I recently saw a picture, a tasteful nude self portrait, posted by a young woman with an earnest message of body positivity. It wasn’t provocative in any way – but it was a nude.
A man reblogged with what I’m sure he felt was a compliment. Something along the lines of beautiful, I’d love to make love to that body, etc. She responded with a polite please don’t.
Predictably, he got defensive. What, it was a compliment! I was a total gentleman!
But it really wasn’t. And it was such a perfect illumination of why rape culture is so incredibly hard to combat. Because he genuinely didn’t understand that the unwanted sexual comment wasn’t ok and was in fact, sort of gross. It made me sad, especially when a woman I followed jumped all over the young woman, chastising her for not being thrilled that a man wanted to objectify her body.
There are a lot of erotic images here, a lot of women who want to titilate and arouse. There is nothing wrong with that. But there is a growing number of young women who are trying to embrace their bodies as they are, combating the false perfection that the media shoves down our collective throat. Those women are using nudes not to invite but to celebrate and a comment about wanting to fuck them is going to be insulting and unwelcome.
Men, you have no right to a woman’s body, no matter how little it is covered and no matter how much you believe your arousal is a blessing. As a woman who admires and respects you all, I caution you about the “compliments” you bestow. Beauty can be admired without expressing a sexual desire. These women are warriors, fighting for ownership of the only thing we are given in this world. You may think you are being encouraging, but it is the very thing these women are rejecting.
So don’t be gross, guys. You’re smart. You can tell the difference between a picture intended to arouse and one that is not. A lot of the time, there’s even a helpful caption to clarify. Be the gentleman you claim to be and don’t make everything about your dick.