“Don’t take my picture,” “Come on! You’re at the beach!”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Tuesday’s post, trying to find a better way to articulate what bothers me about the hotties of Occupy Wall Street blog. I keep returning to this experience I had on a beach last summer:

I was standing on the boardwalk, one hand waving down the path, the other on the phone with a friend who was trying to find me. I was barefoot, in a bikini. People streamed by me, paying me no attention. A guy in his forties walked a few paces past me, then turned and stopped. He had a camera in his hand, and he started talking my picture.”What are you doing?” I said, “Don’t take my picture.”

“Whatever,” he said, grinning, and snapped another photo.

“I said, ‘Don’t take my picture!'”

“Come on,” he said, “You’re at the beach!”

I told him to fuck off, and he eventually did. I was shaken, and pissed, but I didn’t know what to do. Now this guy has pictures of me in a bathing suit that I did not say he could take. For all I know, they’re on a “Ladies at North Ave Beach” blog.

His “Come on! You’re at the beach!” was what sealed it for me. In his mind, my very presence was enough to justify being objectified. We’ve already talked ad nauseum about how a person’s clothes or demeanor never justifies rape, and I’m not equating having a picture taken to sexual assault, but the principle is the same. Whether I caused it or not, his desire or arousal is not my problem, and he has no claim to my person or my image to satisfy it.

While Steven Greenstreet’s motives seem purer than my beach photographer’s, his site is guided by the same principle. Paraphrased to the max, it goes something like this: I find you attractive, therefore your primary purpose is to be my eye candy, and I will treat you accordingly. Snapping mega-zoom photos for a “hot girls” blog or stealing a beachside bikini shot for God knows what are both just variations on a pretty ugly theme.

Related Post: My least favorite Atlantic columnist adds histrionics and drama to everything.

Related Post: Remember Karen Owen from the Duke Fuck List? I’m not sure it was worth all the controversy.

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15 Comments

Filed under Body Image, Media, Sex

15 responses to ““Don’t take my picture,” “Come on! You’re at the beach!”

  1. Great post! This reminds me of a time when I found myself gawking at an extremely fit neighbor of mine as he did something or other shirtless. I felt super rude, and I realized that if I were wearing something like a swimsuit, I’d feel like I was the rude one, since I’d be assumed to be begging for attention. (What a hard concept to articulate. I had to write that sentence about five times.) The asymmetry there was really striking.

  2. Absolutely spot on.
    And god forbid you displease a man’s eye, because you owe it to them to be sexually arousing, or you deserve nothing but scorn and humiliation.

  3. Somehow or other, whether drawing attention, or feeling guilty for looking, is always the woman’s fault. Why is that? Have all cultures been conditioned to such a degree? Is this part and parcel of patriarchy?

    • I think there MUST be some cultures where women are treated with more respect… though I’m hard pressed to come up with examples…

    • Ken

      This is biology you are talking about. Basically, the human male, for the most part, as aroused visually by the female form. How do you think they get an arousal? They do not have a penis bone like most other male mammals.

      Is this the woman’s fault? Maybe, maybe not. But sometimes I wonder if women can EVER take some responsibility for the repercussions and consequences for the choices they make. If you are going to be dressed skimpily (and looked good doing it), be prepared that men will stare.

      Think of this way, a gay man will stare at other men the way a straight man will stare at women.

  4. If someone catches your eye, male or female, for whatever reason, take a discreet look and then go about your business. If you feel you must get a photo, ask politely if you may and respect the answer. Anything else is just douchey. I think a retaliatory photo was in order. Make him wonder what YOU would do with his pic. Ha. Douche.

  5. This reminds me of an experience my friends and I discuss during carnival celebrations.Yes, I am dressed skimpily and yea, I am in actual parade but, me personally, I am not here for your entertainment. I am aware that many photos are taken of me without my knowledge but if I happen to object to a picture before it is taken, this is not the time to argue. I said no, so move on and quit trying to ruin my buzz

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