Women across the world have one thing in common. I’m not referring to our inequality, lower pay, or oppression, though obviously
these permeate most of our lives, regardless of our geographic location, social class or cultural background. No, what I am talking about is this: if a woman has had erotic photographs taken of her by a sexual partner, these will, at some point appear on the internet – usually without her knowledge.
Like many women, I have, over the years, participated in various forms of online communication with men. Nothing out of the ordinary: just your typical emails, live chatting and heated mutual masturbation via the keyboard. A normal day at the office for some (or so I am led to believe). Anyway, during these ‘encounters’, there is invariably a point where one person or another requests some pictures. Depending on the circumstance – respectable online dating site; sordid casual-sex chat room – the exchanged pictures will usually consist of a facial shot (read, head and shoulders), (minus any body fluids - bar perspiration), or something below the neck. And it is the latter that I am concerned with.
Let’s clear a few things up. If someone feels compelled to send me a picture of their cock (and I am not hinting for any more to fill my inbox, thank you), I expect to see a picture of their cock. Preferably hard. Definitely in focus. Hopefully surrounded by the owner of said cock’s hand, gripping it sexily, to give it some context. Or in other words, to give me a hot image to wank to: I do after all, like to fantasise, and a cock in and of itself isn’t that interesting (once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all). So whilst I enjoy looking at pictures of erections, I’m not overly impressed – there’s more to a man than his penis.
So what I don’t appreciate is being sent pictures of a guy’s cock with a woman also attached to it. You know the type: she’s on her knees, sucking him; she’s bent over and he’s fucking her from behind; she’s on her back and he’s tugging himself off over her belly. All the women in these pictures are identifiable; not only their bodies are on display – their faces are too.
Now I have two issues with this. The first concerns my own selfishness: if I want to wank over a bloke and I’m using pictures of him to do it, I want to imagine myself in the scene with him – not be faced with another woman in my place. The presence of another woman distracts me; I don’t want to think of the sex they had together – I want to be thinking of the sex I could have with him. Personal pictures are different to porn; the context is more intimate, thus it’s more difficult to imagine being part of someone else’s interaction. I want to see a picture of him on his own and imagine he is thinking of me when he's stroking away - and likewise.
The second issue is of far more concern to me and it is this: when questioned by me, as to who the women in the pictures are, every single man has said to me ‘oh, that’s just my ex’; when I have pressed them further, and asked about her consent to his using the pictures, they then reply, ‘don’t worry, she doesn’t know’. And she doesn’t. Time and time again, I have received pictures of men having sex with their ex-girlfriends, in some shape or form; my hard drive is filled with images of anonymous women I will never meet; women whose readily identifiable images are freely available to all on the internet.
I bet none of these women gave their consent for their pictures to be used in this way. I very much doubt that in the heat of passion, when their boyfriend suggested they ‘capture the moment’, that these women thought their partner would at some point, be using those same images to chat to/masturbate with/fuck other women off the internet. I expect that many – if not all – of those women would shudder in horror if they knew that their image was being used in this way.
Being so disposable, having their image being a mechanism for a man to exploit, well, I guess in this day and age - where women’s bodies are sexualised commodities for capitalism - it’s no surprise that their consent isn’t asked; why should men think of getting permission when it’s so acceptable to profit off these images in mainstream society? What would make a man think differently, when he is surrounded by images of women in various states of undress, selling everything from magazines to cars? I’m not saying I have a problem with erotic images of women per se; aside from sexist capitalist profiteering, it’s the lack of consent and violation of women’s privacy that I am challenging here: these women aren’t aware
of their exploitation – and even if they were, there is nothing they could do about it: once a picture exists, it can be put into the public domain – for anyone to see.
So what’s the answer? I’m afraid there’s only one: if you don’t want to run the risk of your erotic pictures being shared on the internet, then you can’t EVER let any be taken. Seriously. I’m talking to women here: I know it’s hard when he’s got his cock in you, you’re fucking turned on, and you’re in love and everything is hunky-dory, and when he says ‘oh god, it’d turn me on so much to have photographs of this, let me get the camera’, you think, ‘well, we love each other, no-one else will see them, what’s the harm?’ I know you wouldn’t be thinking ‘but what if we ever break up? What’ll happen to the pictures?’ – that would be the last thing on my mind when I’m close to climaxing, too. But that’s what you need to remember: if you do ever break up, then at some point, those pictures will find their way onto the internet, in some shape, manner or form, I guarantee it.
This is why I have never, ever, let a partner or lover take erotic pictures of me (bar one picture of my arse
, in which I cannot be identified); I do not wish to be displayed, in all my glory, online. I know this might sound contradictory, given the fact I openly, and explicitly, blog about my sex life here on the internet, but there is a marked difference between being anonymous and in complete control of what I choose to present to the world, (my words are unedited by another; the self-portrait pictures in my sidebar have no identifying features) and having naked pictures that were taken at a moment of complete intimacy, being used without my permission or knowledge. It’s not like I haven’t had requests (men: begging is never a good approach, trust me), but every time I have declined.
Of course there’ll be some women who couldn’t care less that personal images of them in various states of sexual arousal are freely available to view online, but I expect that many would be uncomfortable with this knowledge – I know I would, and I’m not exactly what you could call a prude. For those women like me, who don't wish their private lives to be viewed by others, I’m afraid it’s too late now: those photos of you shagging your ex are out there, sorry.
Take some consolation in the following though: as everybody knows, the biggest anti-aphrodisiac one can bring to bed is the ex-partner; no-one wants to hear – or see – a lover’s history in the heat of the moment. So when these men produce pictures of them and their ex having sex, it almost instantly ruins their chances of them then getting lucky - I’ve turned down loads of men, based on this very concept.
To all the women out there who’ve had their image exploited in this way, let it be known that I refused to fuck that arsehole who used to be your ex – it may not be a huge step for womankind in terms of empowerment and equality, but if it means one less prick gets laid as a result, then that’s a step in the right direction, in my opinion.