and stalled until I read your erudite explanation that she's just too shy and modest to accept compliments. I'd be hard pressed without a specimen like yourself to show me the way.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:29 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Look, you can change the world or you can change yourself. It's probably going to be more effective in the long run to learn how to not be bothered by shit that doesn't actually impact you when you think about it, than to constantly live in a state of fear/paranoia/distress. Asking other people to change will be less effective than changing yourself. Recognizing the difference between something you think is weird, or creepy, and something that actually harms you or others directly (not in a strained, indirect, "broken windows" way, but directly) means you can attain some peace, and in a way you can actually control. If you go out in public and are losing sleep over someone taking pictures of you... it's actually on you to get over that discomfort. You can't Nerf the world to your exact specifications, and when you go out in public there will be people looking at you and perhaps even taking your picture. -

Where have I said that I'm in fear, distressed and paranoid about this? About misogyny in general? Fuck yes, and that's a well worn, hard learned lesson. About a creeper taking my photo in public? Not so much. At least not personally. I am uncomfortable because it is just another layer of scrutiny I face, just another opportunity for someone to make it known that I'm not really real, I'm not really a person, I'm a woman and therefore good for fucking and little else.

And that's the problem. I have no control over people, but they have control over their actions. They aren't just thinking about me, or another female stranger, they are getting out their phone/camera (modded to be soundless) and taking a photo (learning to do it surreptitiously) then cropping it (maybe) and then uploading it (and looking at the rest of the group). They've locked themselves into a feedback loop with a group of likeminded men who aren't just jerking off to a blurry pic - they are reinforcing the notion that their sexual gratification is paramount. That women don't need to be asked. That women are there for their enjoyment. That women have no right to expect not to be photographed or objectified.

Creepshots does not exist in a vacuum. It exists in a world of voyeur porn, revenge porn, rape porn. It exists in a world where women are blamed for men taking photos of how they sit, move, act, whatever. It is just another papercut to civility and humanity. It doesn't seem to be too far removed from voyeur/revenge porn though - if you have so little respect for women that you think taking their photo, cropping it down and posting it to reddit is fun and awesome, just what are you gonna do if you come across a naked pic on a friend's hard drive? Or catch a neighbour in the nude? I'm expected to believe these paragons of fapping are drawing the line somewhere other than strict legalities that have been enforced on them? That as individuals they actually give a fuck about other people, particularly women? They have immersed themselves in a culture that actively portrays women as lesser-than, and I'm expected to think that has no effect on their behaviour other than taking photos?

It is not just about individual injury (although there are plenty of those) but the collective mindset where women are expected to just accept that men can take their photo and upload it specifically for pornographic purposes. Not just accept. Fucking smile about it.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:56 PM on September 23, 2012 [28 favorites]


Yes b/c wanting a corporate entity to police a website that it owns and not allow some of the hideous subreddits have been pointed out in this thread is exactly like deep packet inspection by an ISP.

Yes, the first pillar of the Great Firewall is not the same as the second. It's like the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of oppression.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:14 PM on September 23, 2012


Podkayne of Pasadena: "So it is far more than "taking pictures of people in public places" which is the entire point."

I think we can all agree that the gross commentary is protected by the First Amendment, so long as it's not directly threatening. If the Reddit administrators don't feel the need to police such assholery, there's not much that can be done about it, short of somehow convincing people to make a mass exodus from the site.

The revenge porn thing is, of course, an entirely different kettle of fish. I suspect that if the subjects knew about it and had the financial means to sue, that they would prevail in a lawsuit against the morons who post it and the sites who host it. Unlike public figures, the rest of us have protection against people using our likeness without permission, with some exceptions that wouldn't apply to revenge porn.

Pudhoho: " I was plumb stumped and stalled until I read your erudite explanation that she's just too shy and modest to accept compliments."

Imputing someone's meaning from words that aren't actually there isn't a great way to have a civil discussion. The point nixerman raised isn't nearly as stupid as the straw man you invented.
posted by wierdo at 10:15 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've written at length about how flat-out hard it is to police online communities. And another part of the problem is simply proportion: on a site like reddit, the actual size of a group of individuals has no real connection to the amount of visibility/influence they actually have.

To take an easy potshot example: if you knew nothing about reddit's users, and just looked at some of the politically-oriented subreddits earlier this year, you'd probably come to the conclusion that the majority of reddit users are Ron Paul supporters. Which is not even close to reality, but because they were extremely vocal and extremely prolific in their posts, it would be very easy to reach that conclusion anyway.

Similarly, I tend to automatically dismiss anyone who thinks they can make sweeping generalizations about "reddit is..." or "most redditors are..." or "most redditors support...", because it's simply not possible to make those generalizations.

It gets even easier when you combine that effect with targeted efforts to promote and make visible only the things you want to draw attention to (not that there's any subreddit which would ever do something like that...) as part of a campaign to smear a site or its users.
posted by ubernostrum at 10:23 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


crayz writes "Having a society with masses of sexually starved, generally physically and mentally unhealthy young men becoming vindictive misogynists doesn't seem like a small harm."

I'll give you a bye on sex starved (though I doubt that's true across the board for a significant portion of the population) and even mentally unhealthy ('cause while I find arm chair analysis of mental health distasteful it's kind of a personal distaste) it seems there is little if any basis for the subredditers at the focus of the discussion to be considered physically unhealthy besides a nasty stereotype of pasty white nerds living in their mother's basements (and by reflection that is what the nerds in question are all like).

whittaker writes "What if we lived in a world where the mainstream sentiment was that this sort of thing was socially unacceptable and that people were routinely given the confidence to call people out on it when it happened? What if the aforementioned woman in TJ's turned around and looked squarely at the photographer and said 'Are you taking pictures of me, you little shit?'"

I'd imagine it would have a minor effect on the kind of jerk who would creep photos in the first place. But you'd get a lot of people being victims of false positives. Certainly I cringe now every time I take a picture of my daughter in public after several dressing downs from jump to conclusion twits because I dared to take a picture of her at a playground. I can see where some people would consider that acceptable collateral damage.

peppermind writes "It's my understanding that taking photos of people without their permission is illegal in South Korea, though it's not really enforced. As a result of this law though, all cellphones intended for the South Korean market must make some sort of noise when a photo is taken with the device, alerting the subject. I thought that was a fairly elegant approach to solving the problem, and one I wish were implemented in North America."

This is the kind of technical solution to a social problem we should be trying to avoid. If only because a) the programming that enforces that behaviour is probably as secure as DVD player region locking; b) creeps can just use regular cameras instead c) the sound can probably be attenuated with something as simple as tape d) it'll also alert cops who are beating the shit out of your buddy e) creeps can use video instead and f) I imagine the shutter sound gets annoying as heck when large numbers of photos are taken in close proximity (say at a concert) though that last is firmly in the 1st world problems category..
posted by Mitheral at 10:26 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"How is this different to when my parents used to call me over-tired? Any comment I made was irrelevant because I was over-tired. Sure, I was tired, but dismissing my opinions didn't convert me to their point of view.
If you would encourage people to understand their privilege, perhaps do it a little less patronisingly?
"

The comment was basically telling women to get over being harassed because there was nothing to be done about it and they'd be happier if they weren't bothered. It's a pretty oblivious comment, and as much as "privilege" gets thrown around here, it's pretty apt.

So, that's how it's different — it actually addresses the substance of the comment, if snarkily.

My snarky addendum might be that no one's going to stop calling out oblivious stuff and that Hincandenza may have to get over that.

(I'd also like to note that Hincandenza's been really great in a bunch of non-gender related threads lately, just because there may be the tendency to roll eyes and go, "That guy?" And that, in the scheme of things, this was pretty mild on the clueless scale so maybe it's a good learning moment.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:26 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we can all agree that the gross commentary is protected by the First Amendment, so long as it's not directly threatening.

How do I possibly convey to you that such demeaning, overly and overtly sexualized commentary is in fact directly threatening to women? Which is why such "commentary" is in fact not protected in places like work, for example, where it is entirely actionable.

The fact that you (and several others on this thread) are unable to, or refuse to see this is exactly what the "privilege" comments refer to. It's because of this blindness of the relative few, for whatever reason, that laws have to be made to prevent behavior that any civilized member of society would immediately denounce and decry.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 10:56 PM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Mitheral, it'd be fascinating to find out what the general-case effect would be of calling out Creepshooters at the time of photography. It seems like it'd fall into three categories; either the public 'outing' would curtail their activities, have no effect, or it would actually encourage them.

I'm no psychologist, but it'd be interesting to see the result. My hypothetical about women calling out surreptitious photographers wasn't necessarily to illustrate how the problem would be solved (I think shaming people out on the distribution side of things would be more effective).

As for the false positive effect, I wrote earlier in this thread about being on the receiving end of a false positive. It was an interesting experience. Somewhat frustrating

In the specific case of the deep suspicion around photographing children, I would think that--if an argument could be made that paparazzi culture is a product of different social forces than creepshot or revenge form "culture"--you could say that the rise in suspicion around photographing children definitely seems to be a product of differing social forces. To me, it seems related to the rising mass hysteria around child safety and the continual phobia of the 'evil stranger'. Parents wilfully ignore the plethora evidence indicating that abuse and exploitation occurs overwhelmingly by family or other members of the parents' trust group in favour of being afraid of some Lacanian Other.

Some thread contributors brought up the hypothetically innocent example of bath-time photos of the children. The sad fact is, statistically, it's far more likely that somebody will use the bath-time photos for nefarious sexual purposes than the guy by the playground with his SLR.
posted by whittaker at 11:10 PM on September 23, 2012


If you want to eliminate that, and require all websites and ISPs to police everything for wrongdoing, congratulations! You just figured out how the Great Firewall of China works.

You've discovered my insidious, tyrannical plan. Congratulations! And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling creepers. You win this round, liberty!
posted by homunculus at 11:56 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The creepers are taking pictures of people in public places. Leave aside the upskirts for the moment (which are banned from /r/creepers) it is inherently just photos of people in public places.

Why are we leaving aside the upskirts? They're also pictures in a public place, and they have their own home on reddit. Isn't the principle difference one of angle? If a man sneaks a photo of a woman's ass from behind rather than underneath, do you think the motivations are really any different? Upskirts aren't illegal in every state. After all, she chose to wear a skirt in a public place. She's given up the expectation of privacy.

Because when I hear the "It's legal" argument, what I hear is "You can't stop me. I know you'd like to stop me, but I'm going to take your picture and share it widely so I can discuss how or whether I'd fuck you. You can't stop it. It's happening, so you can either close your eyes and pretend it's not, try to enjoy the compliment, or you can fight back, but you can't stop me." I don't mind conflating the creepers with other transgressors of consensual sexual boundaries. I'm going to assume there's quite a bit of overlap. And if I'm wrong, well, the internet's a rough and tumble place, and those guys shouldn't have posted in public, or what does it matter, they're anonymous anyway.
posted by gladly at 5:46 AM on September 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


Podkayne of Pasadena: "How do I possibly convey to you that such demeaning, overly and overtly sexualized commentary is in fact directly threatening to women?"

How do I possibly convey to you that I think that this behavior is creepy and antisocial? Oh, right, I might put it in a post at some point in a thread. And then I might refer to it as "assholery" later, maybe even in a post you pull quoted. You can quit with the accusations of people in this thread condoning this behavior. Maybe I missed it, but I haven't seen a single instance of that. I've seen universal condemnation of the behavior at issue. Maybe we're reading different threads?

A comment about your ass on a message board is not directly threatening to you. It is indirectly threatening, at best. You may feel threatened, and that's fine and a perfectly valid response, but it's not something we can base a legal system on. We all agree it's an ugly behavior regardless of its legality. Are they posting addresses and/or identities? From what was posted earlier in the thread, I was under the impression that was not allowed.

It's going to take a lot more than just assertion to convince me that legal protections against harassment at work, where it can't be avoided, should apply to the broader Internet, where you have complete freedom to choose which sites you do or do not visit.
posted by wierdo at 6:05 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


A comment about your ass on a message board is not directly threatening to you. It is indirectly threatening, at best. You may feel threatened, and that's fine and a perfectly valid response, but it's not something we can base a legal system on.

Thanks for mansplaining to me what is and isn't a threat in my life and what I can do legally about it.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 6:08 AM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


This thread isn't about what we can or can't "base a legal system on". The law is there to help us fail gracefully, but when the law is involved, even just in mediating a disagreement, it means that there's been some failure. Legality of crappy behaviour isn't a justification for crappy behaviour; it's usually just recognition that legislating about the crappy behaviour would have negative epiphenomenal effects. Does anyone seriously think that the fact that no law prohibits a particular behaviour makes that behaviour acceptable? Does anyone seriously think that objecting to a behaviour entails advocating legislation about that behaviour, necessarily? If the answer to the latter is "no", then why are people who are providing empirical data about the social and psychological effects of that behaviour being argued with as though they were all advocating some legal remedy?

While it may be the case that we can't base a legal system on someone's perceived threat, we also can't base a civil society on always liquifying our behaviour so that it always fills up the legally-provided cup.

It's obnoxious that people are reading "This behaviour is uncivil and bad" as "This behaviour should be illegal", rather than engaging in the more productive discussion about the actual effect of such behaviour on actual people -- not legal entities -- and the more productive possible discussion about what motivates the sort of behaviour in question and what, beyond the fact that it's legal, could possibly justify it.
posted by kengraham at 6:48 AM on September 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


I don't know if anyone has mentioned this upthread, cause frankly I don't have the time nor the stamina to read through this thread. But I do see a conflict between two basic ideas in what I have gotten through:

1) The right to take photos of public spaces.
2) The right of people not to feel harassed in public spaces. And let's be clear here, given the gender dynamics of the world we live in, specifically the right of women not to be, or feel, sexually harassed in public spaces. Or as someone put it so well upthread, to not have to put up with the white noise of misogyny.

At some point taking photos of women in public in certain ways crosses into sexual harassment in a legal sense. i.e. I'm pretty sure taking upskirt photos will get you at least arrested in plenty of jurisdictions. But it's not just the taking of photos, again it's the whole background noise of offensive, creepy attitudes towards women. In a detached sense there is a very interesting test case, fro a legal perspective, just waiting to be heard.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:09 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perhaps 'background noise' is not the best way to phrase it. Better 'pervasive sense of threat.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:11 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Podkayne of Pasadena: "Thanks for mansplaining to me what is and isn't a threat in my life and what I can do legally about it."

And thank you for refusing to engage in a reasonable discussion without insulting me. I'm not quite sure what the point of having a discussion is if you're just going to aggressively dismiss a point of view that partially disagrees with your own.

kengraham: "It's obnoxious that people are reading "This behaviour is uncivil and bad" as "This behaviour should be illegal""

I seem to recall reading some comments that strongly implied that this should be illegal. I bristle at that, even as I continue to maintain that it's antisocial at best.
posted by wierdo at 7:29 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It being the creepshot thing. (Upskirting is already illegal in many jurisdictions, thankfully)
posted by wierdo at 7:33 AM on September 24, 2012


I'm not quite sure what the point of having a discussion is if you're just going to aggressively dismiss a point of view that partially disagrees with your own.

It's very frustrating if someone is insisting on telling you that something is not a threat when it is to you, and is widely accepted as a threat by a lot of people (and not a paranoid response).

It's not really a difference of opinion thing - it's threatening and wrong to be taking photos of women and uploading them for entertainment. And this isn't about it being illegal, it's about Reddit allowing this to continue, and Conde Nast, parent company of Reddit, allowing this to continue.

In our culture women are often viewed as entertainment for men, not people. This is an extension of that.

Also yes, taking upskirt photos is illegal in NYC at least.
posted by sweetkid at 7:44 AM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I seem to recall reading some comments that strongly implied that this should be illegal.

If you think something ought to be done about the creepers, this is what you will end up arguing. Reddit is a real thing that exists and they've made their position pretty clear on matters like this. So you are left with trying to shame or boycott them into acting differently.

However, this is pretty unlikely to work because Reddit is a huge entity, and they are equal opportunity in their libertarian ideals, even hosting SRS which exists mainly to criticize Reddit. So if an entity like Reddit exists facilitating the behavior and you think something ought to be done, all that's left is to use the law to coerce Reddit into acting the way you'd prefer.

This is, incidentally, what got /r/jailbait shut down, because even the sideways risk of a glimpse of kiddie porn is real trouble, as numerous innocent parents have found out the hard way. And any law that would make it possible to coerce Reddit into shutting down the creepers would also make put a lot of legitimate art and photography at risk.
posted by localroger at 7:46 AM on September 24, 2012


I seem to recall reading some comments that strongly implied that this should be illegal. I bristle at that, even as I continue to maintain that it's antisocial at best.

I can't recall any significant number of such comments, offhand. Perhaps we are drawing different inferences? In either case, I think I can say with absolute confidence that this is not the majority view here, and if one is taking issue with a particular person's non-majority position, it's probably worth responding to it directly.

What has been said is that there may be situations in which the activities around the taking of these photographs may shade into what can be legally identified as harassment, which is a different thing - or into what can be culturally identified as harassment, which has its own implications.

But I think responding to "taking photographs in public should be made illegal" as if it were the majority opinion being expressed is to respond to a straw man large enough to fit 1970s Edward Woodward.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:53 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


sweetkid: "It's very frustrating if someone is insisting on telling you that something is not a threat when it is to you, and is widely accepted as a threat by a lot of people (and not a paranoid response). "

It's also very frustrating when people don't bother to read the entirety of the comments they're disagreeing with. Doubly so when I made very clear that I was speaking in a legal sense:
"You may feel threatened, and that's fine and a perfectly valid response, but it's not something we can base a legal system on. We all agree it's an ugly behavior regardless of its legality."
Sorry if I'm just being overly sensitive in reading your comment as saying that I personally said something I didn't.

I guess I'm left wondering what it is people would like done about this? We can try to shame Reddit into playing whack-a-mole on this, but as localroger said, they're not exactly responsive to social pressure.
posted by wierdo at 7:59 AM on September 24, 2012


But I think responding to "taking photographs in public should be made illegal" as if it were the majority opinion being expressed is to respond to a straw man large enough to fit 1970s Edward Woodward.

Several have said they view public photography of them as a "threat," which definitely implies some kind of legal sanction as the solution.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:06 AM on September 24, 2012


However, this is pretty unlikely to work because Reddit is a huge entity, and they are equal opportunity in their libertarian ideals, even hosting SRS which exists mainly to criticize Reddit. So if an entity like Reddit exists facilitating the behavior and you think something ought to be done, all that's left is to use the law to coerce Reddit into acting the way you'd prefer.

I really don't think this is all that's left. The community can encourage moderation to shut down the sub, to establish new guidelines, to bring in volunteer janitors, etc. Hell, people outside the community can do the same. That's why I don't get this black-and-white dichotomy of choosing between drafting legislation and just throwing up our hands and saying, "That's Reddit for ya! Too big to moderate."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:07 AM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Several have said they view public photography of them as a "threat," which definitely implies some kind of legal sanction as the solution.

That's an unsafe inference, I think. qv sweetkid, above:
It's not really a difference of opinion thing - it's threatening and wrong to be taking photos of women and uploading them for entertainment. And this isn't about it being illegal
Emphasis mine. Describing something as a threat does not necessarily imply "some kind of legal sanction as the solution". A threat of legal action. A threat of rain later. A threat to your professional standing. A threatening demeanor. None of these things imply a call for a legal sanction as a response.

It feels like there is an attempt here to cast statements which do not, in fact, call for a legal sanction as calling for a legal sanction, so that this can become a First Amendment issue. I don't think it is, however, generally being framed in those terms. Sometimes, people can call things out without an implicit demand for a legal sanction.

See also wierdo's:

I guess I'm left wondering what it is people would like done about this?

Again, that feels like an odd standard for MetaFilter, a place where things are posted and then discussed.

If somebody posts a video of a sea otter playing, I would not expect the response "OK, so sea otters can match shapes to differently-shaped receptacles. So what do you want done about that? You can't legally prevent them from doing it, not without also preventing them from stacking small buckets in order of size."
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:20 AM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


However, this is pretty unlikely to work because
...Just because of this... and this...
they're not exactly responsive to social pressure.

...doesn't mean that people are wrong for trying, and also, it doesn't mean that those people are leaping to that second, unsubstantiated "only other possible option" (all that's left is to use the law to coerce Reddit).

Why are people trying their level best to talk people out of loudly, publicly and vociferously raising objections, denigrating such targeted stalking, and discussing how disgusting such abuses are (and otherwise minimizing, and denigrating folks who are trying to change a part of wider culture that uses women as objects, rather than full-equal people [not that folks in this particular place and time are doing that, but that is massively common, so as to be the main profit maker for publishers such as conde nast, in their other incarnations]).

That, lr, may be why some folks could be seeing you as stepping in front of trains for the (self-defined) "creeps". Show me the people with legislative power in this thread who are proposing blanket legal sanctions on "taking pictures in public". The people here are talking about how social pressure works, and how it can and does change the behaviors of massive corporate entities (such as the massive dynamic of publishing "Conde Nast").

Several have said they view public photography of them as a "threat,"
No, if you are talking about the comments I think you are, they were saying that they are aware of how pervasive said "creeps" are, and that makes them AWARE of the dangers and threats and the potential for escalation if one of the millions isn't "just a creep" (that exist and are clear and present in the lives of women all over).

Look at some of those pages... there are "photographers" who FOLLOW women, not just "saw a girl in this wide angle shot and zoomed in on her, because she is sure pretty" (not that then turning this happenstance into hi-fives on reddit is cool, or less creepy)... but no, actually walking along beside (and behind) women, for blocks, CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK.... and on. How does any given woman know what his intentions are? His intentions are surreptitious, and motives are not clear, there is specific "hiding" (covert photos [often likely not actually "covert") of intentions. This is creepy in a world with the power imbalances that exist, and the social pressures that exist if that "merely" creepy guy turns out to be one of the millions of dangerous folks.
posted by infinite intimation at 8:21 AM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


I guess I'm left wondering what it is people would like done about this? We can try to shame Reddit into playing whack-a-mole on this, but as localroger said, they're not exactly responsive to social pressure.

Redditt aka Conde Nast is entirely responsive to the right kind of social pressure as the recent /r/jailbreak scandal proved. That scandal also proved that Redditt aka Conde Nast is entirely capable of effectively policing its site from such activities if it wants to.

What should be done is what worked last time - a mass organized press release to a huge number of prominent news sites and websites (especially progressive socially conscious sites) minutely detailing what goes on at /r/creepshots with links to many (in)appropriate posts there. What happened then will likely happen again as some prominent news site picks up the story and goes with it. (The Daily Mail and Jezebel have picked up the story as well now)

As has been mentioned before, Reddit is not the Internet. It is a commercial site which relies on page views for profit. /r/jailbait was one of the largest subreddits in existence and Conde Nast made a substantial profit from page views resulting from it. Creepshots is a much smaller group but with the same potential for growth. Conde Nast has shown that they are able to control such things in the past and so should be obligated to do so now. Claiming that Conde Nast has no control over the situation is a specious argument .
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 8:25 AM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Are we not calling for restricting the rights of others to take such photographs?

I'm not. I'm in favour of free speech. And I'm actually using my free speech in this thread.

I'm using my free speech to say "This should be unacceptable in a civilised society. It will happen and making it illegal almost certainly has more consequences than it's worth. The 'defenders of free speech' in this thread should absolutely support my right to say that /r/creepshots are creepy fucks who no one with decency would want in the same clubhouse as they are.

If you think something ought to be done about the creepers, this is what you will end up arguing. Reddit is a real thing that exists and they've made their position pretty clear on matters like this. So you are left with trying to shame or boycott them into acting differently.

And this is your complete misreading of the situation and belief that the only possible remedy is the law.

I believe that the Creeps should be treated like Stormfront.org. I'm not in favour of banning Stormfront. I am in favour of isolating them. Reddit are a corporately owned brand. And I'm in favour of making the brand that happily hosted /r/jailbait and gained a lot of traffic from it incredibly toxic until they either clean up their act or people only go there because they want to hang out in a scummy place. And I want Reddit to be a PR anchor to hang round the neck of the owners unless it cleans up its act.

Every decent human being who goes to reddit willingly, unless they are trying to change the place (as SRS are), is providing cover to groups like /r/creepshots and /r/upskirt. (And formerly /r/jailbait). They are either ignorant or saying that they personally think that associating with people who behave this way is acceptable. Which encourages people to see this behaviour as mild prank-level obnoxiousness rather than completely scummy.

So I'm at least as in favour of free speech as the Redditors here. I want Reddit to either change and force the scum to go elsewhere or to become about as relevant to the web as slashdot is these days and about as highly reguarded as stormfront.org. Raising objections is free speech. The answer to bad speech is normally better speech.

So I want literally everyone who uses Reddit made aware that they share a site with creeps and people taking upskirt photos. I want them aware that they had a site that until recently was, I believe, the highest ranking search for jailbait on the web. And I want them all aware that by being happy to have such people on the same site they are they are tacitly condoning such behaviour. I want free speech and truth. I want free speech to spread far and wide.
posted by Francis at 8:29 AM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


infinite intimation: "Why are people trying their level best to talk people out of loudly, publicly and vociferously raising objections, denigrating such targeted stalking, and discussing how disgusting such abuses are (and otherwise minimizing, and denigrating folks who are trying to change a part of wider culture that uses women as objects, rather than full-equal people [not that folks in this particular place and time are doing that, but that is massively common, so as to be the main profit maker for publishers such as conde nast, in their other incarnations])."

Nobody is actually doing that. I think every person who has commented has expressed their revulsion at the behavior in question.

PoP: Nobody claimed that they have no control, only that they would continue to choose not to exert that control if they don't feel legally threatened. Maybe we'll be proven wrong. If so, great. I don't like what they're doing and nobody is obligated to provide them with a forum for posting their crap.

(I think someone did claim that they couldn't legally exert control without being made responsible for all content)
posted by wierdo at 8:31 AM on September 24, 2012


What can be done? The very first and most important thing is to make sure that the victims of this behaviour aren't implicitly or explicitly being told that this is ok, that it's not a big deal, that they have no right to push back or be upset, that it's their problem only.

The next most important thing is to not assume that nothing can be done.
posted by windykites at 8:48 AM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think every person who commented has expressed their revulsion...

No. Some commenters have made it very clear that they don't think this is a big deal, that they don't believe any real harm has been done, that this is not harassment, that this is not threatning, and even that the victims have no right to be upset over this or that they should just not care, because it would make them feel better to not care.
posted by windykites at 8:54 AM on September 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


Apparently, I was confusing PoP's assertion that message board comments were a threat (which is a a whole different kettle of worms.) Interestingly, the photography defenders bring up the word "threat" more often.

On preview: that this is not harassment, that this is not threatning

What is? The photography, or the accompanying behavior? I'm thinking there's a difference between taking photos of people in public, and following them around, or whatever, which would be creepy without a camera.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:03 AM on September 24, 2012


bystander: I'm not sure there is a lot more in it (the Kate Middleton pics) than a case of "that's a fit young woman. I'd like to see her tits."
If that were true, pics of Kate Middleton's tits would sell for about 14 cents (US)... on a good day. No tabloid would bother publishing them.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:21 AM on September 24, 2012


I guess I'm left wondering what it is people would like done about this?

Acknowledgement of the shittiness sans minimization of someone else's reported experience of that shittiness? Not all expressions of opinion are attempts to make policy. Sometimes people point out what's shitty about behaviour with the goal of having people who might condone, or even engage in, that behaviour, stop. This is in fact how reasonable people grow and modify their behaviour; rules are for children and people with childish minsets, and people who believe that the only limits of their behaviour are those defined by the rules tend to act like adolescents, which is a pretty good description of the sort of person whose sexual tastes include creepshots and revenge porn.
posted by kengraham at 9:26 AM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


charlie don't surf: Shut down the sub, for starters.

That is basically impossible, by design. The reddit admins can delete a subreddit and someone can instantly create a similarly named subreddit. subreddits can be made private, god knows what goes on in those areas. I talk to the admins on a fairly regular basis and essentially the only reason a subreddit will get shut down is if it is a threat to the continued existence of reddit as a company, like criminal liability for /r/jailbait, or if the subreddit is used to sabotage or attack reddit hardware and software systems.
"That is basically impossible"... and then you go on to describe instances in which the admins can and do accomplish this impossible task.

It's nonsense. Reddit.com can establish a site-wide policy. And they can enforce it, in approximately the same way that Metafilter enforces its rules: by allowing users to flag content. It will get abused, and then they'll need the ability to filter out flags from click-happy critics, but it can work.

I'm basically in favor of a very free internet. I'm basically in favor of a very free Reddit - I'd stop short of allowing child porn, but there isn't much else I can imagine wanting them to censor. But let's not pretend that self-censorship from the site can't be done.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:50 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree wholeheartedly, kengraham.

I would wager part of the reason that Liberty of Expression was legally enshrined was because those who drafted such things were confident that societies would be able to regulate most areas of interaction themselves through negotiated social mores and sanctions and feedback--not because they were hoping we'd revert to some literal 'work to rule' society where the acceptability of all social interaction was determined solely by whether or not it was listed by the state in some handy pocket guide.
posted by whittaker at 9:50 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am very sure that what happened with Reddit is that they consulted legal during the SomethingAwful harrassment party, and found that they had two misunderstandings. They thought they were safe because the images aren't hosted by Reddit, only linked, and they thought they were safe because actual naked kid pix were banned. Both of those assumptions are shaky now though; sites have been sanctioned for linking to pirated content that they didn't host, and individuals have been prosecuted for child porn when the pictures did not show genitalia but the individual was suspected of having a prurient interest in the pictures. The message that replaced r/jailbait said the subreddit had been removed because its content threatened the structural integrity of Reddit.

The Reddit operators have made it crystal clear that they are not interested in regulating content absent some kind of similar existential threat. They may not be the internet but they seem very intent on acting as if they are. These are obviously people who think that if you aren't free to act like a douchebag you aren't free, and freedom to be an offensive douchebag is a higher good than the freedom to avoid being offended by douchebags.
posted by localroger at 10:04 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I shoot in public, and it's a thorny thing, how to get consent, which people to ask for consent. It feels fraught every time I want to get a shot of Latino dudes doing manual labor — the candid shots are important, but without establishing a relationship and waiting past the awkward point, it's a bit exploitative to take the shots.

I took a short class on photography, and this subject came up. We talked about different scenarios with different goals, but basically the theme was that these transactions (photographer vs. people-in-public-space) are about status. If a photographer walks up to a group of people and aims a lens, then he will probably be seen as intruding. By contrast, if the photographer "claims" the space by setting up first, many people will respectfully try to walk around his shot. Between those extremes there's a spectrum. I found it interesting to think about, and sometimes I've been able to play with the idea to get photographs I wanted.

I do agree with some of the more cynical comments here, that social ideas like the ones at play in this thread shift with technology. I think about some of the places where having a camera would get you ejected fifteen years ago, and now nobody thinks twice about people openly snapping with their cell-phone cameras. For an assignment in the aforementioned class I was shooting brackets using a point-and-shoot on a tripod at a local outdoor mall, and a security guard asked me to stop. ("Because of terrorists," he said apologetically. I understand the actual reason, but that made me laugh.) It's only because I was using an actual camera and a tripod that he even approached me. I could shoot storefronts all day long with an iPhone and nobody would blink.
posted by cribcage at 10:16 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: an entire massive website based on the worst parts of it
posted by Gelatin at 10:55 AM on September 24, 2012


we'd revert to some literal 'work to rule' society where the acceptability of all social interaction was determined solely by whether or not it was listed by the state in some handy pocket guide.

That's very well-put. I wonder if having a very durable "law of the land" has predisposed US people to the kind of legalistic willful helplessness, when it comes to self-governance, conflict resolution, and moral reasoning, that we're seeing a bit of in here.
posted by kengraham at 11:40 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


self-governance, conflict resolution, and moral reasoning

I think about that a lot as someone who spends a lot of time talking to librarians about the internet and helping them find their place among both the social rules and laws of their locations but also the larger usually-laxer world of the internet. Libraries are anti-censorship and at the same time mostly don't carry (legal) pornography or other sorts of things (a lot of that high weirdness by mail stuff) and why is that exactly? I feel like sometimes we've ceded our own ability and responsibility for making some value judgments because we act like it's all just free speech or the highway, when of course it's not and that's not even the world we live in.

I saw two movies in the past month (R rated I think, but on DVD so maybe they were "unrated" I'm not even sure) where I saw full-on male frontal nudity which would have been completely unthinkable five or maybe ten years ago, or a huge deal if it happened. Standards have been relaxing morally probably, but also, somewhere, on a list at the MPAA "dick shots" went from the No list to the Yes list or probably realistically the "Only okay under certain circumstances" list.

And I think we're really doing ourselves a disservice if we act like the fact that you've always, well for most of my life that I can remember, been able to see women with no pants on in the movies but it's only really really recently that you've been able to see men this way [and you still can't see them with no pants and erections though the pants-with-erections thing is passable and is also showing up more lately] and that affects people. And there are a group of people making decisions about what is and is not okay in America that are affecting, in response, what is and isn't okay in the larger world. I'm not making a RAR CENSORSHIP argument at this point, just pointing out that there are more work-to-rule rules in place than we may even be aware of, and they affect our culture.

I'm sure someone can "well actually..." this analysis to death, but I think as a society we sometimes feel or act that the laws that govern us are a complete set of the rules that govern societies and human behavior generally [some people throuw evolutionary biology in there sometimes] as if there aren't tons of little checks and balances we make against what is lawful in the name of things that are good, fair, kind, decent, just or a ton of other things that individuals and groups aim for outside of what the laws can legislate.
posted by jessamyn at 11:51 AM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Libraries are anti-censorship and at the same time mostly don't carry (legal) pornography or other sorts of things (a lot of that high weirdness by mail stuff) and why is that exactly? I feel like sometimes we've ceded our own ability and responsibility for making some value judgments because we act like it's all just free speech or the highway, when of course it's not and that's not even the world we live in.

If you could run your ideal library, what would it exclude?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:04 PM on September 24, 2012


My ideal library doesn't have space or budget constraints.
posted by klangklangston at 12:07 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you could run your ideal library, what would it exclude?

Nothing. Is that a trick question?
posted by jessamyn at 12:10 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually presuming it was a public library we'd need to abide by laws to stay open but other than that, yeah. Its tricky as fuck though because that's a situation that doesn't exist either in space or money or staffing ways, so playing the "what if this weren't the real world?" game doesn't work because it's the real world that makes you have to make these choices, not the fake what if world.
posted by jessamyn at 12:12 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, you're appealing to external constraints, and I'm trying to divorce you from them.

Would your library include Reddit?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:14 PM on September 24, 2012


Are there any public libraries in the world that have Amok Journal Sensurround Edition on one of their shelves?
posted by bukvich at 12:17 PM on September 24, 2012


Well, you're appealing to external constraints, and I'm trying to divorce you from them.

Thanks for the "teachable moment" ... but no.
So it comes to this ... your right to take a picture ends where my pooter begins.

You don't have the right to denigrate me and humiliate me and my gender in public and I don't care a fig what you believe the Constitution says or doesn't say about it. It's basic humanity and a basic human right in my eyes.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 12:19 PM on September 24, 2012


Bukvich, the one you're in now does, I've no doubt.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:19 PM on September 24, 2012


> the one you're in now does, I've no doubt.

If you mean the internet, the book is copyrighted so it would be a pirate copy if when you find it. I try to stay away from internet pirate web servers although I will encourage them to go for it here on the perfectly legal area of the net.
posted by bukvich at 12:25 PM on September 24, 2012


"Well, you're appealing to external constraints, and I'm trying to divorce you from them.

Would your library include Reddit?
"

Would my personal ideal library contain Reddit? Well, not all of it. Only the parts that I'm interested in. And it wouldn't include anything written in Arabic, because I don't read Arabic. But it would include all of Walker Evans' work, including working prints. It would be perfectly curated to have only things that I'd enjoy or find interesting, and nothing that I'd be bored by or find over-rated.

What I'm trying to get at is that the hypothetical you're introducing is not really anything but a facile gotcha — things would be different if things were different/if she had balls, my aunt'd be my uncle.
posted by klangklangston at 12:28 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Library of Alexandria would never have been built without copyright. /derail
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:28 PM on September 24, 2012


My library already includes Reddit, as does every library that doesn't employ filtering, and probably a lot of them that do.

Are there any public libraries in the world that have Amok Journal Sensurround Edition on one of their shelves?

None that are on WorldCat. I really don't want to turn this thread into a discussion of Jessamyn's Ideal Library so I'll bow out now, just wanted to point out that there are many places/spaces that are "available to everyone" that employ some level of selection/criteria/limiting and the specifics about the limits themselves (how they come about, who creates them, how they are adjusted) are one of the most revealing parts of how the system is designed to operate.
posted by jessamyn at 12:28 PM on September 24, 2012


If you could run your ideal library, what would it exclude?
crimson hexagon
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:29 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I took a short class on photography, and this subject came up. We talked about different scenarios with different goals, but basically the theme was that these transactions (photographer vs. people-in-public-space) are about status. If a photographer walks up to a group of people and aims a lens, then he will probably be seen as intruding. By contrast, if the photographer "claims" the space by setting up first, many people will respectfully try to walk around his shot. Between those extremes there's a spectrum. I found it interesting to think about, and sometimes I've been able to play with the idea to get photographs I wanted."

I think that pinning it to status is a fair thing, and I think that it's kind of incumbent upon a photographer to be cognizant of power imbalances. I dunno, maybe it's because a lot of my aesthetic morality is about the ideal of fairness — which doesn't mean a lack of criticism — but I feel like there should be a consideration for the subject in how an image is presented, and that can mean not taking some photos that I'd really like to have taken.

I don't need this to be something that's absurd or extremist — I have no problem shooting within an imbalance (self link), but I don't see that picture as inherently unfair, even if it might be a little uncomfortable.
posted by klangklangston at 12:44 PM on September 24, 2012


Well, you're appealing to external constraints, and I'm trying to divorce you from them.

May I ask, for the record, to what purpose you want to do that? It strikes me that "divorcing someone from external constraints" only gives you what that individual would want in their own personal Platonian Ideal Of A Library, and that is probably going to be so idiosyncratic as to be useless. (I mean, my own ideal library would feature individual holodecks so everyone could go into their own private swimming pool or hammock in a meadow or whatever environment would be best suited to them curling up for a good read.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:40 PM on September 24, 2012


Some commenters have made it very clear that they don't think this is a big deal, that they don't believe any real harm has been done, that this is not harassment, that this is not threatning, and even that the victims have no right to be upset over this or that they should just not care, because it would make them feel better to not care.

As noted earlier, defenders of privilege will often resort to all sorts of nonsense and misdirection to defend their privilege. Both the original article and now many commenters have raised all kinds of very different issues -- from rape porn to upskirt shots to obvious harassment -- and tried to lump them under one umbrella so that we might more easily cast out the questionable with the bad. At this point I'm surprised we haven't simply labeled these "creeps" as terrorists and been done with the whole debate.

More practically I find this idea that somebody can be assaulted by having their photograph secretly taken and published on the internet more than a bit strange. How can you be assaulted and not know it even happened?

And is the "sex aspect" the only problem? If these guys were commenting on women's hair or how awesome their shoes are, would that be okay? Or would the subjects still be victims because their photographs were taken "without their consent"?

And if this really is a cultural problem, if say the popularity of "creepy shots" did participate in a general oppression of this or that group, who gets to say what exactly is and what isn't acceptable? Which photographs pass the non-creep test? See, it's one thing to say that a community must internally police itself, it's quite another to denigrate a whole community and write them off as "uncivilized," -- something that others in this thread are far too eager to do.

I suppose there is some comfort to be taken in the fact that morals have proven to be quite flexible in the face of technology. At one time I imagine photographing a woman "against her will" might've landed you in jail. Today it gets you labeled a "creep." In the future, as images increasingly become a greater part of our everyday language, as machines desire to see, here, and know 'everything', as the assumption of surveillance becomes the norm, and as image manipulation becomes ever-more sophisticated and common -- who knows, perhaps such images will be praised as "authentic" or recognized as innovative.

But as soon as it's women who want to have any kind of exclusionary rights about their intimacy, we hate that. We say, 'No, we're going to make a whore out of you'."

I imagine where the original article goes wrong is this deliberate confusion of public and private. If people want to masturbate to photos of public X, how is this even a public matter at all? And if they want to share such photos on the net within a community of choice who is to judge them? Who, even, really cares? The concern, I would think, would be on the public dangers, on the public consequences, and whether such individuals are somehow imposing upon the public space.
posted by nixerman at 4:23 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did want to note though that I do find this idea that it's "okay" for paparazzi to take photos of any celebrity, anywhere, but not okay to do the same for regular people to be a much more interesting question, setting aside the creepyshot distraction. It does seem that we are paparazzi now and I can only imagine that, ironically, soon enough, paparazzi will be out of the job. At some point if there really is a demand for such candid photos of human beings, well then, those best positioned to fulfill the demand are the subjects themselves. If celebrities -- and everybody else -- do become the main supplier of their own tabloid shots I imagine the dynamics of the market would change drastically. I, mean, really, who else gets supremely bored looking through their neighbor's vacation photos? And how many really care enough to review the neverending flood of photos from their facebook friends?
posted by nixerman at 4:37 PM on September 24, 2012


As noted earlier, defenders of privilege will often resort to all sorts of nonsense and misdirection to defend their privilege.

Speaking of privilege-defending misdirection, let's talk about when robots rule the Earth in a dystopian future!

In the future, as images increasingly become a greater part of our everyday language, as machines desire to see, here, and know 'everything', as the assumption of surveillance becomes the norm, and as image manipulation becomes ever-more sophisticated and common -- who knows, perhaps such images will be praised as "authentic" or recognized as innovative.

Which of course they already are, by fetishists. qv:
If a person is posing for and/or aware that a picture is being taken, then it ceases to be candid and thus is no longer a creepshot. A creepshot captures the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera.
Which is where we came in, pretty much...
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:38 PM on September 24, 2012


It's probably telling that an attraction to normal clothed women going about their daily lives is considered a fetish.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:03 PM on September 24, 2012


Do you honestly think that that's the situation, ChurchHatesTucker? Did you miss the whole "taking photographs without permission" part, and the bit about sharing the photos with like-minded people?
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:11 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's probably telling that an attraction to normal clothed women going about their daily lives is considered a fetish.

If that's the fetish, why not ask the subject for her consent? The fetish is taking a photo and sharing it in a way that is likely against her will. The fetish is using a woman's image and sharing it against her will.

I can't imagine what's unhealthy about a community of men enjoying their nonconsensual experiences together. What could be reinforcing about that?

The concern, I would think, would be on the public dangers, on the public consequences, and whether such individuals are somehow imposing upon the public space.

Yeah, a community of men convinced that a woman's autonomy is secondary to their sexual needs is a fantastic addition to the public sphere.
posted by gladly at 5:15 PM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


As noted earlier, defenders of privilege will often resort to all sorts of nonsense and misdirection to defend their privilege. Both the original article and now many commenters have raised all kinds of very different issues -- from rape porn to upskirt shots to obvious harassment -- and tried to lump them under one umbrella so that we might more easily cast out the questionable with the bad. At this point I'm surprised we haven't simply labeled these "creeps" as terrorists and been done with the whole debate. - Nixerman

You very concretely and deliberately turned my word 'comfort' into 'terror' and *I* am the one conflating the issues and whatever you're inferring with the terrorist thing?

Taking surreptitious photos of women, when you are sure you would not get their consent, for the purpose of masturbation, sharing with others who are reinforcing the notion that this is acceptable and lauding you for the acts, is a whole lot closer to upskirting than appreciating the female form. It is also part of a wider culture where women are harrassed, women are photographed in threatening ways, women are stalked, women are masturbated at. You cannot separate these things, you cannot decide that someone taking my photo without my consent for the purposes of sharing online in a tech-assisted circle jerk is harmless because they didn't tell me about it. It exists, it's something that actually happens and is part of the miasma of misogyny and plays it's own little part in making the world fucked up.

Who, even, really cares? The concern, I would think, would be on the public dangers, on the public consequences, and whether such individuals are somehow imposing upon the public space.

Who cares? People who think women should actually be able to participate in an active public life sans creeps taking photos to expressly sexualise them and decontextualise their participation. The public consequences are that for these men consent is something unnecessary. The public danger is that they are sharing and reinforcing that notion amongst themselves. The public consequence is that for women, actively participating in the community comes at the cost of being made a prop, being reduced to an object, and being made a part of some creepers' sex life.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:26 PM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


Quite. The fetish is for taking photographs of women going about their daily lives without their knowledge.

The quote says nothing about how women are dressed, or what they are doing. It talks about posing, cameras, awareness that a picture is being taken, the specific rules that make a "creepshot" acceptable, the anaphrodisiac qualities of women "putting on a show".

The speaker finds photographs of women who (he believes) know they are being photographed sexually unexciting, and photographs of women who (he believes) do not know that they are being photographed sexually exciting. He believes that the difference is in the women - that women who are not being photographed, or who do not know that they are being photographed, radiate a "natural, raw sexiness".

However, it is empirically not the case that pictures of women who are aware that they are being photographed cannot be sexy, or sexually arousing. So, I'd say that is an internal condition - inability to be aroused by pictures of women not obtained by deception - being transferred onto an external object. The furtive nature of the photography is an element upon the presence of which arousal is conditional.

Which is pretty much the according-to-Hoyle definition of a fetish...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:29 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


bukvich Are there any public libraries in the world that have Amok Journal Sensurround Edition on one of their shelves?

Not the Sensurround edition but Amok Journal: A Compendium of Psycho-Physiological Investigations is in the collection of 15 libraries in the world, including one public, NYPL, according to the subscription version of OCLC. The web based version shows 11.

The other libraries are mostly academic with a few non-profits. By country: US: 9, Australia: 3, UK: 1, Germany: 1, Netherlands: 1.
posted by mlis at 5:29 PM on September 24, 2012




Someone up-thread said that social pressure doesn't work, and actually I think it does. I think that's part of this whole pushback going on the internet, in geeky, skeptical, and atheist communities.

Every time someone hears "that's creepy, they shouldn't do it" and responds, "don't ask for legal sanctions, that impinges free speech," it's an illustration of how threatening simply saying "don't do that" is to people who want the co-ordinated harassment of women to be accepted, co-ordinated through groups like creepshots, where assholes reinforce assholes in their assholery.

Several years back, all of the female lawyers were stalked on a message board of male lawyers. Pictures of them were taken in the community and published. Long comment threads about who someone would "do" or whether someone was a "bitch" were common. It passed largely under the attention of mainstream media; I saw it through feminist websites because one of the feminists was one of the stalked women.

I don't think it's an accident that Rebecca Watson saying, "Guys, don't do that," started a wave of rape threats, harassment, and death threats against her. People saying, "Don't do that," is clearly deeply threatening.

Threatening enough to always be exaggerated into some weird legalistic knots in an attempt to undermine it.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:59 PM on September 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


Thank you bringing our wonderful subreddit to much wider attention! Thanks to you, over the last couple of days we have had a massive jump in subscribers

Warning: link probably safe for work but comments not safe for lunch.
posted by jessamyn at 6:06 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


The public consequence is that for women, actively participating in the community comes at the cost of being made a prop, being reduced to an object, and being made a part of some creepers' sex life.

That's an interesting point.

For me, this idea of "creeper" photography is a new concept; I hadn't known about it before this thread. However, I have been aware that many parents are wary about posting photos of their kids on the Internet, lest those photos fall into the hands of "perverts."

So I'm wondering. If the "creeper" photos are as innocuous (strictly in photographic terms) and even less identifying than the regular photos that a person might post to Facebook or Flickr, then is there a social cost to both? If there is a forum dedicated to surreptitiously taken photographs, then somewhere there's probably also a forum somewhere dedicated to "found" photos from Facebook, Flickr, etc. To what degree is the social cost of "creeper" photography associated just with the contemporaneous act of photographing people unawares, and not with whatever happens to those digital files later?
posted by cribcage at 6:06 PM on September 24, 2012


Several years back, all of the female lawyers were stalked on a message board of male lawyers.

If we are remembering the same incident, they weren't actually lawyers. They were law students, and they were being photographed by their classmates. And to my recollection the law schools kept relatively silent, or at least didn't take action as loudly as they ought to have.
posted by cribcage at 6:10 PM on September 24, 2012


Do you honestly think that that's the situation, ChurchHatesTucker?

Running Order Squabblefest made the assertion. It's not something I'd have come up with on my own, but given much of the above ballyhoo I'm not inclined to disagree.

If that's the fetish, why not ask the subject for her consent?

I imagine because then the subject would be posing. See the /r/creepshot sidebar note that's been quoted several times above.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:11 PM on September 24, 2012


I imagine where the original article goes wrong is this deliberate confusion of public and private. If people want to masturbate to photos of public X, how is this even a public matter at all? And if they want to share such photos on the net within a community of choice who is to judge them? Who, even, really cares? The concern, I would think, would be on the public dangers, on the public consequences, and whether such individuals are somehow imposing upon the public space.

It definitely changes the public space. My wife has always expected a certain proportion of men to ogle her and leer and file away her image in their spank banks. That's normal, and has probably more or less been that way for hundreds if not thousands of years. But what's different now is that some dude might be taking photos of her ass and posting them with titles like "Slut in yoga pants in Starbucks!!!!" That is new, and changes the boundaries of public/private that we've lived with for a long time. I'm not totally sure what the answer is, from live with it to changing the laws, but I think we need to begin by acknowledging the newness of this and the ways in which it changes being a woman in public.

What if I told you there was a place in the world where you could walk around topless and no one cared? Hundreds and hundreds of Austrian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian men and women have seen my breasts in saunas. They are just breasts and roughly the same as any other breasts you can find by googling breasts. I sat next to men, talked to men, swam with men...totally naked. And no one had to run away from me because of a raging erection.

No one took my picture or anyone's picture either, because the human body is a boring normal thing that everyone has that you see so many of in these saunas that it's not a hot commodity.


What if I told you that there are gazillions of photos of topless and nude women sunbathing and swimming, taken covertly in Germany and Scandinavia, all over the same voyeur sites that we are talking about? Seriously, there are creepsters there just like here. I've been in those saunas and coed dressing rooms and clothing optional beaches and never spotted a creep... but I've also seen enough photos of it online to know that not everyone is as relaxed and blase as one might think.
posted by Forktine at 6:13 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing writes "I really don't think this is all that's left. The community can encourage moderation to shut down the sub, to establish new guidelines, to bring in volunteer janitors, etc. Hell, people outside the community can do the same. That's why I don't get this black-and-white dichotomy of choosing between drafting legislation and just throwing up our hands and saying, 'That's Reddit for ya! Too big to moderate.'"

They could but then it wouldn't be Reddit; a place with freedom of expression as a core value. It's like saying the ACLU could improve their image if they'd just stop going to bat for pornographers, racists and bigots.

Podkayne of Pasadena writes "What should be done is what worked last time - a mass organized press release to a huge number of prominent news sites and websites (especially progressive socially conscious sites) minutely detailing what goes on at /r/creepshots with links to many (in)appropriate posts there. What happened then will likely happen again as some prominent news site picks up the story and goes with it. (The Daily Mail and Jezebel have picked up the story as well now)"

I don't think that's going to work this for this sub; Last time you had "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!" combined with an uncertian legal situation. This sub has neither.
posted by Mitheral at 6:28 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I imagine because then the subject would be posing. See the /r/creepshot sidebar note that's been quoted several times above. - ChurchHatesTucker

That is amazingly circuitous. Really. You said "It's probably telling that an attraction to normal clothed women going about their daily lives is considered a fetish." To which the reply is that it isn't the attraction we are arguing, it's the action of the surreptitious photographing and dissemination online; when we mention the 'gain consent thing' your answer is 'but then they would know and it would defeat the purpose'?

You can't ask consent because then it wouldn't be surreptitious but it isn't a fetish at all it's just normal attraction to women?

Your camera and the internet are not extensions of your body, not yet. Taking photos of unsuspecting women then posting them online in a sexual context is not just an extension of being a heterosexual male.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:31 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you think you have a right not to be photographed, it's not creepers you should be worried about. It's business and government, both of which are busily covering every flat surface in public space with camera arrays.

And while these institutions might not be institutionally masturbating to your boobs, they have employees who have access to this massive image grab who have been caught doing just that. You don't need blurry cellphone pics if you have terabytes of HD public CCTV footage to comb through.

Cameras can be almost undetectable, with lenses the size of a pinhead. They can see in conditions so dark we'd be walking with hands extended to avoid obstacles. They are so cheap that my grocery store has more little black domes above the cashier section than the first casinos I patronized in the early 1990's had above the blackjack tables.

If these private entities want to publish an expensive subscribers-only book of thousands of pics labeling people as criminals, frauds, and cheats, they can; the Griffin Agency has been doing it since at least the 1970's. I have a couple of friends whose pics are in their book. The accusations and side data are hilariously wrong but there's no recourse. My friends know they're in there because a disgruntled casino employee cc'd their pages, but they jealously guard their corporate "information."

One day it won't just be casinos, it will be Wal-Mart that won't let you shop because their photo recognition database flagged you as a shoplifter. And you think creepers are a problem?

Camera and, more importantly, image scanning, storage, and facial recognition technology, is about to become a very big deal. The guys who will own all these cameras are the ones who will be buying the laws.

So don't think you have a right not to be photographed. That ship sailed at least 10 years ago.
posted by localroger at 6:38 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dude, we already did the "we are being photographed all the time by our robot overlords, so stop complaining about this thing I don't want you to complain about" derail, just above with nixerman.

If we're looking for new tangentially photography-related derails, how about "hey, have you seen those photographs of the Arctic ice shelf? Why worry about being photographed by creepers when we're all going to drown when the icecaps melt?"
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:48 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


One day it won't just be casinos, it will be Wal-Mart that won't let you shop because their photo recognition database flagged you as a shoplifter.

I don't know about Wal-Mart specifically but retail stores are already analyzing their security camera footage to identify individual customers automatically.
posted by XMLicious at 6:55 PM on September 24, 2012


You said

Actually, ROS did. I was affirming.

But don't let me stop you.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:05 PM on September 24, 2012


The point being that our robot overlords are going to buy the laws. The laws that exist will be pretty amenable to this; it will be legal to photograph you just about anywhere public. Period, full stop, get used to it.

What will be regulated will be publication and distribution, as they are now. Right now a major key to whether that is a tort is whether you can be recognized. Yeah, we've gone over it, and some people seem to keep forgetting or don't want to know.

There are some situations, like the Griffin book, where creepshot-like usages will simply be permitted full stop as long as they are not made public. Reddit is public but hey, there's less public ways to distribute your warez.

You want assault? One of my friends was assaulted by casino security personnel. I don't mean fake pretend having your picture taken is the same as assault, he was physically assaulted, and because the casino was too stupid to erase their precious pictures of the incident he got over $100K in the lawsuit.

This is reality. This is not feminist critique which deliberately conflates creepshots with revengeporn so that everything can look as bad as possible, it's real use of photography to target and hurt people. And it's going to be tolerated. That is the realpolitik of the sitation with regard to the businesses that want to use this technology. They will buy the laws, and the laws will be crafted first to make sure WalMart can take your picture, catalogue it, distribute it privately, and use it for various nefarious purposes. And after they do all that creepshots will be completely legal.
posted by localroger at 7:10 PM on September 24, 2012


ChurchHatesTucker - Actually, ROS did. I was affirming.

does not jibe with

Which of course they already are, by fetishists. qv:
If a person is posing for and/or aware that a picture is being taken, then it ceases to be candid and thus is no longer a creepshot. A creepshot captures the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera.
Which is where we came in, pretty much...
ROS

or

Quite. The fetish is for taking photographs of women going about their daily lives without their knowledge. - ROS

I'm having a serious breakdown in communication here. Exactly what are you saying? Note, this is not what your interpretation of ROS is.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:22 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is not feminist critique which deliberately conflates creepshots with revengeporn so that everything can look as bad as possible

You do not get to tell us what's a real problem and what's not. You do not get to tell us that.
posted by sweetkid at 8:35 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Note, this is not what your interpretation of ROS is.

Well then, ask ROS.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:44 PM on September 24, 2012


localroger, seriously, why can't people be upset by more than one thing, and upset by something you're not personally upset by? You seem to think it's not worth talking about unwanted photography unless it consists of systematic governmental and/or corporate surveillance. That seems really restrictive of everyone here who is trying to have a conversation about the topic of the thread. Also, while it's upsetting that your friend was assaulted, it's really far afield from the original topic. You might like talking about that more, but that doesn't mean it's the only thing worth talking about.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:48 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, that's easy - I don't think being attracted to women is a fetish. Nor did I ever say it was. It would not make sense to do so, in terms of the definition of a fetish. I said that needing to believe that a photograph had been taken without the subject's knowledge in order to find it sexually arousing was pretty clearly a fetishistic reaction, the fetish being for surreptitious photography. I said that first way upthread, and have now said it twice more.

And speaking of helping... localroger, if you want to talk about the iniquities of the casino photography system, or the impending arrival of surveillance culture, you should probably start a thread or two. Being prevented from playing blackjack due to photography might seem more important to you than the subject of this thread, but it isn't the subject of this thread, beyond the fact that both involve light passing through lenses.

Also, I think it's not so much a question of people "forgetting" or "not wanting to know", but rather that your understanding of the law is kind of imperfect. "It's legal as long as it isn't recognizable" is sort of true _enough_, probably, as a rule of thumb, but it's incomplete. Photographs taken in public of people in public are not illegal, whether or not they are recognisable. Taking or publishing same might lead to harassment or public order charges in certain cases, or false light if editorialized, but that's nothing to do with the act of photography. The tort you are probably thinking of is appropriation - which is again not about taking a photograph, but about using a name or likeness without consent for financial gain.

Conversely, photographing people without their consent in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy (a fitting room, say, or their home, even if you are standing in a public thoroughfare while taking the photo), may be an invasion of privacy. Photographing under somebody's clothes without their permission may, depending on the state you are in, be an offense. In that instance, taking the photograph is illegal, whether or not you then publish it on the web, and whether or not the person in the picture is recognizable.

So,"creepshots", like any photograph, are legal unless specifically not legal for some reason - as we have been told over and over again by people who appeared not to notice that it had already been said - or forgotten it, or not wanted to know, I guess.

But the long grass of casino surveillance is a heck of a derail, since it is talking about photography of people in a private premise who have consented to be photographed as a condition of entry to that premise. Wal-Mart already takes your picture. It's kind of odd that you think it doesn't. That's what security cameras do. Griffin Investigations fell foul, however, of a defamation suit (although false light would probably have been an option also). Your friend apparently sued. So, yeah. Anecdotes involving photography, I guess.

Thing is, your dark future - a world in which taking photographs of people in public and also in private premises in some cases (say, if you own the premises, and they do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, e.g. In the bathrooms or the fitting rooms) will be legal - is already the present, and was previously the past. So, I'm not really sure what you think people should be bracing themselves for, or its relation to creepshooting. Yes, there is lots of photography of different kinds. There will be more in future due to technological advances. Not all of it is approved of. QED?
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:55 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I said that needing to believe that a photograph had been taken without the subject's knowledge in order to find it sexually arousing was pretty clearly a fetishistic reaction, the fetish being for surreptitious photography.

"Sexually arousing?" or just "Sexy?" I'm guessing that that's a distinction without a difference for you.

I wonder if the subreddit name was just too clever by half. If it was /r/candidgirls, would it have made the Guardian?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:13 PM on September 24, 2012


It doesn't matter if it's sexy or sexually arousing or the nitpicking definition of a fetish vs fetishized...this is getting to fetlife levels of discussion about minor semantics, and not in a good way.

The reality is that these guys primarily get off on the fact that they're sexualizing and pornifying someone without their knowledge or consent, they publicize this fact, and it's revolting and wrong.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:44 PM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


The reality is that these guys primarily get off on the fact that they're sexualizing and pornifying someone without their knowledge or consent, they publicize this fact, and it's revolting and wrong.

And perhaps ostracizing people based on what they get off on (presuming it's legal and harmless) is revolting and wrong.

Though you might argue that what these guys isn't harmless but such arguments reek of pretension eg they are harming "the gender."

It is a little funny though. If these guys were jerking off to pictures of women's feet I wonder if there would be as much outrage? Or hands? Or pictures run through an 8bit filter? It's like somewhere along the line a private fetish crosses "the line" and suddenly everybody is up in arms and rushes to judgement. But then wasn't property invented to account for taste? Didn't we put up fences very much because we didn't want to know what our creepy neighbors are getting up to?

Anyways such hapless attempts to reign in sexual desires or ghettoize this or that group of deviants is always doomed to fail but I guess we are now becoming acutely aware of that failure in real-time. Questions of property can no longer be settled so easily by appealing to propriety. It seems the web is bringing us closer together whether we like it or not.
posted by nixerman at 11:34 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why "Yes But" is the wrong response to misogyny.

If these guys were jerking off to pictures of women's feet I wonder if there would be as much outrage? Or hands? Or pictures run through an 8bit filter?

I would be.

I am sick and tired of the idea that to be female is to somehow be the sexual property of men I don't even fucking know. Do you know how creepy that is? The idea that someone's right to jack off to one of my body parts is so fucking important that a bunch of people want to defend it as somehow part of heterosexual male desire makes me ill.

And what really freaks me out - what keeps me up at night putting barriers between my front door and my bed because the world is so fucking threatening and I know I'm not even safe in my own fucking house - is the realization that it is 100% positive that some man I might trust enough to be alone with will feel the same fucking way as the people above, explaining that to be female in public is just to have to expect that men are going to be creepy at me, and photograph me, and masturbate to it, and I should just expect it - or even feel flattered that they deign to find me attractive, or I should be fucking worrying about the government instead of the attitudes of the men I have to live with, and that I don't have the right to be frightened and freaked out because someone somewhere got beaten up at a casino once.

Honestly, I think men should be insulted by this, that these creeps are trying to pass off their desire to photograph women against their will, deliberately surreptitiously, and then talk about us like objects, as somehow central to heterosexual desire.

Do men really think that? That it is intrinsically part of masculine sexuality to violate women you don't know? And it's ok, because it's just a picture so it's not a "real" violation, and they should be flattered anyway?
posted by Deoridhe at 1:05 AM on September 25, 2012 [20 favorites]


Asking if all men really think that because creepers in a creeper forum say those things is essentially the same as asking if all white people believe horribly racist things because some white dudes at a Klan rally said it was the natural order for blah blah blah racist drivel blah. No, no not everyone believes that.
posted by Justinian at 2:09 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Sexually arousing?" or just "Sexy?" I'm guessing that that's a distinction without a difference for you.

I think, as the young rope-rider says, that there isn't a lot to be gained by this kind of term-lawyering if the meaning is clear, but if you want to draw a distinction it can probably be done fairly simply.

The creepshooter being quoted believes that women who do not know that they are being photographed are sexy, and women who do are not - this this is a quality inherent in the woman. Whereas, looked at from the outside, the more credible difference is whether the photograph is sexually arousing to that creepshooter, which depends on whether he believes it to have been taken surreptitiously. Because that - surreptitious photography - is his fetish, and the photograph is therefore a more or less successful fetish object depending on how convinced he is that the subject does not know she is being photographed. There are no doubt permutations - from a very brief trip to the subreddit, I saw one shot titlled specifically to indicate that the subject had realized she was being photographed, but was unable to prevent it - which might be more or less exciting to different community members with different specific tastes.

For more on this, check here - basically, I've just been restating that premise in hopes of clearing up a misunderstanding.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:27 AM on September 25, 2012


Asking if all men really think that because creepers in a creeper forum say those things is essentially the same as asking if all white people believe horribly racist things because some white dudes at a Klan rally said it was the natural order for blah blah blah racist drivel blah. No, no not everyone believes that.

Then why the derails into guys getting beaten up in casinos? Why the statements that this isn't really wrong since women don't know they're being photographed? Why the derail onto the right to photograph people in public? Why does the FUCKING GOVERNMENT keep getting brought up? Why did someone upstream actually say his sex-tape is on the internet and he's fine with it, so what's the big deal?

Seriously - if it's cut and dried that this is just creepy behavior, then why are people arguing that other things are more important and we shouldn't object to this? Why are people claiming that labeling something creepy and objecting to it is tantamount to passing laws and whatever totalitarian bugaboo-of-their-choice free speech restrictions?

Seriously.

If I saw a comment thread about how yeah, there are racists and they're bad, but really I was at a klan rally and their just saying stuff and saying stuff is legal (i.e. taking pictures of people in public is legal), and you really shouldn't judge them as that bad since they're just exercising their free speech in public, and besides racism is much worse in South Africa and if we made laws against racism then we'd be just like $Totalitarian_Dictatorship_Standin, and people are just objecting to words on a screen on the internet, it's not like anyone is actually being hurt, and really you should be worried about the government being racist since that's the real problem ... I'd be damn suspicious of the people defending the racists, whatever their skintone happened to be.

I mean damn people; we've got a derail about the distinction between SEXY and SEXUALLY AROUSING - about pictures of women taken when they don't know and them published on the internet for people to masturbate to.

If this is cut and dried, clear, and everyone agrees it's wrong, I'd hate to see when we actually disagree on something.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:28 AM on September 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


The creepshooter being quoted believes that women who do not know that they are being photographed are sexy, and women who do are not - this this is a quality inherent in the woman. Whereas, looked at from the outside, the more credible difference is whether the photograph is sexually arousing to that creepshooter, which depends on whether he believes it to have been taken surreptitiously. Because that - surreptitious photography - is his fetish, and the photograph is therefore a more or less successful fetish object depending on how convinced he is that the subject does not know she is being photographed.

This posting at the site kind of nails that distinction. (Pretty much SFW, and somewhat less creepy than some photos there.) It's a totally generic shot of three women in bikini tops posing for a photo -- but what makes it a "creepshot" is that they are posing for another photographer. Taking the exact same shot (from a slight angle) but surreptitiously is what makes it exciting; the sneak photo shows, if anything, less skin and less titillating details than the posed photo probably does.

Having a fetish for voyeur photos today (and this absolutely is fetishistic) means you are rolling in options, thanks to technology changing faster than societal rules and expectations. My guess is that there are a few people with the fetish for taking the photos, but a lot more who get off on looking at the photos.
posted by Forktine at 5:21 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you think you have a right not to be photographed, it's not creepers you should be worried about. It's business and government, both of which are busily covering every flat surface in public space with camera arrays.

That's as may be, but we're not talking about that now. You are free to make your own FPP about that issue rather than belittling other people's concern on a separate issue.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:31 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


More practically I find this idea that somebody can be assaulted by having their photograph secretly taken and published on the internet more than a bit strange. How can you be assaulted and not know it even happened?

For starters you could lose your job and never find out why. Next question?

And if this really is a cultural problem, if say the popularity of "creepy shots" did participate in a general oppression of this or that group, who gets to say what exactly is and what isn't acceptable? Which photographs pass the non-creep test? See, it's one thing to say that a community must internally police itself, it's quite another to denigrate a whole community and write them off as "uncivilized," -- something that others in this thread are far too eager to do.

The problem is the community.

It is entirely possible (although rare) to take a photograph of somone with neither their knowledge nor consent and have it be non-creepy. If you are taking a landscape shot and there's someone in it who you happen to have captured at exactly the right moment due to e.g. an expression of pure joy on someone's face, it might not be ethical to crop the photograph to them and publish without their consent (because you don't know who they are), but I don't think it's creepy.

This is not what's happening here. Members of /r/creepshoots are going out with the intent to objectify women. Some of them are pursuing them, and some of them are teachers taking photos in the classroom. And the community is praising them for it. The whole basis of the community is deliberately doing something to others without their knowledge or consent and praising others for doing so.

The whole point of the community is to be creepy in a certain manner. They even say it in the name. And that is uncivilised.
posted by Francis at 6:10 AM on September 25, 2012


[Yeah, maybe we can all drop the casino and corporate surveillance derails? Thank you.]
posted by taz at 6:14 AM on September 25, 2012


I mean damn people; we've got a derail about the distinction between SEXY and SEXUALLY AROUSING

Well... I don't really get what ChurchHatesTucker is aiming to do with that distinction, certainly. And it isn't helping that I now have a Spinal Tap "what's wrong with being sexy?" earworm.

But I think the identification of this behavior as a fetish - a paraphilia, if you would rather - has some utility.

Lots of people have paraphiliac desires, to a greater or lesser degree, and the fulfilment of those desires is often subject to compromise - just like non-paraphiliac desire, really.

If you are into $activity, it might be super exciting to imagine that happening with a stranger in Target during prime shopping hours, or in your small town's church during the Sunday sermon.

However, actually doing $activity there may have consequences - legal, social and ethical. Even in environments specifically identified as sympathetic to less common (or at least more generally unacknowledged) desires, performing some activities without warning and pre-agreement is generally considered at least profoundly gauche. A degree of negotiation and compromise is required if you don't want to become at best persona non grata and at worst arrested.

Other people have desires which basically they cannot entirely satisfy, because they are impossible (like being menaced by careless giants, or being romanced by anthropomorphic cartoon characters). Others would be illegal, or extremely hard to organize. Those people often find ways of accessing their feelings which don't involve the impossible or illegal parts - writing or reading fiction, or photoshopping, or costuming, or participating in or purchasing recordings where the fetishized event is simulated.

(And, as I understand it, there is an entire subgenre of fake voyeurism in the erotic arts - where the film or photographic set is being marketed more or less on the square as stranger voyeurism or ex-partner revenge, but actually involves paid models, consent forms and the usual legalities. For a publisher of material not covered by section 230 of the CDA, the torts of invasion of privacy, false light and appropriation would be real dangers, before you even got into the really bad stuff.)

For some people, "creepshots" are probably a stand-in themselves for other desires the fulfilment of which would be harder or less legal to obtain. For others, they are satisfying that specific desire, which has pretty clear lines in to questions of consent, power and control over one's image and sexuality.

And some of those might maintain that women are objectively sexier when they do not know they are being photographed - a form of transference, basically. That's a useful delusion, because it allows one to imagine that one is doing the women a favor - showcasing their attractiveness in a way that consensual photography of which they were aware could not.

However, it isn't compulsory to succumb to this lack of self-awareness. People with unconventional desires can act responsibly to find hotness without compromising other people's boundaries. It's a negotiation that happens all the time. And having voices saying that, although $activity is legal, it has coercive or invasive elements, or is closely related to non-legal activity, is part of that negotiation.

Obviously, there are people who do not care, or who actively dislike women and want to move the Overton window on their right to feel safe in public spaces, or indeed who are excited by the knowledge that what they are doing is invasive and upsetting to women, and do it specifically for that reason rather than for the aesthetic pleasure of the photographs. But it seems like a good idea for people who might just have been inclined not to think too hard about it (because they are getting content that they find arousing) to get feedback on the broader world their arousal exists in.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:18 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you think you have a right not to be photographed, it's not creepers you should be worried about. It's business and government, both of which are busily covering every flat surface in public space with camera arrays.
...
So don't think you have a right not to be photographed. That ship sailed at least 10 years ago.


There's a difference between "a right not to be photographed" and a community of people praising each other for deliberately objectifying people in a non-consensual manner. I don't believe it's possible to avoid being photographed entirely. But this doesn't mean I want to actively encourage communities like /r/creepshoots to encourage people to make bad uses out of their cameras.

That something will happen is one thing. That a community will encourage it is another. And Reddit encourages such malevolent communities. I've said before and I'll say again. Every member of Reddit who is not a member of something like SRS is either encouraging such antisocial communities through ignorance or actively nurturing their growth.

Your attempted lawyering can, so far as I can tell be boiled down to the following:
Anything has two states: Legal or illegal.
Everything you have a right to do you should do.
The only way to discourage something is make it illegal.
If something is legal it can be done by anyone and prevalence doesn't matter.
Communities have no impact on how much something is done.

Any disagreement? Because literally the only single one of those lines that I don't consider simply and factually wrong is the first. (And the law is often enough Kafkaesque on the first).
posted by Francis at 6:27 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


As noted earlier, defenders of privilege will often resort to all sorts of nonsense and misdirection to defend their privilege. Both the original article and now many commenters have raised all kinds of very different issues -- from rape porn to upskirt shots to obvious harassment -- and tried to lump them under one umbrella so that we might more easily cast out the questionable with the bad. At this point I'm surprised we haven't simply labeled these "creeps" as terrorists and been done with the whole debate.

More practically I find this idea that somebody can be assaulted by having their photograph secretly taken and published on the internet more than a bit strange. How can you be assaulted and not know it even happened?


As noted earlier, defenders of privilege will often resort to all sorts of nonsense and misdirection to defend their privilege.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:55 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well sorry for trying to bring in a less sexually charged example.

Photography isn't assault. That isn't me telling you what not to be worried about; that's me telling you what the word means. Once you start changing the meanings of words to make a point you are on the wrong side of 1984.

Any disagreement?

That sure is a nice pile of straw men you got there, Francis. Well, except maybe for this one:

If something is legal it can be done by anyone and prevalence doesn't matter.

That is pretty much the case, whether you like it or not. At risk of another derail, the New Orleans city council recently passed a law restricting the street preachers who harangue our tourists on Bourbon Street. There was nearly universal support for this ordinance; the businesses don't like these guys, the tourists don't like them, even a lot of the more mainstream churches don't like them because they're an embarrassment. Their purpose is to make people who are trying to enjoy our city and have fun uncomfortable.

And you know what? That ordinance was struck down, because in the United States you have the right to be obnoxious in public. It doesn't matter how many people you offend or creep out, you have the right to loudly remind people who are trying to party that they're on the road to Hell.

The fact is you have some people who will do things they shouldn't and who will not be discouraged by the community. That is a fact of life in many unrelated spheres of activity, and when you encounter such people it pretty much does come down to the law.

And with regard to the creepsters, we've already seen upthread an example where a completely innocent photo of girls who were posing was a creepshot because they were posing for another photographer. This points out a key thing everyone is missing; it's not how the photograph was taken that makes it a creepshot, it's that the viewer knows how the photograph was taken that makes it jerkoff material.

The law can address whether you can be photographed without your permission. I have tried to explain with a non sexually charged example why that is never going to be illegal.

What makes the involuntary photography work for the creepers is textbook thoughtcrime. And that should never be illegal for other reasons which I hope are obvious.

And while there are lots of things which people shouldn't do, and creepshots are definitely on that list, just like the obnoxious street preachers there are people who are going to do things everyone agrees they shouldn't no matter how little you like their activities unless you can force them to stop. I am not saying that is a good thing; I am just asserting that that is reality. Attempting to work outside of that reality is not going to lead to any kind of success or improvement.
posted by localroger at 7:10 AM on September 25, 2012


Yeah, but reddit has the power to shut the subreddit down, constitution or no. I don't think many people in this thread are suggesting banning the activity legally (which IMO would be intrusive and impractical)
posted by empath at 7:24 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


In this case Reddit is the entity that is not going to be dissuaded by the community. They think they are doing the morally right thing by defending freedom. You can try, as the SomethingAwful gang did, and I wouldn't even try to dissuade you. But I don't really think it was the SA harassment that persuaded them to drop the jailbait subreddits so much as the legal situation.
posted by localroger at 7:27 AM on September 25, 2012


Just fyi to those who are not familiar, "jailbait subreddits" is a euphemism for the child porn subreddits.
posted by mlis at 7:36 AM on September 25, 2012


But I don't really think it was the SA harassment that persuaded them to drop the jailbait subreddits so much as the legal situation.

If so, they'd have dropped it a bit earlier, like when it nearly won Most Popular Subreddit in 2008. I doubt they'd fail to recognize a legal threat at that point.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:41 AM on September 25, 2012


How on earth is this a free speech issue. Free speech is about talking truth to power, not taking skeezy photos of women. And it's very much not about those who have the power using the rhetoric of free speech to just do whatever they want.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:46 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


euphemism for child porn

Some of the jailbait moderators would insist that they screened out all images showing genitalia, and therefore not child porn. However, the child porn laws and case law are kind of gray on whether you can be prosecuted for yanking off to a nominally unsexual image of a child.

Free speech is about talking truth to power, not taking skeezy photos of women.

The ACLU and a lot of lawyers and activists would appear to disagree with you. To be fair, that can be considered a fairly extreme position, but it appears to be Reddit's position too.
posted by localroger at 7:58 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Once you start changing the meanings of words to make a point you are on the wrong side of 1984.

Actually, the point about Newspeak was that it removed metaphorical richness and ambiguity from the language. So, the 1984 side - if we are continuing to refer to what sometime feels like the MetaFilter version of The Cat in the Hat like it was an ultimate arbiter of linguistic ethics - would be to remove the possibility of describing being secretly photographed in metaphorical terms such as assault. The aim of Newspeak is to remove undesirable concepts - like Freedom - but also to create a totally unambiguous language, which therefore can be used with minimal thought or non-functional input from the speaker and the hearer.

I know 1984 is cited more often than it is quoted, and there is a reason for that, but it's not a particularly useful appeal to authority in this case. When you start changing the meaning of the word "Newspeak" to make a point etc.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:00 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


If so, they'd have dropped it a bit earlier, like when it nearly won Most Popular Subreddit in 2008.

I honestly think what happened was that they were confident in their interpretation of the law, and only called an actual lawyer because of the SA harassment. I think that if the lawyer had told them they were in the clear on child porn laws, they wouldn't have caved so quickly if at all.

Reddit has a hell of a lot of users who are not going to leave because a small corner of the community is obnoxious. It's very clear from some of the quotes in articles about them that they are big on free speech absolutism. They may be businessmen, but they are also idealists who are obviously willing to put up with a lot of cruft to stick to their principles.

Actually, the point about Newspeak was that it removed metaphorical richness and ambiguity from the language.

I thought it was also to redefine freedom as slavery, war as peace, and a few other such substitutions.
posted by localroger at 8:06 AM on September 25, 2012


Er, okay. So why don't you think they called a lawyer earlier? I mean, they probably did talk to some lawyer or other since becoming aware of /r/jailbait, being that they are a business and have to deal with permits and taxes and the like. And it just didn't come up? It's the sort of thing I'd expect them to check on pretty regularly, with or without /r/jailbait, since they're in the business of hosting controversial content.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:10 AM on September 25, 2012


Fair enough, but is this really the hill to fight to the death on? I don't agree with state censorship, but at some point free speech fundamentalism just becomes a trite fig leaf for bad people doing bad things. I don't disagree with the principle, but there are other ethical concerns apart from guaranteeing free speech that need to be taken into account. It is one right to be balanced with many many others.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:15 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought it was also to redefine freedom as slavery, war as peace, and a few other such substitutions.

I fear not - what you are saying is, in fact, directly and explicitly contradicted by the text. "Freedom is slavery" is Oldspeak. You can tell because it is using abstract concepts and a metaphorical/rhetorical device. Quoting from the actual book:
Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like 'freedom is slavery' when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
If you want to abolish metaphorical language, and especially metaphorical language advancing concepts with which you disagree, you are very much on the side of Big Brother.

(Not that I think that's a useful statement to make, because, as has just been demonstrated, 1984 comparisons tend not to be very useful.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:21 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


And I should point out here that I don't mean rights in a legalistic sense, but rather the underlying set of moral values.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:21 AM on September 25, 2012


running order, my point has nothing to do with Newspeak and everything to do with "Freedom is Slavery." That was very much a slogan in 1984 and while yes, in the idealized future such a slogan might be made impossible, it was very much possible and present within the novel.

Anyway, back in 2012 we have this word, assault, both the legal and common dictionary definitions of which require physical contact. That is the very essential meaning of the word, not a shade or matter of emphasis. So unless the photographer grabs you by the shirt in order to get you in the frame, photography cannot be assault. Calling it that is very simply wrong, and wrong in a very maliciously deliberate way.
posted by localroger at 8:26 AM on September 25, 2012


In this case Reddit is the entity that is not going to be dissuaded by the community. They think they are doing the morally right thing by defending freedom. You can try, as the SomethingAwful gang did, and I wouldn't even try to dissuade you. But I don't really think it was the SA harassment that persuaded them to drop the jailbait subreddits so much as the legal situation.

I don't particularly care one way or the other. I guess that reddit has made the decision that their advertising money and reputation is not at risk, but man, there is so much in various sites to clobber them with of they ever make an enemy (spaceclop, incest, picsofdeadkids, creepshots) and their cozy relationship with violentacrez is going to bite them in the ass some day.
posted by empath at 8:29 AM on September 25, 2012


Fair enough, but is this really the hill to fight to the death on?

If I may paraphrase one of my own critics, you don't get to decide what Reddit worries about. They will decide that for themselves. They are obviously more worried about that whole free speech slippery slope thing than your protest, at least so far.
posted by localroger at 8:29 AM on September 25, 2012


Well so far as it is making them more money than less money.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:33 AM on September 25, 2012


[localroger, can you maybe take a break from this thread for a bit or have you and ROSF take some of this to email? It's becoming you vs. everyone in a way that is not that condusive for group discussion.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:33 AM on September 25, 2012


localroger: "both the legal and common dictionary definitions of which require physical contact."

No, that would be battery. Assault requires no physical contact.
posted by the_artificer at 8:36 AM on September 25, 2012


erk, mea culpa on assault vs. battery. On that note I will take jessamyn's advice; if my larger point is not made by now it's not going to be. Sometimes, as much as we would like to "do something about" a situation, there isn't really anything useful to be done. Frankly I'd encourage anyone who feels strongly enough about it to mount a campaign of persuasion against Reddit. While I have my doubts about how effective it would be you never know just how far ideals extend over pragmatism, and all I have is an opinion on that matter.
posted by localroger at 8:50 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure thing - sorry about the 1984 derail, everyone. It's a bugbear.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:29 AM on September 25, 2012


The fact is you have some people who will do things they shouldn't and who will not be discouraged by the community. That is a fact of life in many unrelated spheres of activity, and when you encounter such people it pretty much does come down to the law.

You are dealing with irrelevancies here. The point is not that there are some people who are never going to be discouraged by the community. The point is that many people are encouraged by the community. And there are two layers of community encouraging people to make creepshoots. The first level is the members of the creepshoot community. The second level is the people like you who say that having a creepshoot community on a website you are proud to be part of is just fine. That second level community itself is encouraging the creep community to thrive.

The law can address whether you can be photographed without your permission. I have tried to explain with a non sexually charged example why that is never going to be illegal.

No. This is you once again jumping back to your strawman. That something is legal isn't the same as condoning it. Happy to share a space with it is condoning it. There are things I wish people wouldn't do. Like preach hellfire. I also think they should be legal. We agree here.

textbook thoughtcrime. And that should never be illegal for other reasons which I hope are obvious.

I thought so too. When I was sixteen. Motive matters. Murder is homicide with intent. Your intent matters when you do something.

if my larger point is not made by now it's not going to be. Sometimes, as much as we would like to "do something about" a situation, there isn't really anything useful to be done

But your entire point revolves round the idea that there is only one possible thing to be done. Make it illegal.

I've suggested several others. The first is to kick the creeps to somewhere private that will be regarded like Stormfront.org. That's doing something. A second is to persuade Conde Naste (or whoever owns them) to regulate Reddit because this is bad for their image. A third is to nuke the site that has its feminism subreddit moderated by mens rights advocate from orbit. A fourth is to show Reddit's userbase exactly what they are enabling - and with luck the decent ones will leave. And the ones who don't are enabling /r/creepshots and /r/upskirt by providing a large supportive community to the community supporting the creeps.

Your point appears to be that there is only one thing to do about reddit - and that is to involve the law. There are others. And you keep trying to drag things back to the legal issue. Which is a diversion.
posted by Francis at 9:49 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I'll say is that as someone who takes a lot of photos, who enjoys taking photos and sometimes gets paid for taking photos, creepers make my life harder and less fun. What they're doing is legal, and their community is legal, but it's a bunch of guys showing that they don't care about a woman's consent.

From that position, when something like this comes up in conversation and a guy digs in deep to defend the creeps' right to be creepy, I assume that he's someone who is a creeper and who doesn't care about women's consent. (I might modify that depending on the way that he defends them, but it's going to be the basic assumption.)

Now, for the folks here who will say that's unfair: Well, what's the harm if I think you're a lecherous creeper? It's not illegal to think you're a creep, to discount things that you say about consent and feminism and to assume that you think getting off is more important than being a decent human being. It's not illegal to assume that your defenses come from self-interest and write them off as "Whatevs, creeper."

Maybe you don't mean to come across like that, but given the pains you're taking to exhume every possible defense of the creepers, and the minimal pains you're taking to distance yourself from them, it seems more likely than not, and it's something you should be aware of. You're not the ACLU, and even the ACLU acts in some pretty circumscribed circumstances and makes arguments that are pretty clear about morality versus the law, and since the law isn't the question here, the effort expended seems based on a weird morality where no one is allowed to tell creepers that they're creepy and that being creepy is not a good thing.

Creepers make the world worse. Unless there's some sort of real danger to them, defending them is masturbatory and makes you look like a creeper.
posted by klangklangston at 10:29 AM on September 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


If I'm going to graciously bow out, could we please do without the slanderous parting shots?
posted by localroger at 11:28 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The slander factor has been high on this thread. Such is life when discussing topics like this on MeFi. I can at least take comfort in the knowledge that people would act even worse elsewhere.
posted by wierdo at 11:53 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a known link between positive social feedback and continuing and/or escalating behavior. So, this community of people that upvote and comment favorably are actually encouraging more of these pictures to be taken. That’s why I have a problem with it existing. I have a problem with it being lauded because it means that more boys will follow me around the grocery store trying to secretly take pictures of me. It means that I have to ask a checker or bagger to walk me to my car because some of these guys follow me to the parking lot, and even make moves to follow me in their cars. This is not a hypothetical.

Yesterday, a bagger accompanied me out of a grocery store and stood behind a guy’s car so that he could not follow me out of the parking lot. It put her in danger, and I am very grateful that she did it. So, if you’re saying that these communities do no harm? I’m not buying it. Without the community, these are the sorts of things that teenage boys do for a few weeks and get over. It’s not socially acceptable and they aren’t lauded for it except by their small circle of friends that are also failing to get girlfriends. They grow up and move on. Social reinforcement makes the world a scarier place for me to live in. It makes these kids feel like it’s OK to follow me around and attempt to follow me home.

Every time someone speaks up and says it’s OK for men to follow me around secretly? It makes me feel a little less safe. Because I have been on the receiving end of it. It’s creepy, and it sucks. It makes me feel on edge whenever I’m in public, and I would love to just go shopping, or get a drink or go to the movies without looking behind me for the jerk trying to take my picture. Because in my experience, if they don’t get the shot they want, they’ll keep following you until they do. And like hell I want them following me to my final destination.

So, three options. 1) Confront a person who is doing a creepy thing and you don’t know. And then may get violent and behave worse. 2) Ignore it and try to lose them. 3) Enlist help. And you know what? I enlist help every time. And these cowards usually back off and try to act like they’re not doing anything, because they know they should be ashamed. So, what do I want? I want people to step up and provide help. And a HUGE part of that is saying to creepers “This is not OK. This thing you are doing is making it hard for other people to enjoy their lives, and it’s making them feel threatened. You need to stop.” Because when it’s not socially acceptable and socially rewarded, it loses some of the fun. You’re not part of the band of brothers taking a stand against those prudes. You’re just a loser that people are calling out for being a creep.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:18 PM on September 25, 2012 [21 favorites]


Creepers make the world worse. Unless there's some sort of real danger to them, defending them is masturbatory and makes you look like a creeper.

And then there are those of us who are very suspicious when we see a whole community being isolated, denigrated, mocked, and harassed by what is pretty much a witch hunt. In this thread we've seen everything for calls to "shutdown" the creeper community (whatever that means) to comparisons to rape porn to the sort of casual dismissal offered here.

I guess I don't see why it can't be the case that (1) what the creepers are doing disgusts me (2) but hey, if that's their thing. This idea that creepers are causing some sort of public harm, that they're holding rallies a la the KKK or that they're out there encouraging non-creepers to creep (what? really?) -- it's all so very showy. When does somebody ask us to think of the children?

Look, there are people out there who are into some pretty sordid stuff. (Creepers, on the whole, are pretty damn tame.) And the wonderful world wide web allows such people to find other people. This is, believe it or not, a good thing. The combination of isolation and deviancy is really, actually dangerous and often leads to tragedy. And as long as these communities conduct their affairs in private and harm nobody then we should allow them to live in peace. I would be more concerned if we were talking about a television show or a magazine as these do intrude upon the public marketplace but we're not. We're talking about a discussion board.

If I saw a comment thread about how yeah, there are racists and they're bad, but really I was at a klan rally and their just saying stuff and saying stuff is legal (i.e. taking pictures of people in public is legal), and you really shouldn't judge them as that bad since they're just exercising their free speech in public

I think it's telling that we keep seeing these sorts of comparisons because last I checked the creepers weren't holding rallies, in fact they weren't trying to impose themselves onto the public sphere in any way and I can't imagine (though they may protest otherwise) they want any kind of publicity that is accompanied with a witchhunt.

Every time someone speaks up and says it’s OK for men to follow me around secretly? It makes me feel a little less safe. Because I have been on the receiving end of it.

I think you're welcome to such feelings. I know some people who don't feel comfortable about black people and others who get tense around tweens. These are the consequences of going outside: you're going to meet all sorts of people, some nice, some not. But if we are to go around intent on confronting anybody who makes us uncomfortable then we won't have time to do much else. (And how we make this leap from what creepers do to stalking women, I don't know. It's another case where creepers seem to be standing in for all sorts of other malefactors from guys who verbally harass women to the sort of guy who would follow a woman home. I would think that reasonable people can agree that one of these things is not like the other.)
posted by nixerman at 3:35 PM on September 25, 2012


guys who verbally harass women to the sort of guy who would follow a woman home.

The leap from one to the other can be frighteningly quick.

I would think that reasonable people can agree that one of these things is not like the other.


I'm reasonable and I reasonably disagree.

Look, this is not an issue for you, to such a degree that you cannot imagine it being an issue for any other person, to the point that any person who might think it is an issue is being "showy" or unreasonable or just doesn't understand the risks they take when they go outside.

So...go ahead and have that not be an issue for you I guess. But to a lot of people this is real and disturbing and unacceptable, and those people are speaking up in this thread and they want change. Repeatedly telling them they are wrong and that there's nothing to be done is unhelpful to say the least.
posted by sweetkid at 3:47 PM on September 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


If I asked her, she would say no. So I'll just do it. Anyhow, it wouldn't be the same if she said yes...

It's like touch football, but for, you know, rape.
posted by Iteki at 3:48 PM on September 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


(And how we make this leap from what creepers do to stalking women, I don't know. It's another case where creepers seem to be standing in for all sorts of other malefactors from guys who verbally harass women to the sort of guy who would follow a woman home. I would think that reasonable people can agree that one of these things is not like the other.)

I do not agree that one of these things is not like the other, because one does not know for sure until it is too late. The cost-benefit analysis here is pretty clear, and if someone who is "merely" a creeper (!) thinks it's unfair to be bundled into the "potential stalker" category, I have a tiny violin right here for him.

I've been followed more times than I can count. I've had pleading negotiations with taxi drivers to take me as a fare even though my destination is only four blocks away, so that I can lose the creepy dude who has been following me for the last half mile.

A creeper has shown he does not respect my dignity as a person. It is reasonable for me to say I don't want to find out how far that disrespect will allow him to go.
posted by ambrosia at 4:19 PM on September 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


"And then there are those of us who are very suspicious when we see a whole community being isolated, denigrated, mocked, and harassed by what is pretty much a witch hunt. In this thread we've seen everything for calls to "shutdown" the creeper community (whatever that means) to comparisons to rape porn to the sort of casual dismissal offered here."

Yeah, it's so much worse for people who call themselves creepers to be called creepy for being intentionally creepy than it is to follow women around and try to snap sexual pictures of them without their knowledge of consent. Whatevs.

"I guess I don't see why it can't be the case that (1) what the creepers are doing disgusts me (2) but hey, if that's their thing. This idea that creepers are causing some sort of public harm, that they're holding rallies a la the KKK or that they're out there encouraging non-creepers to creep (what? really?) -- it's all so very showy. When does somebody ask us to think of the children?"

Their community does encourage people to push the boundaries of socially accepted behavior in a way that many women here have said makes them uncomfortable — they even have a direct metric for that (upbotes). And someone already asked us to think of the children: that's when Jailbait got shut down.

"Look, there are people out there who are into some pretty sordid stuff. (Creepers, on the whole, are pretty damn tame.) And the wonderful world wide web allows such people to find other people. This is, believe it or not, a good thing.

Can be, but isn't necessarily and treating it as such is naively simplistic. "Is Anyone Up" and 4Chan aren't exactly harmless in the broader world.

The combination of isolation and deviancy is really, actually dangerous and often leads to tragedy. And as long as these communities conduct their affairs in private and harm nobody then we should allow them to live in peace. I would be more concerned if we were talking about a television show or a magazine as these do intrude upon the public marketplace but we're not. We're talking about a discussion board."

… which is owned by one of the largest magazine publishers in the world.

And they're not conducting their affairs in private — the creepshots are explicitly taken in public.

Why, again, are you spending so much energy to mount such a dubious defense?

"I think it's telling that we keep seeing these sorts of comparisons because last I checked the creepers weren't holding rallies, in fact they weren't trying to impose themselves onto the public sphere in any way and I can't imagine (though they may protest otherwise) they want any kind of publicity that is accompanied with a witchhunt. "

Dude, think about what you're writing — they're not imposing themselves on the public except by taking pictures of women in public without their consent for the purpose of perving. You don't have to hold rallies to be in public. Further, the Klan is an extreme example that shows the absurdity of the appeal to legalism. Try to recognize that.

"I think you're welcome to such feelings. I know some people who don't feel comfortable about black people and others who get tense around tweens. These are the consequences of going outside: you're going to meet all sorts of people, some nice, some not. But if we are to go around intent on confronting anybody who makes us uncomfortable then we won't have time to do much else. (And how we make this leap from what creepers do to stalking women, I don't know. It's another case where creepers seem to be standing in for all sorts of other malefactors from guys who verbally harass women to the sort of guy who would follow a woman home. I would think that reasonable people can agree that one of these things is not like the other.)"

Speaking of weak analogies: Really? Not liking creepers is like being racist? And going outside means hey ladies, you gonna get harassed but hey, this dude doesn't think that's a very big problem? (Maybe because it doesn't happen to him.)

I really don't understand this from you, nixerman, you're usually more on the ball than this.
posted by klangklangston at 4:21 PM on September 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is interesting how surreptitious photography mutated into following and stalking. No wonder people were upset at folks saying there's not a lot that can be done about it. One set of people was thinking of this thing that is annoying, although loosely correlated with future escalation, but not something that can ultimately be controlled or legislated against while another set was thinking of this other thing that is genuinely threatening by anyone's standard.

Understanding reached, I think.
posted by wierdo at 4:28 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


And how we make this leap from what creepers do to stalking women, I don't know.

And not knowing can be pretty contagious - sort of the ignorovirus. But! There are also over-the-counter treatments.

One could, for example, compare the analysis of what is actually uploaded to imgur from the subreddit with the figure being drawn of the considerate creeper - who is never seen, who takes one picture and then departs without following, who always anonymizes and who never takes an actionable picture (one which violates a reasonable expectation of privacy, say) or uploads a picture of a minor. That would be a way to know more things, and thus have to guess at fewer.

One could also look at the threads on MetaFilter where women have described how initially sketchy but relatively quote-unquote harmless behavior (staring, hanging around, repeatedly attempting to initiate conversation, and I would guess more or less invisibly taking phone pictures) has escalated rapidly to following, yelling abuse, threats of violence, and a genuine sense of danger - and sometimes to assault.

That's been talked about plenty of times, with accounts drawn from the lived experience of members of Metafilter. These feel like they might be useful data points on the knowing/not knowing front also.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:46 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


And then there are those of us who are very suspicious when we see a whole community being isolated, denigrated, mocked, and harassed by what is pretty much a witch hunt.

I know! Imagine, this poor community that exists to harass and mock and denigrate being on the end of it themselves!

It is interesting how surreptitious photography mutated into following and stalking.

Look at all the photos where the photographer is following the woman in front of him. How did you think that happened? Do you genuinely think it's always happenstance? You honestly imagine that a self-described creeper restricts himself to taking shots of women that he simply happens to encounter.

Understanding reached, I think.

I'll say.
posted by gladly at 5:15 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


And not knowing can be pretty contagious - sort of the ignorovirus. But! There are also over-the-counter treatments.

Or you could admit that this idea that there is significant overlap between the creeper community and guys who actually harass, stalk and intimidate women is nonsense. Really. At this point I get the feeling people have used so many codewords and extreme examples that it's not even clear anymore that we're talking about guys who take a few photos of women in public. The same thing teenage fashion-obsessed girls and drunk college students do everyday.

Dude, think about what you're writing — they're not imposing themselves on the public except by taking pictures of women in public without their consent for the purpose of perving.

This isn't a public imposition. People are allowed to take photos in public areas and use them for whatever reasons they want. Whether you use such photos for masturbation or whether you want to ridicule fat people or whether you want to give them to your grandma, who cares. But if you really want to make a stand for photographic consent then I'd suggest aiming a bit higher. But then maybe nobody really likes constantly being surveilled and we've finally found a suitable target in creepers? I guess I get it. Nobody likes tourists.

The whole thing reeks. The alarmist news articles, the ridiculous exaggerations, the desperate attempts to lump in guys with cellphones with rapists -- it's all just an excuse for one gang to set upon another. It's blog spam.

And someone already asked us to think of the children: that's when Jailbait got shut down.

And this is like the r/jailbait situation how? Are we to add child porn to the ever growing list of creeper crimes? Is there anything that these guys don't do? And here I had so much faith in my fellow man.

A creeper has shown he does not respect my dignity as a person. It is reasonable for me to say I don't want to find out how far that disrespect will allow him to go.

If you think this is about dignity then perhaps you've actually managed to fool yourself. Lots of people get disrespected everyday. They get photographed when they don't want to, they get laughed at, whispered at, and sometimes they really are actually violently assaulted just because of who they are and how they present themselves to the world. These are the people whose dignity has been denied. You got your photo taken by a guy with a cellphone.
posted by nixerman at 5:25 PM on September 25, 2012


gladly: "Look at all the photos where the photographer is following the woman in front of him."

The description provided earlier made me aware that I had no interest whatsoever in taking in the content of that subreddit, so I'll take your word for it that stalkers also post in it. That is not, however, what had previously been described in this thread.
posted by wierdo at 5:29 PM on September 25, 2012


Well, if you have no interest in looking at the source material, which is entirely fair, you probably need to be quite careful about what you base your beliefs on, if not that source material. The articles are one possibly. But people have been pretty enthusiastically demonstrating that they are not necessarily reading the articles, or in many cases the thread. Nixerman has just stated pretty clearly that he has no interest in knowing things when he could just reckon them, and is making confident statements about things he either cannot know, or is simply working hard not to absorb any data on.

There is actually an empirically observable set of content on the subreddit, although it is an incomplete set. I can absolutely sympathize with not wanting to encounter it. However, deciding not to do this and then telling people that their conclusions are wrong based on that absence of empirical knowledge and/or knowledge of secondary analysis requires quite some dexterity, or failing that chutzpah.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:47 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


For starters you could lose your job and never find out why. Next question?

that seems pretty unrealistic, unless you can get fired for pictures of you in public being on the internet.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:09 PM on September 25, 2012


ambrosia : I do not agree that one of these things is not like the other, because one does not know for sure until it is too late.

Anyone you pass on the street could step in behind you and slit your throat, for reasons you'd never know.

That does not mean you should treat everyone as a potential murderer.
posted by pla at 6:23 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"This isn't a public imposition. People are allowed to take photos in public areas and use them for whatever reasons they want. Whether you use such photos for masturbation or whether you want to ridicule fat people or whether you want to give them to your grandma, who cares. But if you really want to make a stand for photographic consent then I'd suggest aiming a bit higher. But then maybe nobody really likes constantly being surveilled and we've finally found a suitable target in creepers? I guess I get it. Nobody likes tourists."

Yeah, actually, it is. I photograph in public a lot, and it is an imposition on people. And I'm pretty well versed in the critical discussion about consent in photography.

But hey, keep going with your textbook dissertation on why other people's concerns aren't important because they don't affect you.

The whole thing reeks. The alarmist news articles, the ridiculous exaggerations, the desperate attempts to lump in guys with cellphones with rapists -- it's all just an excuse for one gang to set upon another. It's blog spam. "

Bullshit. And your defenses are the sort of enabling dissembling that makes creepers able to escalate into following women, into catcalling them, into harassing them.

This isn't a gang — it's people saying they're fed up with assholes making their lives worse, and you're spending your time gnashing and rending about the poor creepers. Why?

"And this is like the r/jailbait situation how? Are we to add child porn to the ever growing list of creeper crimes? Is there anything that these guys don't do? And here I had so much faith in my fellow man."

Uh, it's like the r/jailbait in that … wait a second, it was your idiotic appeal to "think of the children" to begin with.

"If you think this is about dignity then perhaps you've actually managed to fool yourself. Lots of people get disrespected everyday. They get photographed when they don't want to, they get laughed at, whispered at, and sometimes they really are actually violently assaulted just because of who they are and how they present themselves to the world. These are the people whose dignity has been denied. You got your photo taken by a guy with a cellphone."

Bad things aren't bad because something else is worse?

So, if I just wrote you off as a creeper caught out, that'd be fine, because Jock Sturges?

But please, mansplain some more on how this stuff isn't harmful at all, man, because it never impacts your life so whatevs.
posted by klangklangston at 6:25 PM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Anyone you pass on the street could step in behind you and slit your throat, for reasons you'd never know.

That does not mean you should treat everyone as a potential murderer.
"

Pla, this really isn't a good place to launch in with a reductive and misguided appeal to false syllogism.
posted by klangklangston at 6:27 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, wait----would people be okay with creepshots so long as they don't escalate into stalking, harassment, or other things that materially affect the person being photographed? Or is the very act of being photographed, and having that photograph used for masturbation, the harm?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:54 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm okay with people doing it in a legal sense, not because I approve of the behavior, but because I think it would be a pain in the ass to enforce and would get a lot of false positives. And also, the whole free speech thing. But just like a whole bunch of other asshole-ish behaviors that I think people shouldn't be fined or go to jail for doing, I still think its a shitty thing to do, and that people should have the right to express disapproval of it, and lean on corporations not to fund it or encourage it, directly or indirectly.

Someone really needs to start a campaign to name and shame reddit advertisers and politicians that are engaging with the 'reddit community' until the 'reddit community' gets their shit together and demands that the site be cleaned up.

Reddit has to decide if they are a red light district or a place where presidents do AMAs. I don't think that doing both will be tenable for them for very much longer.
posted by empath at 7:21 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Reddit has to decide if they are a red light district or a place where presidents do AMAs.

Their power is that they are both at the same time.
posted by localroger at 7:30 PM on September 25, 2012


Or is the very act of being photographed, and having that photograph used for masturbation, the harm?

The harm, I think, is not just that the creep-photographer is masturbating to the photo, but that he's gaining additional sexual excitement because the subject of the photo is totally unaware that a photo even exists. A crucial part of his sexual arousal is that he's "participating" in a sex act that is inherently non-consensual, because the "other party" in the sex act can't give her consent.

This seems like pretty strong evidence (to me, anyway) that the creep-photographer, on at least some level, doesn't think that women are Real People.

And then, as stoneweaver points out above, "There is a known link between positive social feedback and continuing and/or escalating behavior." So the r/creepshots sub-reddit serves as a place to give & receive that positive social feedback, reinforcing the idea that "Women Are Not Real People" and the idea that non-consensual sex is OK. Supposedly only OK under the specific circumstances of creepshot photography, but the entire concept of "non-consensual sex is OK" is not a concept I'd like to see spread.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:35 PM on September 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


"So, wait----would people be okay with creepshots so long as they don't escalate into stalking, harassment, or other things that materially affect the person being photographed? Or is the very act of being photographed, and having that photograph used for masturbation, the harm?"

I'm not going to speak to anyone else's experience, but for me, I'd be OK with it if it didn't contribute to an environment where I get hassled for taking innocent pictures, and where it didn't tacitly encourage assholish behavior including stalking and catcalling. Unfortunately, I think that both of those things are kind of in the ontology of "creepshots."
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread makes me fucking sick. The defense of this is absolutely disgusting.

Requoting Deoridhe for truth: I am sick and tired of the idea that to be female is to somehow be the sexual property of men I don't even fucking know. Do you know how creepy that is? The idea that someone's right to jack off to one of my body parts is so fucking important that a bunch of people want to defend it as somehow part of heterosexual male desire makes me ill...Honestly, I think men should be insulted by this...

And also, thanks to windykites: Some commenters have made it very clear that they don't think this is a big deal, that they don't believe any real harm has been done, that this is not harassment, that this is not threatening, and even that the victims have no right to be upset over this or that they should just not care, because it would make them feel better to not care.

I expected better. I don't think I can participate here any more.
posted by agregoli at 8:08 PM on September 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Or is the very act of being photographed, and having that photograph used for masturbation, the harm?

You're forgetting the public aspect of it and the fact that they're publishing the photos and commenting on them in sexual ways, without the consent of the women involved. There is also implied use of their photo for masturbation, and again, it's not a fantasy, it's being discussed in a large public group setting.

A lot of people are treating like this is private, but it's not.

If this weren't on the internet--if someone just had a projector on a busy sidewalk and was putting up random pictures of women and inviting the crowd to comment on their "ass" or how they're dressed like "sluts", would that be okay because free speech, doesn't hurt anyone to fantasize? Because it's obvious that would be fucked up and that the women would feel violated and threatened, and it's incredibly similar to what's happening here.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:13 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I missed this before now:

And perhaps ostracizing people based on what they get off on (presuming it's legal and harmless) is revolting and wrong.

No one is ostracizing anyone, in fact these people are being supported and defended by you, among other people, and they're being given free hosting by reddit. I would also like to say as someone who has some pretty seriously non-mainstream kinks, don't do this. Don't lump people's consensual and weird fetishes or fantasies with this non-consensual harmful bullshit. By the way, I also started the Fetlife group for Mefites and have run it for years with a few other people so that mefites would have a place to talk about fetishes/kinks/BDSM, like the kink-shaming uptight priss that I am.

Though you might argue that what these guys isn't harmless but such arguments reek of pretension eg they are harming "the gender."

HOW DARE YOU JUDGE MY PRETENSIONS! Seriously, though, if your best counter to an argument is that you think it's pretentious, maybe your position is based more on knee-jerk defensiveness than on thought.

It is a little funny though. If these guys were jerking off to pictures of women's feet I wonder if there would be as much outrage? Or hands? Or pictures run through an 8bit filter? It's like somewhere along the line a private fetish crosses "the line" and suddenly everybody is up in arms and rushes to judgement. But then wasn't property invented to account for taste? Didn't we put up fences very much because we didn't want to know what our creepy neighbors are getting up to?

Then our creepy neighbors published it to the internet. And if you're trying to imply that it wouldn't be wrong if these were pictures of body parts that aren't typically seen as sexual (the "society makes you uptight and that's why you want to have boundaries like a silly follower" argument) I will disagree. What makes it creepy is the lack of consent, the sexualiztion, and the publication.

Anyways such hapless attempts to reign in sexual desires or ghettoize this or that group of deviants is always doomed to fail but I guess we are now becoming acutely aware of that failure in real-time. Questions of property can no longer be settled so easily by appealing to propriety. It seems the web is bringing us closer together whether we like it or not.

Oh, so the problem is that women are uptight and don't understand that our desire not to be talked about sexually in public is just...I can't. I can't follow you here because you seem to be saying that unless someone has zero boundaries that they're making their body property or...? It's really not making sense in this context. And no one is "ghettoizing" them, they're on a huge public mainstream website. Their bandwith comes from Conde Naste, for fuck's sake.

Also, I don't know why you think taking a photograph (conscious and purposeful action) with a camera (object) and then posting that photo online (conscious and purposeful action) and titling that photograph (conscious and purposeful action) is equal to "sexual desires" (thoughts or urges).

Finally, your attempt to place these men as some kind of oppressed sexual minority is ignorant of the history of this kind of treatment of women. These men are mainstream and part of the sexual majority--hetero men using women's bodies for their sexual pleasure with no acknowledgment of the women's humanity or agency is about as mainstream as you can get.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:32 PM on September 25, 2012 [24 favorites]


empath writes "Yeah, but reddit has the power to shut the subreddit down, constitution or no. I don't think many people in this thread are suggesting banning the activity legally (which IMO would be intrusive and impractical)"

It's interesting to think, in a thought experiment sort of way, of a society with constitutional freedom of expression but where any given group is defacto unable to express their ideas because no corporation will do business with them. After all if this wasn't happening on reddit but rather via private hosting the same arguments about non involved redditors supporting the group that are being made here could apply to that private hosting company. And then if the group owned their own hosting the argument could move up a level to the backbone providers at which point we are all culpable.

gladly writes "Look at all the photos where the photographer is following the woman in front of him. How did you think that happened? Do you genuinely think it's always happenstance? You honestly imagine that a self-described creeper restricts himself to taking shots of women that he simply happens to encounter. "

Ugh it going to sound like I'm defending these twits but ya it's entirely possible it's happenstance (at least to the limit of being in the right place at the right time) most of the time. Sit on any moderately busy street corner and you are bound to see someone you'd find attractive walk by every few minutes. Go for a stroll on popular, warm ,sunny beach and you can just flit from attractive person to attractive person. Especially considering so many of the photos seem to focus on individual body parts. A college campus, a mall, or any where people go to be seen is a Smörgåsbord of creeper photo opportunity.
posted by Mitheral at 8:37 PM on September 25, 2012


[Comment deleted; this conversation is difficult enough without personal attacks and insults.]
posted by taz at 3:15 AM on September 26, 2012


Ugh it going to sound like I'm defending these twits but ya it's entirely possible it's happenstance (at least to the limit of being in the right place at the right time) most of the time.

Given that the person you are responding to was referencing a specific thing he or she had seen, and you, sight apparently unseen, are imagining why he or she has misunderstood it...

I think that, again, while there are very good reasons for not wanting to look at these pictures, one is going to have to choose between being totally pure and being somewhat informed. In this instance, cursory examination reveals both multiple shots of the same woman, taken sequentially, and at least one upload with a title like "I had to walk past three times to get this picture"...

I think this conversation is also made difficult when people with knowledge are being corrected by people without knowledge. Qv also, to a degree, the confident assertions about the law (section 230 safe harbor, the tortious nature of photography, the legal meaning of assault), which have been more or less comprehensively wrong... there is probably no way to fix this, but it is awkward.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:19 AM on September 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


it's entirely possible it's happenstance (at least to the limit of being in the right place at the right time) most of the time.

Well, in the specific case of r/creepshots, I don't think there's enough info to really suss out how and when any of these photos were taken - whether they're one-shot happenstance or closer to intentional stalking. Hell, I'm pretty sure an awful lot of the photos weren't taken by the redditors, but cribbed from other places on the web. (Note that I'm not justifying the existence of r/creepshots and saying, "Hey, they didn't even take the photos, so they're not responsible!!")

But in the case of voyeur photography in general, what ROSF says above, "multiple shots of the same woman, taken sequentially, and at least one upload with a title like "I had to walk past three times to get this picture"" - yeah, if you go check out other places where voyeur photos are posted, you'll see shit like this all over the place.

People who are into voyeur photography will absolutely go stake out places where they're likely to get "good" shots - beaches, colleges, malls, etc etc - and then hang around and wait for opportunity to present itself. Maybe it's not stalking in the sense of long-term targeting a specific individual, but it's definitely a form of stalking - "short-term opportunistic stalking", maybe. Really, it's like predators lurking near a watering hole.

So, honestly, maybe it's possible, but I don't think it's likely.

Furthermore, IMO, even if any given creepshot is a one-time happenstance, I think there's something disturbing about the idea that someone's second thought, immediately after noticing an attractive person, is to dig out the phone and take a picture. (Especially if they're taking a picture of just a body part.) And it's another level of disturbing above that if the photographer decides it's a good idea to put the pic up in a public webspace where they're gonna get positive reinforcement for having taken the pic.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Given that the person you are responding to was referencing a specific thing he or she had seen, and you, sight apparently unseen, are imagining why he or she has misunderstood it...


I've browsed the subreddit. gadfly says: "Look at all the photos where the photographer is following the woman in front of him." I'm going to go out on a limb here and say they were't present when the posted photos were taken and therefor doesn't know whether stalkerish behaviour was involved. Sure a few sets were obviously procured in that manner if only because of the captioning you mention. However most shots are singles or sets taken very spatially close together. And taking those sort of pictures does not require following.

From a practical standpoint if you are a creeper you are a lot better off letting your subjects pass you buy. If only because you avoid any possible charges of stalking.

I think there's something disturbing about the idea that someone's second thought, immediately after noticing an attractive person, is to dig out the phone and take a picture.

The action is disturbing but the thought doesn't seem to be all that. I carry a camera around with my all the time because I'm constantly see stuff that is worthy of capturing whether that is because it's interesting, strange, cool, beautiful, ugly, or part of one of my collections (like man hole covers or electrical installations). The thought process when seeing an attractive flower or an attractive person is pretty well the same with only the suppression of the action being different. The posting thing is obviously beyond the pale but then I feel that way about cakewrecks and people of walmart too.
posted by Mitheral at 8:53 AM on September 26, 2012


I carry a camera around with my all the time because I'm constantly see stuff that is worthy of capturing whether that is because it's interesting, strange, cool, beautiful, ugly, or part of one of my collections (like man hole covers or electrical installations). The thought process when seeing an attractive flower or an attractive person is pretty well the same with only the suppression of the action being different.

The fact that a person is a person, and not a flower or a manhole cover, isn't enough to make those situations different?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on September 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


The thought process when seeing an attractive flower or an attractive person is pretty well the same

I dunno 'bout that - I've never looked at a flower and wondered, "What would that flower look like naked?"


OK, sorry about the snark, but honestly, while you personally might have the visual arts/photography training or background or experience to look at a person you find attractive and have a sort of dispassionate aesthetic appreciation of them, you've gotta admit that's not what's going on in the context of creepshots. There is definitely a sexual reaction and purpose to these kinds of photos.

So maybe I should restate it thus:

I think there's something disturbing about the idea that someone's first action, immediately after noticing a person they find sexually attractive, is to dig out the phone and take a picture for the purpose of indulging in a form of sexual gratification.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:39 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


wierdo: It is interesting how surreptitious photography mutated into following and stalking.

nixerman: you could admit that this idea that there is significant overlap between the creeper community and guys who actually harass, stalk and intimidate women is nonsense. Really.

Cutting and pasting other people's great comments that address why many of us actually do have rational reasons to disagree that it's a mutation or nonsense (already explained above, but possibly different words might clarify):
a lot of guys don't see the big pattern, because they put a lot of the different things women have to put up with in different categories. . . . Imagine a set of those big police crime maps. On one map you've got your instances of ass-grabbing. On the next map you've got your instances of catcalling. On the next you've got stalkers, on the next you've got date-rapists . . . As long as they're all on separate maps, . . . you look at them and you say, "Yeah, sure, each of these indignities is sort of sprinkled across the map. So what?" . . . It's only once it occurs to you to put the ass-grabbings and the catcalls and the rapes in one category, to plot them all on the same map, that the pattern jumps out at you . . . [that they] are the same category of thing.
"Same category of thing" meaning,
Women are constantly being reminded that their bodies are not their own; instead, their bodies are assumed to be available for men's use, on men's terms.
Consequently,
Most women I know are, by necessity, extra vigilant when it comes to being aware of their surroundings, and discerning the intentions of strangers. The corollary is that many of the men I know walk around terrified that they could be considered threatening—not because they tried to start a conversation with a woman they don't know (which they explicitly avoid), but because of their very presence—the "standing at the bus stop and sneezing" scenario. That neither changes, nor negates, how absurd it is that women (myself included) have to walk around on constant guard. If anything, it shows that the power imbalances created by [Continuum of Shitty Behaviours within Same Category of Thing] are just no good, for anyone.
I'm sure as hell going to be more vigilant now about where guys in my vicinity are pointing their camera phones.

Huh. I just remembered this AskMe from an OP who asked if it was normal to feel compelled to photograph strange women's cleavage.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:27 AM on September 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


Huh. I just remembered this AskMe from an OP who asked if it was normal to feel compelled to photograph strange women's cleavage.

Huh. If only more people had told that guy that any woman who objected to it was being "charming" in her naivete, was indulging in a dishonest "feminist critique" and "alarmist tales of maidens in distress", and that it was "revolting and wrong" that anyone might object to this "legal and harmless" activity.

For that matter, it's a real shame that nobody was there to tell the women who reported having to console friends who had been deeply upset by this behavior that their friends had in fact not noticed it at all, because nobody ever does, and that it was totally harmless anyway, so they were clearly wrong to believe that they had been upset by it.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:07 AM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Teacher loses his job after posting pictures of students on Reddit's Creepshots. This is currently under investigation by the sheriff. Reddit's response.
posted by fermezporte at 8:06 AM on September 27, 2012


Reddit's response.

I assume that he got in trouble because everyone knows that /r/creepshots isn't for upskirt photographs. I mean COME ON.
posted by jessamyn at 8:15 AM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


That r/wtf thread is eerily similar to this MeFi thread.
posted by localroger at 10:01 AM on September 27, 2012


Re: 'Why assume that creepshot takers would engage in other deviant sexual behavior (like stalking and rape)' I submit a study on the topic: Multiple Paraphilic Diagnoses among Sex Offenders. "The psychiatric literature suggests that paraphiliacs can be expected to participate in only one type of deviant sexual behavior. Using self-reports gathered with assured confidentiality from 561 nonincarcerated paraphiliacs, we discovered that most paraphiliacs have had significant experience with as many as ten different types of deviant sexual behavior without regard, in many cases, to gender, age, and familial relationship of the victim."

From the text (not linked above but quoted here):

Among the Abel study's conclusions were the following:

a) 52% of the voyeurs admitted to having sexual contact with a female pre-pubescent child outside of the home within the last year.

b) 26% of the voyeurs admitted to having this contact with a male pre-pubescent child during the last year.

c) 18% admitted to having sexual contact with a female pre-pubescent child outside of the home within the last year.

d) 10% admitted to having such contact with a male pre-pubescent child outside of the home within the last year.

e) 37% admitted to committing a rape within the last year.

f) 11% admitted to engaging in sadism within the last year.

g) 15% admitted to making obscene telephone calls within the last year.

h) 8% admitted to masturbating publicly within the last year.

i) 10% admitted to engaging in acts of bestiality within the last year.

However, Robert Prentke, the Director of Clinical and Forensic Services at the Peters Institute in Philadelphia (which is devoted exclusively to treating sexually deviant behavior), argues that because the subjects in the Abel study were from a "heterogeneous group" of people from varying backgrounds, it is "difficult to say" whether any individual voyeur is likely to commit more dangerous acts. Mr. Prentke pointed to several relevant factors for predicting more dangerous behavior: sexual drive, strong evidence of anger, history of assaultive behavior, and truancy.


Granted, this is voyeurism not voyeuristic photography that is then publish on the internet, but I think the conclusion that if one is a photographic voyeur one will not commit other crimes isn't supported by the data we have of how sexual offenders behave. I don't have cites, but I do remember studies on convicted serial rapists which indicated a high percentage of them began with much more "innocent" crimes, like voyeurism and stalking.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:44 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Deoridhe writes "I don't have cites, but I do remember studies on convicted serial rapists which indicated a high percentage of them began with much more 'innocent' crimes, like voyeurism and stalking."

But that's a post hoc, ergo propter hoc observation. Even if 100% of serial rapists had previously been voyeurs that statistic tells you nothing about the number of voyeurs that become serial rapists. In the same way that probably a high percentage of serial rapists have driver's licences.

It's kind of weird to think about a serial rapist being a model, upstanding citizen and then one day snapping into Ted Bundy. It seems likely that most serious criminals will have committed less serious crimes prior to serious crimes.
posted by Mitheral at 7:38 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


But that's a post hoc, ergo propter hoc observation.

Did you not read the top part of Deoridhe's comment? In a study of men who were sexual deviants, but not necessary in legal trouble (ie they had not been previously identified as rapists) a full 37% had raped someone in the last year! (Really, it was a higher percentage, depending on how you add up the child molestation number). Is that not terrifying to you?
posted by fermezporte at 8:31 PM on September 27, 2012


Sure I read it but it doesn't change my statement that just because a given group all do X that everyone who does X belongs to that group. That's one of the things that. to give an example of a single well know group, GLBT people have been fighting against for decades. The ill conceived notion that given the actions of some men in power over boys sexually assaulting the boys in their care homosexuals can't be teachers/coaches/troop leaders/adoptive parents etc ad nauseam because OMG they'll molest the boys in their care. The second does not follow from the first.

It's self evident that sexual deviants (whether they've been prosecuted for a crime or not) are going to be fucked up. The study was made up of self selected deviants, people who we're deviant enough to either check themselves into a metal facility; or be referred to the study by their doctor; or the judicial system (about a 1/3rd each).

And the study includes such sexual deviancy as transsexualism, transvestitism, and homosexuality which maybe is technical jargon that would still be relevant today but it makes me reluctant to have much faith in the scope of the study even though I realize those were valid things in the DSM II. You can see in Table 2 and Table 3 of the study that removing those paraphilia from the study would significantly weaken the stated observation of multiple paraphilia per subject.

The authors acknowledge that their findings were far from the accepted norm of 1988. Anyone know of more recent studies confirming their results especially a study that doesn't include homosexuality as a deviance? I'd love to read more about it; especially any studies that confirm that bestiality number. That's a serious WTF!
posted by Mitheral at 11:04 PM on September 27, 2012


Did you not read the top part of Deoridhe's comment? In a study of men who were sexual deviants, but not necessary in legal trouble

i did, especially this part

Using self-reports gathered with assured confidentiality

in other words, it's not a random sample, not representative of people with "deviant" sexual leanings.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:14 AM on September 28, 2012


Someone with more experience than I in reading scientific papers should probably take a look at this, but here's a PDF link to a meta-analysis published in 2005:

The Characteristics of Persistent Sexual Offenders: A Meta-Analysis of Recidivism Studies

The abstract:

A meta-analysis of 82 recidivism studies (1,620 findings from 29,450 sexual offenders) identified deviant sexual preferences and antisocial orientation as the major predictors of sexual recidivism for both adult and adolescent sexual offenders. Antisocial orientation was the major predictor of violent recidivism and general (any) recidivism. The review also identified some dynamic risk factors that have the potential of being useful treatment targets (e.g., sexual preoccupations, general self-regulation problems). Many of the variables commonly addressed in sex offender treatment programs (e.g., psychological distress, denial of sex crime, victim empathy, stated motivation for treatment) had little or no relationship with sexual or violent recidivism.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:10 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


momofcreepedteen is the user account of the mother of the subject of the teacher pics. She is, understandably, very unhappy about it all.
posted by jaduncan at 7:40 AM on September 28, 2012


A note on the sexual deviants vis a vis post hoc ergo propter hoc: The initial contention was that assuming creepshooters could be dangerous was unsupported. In that sense, all you have to do is show that there is an overlap. It says nothing about the probability that any given creepshooter will be a stalker/rapist/whatevs, but it is a reasonable inference that a creepshooter is more likely to violate boundaries because they're unconcerned with consent, and that every woman/perved subject can make a determination about her own comfort and safety.
posted by klangklangston at 11:57 AM on September 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


(because i have nothing better to do)

but it is a reasonable inference that a creepshooter is more likely to violate boundaries because they're unconcerned with consent

that's the part of your argument i don't buy. what is "violate boundaries"? it's not one thing, right? it's a spectrum. you frame it as an either or, a binary, where really it's more like a higher probability along the whole spectrum. maybe that seems nit-picky to some, but seeing it as an all or nothing type of thing is a cognitive distortion, which should be avoided.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:35 PM on September 28, 2012


You've got a point about "boundary violation" being a spectrum, so I might rephrase klang's statement as:

"it is a reasonable suspicion that a creepshooter is more likely to aggressively violate boundaries because they are already further along the spectrum of violating boundaries, and have proven they are unconcerned with consent."

I'd say the people arguing, "meh, it's just a photo, don't get so worked up about it" are actually the ones viewing it as an either/or or "bright line" situation - either you're a violent sexual offender, or you're not; there's some kind of "bright line" separating overtly aggressive creeps from the relatively passive ones like creepshooters, and as long as they're not over that line, they're harmless.

Whereas I'd argue that if you view "boundary violation" as a spectrum, voyeur photographers are much further along that spectrum than your Average Joe, and therefore see my above rephrasing.

Admittedly, it could be considered a "slippery slope" argument, but in this case it's a slippery slope that seems to have some data supporting it. Quoting from the paper I linked to above:

"For those involved in risk assessments with sexual offenders, the review confirms sexual deviancy and antisocial orientation as major predictors of sexual recidivism and extends the range of relevant variables to include some potentially changeable characteristics: sexual preoccupations, lifestyle instability/impulsivity, pro-offending attitudes, and intimacy deficits."

Simply looking at some of the commentary on r/creepshots and the AskMe linked to by cybercoitus interruptus here, I'd say creepshooters certainly demonstrate sexual deviancy, sexual preoccupations, impulsivity and pro-offending attitudes. If these are characteristics common to a wide variety of sexual offenders, both violent and non-violent, it certainly seems reasonable to suspect that people who exhibit these characteristics have a higher probability of moving from passive to aggressive behaviors, compared to people who exhibit little or none of these characteristics.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:46 AM on September 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


Here is an SRS thread about some (now-deleted, I think) /r/creepshots posts that, from the description, had the creep taking photos of himself having sex with his drugged sister in law. (I wasn't going to click around far enough to see the actual photos; the link I gave has descriptions and link to the deleted postings but was relatively SFW as of a few minutes ago.)

So yeah, I'd say this stuff is definitely on a spectrum. That's why people call it creepy -- it's clearly on the path to NotOKville, even if it hasn't gotten there yet.

This is just a guess, but I suspect Reddit will shut down creepshots if there are a couple more articles about egregious creepiness, while still allowing equivalent subreddits to continue bringing in the ad revenue.
posted by Forktine at 7:33 PM on September 29, 2012


Reddit’s r/creepshots, a subreddit where users post surreptitious photos of women to gawk at, is about to be removed from Imgur, the most popular image hosting service on Reddit.

A spokesperson from Imgur told the Daily Dot that the image-hosting network has shut down all hosting for photos uploaded to r/creepshots.
Totally unclear what this means except that the attention that /r/creepshots is getting is, itself, getting attention.
posted by jessamyn at 7:53 PM on September 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


i was browsing through the atlantic's in focus picture series, and for their recent one about octoberfest there is one picture that could easily go on creep shots. where's the outrage?
posted by cupcake1337 at 3:21 PM on October 3, 2012


Where's the concern trolling?
posted by klangklangston at 3:24 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


cupcake1337 writes "i was browsing through the atlantic's in focus picture series, and for their recent one about octoberfest there is one picture that could easily go on creep shots. where's the outrage?"

Shows the value in curation.
posted by Mitheral at 5:59 PM on October 3, 2012


where's the outrage?

Show me the gross guys fapping in the comments and I will get equally outraged. Promise.
posted by jessamyn at 6:33 PM on October 3, 2012


Please promise me that you will show Jessamyn and not me, ok? Things, unseen, have been seen, etc.
posted by Forktine at 6:52 PM on October 3, 2012


(I am now imagining the r/creepshots comments to the Eisenstaedt picture of Nurse Edith Shain kissing that sailor at the end of WW2.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:45 AM on October 4, 2012


"Someone grabbed me and kissed me, and I let him because he fought for his country. I closed my eyes when I kissed him. I never saw him." - Edith Shain

Speaking of grey zones in consent...
posted by Iteki at 9:49 AM on October 4, 2012


running order squabble fest: You may already be making an ironic non-reference to this, which has been making the rounds lately. But if you're not, it's an bizarre coincidence that you brought it up.
posted by whittaker at 9:49 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was thinking that same thing. The comments on that article are interesting.
posted by jessamyn at 9:51 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whittaker makes my point properly and better. That photo's always creeped me the hell out.
posted by Iteki at 9:52 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Iteki: I never knew the backstory of the Eisenstaedt photo until that article but I always vaguely disliked it for reasons I couldn't quite put my finger on (I think part of it is how much he's mashed her lips down with a forceable bulge--seemingly hinting at her state of mind) and I always much, much preferred the Robert Doisneau equivalent.
posted by whittaker at 10:01 AM on October 4, 2012


It was something that was in my mind, yes - that there is this weird overlay on that picture, which is simultaneously this representation of the jubilation at the end of war - this vast exhalation captured in a snapshot - and also has that weird element of force, or of entitlement. And that Eisenstaedt was taking a candid shot - neither party was aware they were being photographed, or gave their consent, and Shain did not, according to her story, come forward because she did not want it to be known that she had been kissed by a stranger.

And then there's the further, imaginary overlay of that whole complexity being flattened down to a 1940s creepshotter being upvoted for getting a shot of her exposed knees - these different layers of consent and entitlement.

(Looking at it now, I am a little horrified that in my sleep-fogged state I wrote that Shain was kissing the sailor, rather than the other way around.)

Whereas the Doisneau is so companionable, so friendly as well as so passionate that somebody trying to get their jollies from it would surely just have to think about what they were doing with their lives, and why they were not as functional as the couple photographed.

(No doubt I will now find out that there is some sort of horrible backstory to that, as well.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:39 AM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another Redditor seems to have gotten r/Creepshots closed down and one of the redditors, a high school teacher who had been posting photos of his students, is now in trouble for sending nude pics to teens.
posted by jeather at 1:44 PM on October 10, 2012


Adrian Chen vs Reddit can't believe the day has finally come where I find myself on Chen's side for something. oooh it burns
posted by stagewhisper at 10:18 PM on October 10, 2012


Beautiful. To "protect users" /r/politics has banned Gawker posts until the "serious ethical lapse" of posting public information about a creep (who posted pics of women with the defence they were public information) is stopped.

I also love how "the creep said he would delete his account if only they wouldn't publish" equates to "Gawker blackmailed him into deleting his account". (And since blackmail is illegal, well, reddit logic demands that Gawker be judged morally evil).

What a cesspit.
posted by fightorflight at 5:27 AM on October 11, 2012


Yeah, reddit needs to clean house, and probably remove all the current admins from their responsibilities and hire someone with a moral code and ethics to create new guidelines. I just unsubbed from politics. I basically just read the video game related subreddits at this point.

I hope gawker and srs doesn't let up and keeps exposing people.
posted by empath at 5:39 AM on October 11, 2012


New thread on MeFi in case people miss it.
posted by jessamyn at 6:49 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not really relevant to the new thread which doesn't mention revenge porn, so I'll post this thought I had a few minutes ago here:

Couldn't 22 USC 2257, which imposes recordkeeping requirements on those who produce explicit material and bars people from distributing material that doesn't include a 2257 notice be used as a cudgel against those who create/distribute explicit material against the will of the subject, including the (US based, anyway) sites that host them?

Violations are good for up to 5 years in prison. Seems to me that a few high profile prosecutions could clamp down on it pretty quick. It doesn't address the creepshots, but it would be one less class of nasty things on the (US) Internet.
posted by wierdo at 1:38 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


wierdo, the reason 2257 can't be applied -- and a fact a lot of people keep forgetting -- is that the charters of both jailbait and creepshots were crafted to skirt the edges of any practical legal definition of "explicit." Jailbait disallowed nudity, and the shots were only "sexual" in the context of appearing on r/jailbait. Creepshots specifically disallowed upskirt shots, precisely because there are laws against those. Is a zoomed-in photo of a woman's fully clothed bum "explicit?" Well, maybe it is if some pervert is masturbating with it, but I suspect that would be a hard thing to demonstrate to a jury.

For the revenge porn, though, that might work.
posted by localroger at 6:26 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure. It can also be used as a cudgel against everyone posting amateur (in the non-business sense) consensual sexually explicit or simulated sexual explicitness images to the net. Say against Fetlife.

2257 is a horrible law and as such it can be used inappropriately in all sorts of ways.
posted by Mitheral at 6:33 AM on October 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Show me the gross guys fapping in the comments and I will get equally outraged. Promise.

there's no place to write comments on the page. regardless, their cleavage is on the internet, without their consent.
posted by cupcake1337 at 4:24 PM on October 15, 2012


Mitheral: "2257 is a horrible law and as such it can be used inappropriately in all sorts of ways."

I disagree that in principle it is a horrible law. The state clearly has a compelling interest in preventing the commercial distribution of child pornography. Requiring people who create explicit material to keep records as to the identity of their talent and affix a notice to the work is little burden, given that the records themselves are normally kept in the course of operating a business.

I do agree that it can be used inappropriately, but it is a pretty reasonable law. It does not require, for example, that distributors keep copies of the relevant records, only that they not distribute explicit material without an attached notice. (My previous understanding was otherwise, but the law is clear)

I'd like to see explicit protection for those who self-produce and only distribute in the context of a personal relationship, but on balance it's not a horrible law in my view.
posted by wierdo at 7:23 PM on October 15, 2012


"I disagree that in principle it is a horrible law. The state clearly has a compelling interest in preventing the commercial distribution of child pornography. Requiring people who create explicit material to keep records as to the identity of their talent and affix a notice to the work is little burden, given that the records themselves are normally kept in the course of operating a business. "

No, as someone who has dealt with the administration of 2257 records, it's a terrible law. It's unfortunately vague in its statutory language, and the execution memos that have come out of the justice department make it pretty clear that it's generally about making porn record keeping onerous rather than protecting people.

For example, while it would criminalize having polaroids of your boyfriend/girlfriend, it would not have stopped Traci Lords, the underage porn star whose outing basically precipitated the law (she got her IDs by defrauding the DMV). While some record keeping is good, the way that the law has been implemented and enforced is pretty crappy — including things like the legal counsel for Hustler requiring ID and 2257 compliance forms on clothed models, which is similar enough to what we're talking about with creepshots that Reddit's lawyers should have been freaking out or coming up with an explicit policy.
posted by klangklangston at 7:52 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: "For example, while it would criminalize having polaroids of your boyfriend/girlfriend, it would not have stopped Traci Lords, the underage porn star whose outing basically precipitated the law (she got her IDs by defrauding the DMV)."

Poorly implemented or not, that it is possible to commit a separate felony and impede its effectiveness is not really an argument against it.

My point wasn't to defend the specific implementation of the law, it was with the law as written, which is pretty darn simple and not at all out of line with other recordkeeping requirements, and is not in and of itself onerous unless you consider keeping normal business records that you'd keep for tax or employment law onerous.
posted by wierdo at 9:00 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Poorly implemented or not, that it is possible to commit a separate felony and impede its effectiveness is not really an argument against it."

Fair enough, I was more pointing out that it didn't remedy the proximate cause of the law, but there's also no feasible way for producers/distributors to really verify most IDs, and the databases that you have to keep are pretty huge. You also don't have to just keep databases on your stuff, but on, say, ads that you run in your magazine. No other magazine has to keep tax information on the models used in their ads. There's also a fairly substantial risk of identity theft through how the records have to be kept — full color copies of IDs, front and back usually.

And again, it would require anyone making amateur porn to keep that same level of ID, and anyone distributing (including websites). As written, it's overbroad and enforcement is capricious at best.
posted by klangklangston at 9:47 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: "And again, it would require anyone making amateur porn to keep that same level of ID, and anyone distributing (including websites)."

Perhaps the regulations exceed what the law requires, but the law itself seems to only require the records be kept by the original producer, who also has to attach notice. Further distributors are only required to leave the 2257 notice intact and refrain from distributing material that does not have the notice.

Most employers require ID and keep a copy on file anyway. If the implementing regulations are such that 2257 applies to clothed models in magazines also carrying explicit content, that's a problem with the regulation that we should seek to remedy. I don't recall seeing anything in 2257 that applies to non-pornographic images/videos. I'm not looking at it right now, though.

I noted earlier that I'd like it if the law included an exception for self-producers who don't produce/distribute for remuneration. If you're doing it for money, you're a business like any other in my view.

I'm surprised that the recordkeeping aspect can't be outsourced by now.
posted by wierdo at 11:38 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


How do you include an exception for non-business self producers? I mean on the consumption end there is no way to tell whether a video on the net without a 2257 is self produced for fun or a commercial enterprise.

wierdo writes "I don't recall seeing anything in 2257 that applies to non-pornographic images/videos."

There isn't really but keep in mind that both /jailbait and /creepshots featured fully clothed subjects. Somehow extending the law to capture the thought crime of people masturbating to images captured in a public place is going to be tough/impossible without a bunch of unintended consequences.
posted by Mitheral at 7:12 AM on October 16, 2012


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