There have been a number of discussions on nudes recently. Incidents of leaked nudes occur quite frequently and Sri Lanka too, has had quite a few such incidents. What is interesting however is that nudes usually refer to female nudes. It isn’t just nude pictures of people that are a problem, but female nudity that causes such an uproar.
This applies to ordinary people like you and I, and also celebrities. When a male celebrity has nudes published online, even if he wasn’t aware of it, little to no negative attention is given to them. Further, male celebrities can post nudes online without gossip magazines picking them up and having the stories spread like wildfire. The same can’t be said of female celebrities, who often can’t just brush it off as a mistake or a joke. They can’t even admit to publishing the pictures online or not having a problem with it as that will earn them the label of slut or whore.
What ordinary women go through when their nudes are leaked is much worse. They don’t have a publicist to do damage control. And they often don’t have a strong fan base to support them. When the video of a couple having sex in a bank was leaked recently, Sri Lankans went crazy looking for the video. And while the woman in the video was nicknamed ‘banku akka’, not many came to her defense. Instead, what people said was that ‘women should know better’, which is something that females hear from the time they are young girls.
Discussions on nudes often take this stance too (for instance, this post). Women simply should not send nudes to men, even if the man is someone they have known and loved for years. Women are taught to never trust a man but are also told that relationships are built on trust. Women are portrayed as petty, jealous and suspicious but are told that men will be men and thus can’t be trusted.
There is another side to the story too. There is no way you have not once come across/been sent a dick pic. Sometimes the simple mention of dick or penis on Twitter can earn you some stranger’s dick pic which you never even asked for. There are plenty of online accounts with profile pictures that are dicks. And the worse thing is, they don’t even easily go away.
Men rarely hesitate to send dick pics to strangers and this is mostly because there’s no shame involved in male nudity. Walking along roads in Sri Lanka, you are bound to come across some random man urinating against a wall. There are men who expose themselves to passersby and besides the perversion in the action, such incidents are never used to shame men.
And yet, even a visible bra strap will earn a woman dirty looks from people, even other women.
This inequality between the sexes has led to women always being the guilty party. If a woman is raped, people question her attire, her sobriety and where she was, who she was with and what time it was. If a woman is sexually harassed in the streets, people blame the woman for dressing inappropriately or immodestly.
No matter what happens to a woman and no matter what is done to her, it’s always her fault. A woman asks for it simply by being female. We are forced to hide our bodies because if something does happen to us, it will be our fault.
Recently, a Facebook page had shared a post about a girl who had posted a picture with caption on how there are men fighting over her and something about Sri Lankan men being godayas. I don’t remember much of the caption itself but the Facebook page basically ridiculed the girl for being desperate. And yet, we never talk about all the desperate men who send women messages. And even when we talk about them, it’s mostly as a joke. No one ever shames these men.
And even when a woman does talk about being harassed or abused, there are people who tell her to just stay strong or ignore it. This was actually one of the comments on a post on sexual harassment in a university. ‘Don’t make a big deal out of it,’ is what women are often told when they try to speak about being harassed or abused.
And so it’s no surprise that people tell women to not take or share nudes instead of telling people to not post them online without consent. If a woman trusts a man enough to send him a nude photograph of herself and he leaks it online, are we to blame the woman for trusting the man or blame the man for breaking the trust of the woman? It’s not a difficult to answer question and yet, day after day, we keep choosing the wrong answer.
And let’s forget trust for a moment. No man sends dick pics to women out of trust. Sex isn’t something we should be ashamed of. It shouldn’t be something we never speak of. It’s one of the most natural things in this world and sure, there is a risk of pregnancy and STDs but these are risks that involve or affect all parties who are part of the act. Unplanned pregnancies and having a child out of wedlock are things that women are warned about even before they know how a child is conceived. In fact, most mothers warn their daughters of men without ever telling them what exactly men can do to and with them. This leads to women who have no clue about what can get them pregnant and how they can avoid getting pregnant.
STDs are just never spoken about. No one utters a word about them. There are people who still believe that HIV/AIDS is a ‘gay disease’. Surely with the information we have available to us, we can educate ourselves a bit more?
And yet, we don’t admit that women have needs too. And that there isn’t anything wrong with a woman who wants to have sex or send someone a nude photograph of themselves. Instead we continue to ignore completely natural needs of the human body and we continue to blame women, regardless of how they are certainly not asking for it.
So maybe it’s high time we stop blaming women and instead talk about how we, as human beings, should act. What are our responsibilities? What is right and what is wrong? And most importantly, what action can we take against people who are actually the ones to blame?